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Spotlight on Dr. Tiffany Smythe

Stefanie Senkow
August 22, 2018

Tiffany SmytheWith a passion for the ocean fueled by frequent sailing trips and waterfront vacations as a child, Dr. Tiffany Smythe knew that a career in the maritime world was for her.

“Boating, sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking…anything having to do with the water, I love,” said Dr. Smythe.

Undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University and subsequent graduate degrees in Marine Affairs from the University Of Rhode Island led Dr. Smythe to a career as a maritime policy specialist. She focuses on marine governance and planning for future ocean uses and management challenges.

“I was part of the team that planned and sited the nation’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. It’s the first of its kind, using ocean winds to generate electrical power for coastal communities,” Dr. Smythe comments on one of her career highlights.

Dr. Smythe now teaches about offshore renewable energy, and researches the effects of the Block Island Wind Farm on coastal communities and other ocean activities. Additionally, Dr. Smythe has a background in sail training and marine education, and is a licensed merchant mariner with a Coast Guard captain’s license. It’s only fitting that she join the Academy this year as Assistant Professor in the Government division.

“I have the utmost respect for the Coast Guard and the important work that they do for the maritime world. So to be given the chance to influence the future officers of this great sea service is incredibly exciting,” said Dr. Smythe.

Q: What led you to the Coast Guard Academy?
I did some post-doctoral teaching and research here at the Academy a few years ago, and had a great experience. Since the sea is the focus of my career, and also where I live and where I go to play and to relax, it made sense to come back to an institution that protects our seas.

Q: What types of courses will you be teaching?
I will be teaching Maritime Policy and Strategy, as well as some additional maritime studies electives. I’ll also lead cadet advanced research projects, including one on the Arctic.

Q: What can students expect from your classroom?
I believe in creating an active learning environment—we have lots of discussion and interaction – so that students can get involved and get a glimpse into the real challenges of the maritime world. For example, sometimes we simulate a public meeting where the cadets play different roles, whether it be a fisherman or a regulator, and they’ll see what types of conflicts arise and how we try to resolve them.

We’ll also be covering some current, local issues. For example this semester we’re working with the Connecticut Port Authority to study cruise ship activity in the port of New London, right here in our backyard.

Q: In your opinion, what sets the Coast Guard Academy apart from other institutions?
The cadets are very inspiring - not only in their motivation to learn about the maritime world, but in their future leadership capacity. Throughout my career, many of my most capable and effective colleagues have been Coast Guard officers. They are leaders who know how to build trust, manage conflict, and solve problems. We need more of them!