The Dry Marine Biologist

Aaron Hartmann UCSDOne would think studying corals would require getting in the field, i.e. underwater. Not so for Aaron Hartmann, SIO M.S. ’10, Ph.D. ’14. He was born with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects connective tissue throughout the body—especially the heart—making activities like SCUBA hazardous.

Rather than take the plunge, Hartmann is a “dry” scientist, conducting coral studies on land and working with diving scientists who collect specimens underwater.

“I have to be more collaborative and share resources,” he says. “It’s a valuable lesson for us all to learn.”

Hartmann uses his condition to show students that limitations shouldn’t keep them from studying science. The video below shows how he brings his research into local San Diego-area high schools, delivering a hands-on experience that gets students excited even far from a coral reef.