Windows to the Deep Explorers

Dr. Carolyn Ruppel
Dr. Cindy Van Dover
Dr. W. Steven Holbrook
Catalina Martinez
Margaret Olsen
Taconya D. Piper
Kristin Heron - forthcoming
Amy Eisin
Alex Rao
Bill Gilhooly
Heath Mills
Matthew Hornbach
Nathan Shapiro

Dr. Carolyn RuppelDr. Carolyn Ruppel
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Co-Chief Scientist for “Windows to the Deep”

Dr. Carolyn Ruppel is an Associate Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology. She was first introduced to methane hydrates research and the Blake Ridge in the early 1990s as a postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Ruppel’s research group is heavily involved in numerical modeling, laboratory research, and oceangoing data acquisition on gas hydrates, particularly on the Blake Ridge and in the Gulf of Mexico. She has participated in 3 previous cruises to the Blake Ridge, including Ocean Drilling Program Leg 164 and NOAA’s 2001 Deep East 3 expedition.

Dr. Cindy Van DoverDr. Cindy Van Dover
Co-Chief Scientist for “Windows to the Deep”

Dr. Cindy Van Dover (Ph.D., MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program), co-Chief Scientist on the expedition, is the Marjorie S. Curtis Associate Professor of Biology at the College of William and Mary. After completion of her Ph.D., she worked as a pilot for DSV Alvin and as a scientist and research administrator at several institutions. Van Dover is an expert on the ecology of chemosynthetic ecosystems and has published a monograph on ecosystems found at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. She was Chief Scientist on NOAA’s 2001 Deep East 3 expedition, the first to ever explore chemosynthetic communities associated with Blake Ridge methane seeps using the DSV Alvin.

Dr. W. Steven HolbrookDr. W. Steven Holbrook
Scientist for “Windows to the Deep”

Dr. W. Steven Holbrook (Ph.D., Stanford University) is a marine reflection seismologist and Professor of Geophysics at the University of Wyoming. Following completion of his Ph.D., he spent 7 years on the scientific staff at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Holbrook is an expert in the seismic structure of marine methane hydrate deposits and conducted critical site survey research on the Blake Ridge using multichannel seismic methods in 2000. He has participated in three previous research cruises to the Blake Ridge, including Ocean Drilling Program Leg 164.

Catalina MartinezCatalina Martinez
Physical Scientist
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

Catalina Martinez joined NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration (OE) as a Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellow in 2002. Ms. Martinez completed a master’s degree in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island's (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography in 2000, and she also received a second master’s degree in Marine Affairs from URI in 2002. She spent several years while in graduate school developing and implementing inquiry-based marine environmental programs that included field-based and classroom components. These educational programs included a ship-based oceanography program on board the URI research vessel, Cap’n Bert. Ms. Martinez has worked on fishery and other marine-related issues in various regions of the world’s oceans. Her most recent work with OE took her on research cruises to the Gulf of Alaska, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the Caribbean in the vicinity of the Puerto Rico trench.

Margaret OlsenMargaret Olsen
Education Specialist

Margaret Olsen is an Education Specialist for the SouthEast Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (SECOSEE). She holds a Masters Degree in Secondary Science Education from the University of West Georgia. Ms. Olsen has taught Oceanography, Geology, Coastal Ecology, and Earth Science in both middle school (15 years) and high school (16 years). Ms. Olsen has been extremely active in local, state, regional and national science and marine science organizations. She has coordinated the development of many marine-related curricula and helped create the Science Teachers Training Teachers program in Georgia. She has often been recognized for her efforts in Earth and Marine Science teaching. Her honors include the Friends of Wetlands Award, Environmental Educator of the Year, Dallas Stewart Award, Outstanding Earth Science Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Marine Educator of the Year, the Millie Graham Award and the National Marine Educators Association Outstanding Marine Educator of the Year.

Taconya PiperTaconya Piper
Web Coordinator

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 B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and a M.S. in Marine-Estuarine Environmental Science with a specialization in Fisheries Science also from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Her graduate research examined the reproductive physiology of American shad, Alosa sapidissima, in the Delaware and Hudson Rivers, USA. She worked with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) to provide updated fecundity estimates for the declining American shad stocks in the Delaware and Hudson Rivers. During her graduate study she was a Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) student working with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center on issues similar to her graduate research. She was also the recipient of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Graduate Research Fellowship.

Amy EisinAmy Eisin
Georgia Institute of Technology

Amy is currently employed by the Georgia Institute of Technology as a Research Technician in Dr. Carolyn Ruppel’s Lab. There she analyzes cores and assists with transition zone geophysics surveys. Amy received her BS in geology in May 2003 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the summer of 2002, Amy was an intern at Georgia State University for the Atlanta Consortium for Research in the Earth Sciences (ACRES). As part of the Coastal Processes Group, she did sedimentological research on cores taken from the marshes on Skidaway Island, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. From these data, Amy published an abstract as first author and presented the findings at the 2003 Southeast-South Central Geological Society of America Meeting. She was also co-author on another abstract that presented the geochemical results of the same data. Starting in November 2003, Amy will be employed by Schlumberger/WesternGeco as a Seismic Engineer in Houston, TX. “Windows To The Deep” is her first research cruise. Her outside interests include photography, astronomy, and ballroom dancing.

Alex RaoAlex Rao
Graduate Student
Georgia Institute of Technology

Alex Rao graduated from UNC – Chapel Hill with a BSPH in Environmental Science, and is now a Georgia Tech graduate student doing her Ph. D. research in geochemistry with Dr. R. A. Jahnke at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Her thesis work is focused on rates and pathways of denitrification in the permeable sands of the continental shelf in the South Atlantic Bight. She is using a combination of numerical modeling and sediment column experiments enriched with isotopic tracers to study the dynamics of nitrogen cycling in this sediment regime, in which porewater exchange is dominated by advective fluid flow. She enjoys travel photography, and has most recently visited Brasil, Australia, and participated in the GSA student geotrip to Iceland.

Bill GilhoolyBill Gilhooly
University of Virginia

Bill Gilhooly is a PhD student working for Dr. Stephen Macko in the Stable Isotope Geochemistry laboratory at the University of Virginia. His primary research interest is pore water chemistry of marine sediments near gas hydrate. Characterizing the pore water constituents can greatly improve understanding of the biological and geological processes occurring at cold seep sites. Bill has participated in research cruises to the Gulf of Mexico and the Blake Ridge and has had the opportunity to dive in a submersible at both locations.

Heath MillsHeath Mills
Georgia Tech

Heath Mills is currently a PhD candidate at Georgia Tech working in Dr. Patricia Sobecky’s lab. His research focuses on identification and characterization of microbial communities extant in sediments associated with methane hydrates and metabolically active within the methane hydrate. Limited by samples only from the Gulf of Mexico, Heath is excited to sample a different seep environment so that questions about microbial community heterogeneity can be addressed. Also of special interest is the opportunity to work in collaboration with several other labs aboard the R/V Atlantis. More in depth questions can be addressed when his microbial data is combined with pore water chemistry, macrofaunal observations, and geological survey data. This cruise marks Heath’s fourth cruise and the second time working with Dr. Carolyn Ruppel while at sea.

Matthew HornbachMatthew Hornbach
University of Wyoming

Matthew Hornbach is currently a 5th year Ph.D Student in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Wyoming. He received a B.A. in Physics at Hamilton College in 1998. His Ph.D dissertation involves creating a 3D seismic image of methane gas and methane hydrate deposits on the Blake Ridge from multichannel seismic data collected in 2000 on the R/V Maurice Ewing.

Nathan ShapiroNathan Shapiro
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Currently a Junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nathan is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. Outside of classes he works in Professor Roger Summons’ lab doing geochemical research on oils and rocks from Oman, a country in the middle east. Most recently his research has lead to the discovery of some of the oldest porphyrins every found. Porphyrins are chemical biomarkers for photosynthesis and other enzyme activity. Aboard the Atlantis, Nathan aids in pore water extraction and whatever else needs doing. He hopes the laboratory skills he has acquired will aid him when he moves onto graduate studies in organic chemistry. Before that he hopes to study abroad for a semester, possibly at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Nathan enjoys playing soccer in the rain, reading Harry Potter in the sun, and eating ice cream in the winter.