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College of Arts & Sciences
Maritime Research Division


Hello, South Carolina!

by Jessica Irwin, MRD

Hey MRD fans!  I hope to meet many of you in the coming months, but wanted to take this time to introduce myself to everyone. My name is Jessica and I am the new Archaeologist/ Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Charleston office of the Maritime Research Division of SCIAA. I am originally from California but have lived all over the country including Virginia, Rhode Island, Florida, Mississippi, and am excited to now make South Carolina my permanent home.

I completed my undergraduate degree in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology at San Jose State University in 2009. I spent the next few years working at a variety of archaeological institutions and museums, including the San Diego Maritime Museum, the Newport Harbor Maritime Museum, and The Pensacola Light House.   I have done work in the Caribbean and Bermuda, as well as on historic plantations all over the east coast.

Underwater archaeology and diving has been my passion since I first began studying archaeology.  In the spring of 2015 I finished my Master’s Degree in History with a specialty in Underwater Archaeology at the University of Rhode Island. The most intriguing research questions in my mind have always been those that address how man has used the ocean and water ways to access the globe, maritime history and archaeology are the best avenues to purse these questions. In 2013 I became a dive master and look forward to completing my instructor certification soon.

My Graduate research was on 17th and 18th century slave ships, but I am all also interested world war two battleships, civil war naval vessels, and ship construction and evolution.  I also really enjoy working with the newest remote sensing technology and integrating that data into maps to be used both by our team and other scientists.

I am excited to join the team at SCIAA and to help preserve this great state's maritime and underwater cultural heritage. I love working with people so I look forward to meeting all of our volunteers and many of our hobby divers. I am planning a wide variety of outreach events so I hope that everyone has the chance to attend at least one. I also plan on starting some new programs so that all of those who wish to have more chance to dive with and work with us, get the opportunity.