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Rosario Can Give You a Competitive Edge

Rosario Can Give You a Competitive Edge

An Interview with Graduate Student, Jessie Humbert  

By Summer Boulais 

Jessie Humbert graduated from Walla Walla University five years ago with a degree in Spanish and biology. He is now working on receiving his masters here by conducting research using an underwater camera system that tracks octopuses.  

Humbert explained how he chose to go to WWU because it has Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory and a strong engineering department. [1] He pointed out how the best institutes for marine biology, on the professional level, are also well known for engineering to create opportunities for designing underwater technology.  

Jesse and a fellow scuba diver take a photo underwater at Rosario. Photo taken by the underwater camera system.

Dr. Kirt Onthank, professor of biology and director of Rosario, is working with Humbert on his project involving octopuses. Humbert first began working with octopuses during his undergrad project over the summer at Rosario. It involved studying the mutualism octopuses maintain with scallops through scientific diving at Rosario beach.  

“I got introduced to a lot of research at Rosario,” Humbert said. [2] Working on his project over the summer allowed him to become comfortable underwater through extensive training. Humbert later became cold water certified along with his dry suit scuba certification.  

The combination of his diving background and research experience at Rosario has given him an edge when applying to various programs. “I am way more competitive coming into the PHD field because I have a diving background. I am applying to some of the best programs in the nation,” described Humbert. [3]  

“The University is a member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, (AAUS), a group of more than 140 organizational members that use scuba diving as a research tool” [4].  

Rosario provides students extra experience in biological sciences outside of the classes provided on the main campus. WWU offers scientific diving I & II for students interested in research in that field. 

The sky is sunny and blue – a perfect day for Jesse to go scuba diving. Photo by Brian Watkins.

Students who have questions about scientific scuba diving can contact Jim Nestler, professor of biology and dive safety officer at WWU. “Scuba diving is not a requirement for any class or research at Rosario. If students have the opportunity and resources to learn to dive, I highly recommend it,” said Nestler [5].  

See Also

“If student want to be a doctor, it offers a diverse experience for their career,” Humbert stated [6]. Several students majoring in Biology at WWU are pre-med, so they can also benefit from the marine knowledge Rosario has to offer. Humbert is one of the examples of how taking advantage of this opportunity can help with your future career, medical or marine related.  


  1. Interview with Jesse Humbert, 1/13/22.  

4.    WWU (2022). Scientific Scuba Diving. Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory: Scientific Scuba Diving.  

 5.      Interview with Jim Nestler, 1/13/22.  

 6.     Interview with Jesse Humbert, 1/13/22.

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