1. Cindy Lee Van Dover
Van Dover had an early fascination with Jules Verne's Captain Nemo character from the "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" while growing up on the New Jersey shore chasing crabs. Her love of exploration and the oceans led her to oceanography, with academic adventures in ecology and invertebrate zoology.
Her work deals with the ecology of deep sea vent communities -- not quite 20,000 leagues under the sea, but just about as close as an explorer can get on this planet.
Cindy was the first female pilot of Alvin, a deep-diving submersible. She has led 48 Alvin expeditions, which have led to the discovery of many new species and strange ecological relationships within the deep sea vent assemblages of mussels, shrimps, tube worms and bacteria.
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