Alexandra Ulmke asks: Can law save the whales?

Student Alex Ulmke collecting data on whale from a boat in the Puget Sound
Alexandra Ulmke

At the beginning of her sophomore year, Alex Ulmke had no idea what to major in. She had grown up visiting her grandparents’ house on a Florida inlet with manatees swimming by, and she wanted to become a marine biologist to save them. During her freshman year at UW, she took study breaks to watch documentaries about whales. After taking a course from a UW professor who was researching whales and the Endangered Species Act, she figured out she could tailor her UW education to her fascination with marine mammal conservation. In her words:

“In the fall of my sophomore year, I was doing my usual close-your-eyes-and-point to pick classes. I landed on an Intro to Law, Societies, and Justice class (LSJ 200). That sparked it all for me, with the over-arching question in the class, “Can law save the whales?” The class explored law as a social mechanism in the broadest sense and applied it to Southern Resident Killer Whales in our area.

I love everything about whales; I cannot fathom that something can be so large and so smart, yet we know so little about them. Once I realized that this was my niche, I started taking classes that I could tailor towards this subject. Teachers are open to students’ passions and will often allow you to explore the avenue you want.”