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Dartmouth Professor and Alumni Explore the Galápagos Islands

Nov 09, 2021   |   by Julie Bonette

A group of Dartmouth alumni and their families were accompanied by Professor Eric Fossum and a team of naturalists to the Galápagos Islands to observe and encounter nature during an eight day trip earlier this fall.

Aboard the National Geographic Islander, a vessel that accommodates nearly 50 guests, the group explored both land and sea. Activities included climbing volcanic summits, snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking, with plenty of opportunities to detect and discover wildlife including Galápagos penguins, sea lions, whales, dolphins, flightless cormorants, giant tortoises, and the largest marine iguanas.

"The Galápagos Islands are a special place, and you definitely want to take memories from here. The special tool that we have been using to do this … are cameras — digital cameras. It's been an honor to have Professor Fossum … on board, because he is the inventor of the CMOS sensor."

Gianna Haro, field naturalist and undersea specialist and educator, National Geographic

Fossum, who served as the voyage's faculty leader and expert, invented the CMOS active pixel image sensor with intra-pixel charge transfer — the basis for all modern CMOS image sensors, including almost all cell-phone cameras, webcams, and many digital-still cameras. Fossum originally developed the technology while working at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Caltech for the purpose of interplanetary spacecraft travel, not knowing that his invention would have such a broad impact on society.

"The Dartmouth Alumni Travel trip to the Galápagos was just awesome. It was fun to share some aspects of everyday camera technology evolution, including my contributions from the past and those underway today in my lab at Dartmouth," said Fossum, the John H. Krehbiel Sr. Professor for Emerging Technologies at Dartmouth. "And, it not only gave my wife Susan and me a chance to explore the curious evolutionary science of the Galápagos, from volcanoes to life at the intersection of lava and the sea, but also to meet some fascinating Dartmouth alumni and experience the Galápagos with them."

The trip was made possible through a partnership with Dartmouth Alumni Relations, Lindblad Expeditions, and National Geographic.

Dartmouth alumni have another chance to travel to the Galápagos next spring; you can find more information about all of the upcoming alumni trips on the Dartmouth Alumni site.

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