North Atlantic Stepping Stones 2005 Explorers

Peter AusterPeter Auster
Fish Biologist
University of Connecticut

Peter Auster, from the University of Connecticut, is the Science Director for the National Undersea Research Center and an Assistant Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Marine Sciences. He is an ecologist and conservation biologist whose focus is marine fishes. Peter uses a range of diving technologies, from snorkel and scuba to deep sea submersibles to observe how communities of fishes are distributed within underwater landscapes and how the behaviors of individuals vary in order to find prey and avoid predators. His research interests extend beyond basic ecology to include studies of the effects of fishing on fish habitat and the role that marine protected areas can play in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity.


Kate BuckmanKate Buckman
Graduate Student
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Kate recieved a BA in Biological Sciences from Smith College ( Northampton, MA ) in 2001. During her undergraduate career she learned to SCUBA dive and spent her summers surveying reef fish populations and teaching about coral reef ecology in Belize.  Before returning to school Kate worked as a scientist for the Sea Education Association (Woods Hole, MA) and as a technician at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  She is currently a second year graduate student in Biological Oceanography.  Kate is interested in population genetics and ecology of deep-sea organisms, with a particular interest in fish populations.  She has participated in multiple expeditions to vent and seamount communities in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.


Mercer BruglerMercer Brugler
Graduate Student
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Mercer Brugler earned his MS at the College of Charleston and has recently entered a PhD program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Mr. Brugler learned to scuba dive in high school. His appreciation for marine life took him to the University of Miami, where he majored in marine biology and minored in chemistry. As an undergraduate, he spent his summers at the Dallas World Aquarium, working directly with manatees, crocodiles, and various fish. For his master's degree, Mr. Brugler analyzed the mitochondrial genome of a deep-sea black coral (Antipatharia) and a tube anemone (Ceriantharia). His PhD research will focus on evolutionary patterns within the Antipatharia. He has visited the deep-sea floor twice in the submersible DVS Alvin.


Alicia CaporasoAlicia Caporaso
PhD student
University of Rhode Island

Alicia received her BS in Interdisciplinary Engineering, a BA in Anthropology, and a MA in Anthropology from the University of Nebraska. She is registered professional archaeologist and is currently a PhD student in Archaeological Oceanography under the direction of Dr. Robert Ballard.

Alicia's major areas of research are in historical archaeology, primarily the late eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Currently, she is working on projects at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve and several National Parks within the Northeast United States. She is also working with Dr. Ballard exploring ways that iron shipwrecks can be preserved underwater.


Walter ChoWalter Cho
Graduate Student
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Walter Cho is a graduate student in the PhD program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Biological Oceanography. His research focus is the population dynamics of the invertebrate fauna found on seamounts. He will conduct genetic studies analyzing individuals from different seamount populations in order to determine the factors important for creating, maintaining, and structuring those populations.


Tom FitzTom Fitz
British Broadcasting Corporation

Tom Fitz is an Emmy award-winning documentary cameraman whose work has been broadcast by PBS, BBC, National Geographic, Discovery, ABC, NHK, and others. His programs have also been displayed in museums and other non-broadcast venues. Tom has over 15 years of experience in natural history camera work, with much of that time spent shooting underwater. His shoots have taken him all over the world, from the high Canadian Arctic to Thailand , the Caribbean , Africa , Micronesia , Argentina , and many parts between. Recently Tom has donned the producer's hat, making his own first film: "The Bat Women of Panama".


Scott FranceScott France, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Scott France, who received his PhD from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, has studied the evolution of deep-sea invertebrates since 1986. He was attracted to a career in marine biology when, as a fine arts major at Concordia University, he took an elective course in oceanography and learned about the discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. He immediately switched majors, and has since visited the deep-ocean floor off the Mariana Islands, Hawaii, Galapagos, California, and in the North Atlantic. He has analyzed genetic variation of deep-sea invertebrates from a variety of habitats, including hydrothermal vents, abyssal plains, seamounts and trenches. Dr. France's current research focuses on patterns of genetic variation in deep-sea octocorals and black corals.


Alex GagnonAlex Gagnon
Graduate Student
California Institute of Technology

Alex Gagnon is a PhD student at Caltech in Chemistry. His current home near Pasadena is the farthest he has ever lived from the ocean. He received bachelor degrees in Chemistry and Molecular & Cell Biology from the University California, Berkeley. He is interested in the incorporation of trace metals and stable isotopes from the surrounding ocean into a coral's skeleton as it grows. Past ocean chemistry, as recorded in fossil coral by these processes, can be used to better understand the ocean's role in climate. Still excited from his first deep-sea experience in the submersible DSV Alvin , he will assist in the collection of fossil deep-sea coral on this mission.


Alex GagnonAllen Gontz
Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental, Earth and Ocean Sciences
University of Massachusetts - Boston

Dr Allen Gontz is coastal geologist and geophysicist who received his degree from the University of Maine in 2005.  Allen's work involves using geophysical tools, such as multibeam bathymetry, sidescan sonar and seismic reflection, to map the seafloor.  Typically, Allen uses the imagery generated from these tools to determine the evolution of the coastal zone and continental shelf through time, locate and assess marine archaeological sites and determine physical habitats through interpretation.  While seamounts are not features of the continental shelf, the geophysical techniques and tools Allen uses are nearly identical no matter what the water depth.  Allen has participated on two previous deep-water coral cruises, providing geophysical imagery that was used for dive-site selection in the field.  On this trip, Allen will once again provide geophysical imagery and in-the-field geologic interpretation of the geophysical imagery and ROV video.


Alex GagnonTodd Gregory
Mechanical Engineer and Pilot

Todd is affiliated with University of Rhode Island's Institute for Archeological Oceanography and the Institute for Exploration (IFE). Working in concert with Jim Newman of Woods Hole Marine Systems, Inc., Todd was the mechanical designer of IFE's most recent remotely operated vehicle, Hercules. This summer, he will pilot the IFE vehicles and be responsible for their mechanical and hydraulic systems.


Sarah L'Heureux Pamela Lezaeta
ROV Team

Pamela Lezaeta is part of the ROV engineering team working for IFE. Her role in this expedition is to operate and assist the technical operations involving the video/audio system of the ROV control van. Originally a geophysicist by training, with a MS from her native Chilean country and a PhD from the University of Berlin in Germany, she moved thereafter to USA for a postdoc position at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where she met Bob Ballard's engineering team. Pamela is thrilled to be part of the ROV team for the aim of ocean exploration.


Sarah L'Heureux Sarah L'Heureux
University of Delaware

Sarah L'Heureux is an undergraduate student at the University of Delaware completing a Bachelor of Science in biology with a concentration in cellular and molecular biology and genetics. Sarah has worked in the Shanklab for the last three summers. This summer she is a WHOI Summer Student Fellow working on a phylogenetic analysis of deep-sea shrimp which will also double as her senior thesis. On this cruise Sarah is going to be helping with the biology processing and is very excited to be at sea for the first time.


Eric Martin Eric Martin
Data Management/Computer Services/Graduate Student
University of Rhode Island

Eric Martin received his Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering from URI in 2003, and is currently pursuing a Masters Degree from the same program, focusing in underwater acoustics. His primary interests range across development of autonomous underwater vehicles, ocean instrumentation and acoustic science.


Catalina Martinez Catalina Martinez
Expedition Coordinator
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

As a scientist for NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration (OE), Catalina wears many hats. Her work primarily consists of project management, from the grant proposal submission stage, through the execution of projects. Catalina coordinates several major expeditions each year, providing operational support, and leading an OE team to assist with data management and Web product development for the NOAA Ocean Explorer Web site. Catalina is also part of the OE Outreach and Education team, coordinating and implementing various direct, as well as virtual efforts associated with OE sponsored expeditions. Ms. Martinez joined OE as a Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellow in 2002, and was hired on after the Fellowship ended. She completed a master's degree in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography in 2000, and received a second master's degree in marine affairs from URI in 2002. Catalina recently moved back to RI to implement a very exciting collaboration between NOAA OE and the Sea Research Foundation's Institute for Exploration (IFE) developed through a Joint Project Agreement in 2004. This season, Catalina is coordinating two back-to-back expeditions on board the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown in which the IFE ROV's Hercules and Argus will be utilized. The first leg of the expedition will revisit the Lost City hydrothermal vent fields, and the focus of the second leg (called Deep Atlantic Stepping Stones) is to explore a group of seamounts in the eastern North Atlantic.


Susan MillsSusan Mills
Research Associate
Biology Department
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Susan Mills studies larval dispersal and colonization in marine invertebrates in a variety of coastal and deep-sea environments, including salt marshes, hydrothermal vent, and seamounts. On this cruise she will be working with Dr. Lauren Mullineaux, using video and still images to study distributions of several coral species. They will also be collecting samples for radiocarbon dating to determine the ages of individual colonies.


Celeste MosherCeleste Mosher
Graduate Student
University of Maine's Darling Marine Center

Study interests on the cruise: Celeste will be working with the associated fauna of gorgonian corals with an emphasis on the ophiuroid symbionts. She will be attempting to delineate the relationships between coral associates and their hosts while exploring ophiuroid reproduction and life-history strategies.


Annan Mozeika Annan Mozeika
Video and ROV engineer

Annan Mozeika recently received a Bachelors of Science in Ocean Engineering from the University of Rhode Island this spring. His primary interests are autonomous robotics and control systems and he plans to continue his education in this area. Annan worked on the Hercules and Argus ROVs as a technician his senior year and will be a video and ROV engineer for the Deep Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition.


Jimmy MooreJimmy Moore
URI Graduate Student

Jimmy grew up in Abingdon, VA and received his bachelor's degree in Marine Science from Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida in 2000. He got an MA in Nautical Archaeology from East Carolina University in 2003. Jimmy's participated in surveying shipwreck sites around St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, and near Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. He also participated in the excavating and surveying of the steamboat Montana in St. Charles, Missouri. During the summer of 2004, Jimmy aided C & C Technologies, the Minerals Management Service, and NOAA in surveying deep water WWII era shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico. During the Lost City expedition, Jimmy will be trained as a navigator and is currently working towards his Ph.D. in Archaeological Oceanography.


Thomas OrvoshThomas Orvosh
Technical Services
University of Rhode Island
Graduate School of Oceanography

Tom received an AAS in applied oceanography and marine biology from Southern Maine Technical Institute in 1973 and a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Rhode Island (URI) in 1981. He has worked as a research electronics specialist for various groups at URI since starting full time in 1981. Tom's work with the Ballard ROV group arose from his technical support at URI during recent JASON Project broadcasts. He joined the team on a part time basis two years ago and participated in operations with the ROV Little Hercules at Thunder Bay, Mich. in 2002. In 2002-03 he assisted in the construction and testing of the new ROV Big Hercules and accompanied the team on the Black Sea Expedition in 2003. Presently, on board the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown, Tom is standing watch as pilot and providing tech support when the vehicles are not diving.


Brennan PhillipsBrennan Phillips
Engineering Technician

Brennan Phillips received his B.S. in Ocean Engineering from the University of Rhode Island and is an engineering technician on the HERCULES ROV system. He has worked on HERCULES since his senior year at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and participated in last summer's NOAA cruise to the Titanic. Brennan is also a graduate student at the University of Connecticut, pursuing a Master's degree in biological oceanography. His research interests include pelagic gelatinous zooplankton with a focus on Antarctic salps. Brennan hopes to combine his technological skills and experience with his research in marine biology.


Webb PinnerWebb Pinner
NOAA Contractor/Graduate Student
University of Rhode Island

Webb Pinner is a NOAA contractor finishing up his master's degree in ocean engineering at the University of Rhode Island. He will be providing computer and networking support as well as performing data management duties for the 2005 Lost City and Deep Sea Coral expeditions. His role as "resident geek" will be to maintain all ship-based ROV and lab computers as well as assist with data logging and archiving tasks. This summer will be Webb's second season working with the IFE team.


Laura RobinsonLaura Robinson
Postdoctoral Research Scientist
California Institute of Technology

Laura Robinson is a postdoctoral research scientist at the California Institute of Technology where she works with Jess Adkins. She is interested in understanding the natural processes that have caused climate variability. For her PhD thesis at Oxford, she used marine sediments to date the transitions between major glacial and interglacial periods. At Caltech she is investigating the role of the deep ocean in modulating global climate over tens of thousands of years. She makes geochemical measurements on the skeletons of fossil deep-sea corals to reconstruct changes in ocean circulation. She is on this cruise to collect fossil deep-sea corals that will be age dated and analyzed to establish the configuration of water masses in the North Atlantic in the past.


Timothy ShankTimothy Shank
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Tim Shank received a bachelors degree in Biology and German from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, worked two years in genetic toxicology at the Environmental Protection Agency, and received a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University.  His primary research interests focus on understanding the ecological factors that affect the structure of diverse populations of deep-sea species.  He combines molecular genetic approaches and ecological field studies to understand the conditions and adaptations that allow various species to migrate, evolve, and thrive in deep-sea habitats, including chemosynthetic ecosystems and potentially isolated seamounts.  He has more than 25 scientific expeditions to deep-sea hydrothermal vents, hydrocarbon seeps, continental slopes, and seamounts in the Eastern Pacific, Northern Atlantic, Sea of Cortez, Northeast Pacific, Galápagos Rift, Southeast Pacific, and Central Indian Ocean, including more than 50 submersible dives, 20 remotely operated vehicle dives, and 35 autonomous underwater vehicle dives.


Timothy ShankAnne Simpson
Graduate Student
University of Maine

Anne Simpson is a graduate student in the marine biology PhD program at the University of Maine. Her research focus is the description of the reproductive biology of deep-water alcyonacean corals, especially gorgonians, about which almost nothing is known. On the Mountains in the Sea 2004 cruise, she will prepare coral tissues for later examination of reproductive structures with light and electron microscopy. The information gained from detailed morphological observations should provide insight into reproductive strategies of different coral species.


Charles Smith Charles Smith
Video Engineer
Institute for Exploration

Charles Smith has over 40 years experience in the electronics industry, including field engineering for a number of major video equipment manufacturers, and has designed, engineered and maintained many diverse radio and television broadcast, and post production systems.  He is senior engineer for HB Communications located in North Haven, Connecticut and spends the majority of his time in field operations. Charles's responsibilities on this expedition include ensuring the finest High Definition picture quality and keeping the video and associated systems operational and resolving any equipment problems or failures that occur.  He has enjoyed a longstanding association with IFE as a contract video engineer and has supported many of their expeditions. 


Rhian WallerRhian Waller
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Rhian Waller is a postdoctoral fellow working with Tim Shank at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She is a benthic ecologist, interested in populations of cold-water corals, how they inhabit and reproduce in the deep-sea and how these populations are all interconnected throughout the world's oceans. At WHOI her research centers on developing new methods to extract DNA from extinct populations of scleractinian corals once living on the seamounts, a field known as Ancient DNA. She works closely with Jess Adkins and Laura Robinson at Caltech to determine how these ancient populations were effected by climate change through time. This will be Rhian's 15th research cruise and she will be collecting both fossil and live scleractinians to add to her studies.


Rhian WallerLes Watling
Benthic Ecologist
University of Maine

A professor of oceanography at the University of Maine, Les Watling received his PhD from the University of Delaware. His research interests have principally spanned two area--crustacean taxonomy and phylogeny, and benthic oceanography. His benthic interests focus on the impacts of humans on benthic environments, with an emphasis on organic enrichment and habitat disruption. Recently, he was the co-sponsor of two symposia dealing with impacts of mobile fishing gear on ocean communities, such as the coral beds in the Georges Bank Canyons. His research projects have focused on the potential loss of marine biodiversity associated with fishing activities. He has conducted much of his current work using research submersibles like DSV Alvin .


Pete WileyPete Wiley
Web Coordinator
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

Pete Wiley is an Economist with the National Ocean Service, Special Projects Division. In his fifteen years in this position he has concentrated on developing a better understanding of the dynamic relationship between human society and coastal and ocean resources. Pete received his bachelor's degree in economics from St. Mary's College of Maryland and his master's degree in economics from the George Washington University. He is continuously looking for ways to obtain a better insight into the nature of the ocean and is very excited to be part of this, his first Ocean Exploration cruise. Pete is very eager to bring this fascinating research to the public so that they have a more complete understanding of the ocean environment.


David WrightDavid Wright
ROV Engineering and Operations Support Contractor

Dave Wright wears many hats, dealing with the electrical, electronic, fiber-optic, and computer systems that make up the Institute for Exploration remotely operated vehicle systems. If something is not working properly, Dave will not be sleeping! He is a veteran of many cruises, having worked with the vehicles since their creation. Living in Moss Landing Cal., he contracts his services in all parts of the world.