David Ludeke

Born in the city of San Francisco, David grew up surrounded by the natural beauty of the California Coast. He readily developed a love for the natural world by virtue of his childhood experiences, from digging for sand crabs with his brothers on Ocean Beach to witnessing northern elephant seal bulls fighting for mates in the Point Reyes rookery. Throughout middle and high school, David engaged with local scientific and environmental institutions: he eagerly visited the Marine Mammal Center and the Monterey Bay Aquarium and volunteered at the California Academy of Sciences to help re-articulate a juvenile orca skeleton.  

Although he always held a fascination with nature, David’s specific passion for the ocean and ocean conservation was ignited his sophomore year of high school when he joined the National Ocean Sciences Bowl Team. Coached by his freshman year biology teacher, the Ocean Bowl Team was a group of students who competed against other high school teams in an annual buzzer-style competition. His team lost every single match the first year, but he loved it so much that he dedicated himself to studying oceanography and marine biology textbooks, leading the team to a second place finish his senior year. Now an undergraduate at Stanford University, David continues his involvement in Ocean Bowl by volunteering as a moderator at the regional competition, encouraging his same passion for ocean issues in the next generation of high school students.   

David is majoring in Environmental Systems Engineering with a focus on Coastal Environments and complements these studies with his participation in the Notation in Science Communication program, which culminates in a portfolio of science writing and communication. Beyond scientific writing and research, David has recently begun to apply his skill in visual arts to create scientific illustrations. He’s done this most recently while studying abroad in Australia during the autumn quarter of 2019-2020. In Australia, he performed ecological fieldwork and learned about conservation, studying in sites like the mangrove forests of North Stradbroke Island and the coral reefs surrounding Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef. As a PADI Open Water certified diver, David was able to observe firsthand the intricate and delicate balance between all the amazing animals living on the reef. Each new interaction with the wonders of our ocean strengthens David’s resolve to do everything possible to preserve these incredible ecosystems, and he is excited to collaborate with other young people from around the world in galvanizing their communities to fight to protect our oceans.