Jessica Nicole Fain was born in Knoxville and raised in Lenoir City, Tenn. She developed a love of water at an early age as she grew up boating, fishing, and swimming. Fain graduated in the top 25 percent of her high school class and competed as a member of the Lenoir City High School swim team. She became a lifeguard at age 17, and discovered a passion for teaching others about swimming and water safety. She went on to obtain her certification as a water safety Instructor with the Red Cross and has served as the assistant manager at the Lenoir City Pool.

As an undergraduate biology student at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), Fain participated in numerous ecological studies involving a variety of ecosystems. She volunteered in a project to clean and maintain local portions of the Appalachian Trail while continuing her work as a lifeguard. In 2011, she graduated with honors and earned a Bachelor of Science in biology with a minor in psychology.

After graduating from ETSU, Fain became an adjunct instructor of biology at Roane State. While at Roane State, she became a certified scuba diver, followed by certification as an advanced open water diver and numerous other certifications.

In 2012, she became a certified aquanaut, and in 2013, she successfully completed the rigorous certification as a manned underwater laboratory specialist. She has logged more than 100 hours in underwater habitats and labs.

Jessica underwater

This extensive scuba diving experience allowed Fain to combine her knowledge of biology with her interest in marine life and her lifelong love of the water. Her enthusiasm has been so contagious that several people in her life, including her mother and sister, have also become certified scuba divers.

For the past three years, Fain has accompanied Roane State's coastal marine ecology classes to MarineLab on Key Largo in the Florida Keys. For Jessica, the most rewarding part of the MarineLab experience is to watch the students not only learn about the coral reefs but also to become interested and excited about marine biology and coral reef ecology. In early 2013, Fain accompanied students to Roatan, Honduras to study coral reefs, the effects of invasive species on these ecosystems, and shark conservation.

Fain recognizes the need to understand and protect the ecological balance of both freshwater and marine ecosystems. By introducing her students to coral reef ecology, she hopes to instill the importance of conserving these fragile ecosystems for future generations.

For inquiries about Classroom Under the Sea, please contact:
Owen Driskill, Roane State marketing/public relations director, (865) 882-4559,