Medicines from the Deep Sea: Exploration of the Gulf of Mexico
September 8 - September 19, 2003
For the last three years, Alan Duckworth has been a postdoctorate fellow in the DBMR. His main research goal is to develop feeding regimes and farming methods suitable for commercially culturing sponges and ascidians for their anticancer compounds. Alan is also studying feeding patterns and food competition among sponges, ascidians and bivalves, marine organisms vital to the continuing health of rocky and coral reef habitats throughout the world. He has logged over 800 scientific dives, and obtained his PhD from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, in 2000.
Taconya Piper joined NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration (OE) this year as a Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow from the University of Maryland's Sea Grant College. She has a BS in environmental science and an MS in marine-estuarine environmental science from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Previously, she worked with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC).
Tara Pitts has worked in DBMR for 16 years. She has participated in many research expeditions with HBOIs ships and submersibles. Tara obtained her BS in marine biology from Florida Technical University in Melbourne, Florida. She also has an AS in medical laboratory technology from Indian River Community College. Tara started working with DBMR in the microbiology group and now works in the biological screening group. She tests sample extracts for any type of biological activity. On this expedition, Tara will focus on a National Science Foundation project and help with daily processing of collected samples.
Shirley Pomponi is one of three co-principal investigators on this expedition. She has led numerous research expeditions to the tropical western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean, and to the Galapagos Islands, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, the Seychelles, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, and Lake Baikal, Russia. Her research interests are on the systematics and cell biology of marine sponges, one of the primary sources of chemicals with pharmaceutical potential. A major emphasis of her research is on the development of cell culture methods for sustainable use of marine resources for drug discovery and development. Dr. Pomponi is a member of the National Research Council, Ocean Studies Board and is on the Scientific Advisory Panel to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. She was recently inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. She received a BS in biology from the College of St. Elizabeth and and MS and PhD in biological oceanography from the University of Miami, RSMAS. She has authored or co-authored more than 70 publications in marine biotechnology, biodiversity, cell and molecular biology, systematics and natural products chemistry.
Jeremy Potter grew up in West Virginia and graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina. Immediately after college, he went to Alaska to work as an observer in the Bering Sea crab fishery, and later as an instructor at the Wallops Island Marine Science Consortium. In 1997, he moved to Japan and worked in a remote Japanese fishing village on Tsushima Island. In 2000, he returned to the United States to pursue his interests in international environmental politics, facilitation, and negotiation. Jeremy graduated from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University with an MA in coastal environmental management. His fascination with the deep sea led him to NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration (OE), where he spent 2002 as a Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellow. Now an OE staff member, he dedicates most of his time to the science program and operations. During the 2003 field season, Jeremy served as data manager on the OE expedition to the Charleston Bump, and as expedition coordinator for "Life on the Edge" and "Deep Sea Medicines."
Laura Rear received her MS in physical oceanography from the University of Connecticut in 2002. She received a BS (cum laude) in marine science from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in 2000. Her master's research involved looking at the vertical structure of tidal currents outside Block Island Sound, while incorporating the effects of stratification on tidal current ellipse parameters. This year, Ms. Rear was awarded a Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellowship, where she is working in the marine archaeology program at NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration. She also received a fellowship from the University of Rhode Island in the summer of 1999 to conduct research on mantle plumes at mid-ocean ridge transform faults. She is the Web coordinator for the Deep Sea Medicines expedition.
John K. Reed[ OceanAGE interview]
Chief Scientist, Deep Sea Medicines Expedition
Senior Scientist, Division of Biomedical Marine Research (DBMR)
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution
John Reed is the chief scientist and co-principal investigator of this expedition. He is a senior scientist at DBMR and heads the Sample Acquisition and Taxonomy Program for biomedical research to discover pharmaceutically active compounds from marine organisms. He has also supervised and organized more than 60 worldwide collection expeditions for biomedical research with HBOI's research vessels, submersibles, and land-based expeditions. He curates 30,000 specimens of marine organisms in DBMR's taxonomic museum collection and manages the collection database, photographic library, and videotape library. John is also the Diving Safety Officer for all diving activities from Harbor Branch vessels and supervises a staff of 60 research divers. He has logged 35 deep-water lockout dives with helium-oxygen from Johnson-Sea-Link submersibles, logged more than 2,000 scientific scuba dives, and more than 150 scientific dives in the Johnson-Sea-Link and Clelia submersibles. John's research on the deep-water Oculina coral banks off Florida since 1976 has resulted in more than 45 publications and the establishment of a 300-sq-mi marine protected area for these reefs. John received his BS from the University of Miami and an MS in marine ecology from Florida Atlantic University in 1975.
Jane Thompson joined the Harbor Branch Division of Biomedical Marine Research in 2000. She has worked as a molecular biologist for 19 years, in New Orleans, New York, and now Florida. Her research has investigated gene expression of in vivo and in vitro models of inflammation with special emphasis on nitric oxide synthase. Using similar models, Jane has looked at the effects of the herbal extracts from Uncaria tomentosa and Croton lechleri. She worked with Dr. Craig Cohen to develop an ELISA assay for HIV and with Dr. Mark Bielke to develop a quantitative test for viral load in HIV- infected patients. Her current work with marine sponges is the most interesting and challenging work of her career. Jane has published 14 papers in peer reviewed journals and has written a chapter for a book. She received a BS from Florida Atlantic University and has done graduate work at Louisiana State Medical School.
Gary Wolfe has taught high school science for 18 years and recently completed his 17th year as an adjunct professor of oceanography at Brevard Community College in Melbourne, Florida. He teaches oceanography, integrated science and advanced placement chemistry at Eau Gallie High School, also in Melbourne. Mr. Wolfe is beginning his eighth year as an adjunct professor of marine and environmental studies at Rollins College Brevard. Mr. Wolfe's research has focused on the development of integrated science curriculums using a marine science thematic approach. He is pursuing a doctorate in marine science education at Florida Technical University, and is assisting with the development of a laboratory manual to accompany a new high school marine science textbook. His goal is to teach as many young people as he can about the wonders of the ocean. He also intends to guide and instruct the next generation of science educators in what he considers this noblest of careers.
Dr. Amy Wright directs the Division of Biomedical Marine Research and heads up the Natural Products Chemistry group. She has participated in natural products drug discovery research for the past 18 years. Her research focuses on the investigation of deep-water organisms that might hold the keys to understanding and treating such diseases as cancer, infectious disease, inflammation and Alzheimer's. On this expedition, Dr. Wright will work with the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) pilots to collect novel organisms for study. She will assist in the processing and chemical characterization of the collected samples. In addition to collecting new organisms, Dr. Wright will also focus on the collection of the sponge Forcepia sp. This organism produces the potent cytotoxic agents called the lasonolides. Dr. Wright has funding from the Florida Sea Grant College Program to investigate the mechanism of action of these compounds and funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to investigate the genes responsible for synthesis of the compounds.
Geoffrey D. Ellett attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, where he received a BA in landscape architecture in 1993. Upon graduation, he completed one-and-a-half years of graduate studies in mapping sciences and remote sensing. While working for a landscape architect in Lafayette, LA, he met an employee of C & C Technologies and becamed intrigued by the company's work. In October 1997 he was hired as a survey technician in C & C's Land Department. In April 1998 he switched to the Marine Construction Division. Currently, Geoff is a field project manager for C & C Technologies.
Lee is a Houston, TX native currently residing in Kathy, TX. He brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this mission as a supervising electronic technician. Lee gained invaluable experience in electronics during his 8 years in the U.S. Army. He has been in the ROV industry for the past 6 years. Lee's work has taken him all over the world, including the North Sea, Australia's Great Bass Strait, the Adriatic Eastern Mediterranean, the West Coast of Africa, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico.
Tim has a degree in electronics and is a trained commercial diver. He has taught courses in hydraulics and the majority of his work with Sonsub, Inc. has been in oil-field-related jobs. Tim feels that the hardest part of his job is being away from home. Without a supportive wife, "I would not be able to do a job I love," he notes.
Ray is a Sonsub pilot/technician and specializes in electronics and fiber-optics. Ray grew up in Michigan and presently lives in Washington, TX. He has worked for Sonsub, Inc. for six years and is proud to have recently participated in jobs in Israel and the Mediterranean. Ray brings 16 years of electronics experience to the team. He started his career in the U.S. Air Force, has training from the ITT Technical School, and has worked six years for cable and telecom (Time Warner telecom) companies.
Maurice was born and raised in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. and currently lives near Houston, TX. Maurice is an agricultural mechanic turned ROV pilot/technician and has worked on ROVs for the past four years. Some of the places he has worked are the Grand Banks on Canada's East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, and most of the West Coast of Africa from Nigeria to Angola.
Greg began working for Sonsub, Inc. as the lead electronic integration technician for the Innovator ROV new build project. Greg grew up in Houston, TX and graduated from the renowned St. Thomas College Preparatory High School there. Greg now works in the Operations Department of Sonsub, Inc.