Caroline M. Solomon
The recipient of Gallaudet University’s 2013 Distinguished Faculty Award, Dr. Caroline M Solomon has a passion for teaching and can’t imagine doing anything else.
She has been a faculty member at the school since 2000 after earning a BA in Environmental Science from Harvard and a MS in Biological Oceanography from the University of Washington. It was in high school that she developed a passion for ecology when her family rented a house that had a creek in the backyard. Due to the overwhelming pollution the family was unable to swim in the creek, leaving a lifelong impression on her. And while she wanted to study environmental science she had another calling in her life as well – to be a positive influence for other deaf and hard of hearing students. Solomon had lost her hearing as a very young child from spinal meningitis and was the only member of her family to be deaf.
Knowing the importance of having good role models she challenges her students on the first day of class, telling them that she is a Harvard graduate and that if she can do this they can do anything. Her students at Gallaudet see her not only as a great teacher but also an inspiration. Including that while teaching she also earned her doctorate in biological oceanography in 2006 and becoming a full professor of Biology in 2011.
Combining her research interests in phytoplankton ecology and nitrogen dynamics in teaching courses in ecology, marine biology, and the Chesapeake Bay at Gallaudet she and her students are studying the development of large algal blooms in the bay that can be harmful to fish and humans. It is her goal to better understand how these algae use different forms of nitrogen runoff from agriculture and other sources in order to hopefully prevent these blooms from occurring. Along with teaching at Gallaudet she is also an adjunct at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, based at Horn Point Laboratory on Maryland’s eastern shore where she takes her students for hands-on field work and research opportunities.
Written by Angela Goad