CORVALLIS - A prominent oceanographer who began her academic career at Oregon State University returns to campus Jan. 18 as a guest speaker in the John Byrne Lecture Series.

Kathleen Crane, who received her B.A. in geology at OSU in 1973, will speak about the culture of ocean exploration in America in an illustrated lecture, free and open to the public. The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Construction and Engineering Auditorium of LaSells Stewart Center, located at 26th Street and Western Boulevard in Corvallis.

Crane, who is program manager of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Arctic Research Office, has had a varied career in oceanography over the last 30 years, conducting research from the hot springs at the bottom of the ocean to the frigid waters of the Arctic to the search for the Titanic.

She tells the tales in her 2003 memoir, "Sea Legs: Tales of a Woman Oceanographer."

"My experiences as a woman in oceanography during the Cold War were in many ways unique," she writes. "These experiences molded me and of course molded others in the field."

One review of the book noted that Crane comes across as "a vibrant woman, an explorer, teacher and mother, who traverses between disparate worlds with an uncanny sense of balance."

The "disparate worlds" in the book include academic turf battles and run-ins with the FBI and latter-day KGB.

Crane will give an informal talk and sign copies of her book in the Valley Library, Willamette Room, at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 19. That event is sponsored by the library, the OSU Bookstore, and the OSU Women's Center.

The John Byrne Lecture Series is named for a distinguished oceanographer who was president of OSU and NOAA administrator. The lectures were begun in 1998 by the OSU College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences and Oregon Sea Grant stimulate broad interest in marine and atmospheric sciences issues, particularly on themes of resources, policy and communicating science.

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Dawn Wright, 541-737-1229