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UNCW’s Julian Murray-Brown ’21 Spends a Semester at Sea

Monday, June 01, 2020

Julian Murray-Brown ’21 is one of 25 undergraduate students from universities across the United States who boarded the SSV Robert C. Seamans 134-foot brigantine in early February. The six-week study abroad program offered by the Sea Education Association allowed the students to study how humans have influenced New Zealand’s marine environment. Murray-Brown Photo

For Murray-Brown, choosing to make his semester a SEA semester was an easy decision. A combination of his coastal roots, his love for the ocean, his desire for an atypical study abroad experience and his father being an alumnus of the SEA program all led Murray-Brown to attend the SEA semester.

“You don’t have to be a science major; many of my shipmates are English, political science and even theatre majors,” Murray-Brown said. “What we all have in common is that we wanted to mix things up, get off our home campuses and create our own adventure story. It’s an amazing way to learn about yourself and the environment while satisfying any longing for adventure.”

Murray-Brown is a double major in philosophy and biology. He said that while on the surface the two majors might not seem complementary, it is the application of skills that he learns from the two majors that connects them.

“Studying and reading philosophy have taught me how to critically think and rationalize independent ideas, while studying biology provides very practical and concrete knowledge about our biological world. So, being able to critically think about science is where these two majors have come together,” Murray-Brown said.

Murray-Brown said his favorite memory from his voyage was the night he saw bioluminescent dolphins. He said the dolphins were glowing a brilliant blue and were dancing under the ship for about 15 minutes. Murray-Brown said he hopes future students decide to take part in a SEA semester experience so that they can have their own memories like this one.

The current coronavirus pandemic did cut Murray-Brown’s voyage a week short, but he said that he applauds the way SEA handled the situation and that he still had an incredible experience from beginning to end.

“Before we departed the ship our captain told us that ‘no adventure ends the way you plan; that’s what makes it an adventure.’ So, in a way, having the trip end the way it did only added to the whole experience,” Murray-Brown said.

-- Alex Churchill ’21