Andrea Dingeldein ’10, ’14M

June 2, 2021

A native North Carolinian, Andrea Dingeldein ’10, ’14M fell in love with the ocean and its inhabitants at a young age. When it came time to choose a college, she sought a school known for its programs in marine biology.

“UNCW immediately stole my heart with its proximity to the ocean, its sprawling salt marsh ecosystem and the incredible diversity of terrestrial and marine life on barrier islands,” she said. “The dream of being able to interact directly with the ecosystems I was studying was too tempting to pass up. Looking back, I couldn't be more certain that I made the right decision in attending UNCW for both my undergraduate (B.S. in marine biology and B.A. in studio art) and graduate (M.S. in marine biology) education.”

Today Dingeldein works as a freelance science illustrator based out of California’s Monterey Bay area. She is also a lecturer for the Science Illustration Graduate Certificate Program at California State University Monterey Bay.

Science illustration is art that explains science. Dingeldein is often hired by researchers at marine stations, environmental organizations, recreation companies and parks to create artwork that makes science accessible and engaging. She specializes in depictions of the marine environment, but has also worked on projects about insects, plants and mushrooms.

While completing a Directed Independent Study with Department of Biology and Marine Biology faculty member Thomas Lankford, she gained skills in digital illustration and science communication, which she uses in her current career. She also completed illustrations for other graduate students and faculty members while working on her master’s degree. Those illustrations were eventually published in science journals and gave her the confidence to pursue a career in science illustration.

When pandemic lockdowns started happening in America, Dingeldein was in Wilmington for a wedding. Once back in California, she had to adjust quickly to teaching graduate students online.

“I have been fortunate to have a job that has enabled me to teach remotely, but it hasn't been easy for me or my students. As far as my freelance work goes, I haven't noticed much of a downtick in business. In fact, I’ve had more requests for illustration work this year,” she said.

Dingeldein’s work may be viewed online at thelocalnaturalist.com.

-- Caroline Cropp