Athens, Ga. – Uzay Sezen, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Georgia’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, has fostered a love affair with science and film since he was a young boy growing up in Turkey. It was a combination of those passions that led him to create naturedocumentaries.org, an online collection of videos from all over the world that capture life on Earth in exquisite detail.
“I know how powerful film can be, and I wanted to create something that would allow me to share my passion for evolution, biology and natural history with other people,” said Sezen, who works in the department of plant biology. “I decided to become a scientist while I watched Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’ television series, so I understand the value of science communication.”
From the Nature Documentaries homepage, visitors are a click away from black-spotted leopards roaming the African savanna in search of prey; crows fighting bravely to ward off a marauding bald eagle; or strange, carnivorous plants found in the Philippine archipelago. The site also includes links to webcams stationed throughout the world where visitors can watch animals live.
All the content on Sezen’s website is free, and he collects many videos from well-known educational and non-profit organizations, such as the Public Broadcasting Service, NOVA, TED and NASA. But, as a professional scientist, he has also cultivated an extensive network of friends and colleagues who contribute footage.
Sezen occasionally takes his own camera equipment with him on weekend trips to botanical gardens and forests to document the more familiar wildlife and plants in Georgia and the surrounding area, but he mostly sees himself as a curator, vetting the sources and explaining the complex ideas.
“I know how to cut through the jargon and I know how to find quality films,” he said. “The site is open to everyone, but I really imagine this as a source for teachers who need help explaining science to middle and high school students.”
Sezen writes extensive posts to accompany each documentary in which he links to additional information, defines scientific terms in simple language and provides supplementary materials, including photographs, drawings and animations.
Ultimately, he hopes the website will inspire young people to pursue careers in the sciences, but he’s also pleased to see anyone taking time to appreciate the beauties of nature.
“No matter where you live, there is bound to be amazing natural diversity all around you,” Sezen said. “Nature documentaries simply capture the most compelling moments on film, but they are there for anyone to find.”
For more about Nature Documentaries, see http://naturedocumentaries.org/about.