Kristin Hennessy-McDonald: Something Incredible, September 16, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Kristin Hennessy-McDonald

Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II

September 15 – 30, 2018


Mission: Shark/Red Snapper Longline Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico

Date: September 16, 2018


Personal Introduction

Greetings to those following my adventure from afar.  My name is Kristin Hennessy-McDonald, but my students and fellow faculty call me Dr. Hen-Mc.  I am so excited to have been selected to be a member of the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program aboard the Oregon II.  I am the science lead at T-STEM Academy at East High School, where I teach Honors Biology.  My path to the classroom was far from straight.  I attended the University of Notre Dame, where I earned a B.S. in Biology.  I then continued my academic path at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, where I earned my PhD in Cell Physiology.  After spending a little less than 3 years at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I had an epiphany.  I found that I enjoyed sharing my passion about science more than doing research at the bench.  I made the decision to transition to the classroom and have not looked back.  8 years later, I have found my home at T-STEM, and my family in Team East.

The journey to boarding the Oregon II has been a long one, but well worth it.  When my boss brought the opportunity to me, I applied with hope.  When I got the acceptance letter, I gasped and started jumping up and down in my classroom.  My students were confused, but then excited when they found out that I had gotten this opportunity.  I teach many of the same students who were in that class, and they have all been sharing in my excitement over the past months as I have prepared for this adventure.

I have always been fascinated by water.  From the time I was a small child, my parents would have to watch carefully when we went to the pool or the beach, because I was liable to jump right in.  As I grew up, that love of water has remained, and I spend time each summer on the Gulf.  I am thrilled to have a chance to study ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, and see things that I only read about in National Geographic magazine.

Mark and Kristin Gulf
Me and my husband in Gulfport, MS

I have passed my love of water on to my daughter.  Beth is the same way I was when I was young.  She wants to run into the water, to play in the waves.  She sees the beauty of the sea, watching dolphins alongside the boat when we take trips to Ship Island out of Gulfport, MS.  I look forward to sharing my adventures at sea with her.  I am sad to leave her and my husband for two weeks, but grateful that they waved me off on my adventures with a smile.

Beth Gulf
Beth at Ship Island building a sandcastle

I began my career as a teacher because I wanted to share my love of science with young people.  I dreamed of someday being a child’s gateway to the wonders and knowledge of science.  While none of my students have stood on a desk reciting Whitman, some of my students have allowed my love of science to guide them along science career paths.  When I joined Team East at T-STEM Academy at East High School, I knew that I was in a place that would foster the idea of learning by doing.  I wanted to exemplify that going on this trip.  I cannot wait to bring all of the knowledge and experiences of this trip back to my classroom.  Instead of just sharing case studies of Gulf Coast ecosystems, I will be able to share what I learned as a NOAA Teacher at Sea.


Personal Quote of the day

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
~Carl Sagan


Did You Know?

Red Snappers are considered to be one of the top predators in the Gulf of Mexico?


Question of the day

Given that red snapper hatch at 0.0625 inches long, and can reach sizes of 16 inches within two years, do you think their cells have a long or short G1 phase?


47 Replies to “Kristin Hennessy-McDonald: Something Incredible, September 16, 2018”

  1. I hop you have a great trip Dr. Hen-Mc. i want you and your family to stay safe and have fun while you are gone. From all your students at T-STEM, we love you and you will be missed for the next two weeks.

  2. Hey dr henmac, have fun and do some good studying. Be safe and know T-Stem is really happy for you !!!!!!!!!

  3. This is very interesting to me because I am learning about your life and getting to know you a little better.

  4. Hi, Dr.Hen Mac. Its Elijah. I’m glad you’re enjoying your vacation. Things are good here at the school. If you catch a fish can we keep it as a class pet. Have fun. P.S. bring me back a souvenir

  5. I’ve really enjoyed being one of your students. I’m really happy you’ve gotten this opportunity and I hope you have a great trip. I’ve enjoyed reading about your fascinations of the water and how this trip came to be for you. See you back in class. Have fun!!!!

  6. I’ve also loved water since I was young and you’re very lucky to be able to go on this trip. I’ll miss you and I hope you have an amazing trip!

  7. The opportunity you’ve gotten sounds so interesting and I’m looking forward to see you post more about it!

    1. I promise, I will. Congrats on your honor for #1 player! I wish I was there to congratulate you myself, but I want you to know I am so proud of you!

  8. I’m so glad you’re getting this opportunity, and I know you’re going to enjoy it so much! Bring us back plenty of stories. P.S. I love your Dead Poet’s Society reference… so thank you for that. Maybe I’ll stand up and recite Whitman when you get back 😉

  9. We are excited about your oceanic adventures, Dr. Hennessey-McDonald, and all that it will bring to the students at T-STEM Academy at East High School. Hope your research adventures are all that you expect them to be!!! — Bradley and Latrice Thomas, T-STEM Academy Parents

  10. I think that it’s amazing that you have a chance to take opportunity in this adventure at sea especially with your love for water! Also, I like that your daughter has a love for water just like you do. I hope you have fun and gather a lot of information as you “dive” into your studies!

  11. To be honest, you are one of the most capable teachers I have ever been instructed by, and I wish you a safe and enjoyable trip/return! I also believe that red snappers would have a moderately long G1 phase. See you tomorrow!

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