Expedition to the Deep Slope Explorers
Penn State University
Erin Becker is a master's student in biology at Penn State University, having her bachelor's in science in ecology and evolution at the University of Pittsburgh in 2005. Her previous undergraduate research involved plant evolutionary genetics using Arabidopsis thaliana. Current work focuses on use of stable carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotopes to determine trophic interactions in deep-sea communities associated with the reef-building coral, Lophelia pertusa. Other interests include theoretical ecology.
Dr. Bernie Bernard received a PhD in 1978 in chemical oceanography from Texas A&M University. For the next two years, as an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma School of Geology and Geophysics, Dr. Bernard taught graduate level courses in organic geochemistry and isotope geochemistry. In 1980, he accepted a position as vice president of O.I. Analytical, Inc., designing instruments for the measurement of gases, volatiles, and petroleum hydrocarbons in the environment. In 1993, he was appointed deputy director of the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG) of Texas A&M, serving with his long-time friend and director of GERG, Dr. James M. Brooks. In 1996, Dr. Bernard partnered with Dr. Brooks in forming TDI-Brooks International, Inc., where he is a co-owner and vice president. TDI-Brooks is a Texas company that delivers high-quality field and analytical services and scientific interpretation to the marine oil exploration and environmental marketplace. Dr. Bernard has over 20 years of experience in natural gas geochemistry. His published models for the interpretation of the natural sources of light hydrocarbon gases have become commonly known in the scientific literature as “Bernard Plots” and are commonly used and cited by investigators world wide in their research. The analytical methods he has developed for the measurement of the concentrations of interstitial gases in marine sediments have resulted in an accumulation of data from over 25,000 cores taken in the continental shelves, slopes, and the deep water adjacent to continental margins worldwide.
Meaghan Bernier is a first year PhD student at the University of Georgia, where she is studying biogeochemical cycling and habitat stability in mangrove forests of Belize, Panama, and Florida. She graduated in 2005 from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey with a BS in marine science. Bernier also worked for several years at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, where she carried out her undergraduate research on barrier island ecology and the effects of beach nourishment on inter-tidal invertebrate populations. She is excited to be a part of the 2006 Gulf of Mexico cruise studying biogeochemical cycles in the deep sea.
Marshall Bowles is a first year PhD student in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, in Athens. He received his BSc in integrated science and technology from James Madison University in 2003, and his MS in environmental management (water and air resources) from Duke University in 2005. His PhD research focuses on the regulation of sulfate reduction at cold seep sediments. He is particularly interested in oil-degrading sulfate reducers.
Monika Bright is a professor of marine biology and zoology at the University of Vienna, Austria. Her research focuses on the on the evolution, adaptations, and interactions of chemosynthetic invertebrate symbioses and on the meiobenthic community of deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. As well as describing new types of marine chemosynthetic symbioses, such as the scarcely known shallow-water hydrothermal vents of Antarctica and the Caribbean, she has concentrated on the giant tubeworm Riftia pachyptila endosymbiosis and the ciliate Zoothamnium niveum ectosymbiosis. In both systems, the studies aim at understanding the morphological and ultrastructural transformations in context with the evolution of symbiosis, the life cycle and infection processes, and the interactions between host and symbionts. She also initiated an Austrian wide multidisciplinary, interactive outreach programs for school children "Extreme 4 Kids" (www.hydrothermalvent.com) to promote and distribute the awareness and knowledge of the deep sea.
Dr. Robert S. Carney has been fascinated by deep-sea ecology since he first participated in deep sampling in 1967 as an undergraduate at Duke University. During his graduate education, he sampled in the deep Gulf of Mexico as a student at Texas A&M University, and in the deep northeastern Pacific as a student at Oregon State. He also spent two years as a Smithsonian Fellow, examining a fraction of the thousands of specimens archived at the U.S. National Museum of Natural History. After three years directing the Biological Oceanography Program of the National Science Foundation, he returned to teaching and research. At Moss Landing Marine Lab on the Pacific, he began submersible-based investigation of animal distribution. During this period, chemosynthetic communities were discovered in the deep Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Carney came to Louisiana State University in 1986, and has been conducting research on deep Gulf of Mexico ecology ever since. During Expedition to the Deep Slope, he will concentrate on two areas of concern. First, to what extent do normal deep-sea fauna feed upon the abundant seep animals? Second, he will try to determine dispersion of tubeworm larvae through use of larvae attracting devices. Dr. Carney is active in a growing group of deep-sea scientists concerned about pollution and environmental impact in that poorly understood environment.
Erik Cordes is an ecologist studying cold-seep and coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico. At Moss Landing Marine Labs in California, he worked on the age and growth of soft corals and the gorgonian Primnoa resedaeformis. He then went to Penn State University, where he studied the tubeworms of the upper slope of the Gulf of Mexico, including the ecology of communities associated with Lamellibrachia luymesi and Seepiophila jonesi aggregations, age and growth models of the tubeworms, and models of their sulfide sources. He also worked on a Minerals Management Service project on the ecology of the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa and their associated communities in the Gulf of Mexico. At Harvard, he is currently studying the microbial ecology of Juan de Fuca Ridge hydrothermal vent chimneys.
Charles (Chuck) Fisher is a professor of biology in the Eberly College of Science at Penn State University. He received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University. He then moved to the University of California in Santa Barbara where he received his PhD, working on algal-invertebrate symbioses in corals and giant clams. He began working at hydrothermal vents during his first cruise with the deep submergence vehicle Alvin in 1982, and began at the cold seeps of the Gulf of Mexico in 1987. He has been on 54 oceanographic expeditions over the past 24 years and was chief scientist for 23 of those expeditions. He has made 122 dives with six different research submarines, and logged over 77 days at sea working with remotely operated vehicles. Fisher's research group uses various techniques and approaches to discover new animals, investigate the metabolic and life history adaptations of vent and seep animals, and study the ecology of the often strange communities found in these deep-sea habitats.
Liz Goehring is the education outreach coordinator for the National Science Foundation Ridge 2000 research program. She is also the director of Student Experiments at Sea (SEAS), a science education program in which students learn about deep-sea science through participation in the research process. She is currently working with scientists on this cruise to develop new “Classroom to Sea” Labs for SEAS. Prior to working as education and outreach coordinator, Goehring taught science for six years to teachers and students at all levels, focusing on how to foster authentic scientific inquiry in the classroom. She earned her MS in ecology from the University of Minnesota, where she studied environmental factors that influence reproductive diapause in monarch butterflies, and helped develop a monarch ecology curriculum for children in kindergarten to Grade 8. Prior to studying ecology, she worked for IBM as a systems engineer for nine years. She has another MS in systems engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she studied decision analysis.
Stéphane Hourdez's research focuses on the adaptation of deep-sea organisms to the low environmental oxygen concentrations found at hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. The scaleworms form a group of annelids that are particularly interesting: they are found at all hydrothermal vent and cold-seep sites investigated so far, as well as in shallow water environments, where oxygen is found at higher concentrations. This allows a study of the strategies developed by the seep and vent species to cope with hypoxia (low levels of oxygen), using the shallow-water species as references. Such adaptations are, for example, the presence of gills in about half the hypoxia-exposed species, whereas none of the shallow-water species have gills.
Jesse Hunt received a BS in 1969 and an MS in 1974, both in geology, from the University of Georgia. His thesis involved the geology of Gray’s Reef off Sapelo Island, Georgia. Following a two-year sedimentological study of the Venezuelan Caribbean continental margin for a private Venezuelan research foundation, he began working for the U.S. Department of Interior in New Orleans and was involved with offshore oil and gas leasing. He worked for four years with Gulf Oil in offshore oil and gas exploration, and returned to the Minerals Management Service and worked in tract evaluation. Since 1998, he has worked in the Resource Studies Section of the Office for Resource Evaluation, involved with studies of gas hydrates and deep-water sea-floor hydrocarbon seeps. His duties have involved the mapping of the sea-floor reflector on about 150 overlapping 3-D seismic surveys, covering the entire slope of the central and western Gulf of Mexico. He has also done extensive analysis of seismic amplitude anomalies that are related to sea-floor seeps.
Mandy Joye, Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, received her BSc in biology and PhD in marine science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professor Joye studies how microorganisms mediate biogeochemical transformations in habitats ranging from coastal marshes to saline lakes to deep sea cold seeps. An expert on methane dynamics, she studies methane production and consumption and is interested in understanding the role of microorganisms in controlling the flux of methane from the ocean to the atmosphere. Her work in the Gulf of Mexico has focused on understanding the mechanisms of the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) and the interaction of AOM and two other microbial processes, sulfate reduction and methanogenesis, in the sediments and on the regulation of aerobic methane oxidation in the water column overlying seeps. She has authored over 50 scientific papers and participated in a number of research cruises to the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.
Matt Kupchik is a first year graduate student at Louisiana State University. He earned his BS at Stockton College in New Jersey, studying benthic nutrient flux rates associated with submarine groundwater discharge in Spartina spp. marsh environments. Currently, his interests focus on site fidelity and recruitment, specifically using stable isotope analysis to determine those relationships. Aside from benthic communities, other interests include fisheries and numerical modeling.
Stephanie Lessard-Pilon is currently working on her PhD at Penn State University, having completed her BS in biology at Cornell University in 2005. She previously worked on nutrient recycling by invertebrates in temperate streams and is interested in invertebrate community ecology. She is now working on a project using photomosaics to describe communities associated with the deep-sea hard coral Lophelia pertusa.
Ian MacDonald received a PhD in biological oceanography from Texas A&M University in 1990. His expertise is in deep-sea ecology, submarine gas hydrates, image processing, remote sensing and GIS techniques, with ongoing work on natural gas and oil seeps and deep-sea ecology in the Gulf of Mexico. His article entitled "Asphalt volcanism and chemosynthetic life in the Gulf of Mexico" was recently published in Science. MacDonald will be part of the benthos team during the cruise.
Cheryl Morrison is a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey-Biological Resources Division (USGS-BRD) Leetown Science Center. She works in a conservation genetics lab that aims to develop and use genetic techniques to determine population structure and management units for species of concern. Dr. Morrison earned a BS in marine biology at University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and her PhD in biology at Florida State University. Her research interests can be broadly classified as molecular ecology: the use of molecular tools to understand the distributions of species and populations, and how this is influenced by their environments, behavior, and interactions with other organisms. Her research has involved the study of evolutionary relationships among tropical coral-reef-dwelling snapping shrimps, hermit crabs, and other anomuran crustaceans, stream fishes, orchids, and freshwater mussels. Dr. Morrison is using molecular tools to study deep-sea coral biodiversity and population genetics. On the cruise, she will assist with sampling and data collection, including submersible operations, and will oversee the preservation of coral and invertebrate tissue for DNA studies.
Helge Niemann is a post-doc in the Microbial Habitat Group at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Marine Microbiology. He earned a MSc at the Center for Marine Tropical Ecology in Bremen, Germany, and a PhD at the MPI. Niemann’s research focuses on methane turnover and associated organisms at cold seeps. During his previous research activities, he examined a variety of cold seep bio-geosystems, including mud volcanoes, gas seeps, and pockmarks. The central questions during these studies were: How much methane is retained in the sediment, what is the identity of methane-oxidizing communities and what are the environmental factors selecting for a given community? On this expedition, he will analyze the effect of tubeworms and their irrigation activities on hydrocarbon-degrading microbial communities. He will also examine temperature and sulphide anomalies in the bottom waters, indicating enhanced seep activity.
Cindy Petersen is a middle school Life and Earth Science teacher in suburban Minneapolis, where she uses an inquiry and research-based approach to engage students in science. Two years ago, her students participated in the Student Experiments at Sea (SEAS) program (http://www.ridge2000.org/SEAS) and sent their experiment to the hydrothermal vents of the East Pacific Rise. On this cruise, Petersen will help design new “Classroom to Sea” labs for the SEAS program. For the past nine summers, her students have conducted ecological research as part of a University of Minnesota citizen science program in which they monitor immature monarch populations at a restored prairie, and conduct individual research projects. Her students travel to Mexico to the monarch over-wintering sites, and present their research at state and regional science fairs and national scientific meetings. Petersen has a BA in biology and a MaEd in curriculum and instruction. She is also an instructor with the MonarchLab at the University of Minnesota, teaching insect ecology and field biology to teachers during the summer.
Jillian Petersen is currently working on her PhD at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) in Bremen, Germany. She completed a BS in microbiology at the University of Queensland, Australia, and an MS in marine microbiology at the MPI. In her master's thesis, she worked on the identity and function of bacterial symbionts of invertebrates from chemosynthetic environments. Her current work involves using molecular biology methods to study evolutionary and functional aspects of bacteria-invertebrate symbioses at vents and seeps.
Jeremy Potter graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina and immediately 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 begin graduate school at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment. 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. As the OE Expeditions Coordinator, Potter now dedicates most of his time to the marine operations and science teams.
Harry Roberts is a Boyd Professor at Louisiana State University and director of the Coastal Studies Institute. He teaches and advises graduate students in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. Over his career, he has worked on both carbonate and terrigenous clastic depositional systems. Currently his research interests focus on the Mississippi River delta system and marine geology of the northern Gulf of Mexico continental slope. His delta research is largely concentrated on the Atchafalaya-Wax Lake deltas, where he is working to develop a better understanding of basic depositional processes and sediment transport to the shelf and down-drift chenier plain coast. In deep water of the continental slope, his research interests involve developing a detailed understanding of both the geologic and biologic impacts of fluid and gas expulsion on the modern sea floor. Surface and near-surface gas hydrates constitute a part of the fluid and gas expulsion response spectrum and are a focal point of much of his research using manned submersibles, remotely operated vehicles, and various types of seismic data.
Vladimir Samarkin is an associate research scientist in the department of marine sciences at University of Georgia, in Athens. He received his PhD in geology (biogeochemistry) from the Institute of Geology, Russian Academy of Sciences, in Moscow. Dr. Samarkin studies the rates of anaerobic microbial processes in extreme environments such as deep-sea methane seeps and brines, perennially ice-covered Antarctic lakes, soda lakes, and hot springs. He uses radioisotopes to quantify the role of microorganisms in geochemical processes. Vladimir is an author of over 30 research papers published in Russian and international scientific journals. He participated in several expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic, and in number of oceanic research cruises.
William (Bill) Shedd is the Mineral Management Service (MMS) contract inspector and the geophysicist involved in the site selection process for the May 2006 deep submergence vessel Alvin dives. Along with Dr. Harry Roberts of Louisiana State University and Jesse Hunt of the MMS, Shedd used 3D seismic bathymetry with amplitude extraction overlay to pick the sites. He has been involved in site selection for the MMS sponsored Johnson Sea-Link dives, researching both natural gas hydrate distribution and chemosynthetic communities in the Gulf of Mexico. He is presently involved in the assessment of natural gas hydrates as a potential resource in the Gulf and the Atlantic. After receiving a bachelor's degree in geology from the University of Rochester and completing coursework toward a master's at Louisiana State University, Shedd worked in the oil industry for 22 years before joining the MMS in 1997.
Guy Telesnicki is a senior research technician at Penn State University in State College. He is responsible for maintaining several pieces of the specialized equipment needed to collect deep-sea organisms. He will also help process biological samples collected during the cruise, preparing them for identification and further analysis. Telesnicki holds an MS in biology from Florida International University, where he studied coral reef ecology. He is currently working towards an MS in mechanical engineering.
Gary Wolff has over 30 years experience in environmental sampling, analysis, and data management. He has served in various roles, ranging from field scientist to principal investigator in large environmental projects. He has conducted research and published on biometric methods of taxonomic identification, multivariate methods of characterizing feeding relationships, environmental monitoring and assessment of coastal and offshore waters, management of large, multidisciplinary data bases, population structure, energetics and distribution of zooplankton and cephalopods and fishes, GIS, multivariate statistics, and biometrics. He served as principal investigator/data manager for numerous national research projects, ranging from the Antarctic environment (a National Science Foundation project) to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Program (a Department of Energy program) and offshore projects funded by Mineral Management Services (MMS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service. He participated on research cruises in the Gulf of Mexico, North and South Atlantic, has over 45 publications, contributed to three books, and served on international database policy groups.
He is currently affiliated with TDI-BI, a scientific services organization that specializes in conducting offshore surface geochemical surveys, environmental assessments, and is the contractor for the MMS funded Investigations of Chemosynthetic Communities on the Lower Continental Slope of the Gulf of Mexico (CHEMO III).
Pilot in Training
Pilot in Training
Pilot in Training
Communications Electronics Technician
First Assistant Engineer
Second Assistant Engineer
Third Assistant Engineer
Shipboard Science Support Group Technician
Shipboard Science Support Group Technician