1) What intrigued you about serving as editor of Current?
Well, before I knew I would be a writer, I was interested in the life sciences. In high school, my imagination was captured by the documentary series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, which began running on television in the late 60s, and I briefly considered studying oceanography. I grew up around boats and the water, because my father was in the Coast Guard for many years and then retired to run his own marine electronics business.
A lot of my writing and editing work has centered around the performing arts. But when I was looking for a new job after many years at Juilliard, I was open to a variety of paths and was trying to identify those that most interested me. I share an afternoon’s ride on the Water Taxi with friends almost every summer, and they always settle in the air-conditioned, windowed cabin while I head immediately for the ladder to the upper deck. That year, I felt a lightness and joy expanding inside me as the wind blew through my hair and my nostrils filled with the briny air (yes, the Hudson River is a tidal estuary) and I suddenly thought, “I love this! I could be involved with anything to do with the ocean!”
That experience, combined with already having worked in an educational environment, led me first to the New York State Marine Education Association, and from there to the NMEA.
2) What excites you most about taking the helm of this journal?
I’ve been writing and editing for three decades, but this is a new area for me professionally. I’m looking forward to learning a lot and working with interesting people!
3) How do you see Current evolving in the future - particularly in the digital realm?
I think Current deserves a much wider audience. So many of my friends seem to know someone involved with marine science in some capacity; their eyes light up when I’ve mentioned this. I’ve yet to explore the ways in which the NMEA is growing and changing and how Current can help reflect that, but digital publishing will certainly play a part.
4) Will you be able to attend our national conference in Annapolis this summer?
I wish I could … but other obligations make that an impossibility this year. But next year, who knows?
5) What is your favorite marine critter?
It would have to be the seahorse, which has intrigued me ever since I examined a dried one as a child. (The practice of preserving them as souvenirs has contributed to their endangerment, but I didn’t know that when I was eight or nine.) They seem like magical, made-up creatures: a fish that wears its skeleton on the outside, swims upright with that rapidly vibrating dorsal fin, moves its eyes independently of each other, changes color, has a prehensile tail, dances during courtship, greets its mate every morning during gestation – and on top of all that, the males give birth! If they didn’t exist, Hans Christian Andersen or J.M. Barrie would have had to invent them. Despite their otherworldly qualities, their lives seem pretty hard; they are poor swimmers and must eat constantly to keep going. I’ve never seen live ones in action, but would love to someday.
6) What’s a fun fact that most folks don’t know about you?
Most people who’ve met me within the past 15 years have no idea that I used to be a dancer, and that dance was actually my major at Mount Holyoke College. But the secret is out now, because I just performed in the ensemble for a contemporary dance adaptation of Romeo and Juliet with the Hudson Guild Theatre Company in Manhattan in June – returning to the stage some 34 years after my last public appearance!
You can connect with Jane on LinkedIn and on Twitter at the handle @HeightsCat.