Growing up in Hawaii, Dawn Wright '83 decided she wanted to be an ocean geologist at the age of eight. This passion for the sea led her to study geology at Wheaton College, the alma mater of her mother, Jeanne Grove Wright ’56.
“At Wheaton, I was clearly taught that God is the author of creation and of science—one who delights in seeing us uncover more of the mysteries of his creation,” Dawn recalls.
Throughout the course of her career, Dr. Wright has had many opportunities to uncover mysteries far below the ocean’s surface. She has participated in over 20 oceanographic research expeditions to some of the most geologically active regions of the planet. In 1991, she was the first woman of color to dive in the deep-sea submersible Alvin.
Dawn is considered a leading authority on the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in her field. She and her colleagues pioneered the first data model of the ocean, which assists scientists working in areas such as seafloor mapping, monitoring shoreline change, and climate change analysis.
Today Dawn serves as chief scientist of Esri, the world’s largest GIS company, where her role is to foster good science within the organization and support the broader scientific community. She also serves as an affiliate professor at Oregon State University, where she has taught and directed a research lab in geography and oceanography since 1995.
“The Lord has allowed my wildest dreams to come true—diving to the ocean floor and traveling all over the world—while challenging me to remain true to Romans 12:12: ‘joyful in hope, patient in troubles, constant in prayer,’” Dawn says.