British Columbia

Mike Irvine defends master's thesis under water

A graduate student defended his master's thesis under water to demonstrate how underwater technology can foster better appreciation of marine science.

University of Victoria master's student's defence was live streamed on YouTube

University of Victoria graduate student Mike Irvine defended his master's of education thesis under water on Monday, to demonstrate how underwater technology can foster better appreciation of marine science.

The 27-year-old's thesis defence was live streamed via YouTube.

Irvine said he was the first person to defend a master's thesis from beneath the sea — but his advisers had no reason to be surprised.

"They kind of knew full-on what they were getting into when they took me on," said Irvine. "I was talking about some pretty crazy ideas right from the get-go of doing my master's."

'Groundbreaking research'

Irvine donned scuba gear for his thesis defence, including a mask with communications gear. 

The mask enabled the members of his thesis committee to ask him questions from a nearby pier via teleconference.

"This is groundbreaking research," said Jason Price, one of Irvine's thesis supervisors, in a statement. "Mike is an innovator charting the course for the next wave of marine educators."

Irvine's master's of education thesis is about connecting students to the oceans using underwater cameras in order to motivate students to engage in marine science and marine awareness. 

He is also the founder of the Fish Eye Project, which brings together ocean scientists, teachers and students to build awareness of oceanic environments. 

Mike Irvine, a master's student at the University of Victoria, got into scuba gear to defend his thesis under water. (Mike Irvine)