NEWPORT - Shawn Rowe has been named the new marine education and learning specialist with the Extension Sea Grant program at Oregon State University. Rowe fills a position at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center vacated by the retirement of Vicki Osis, longtime marine educator there.

Rowe received his doctorate in 2002 from Washington University in St. Louis, and his dissertation focused on how people learn in groups in museum settings.

"Free-choice learning" will be the focus of Rowe's activities, said Extension Sea Grant program leader Jay Rasmussen.

"The Sea Grant marine education program works to improve science literacy and advance the science and art of education," he said.

In his affiliation with the visitor center at the HMSC, Rowe will have "a prime 'laboratory,'" said Rasmussen, in which to advance that science and art of informal education. About 150,000 people come to the visitor center annually to increase their understanding and appreciation of the marine world.

Rowe's personal experience with museums and science centers includes projects at the St. Louis Science Center, Missouri History Museum, and in the Ukraine. One of Rowe's particular interests, he says, is in developing "culturally appropriate activities" for people who don't usually go to museums.

If such people feel comfortable and included when they go to science centers, over time they might more readily pursue further education in science fields, he said.

Since 2002 Rowe has been a postdoctoral research scholar and fellow in science education at the Center for Inquiry in Science Teaching and Learning at Washington University. He received his master's from Florida State University and his bachelor's degree from Georgia State University. For six years he taught in community colleges in Florida and Georgia.

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Jay Rasmussen, 541-867-0368