Along her higher education journey, Chelsea Harms-Tuohy discovered she did not want to be stuck inside, sitting behind a desk. With a leap of faith in 2015, Chelsea took the plunge to establish Isla Mar Research Expeditions, making the turquoise waters of Rincon, Puerto Rico, her classroom. Weathering the challenges brought on by both hurricanes and budgeting for science-based programs,
Isla Mar has succeeded in acquiring federal research grants to further their unique projects and hands-on marine biology courses. Co-founded with her husband and fellow Florida Tech graduate, Evan Tuohy, Isla Mar combines the marine scientists’ love of the ocean and passion for teaching. The Tuohys both earned their PhD degrees from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez.
Chelsea’s passion for protecting ocean reefs and oceans grew from some advice she received early on: don’t waste your time doing something you don’t love. Heeding that wisdom closely, Chelsea and Evan have created an educational environment that immerses students in a field-based experience in marine biology, including research methodologies to assess fish abundance and diversity, coral reef health and habitat composition, and complexity of the reef.
The couple’s ties to Florida Tech go beyond simply having both earned their degrees from the university’s marine biology program: each summer, Isla Mar hosts students for a two-week coral reef ecology field course in Rincon with professor Dr. Ralph Turingan, of Florida Tech’s Biological Sciences Department. “As alums, we are really excited for this ongoing partnership that allows us to network with current students and give back to our alma mater that helped shape our careers to what they are today.”
Chelsea and Evan were featured in Florida Tech’s 60th Anniversary special edition book, “60 for 60: Celebrating Sixty Years of Alumni at Florida Institute of Technology.” Copies are available for purchase here.