Washington Post Interviews J. Nichols '89

Washington Post Interviews J. Nichols '89

July 29, 2014

"Wallace J. Nichols spent nearly two decades as a marine biologist studying Pacific Ocean sea turtles and working with fishermen in Baja California, Mexico, to protect the turtles from poachers," notes the Washington Post. "But in the past five years, he has turned a new page, delving into neuroscience, human behavior and what he calls the 'blue mind.' "

Eric Niiler writes, "Nichols, who lives near Santa Cruz, Calif., has come to believe that the best way to protect the oceans and its denizens is to make people value the good feelings that arise from being around water. Since 2011, he has organized a yearly 'Blue Mind' conference bringing together researchers studying the human brain and the marine world. His new book, Blue Mind, combines personal stories and research studies to describe the healing power of water."

Dr. Nichols, a 1989 graduate of DePauw University, tells the Post, "It refers to a mildly meditative, relaxed state that we find ourselves in when we are in, on or under water. It’s something I’ve been experiencing and observing my whole life. As marine biologists, we don’t get a chance to talk about that feeling seriously and publicly. Yet it is the reason I became a marine biologist. At the same time, none of the books about water ever talked about the human brain. For several years, I tried to give this away as an idea. This was a pretty big left turn. I dove in and started putting on conferences and inviting the best neuroscientists and pairing them up with aquatic professionals and listening and collecting the conversations. There’s now a huge network of people over the past five years who seem interested in being connected and pushing the research forward and figuring out how to apply it in practical ways."

Read the complete interview at the newspaper's website.

J. Nichols (as he is known) has authored and co-authored more than 50 scientific papers and reports and his work has been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, Outside, TIME and Newsweek, and he was seen in Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary, The 11th Hour. Nichols and Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do were recently featured on CBS This Morning.

Dr. Nichols, who was a biology major as an undergraduate, delivered the principal address to the University's Class of 2010, "You Are Lovers and Fighters." Video of the speech is embedded below.