Our World – Underwater Scholarship Society in North America
2017 North American Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society
Leah Potts, 23, is the 2017 Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society North American Rolex Scholar. She began scuba diving at the age of 15, falling in love with the sport and later becoming president of the scuba club at her university. She developed an insatiable appetite for learning and bottom time, which led to her pursuit of technical and cave diving at the age of 18.
Leah also enjoys sharing the underwater world with others, and spent a year working as a divemaster in the Florida Keys. An avid cave diver, she recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering from University of Florida, where she spent her weekends swimming through the aquifer beneath her very feet. Leah also completed a Divers Alert Network internship, during which she spent six months researching cave diving fatalities as well as studied diver physiology through field work aboard a NOAA vessel.
Leah’s interests lie in sustainable engineering and exploration. She is centering her scholarship year around water-related engineering and expedition-based diving experiences and cannot wait to see where this incredible opportunity takes her.
One of the world's most accomplished and well known wreck divers, John Chatterton was one of the co-hosts for the History Channel's Deep Sea Detectives. Prior to his career in television, John spent twenty years working as a commercial diver in and around New York City, and was actually working on a project in the waters underneath the World Financial Center, across the street from the Tower #1, on September 11, 2001.
Researching,locating, and diving the world's shipwrecks has been John's passion. The discovery and six year quest to identify the German submarine U-869, off the coast of New Jersey, has been the subject of several television documentaries including a two hour special for the popular NOVA series on PBS. This same story became the subject of a Random House bestseller by Rob Kurson, Shadow Divers.
In August of 2005, John and his partners put together an expedition to the most famous shipwreck in the world, Titanic. Diving to a depth of 12,500 feet in the MIR submersibles from the Russian Research Ship Keldysh, they made discoveries about the wreck that were featured in two History Channel specials and a book. Author Brad Matsen brought the story to bookshelves with his bestseller, Titanic's Last Secrets.
Currently John and his partners are working in an ongoing relationship with the government of the Dominican Republic in a multi faceted commercial project that involves locating, surveying and identifying colonial era shipwreck sites in the waters around the island of Hispañola.
Cody's First Step Foundation
Since being paralyzed in the 6th grade by a spinal cord inflammation, Transverse Myelitis (TM), Cody has raced nonstop to raise awareness and find a cure. As the daughter of Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., she dreams of walking on the racetrack one day. When she was just 14, she and her mother, Shelley, formed the Cody Unser First Step Foundation, which is dedicated to providing quality–of–life programs for those suffering from paralysis. These programs include a TM research consortium spearheaded by Johns Hopkins Hospital; Cody's Great Scuba Adventure, created to share her new found freedom for all disabilities; and "Operation Deep Down", a military diving program that introduces wounded veterans to scuba as a way to rehabilitate through recreation. Cody is a political activist who has testified before Congress and lobbied nationwide for stem cell research, following in the foot steps of her friend, late actor Christopher Reeve.