The Royal Photographic Society in the United Kingdom honored me as the Science Photographer of the Year! They selected my image “Launching a Mini Boat” the overall winner in this year’s competition, which received entries from all over the world.
I took the winning photo during the 2019 SEAmester voyage aboard South Africa’s state-of-the-art research vessel, the SA Agulhas II. It was my third year teaching science communication and photography on the SEAmester program, an initiative to introduce South African post-graduate students to oceanographic and marine research.
The picture depicts the SA Agulhas II crew deploying a ‘mini boat’ into the powerful Agulhas Current on the southeast coast as eager SEAmester students watch. The mini boat is a tiny sailboat fitted with a GPS powered by solar panels. The United Technologies Center in Bangor Maine, the University of Maine Marine Science Club, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa, collaborated on the project
The director of the program, Dick Baldwin from Maine, joined us on SEAmester this year for the mini boat launch. He’s built and released dozens of these mini boats around the world to teach kids about winds and currents. Students can track the mini boat as it travels across oceans via GPS. As the boat gets close to landfall, Baldwin and his team notify locals to try to retrieve the boat and take it to a school. The students then Skype with project coordinators to learn about the boat’s journey, fix it up, and send it back to sea.
We launched this boat, named Ukuhamba Ngomphupha (“Sailing on a Dream” in Zulu), on a rough day at sea. It sailed 117 miles over its first 24 hours! Subsequently, it traveled more than 6,000 miles and became the first of Baldwin’s boats to reach Australia. The project has now touched six continents.
This winning image, as well as two of my other pictures, were displayed in a special RPS Science Photographer of the Year exhibit at the Science Museum in London from October 7, 2019 to January 5, 2020.
The Science Museum reported:
The exhibition opens over 160 years after the Royal Photographic Society’s first public museum exhibition which was hosted in 1858 at the South Kensington Museum, the precursor to the Science Museum. The winning entries were chosen by an expert panel of judges including the Science Museum’s Science Director, Roger Highfield, TV Presenter Dallas Campbell, Materials Engineer and TV Presenter Zoe Laughlin and Medical Imaging Expert Catherine Draycott.
Gary Evans, RPS Science Exhibition Coordinator, said: ‘Since the very beginning, science has been integral to photography. Now photography has become integral to the way science is carried out and how it is communicated to the wider public. We are delighted to be the guests of the Science Museum for this exhibition and we are sure the images will engage, entertain and educate in equal measure.’
Roger Highfield, Science Director at the Science Museum and competition judge, said: ‘Morgan Trimble’s wonderful photograph invites you to dive in to discover how that little bobbing boat, Ukuhamba Ngamaphupho (‘sailing on a dream’), will help those hard hats study the role of the oceans in climate…’
Thanks very much to the Royal Photographic Society and the Science Museum for the opportunity to share this SEAmester moment this with the world in a lovely exhibition.