An Active Mom in Her Community and at Home
“Balancing an active life may sometimes feel like a science project, involving experiments and careful planning. For a mother like Kanesa Duncan, it rings especially true. She is a scientist after all, with a background that includes degrees in Zoology, a focus on sharks and fish research, and certifications in Marine Science education. With her teaching experience spanning across 3 states, she found a career as an educator and is currently a professor at the University of Hawai’i Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.
While also serving as the director of the Hawai’i Sea Grant Center for Marine Science Education, she is dedicated to building partnerships that enhance marine science education at all levels, from Kindergarten through graduate school. Kanesa also produces Voice of the Sea (voiceofthesea.org), a TV and online series about the ocean, continuing to make ocean science accessible to the community at large.
When balancing the different responsibilities of her many roles becomes challenging, she finds joy by prioritizing time with her husband and two daughters: 9-year-old Laola and 19-year-old Ana. They create lasting memories together while hiking, painting or even completing science kits – and she particularly enjoys body boarding with them. This water-based sport often turns into a family activity, allowing Kanesa to also share her love of the ocean with her daughters.
“Growing up as a competitive swimmer lead to my love of being in the water and in the ocean.”
As a lifeguard in college, Kanesa transitioned into open-ocean swimming and triathlon racing. After moving to Hawai’i in 1999 for graduate school, she took up ocean paddling of all types (e.g., kayaks, one-mans, outriggers). She then had the opportunity to meet and learn from other talented water athletes and started participating in a wider variety of water sports, including body boarding (or boogie boarding) and long-distance traditional prone paddling. She then went on to win the 32-mile Moloka’i-to-O’ahu long-distance paddleboard race eight times! Most recently in 2020, she competed in the Pipe contest and won the Garden Island Boogieboard Classic.
While she may be best known for her contributions as ocean advocate, science educator and paddle boarding champion in Hawai’i, to Kanesa, being a mother is her most cherished title.”