Seminar Series

Testing the limits of the human spirit: my adventures in ocean rowing and how they have helped make me a better scientist


Dr Sarah Kessans


Post-doctoral Fellow, Biomolecular Interaction Centre, Department of Chemistry, University of Canterbury

Time & Place

Fri, 15 Jan 2016 11:00:00 NZDT in Room 531, Level 5, Chemistry side of the Rutherford Building

All are welcome


After four years of research and rowing as an undergraduate at Purdue University and before pursuing her Ph.D. at Arizona State University, Sarah Kessans embarked on an endeavour which boasts fewer participants than people who have successfully summited Everest: ocean rowing. Pairing up with fellow Purdue oarswoman Emily Kohl to become Team American Fire, the team set off in December 2005 to become the youngest females and only Americans in the Woodvale Events Atlantic Rowing Race, a 5000 km, fully self-supported race across the Atlantic Ocean, using only four oars and mental and physical fortitude to propel their 24' wooden boat from the Canary Islands to Antigua.  Although the race is meant to test the limits of the human spirit, the 2005 edition held unusual challenges with added trials caused by the multiple hurricanes and tropical storms that battered the fleet of 26 rowing boats.  January 16th marks the 10 year anniversary of quite an arduous day in Sarah's journey... one that has forever changed her life.  Come along to hear stories of adventure, failure, and ultimately success on the high seas, and how these relate to the trials and tribulations of a career in science.