Hampton University

faculty q&a

Student Connection Faculty Q&A

Dr. Benjamin Cuker, Department of Science


Dr. Benjamin Cuker

On Jan. 27, Dr. Benjamin Cuker, Hampton University professor of marine and environmental studies, was awarded the first Excellence in Education Award from the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). According to the Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin, Cuker was awarded for his teaching and mentoring and his efforts to train a group of knowledgeable, driven and diverse scientist in limnology and oceanography disciplines.

Since 1988, Cuker has worked at HU to increase the amount of diversity in aquatic sciences. The Student Connection recently spoke with Cuker about the award and some of his current projects.

What did receiving the ASLO Excellence in Education Award mean to you?
It was fruition of a more than 20-year journey with ASLO. I have been talking with the presidents [of ASLO] to increase minority participation and finally in 1989 a committee was created. Members were really behind it and diversity increased. You don’t do it for the money or the awards, but by awarding me, they were awarding diversity at ASLO.

What exactly is the ASLO conference all about?
The society was originally focused solely on the sciences. The society has changed to recognize education, policies, and modernizing to include international participation. Since 1990 I have taken 65 students a year to the conference, this year six HU students attended. They attend meeting mixers, the student symposiums, and all of the students present.

What projects are you working on now?
I am currently looking into the depletion of oxygen in the Chesapeake (river). After looking at eight years of data we are looking at the current trend and it appears to be getting worse.

What do you recommend for people interested in helping in marine science projects?
Students interested in aquatics don’t have to be marine science students. There are many different ways for students to get involved with salt and fresh water programs.

What do you do in your free time?
Well, at 4:45 a.m. every morning I swim 3,000-4,000 yards at the YMCA and I bike to work everyday- all year round. I also love to race my sailboat on the weekends and that sometimes includes an HU crew.

-Naima A. Gethers