NOAA Bonaire 2008 Explorers


baxter James Baxter

James Baxter joined GeoAcoustics in 1997 after completing his bachelor of engineering degree at the University of East Anglia, UK. He has worked on most of the company's products over the past 10 years, including the sub-bottom profiler range and the new 24 bit digital side scan sonar. Baxter also has extensive field survey experience, having demonstrated GeoAcoustics' products to clients in surveys carried out all over the world. Recently, he has been the project lead in the modification of the GeoSwath wide swath sonar for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), designing the 500kHz system which is mounted on the Gavia AUV.  

coccaroaChris Coccaro
University of Delaware

Chris Coccaro is currently an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, pursing a bachelor of science degree in environmental sciences with a concentration in marine studies and a minor in biology. After school, he hopes to attend graduate school to really dive into, pun intended, the oceanographic field. Coccaro has always been fascinated with the oceans and aquatic systems. He became certified in scuba diving in 2005 and considers it a dream-come-true to participate in this program. 

Collins Ken Collins
Marine Scientist
National Oceanography Centre
Southampton, United Kingdom 

Ken Collins is a senior research fellow at the School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK. He has been a keen scientific diver for over 30 years and was involved as an underwater archaeological excavator on the historic Tudor warship Mary Rose ( Originally trained as an analytical chemist, Collins has developed a wide range of interests — including artificial reefs for fisheries, shark tagging, and unmanned submarines — which have taken him around the world. From 1997 to 2000, he led a Darwin Initiative funded study of the Galapagos marine environment which supported its establishment as a marine reserve and subsequently a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

forrestAlexander Forrest
Graduate Student
University of British Columbia
Environmental Fluid Mechanics Group

After completion of a master's degree with the University of British Columbia Civil Engineering Pollution Control and Wastewater Management group, Alex Forrest went on to work an environmental engineering firm in Vancouver, BC, on a number of wastewater related projects. Now midway through the PhD program with the UBC Civil Engineering Environmental Fluid Mechanics group, Forrest's research involves managing AUV operations for various field studies with a Gavia-class vehicle. Deployments to date include several locations in the UK and in Canada, both in open water and ice-covered conditions. Planned upcoming deployments include the High Arctic, the Caribbean, and Mexico. His active research interest is the combination of physical and chemical data to better model and track the ultimate fate of pollutants in natural water systems.

genoveseSalvatore Genovese
Director, Three Seas Program
Marine Science Center
Northeastern University

Dr. Sal Genovese is the director of Northeastern University's Three Seas Program. This program provides upper-level undergraduates and beginning graduate students the opportunity to spend a year studying marine biology in three different marine environments: New England (Nahant, Massachusetts), the South Pacific (Moorea, French Polynesia), and the Pacific Coast of the U.S. (Santa Catalina Island, California). Genovese received a BA in biology from Swarthmore College, and a PhD in biology from Northeastern University. His research interests are focused at the intersection of oceanography and benthic marine ecology. He has extensive research experience in the Gulf of Maine, the Caribbean Sea, and the Florida Keys, using a variety of technologies and platforms including over a dozen oceanographic and scuba research cruises, the Johnson Sea-Link submersible, Nitrox, trimix,and saturation diving, and four missions using the Aquarius underwater habitat.

HillerTom Hiller

Dr. Tom Hiller trained as an experimental physicist in the semiconductor industry, publishing on subjects as diverse as electron holography, laser characterization of semiconductors, and the electro-optic effect in thin films. Since coming to the marine field, Hiller has worked in application engineering and product management for several UK sonar manufacturers, including providing hydrographic consultancy from his own company, Anka Ltd. Since January 2005, he has been based full time at GeoAcoustics Ltd in Great Yarmouth, UK, working on the development of a range of new technologies for the sonar survey market. At GeoAcoustics, Hiller has been a key player in the team developing the hardware, software, and markets for the GeoSwath wide swath sonar, which has resulted in this sonar becoming the world-leading interferometric multibeam.

jonesDaniel Jones
Director, Project Serpent
National Oceanography Centre
Southampton, United Kingdom

Daniel Jones has a BSc in marine biology from the University of Wales, Bangor, an MSc in marine resource management from Heriot-Watt University, and a PhD from Southampton University. For his dissertation research on the ecology of polar organisms living on the sea floor, he worked in the Antarctic with the Autosub autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), and towed vehicle systems. He presently directs the unique cooperative Project Serpent between the oil and gas industry and academia to use state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) on offshore platforms to study the deep ocean. Expert in sea-floor mapping, imaging, and ROV/AUV technology, Jones is also an accomplished diver, with a commercial rating in the UK. He recently was topside dive leader and expedition coordinator for Project SeaCAMEL, a unique effort in underwater education funded by the Living Oceans Foundation. In 2007, he was elected a Fellow of the Explorers Club in New York and will carry the club’s flag on this expedition. 

lavalBernard Laval
University of British Columbia
Environmental Fluid Mechanics Group

Dr. Bernard Laval is a member of the Environmental Fluid Mechanics group in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC-EFM). He completed his undergraduate engineering physics degree at the University of British Columbia, then a master's degree in physical oceanography with Dr. Grant Ingram at McGill University. The subsequent three years were spent developing scientific applications for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) at the Underwater Research Laboratory under Dr. John Bird at Simon Fraser University. Laval's PhD dissertation combined field and numerical modeling techniques to describe spatial variability of transport processes in lakes and coastal waters. Since joining UBC-EFM in 2002, he has been combining a Gavia-class AUV with conventional field instrumentation and numerical modeling to develop new insights into aquatic transport processes. Dr. Laval and students have recently explored waters in British Columbia, the Laurentian Great Lakes, and a Scottish Fjord. This winter they will explore the Caribbean.


leichter Jim Leichter
Project Co-Principal Investigator
Associate Professor/Biological Oceanographer
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California at San Diego

Dr. James J. Leichter is an oceanographer and marine ecologist in the Integrative Oceanography Division, Biology Section, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He received his training in marine science at Stanford (BA, PhD) and Northeastern (MS) Universities, and completed post-doctoral studies at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution before joining the faculty at Scripps in 2001. His research into the ecological consequences of oceanographic forcing mechanisms in coastal systems has included extensive field work including scuba diving in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and North and South Pacific. 

magnussonEggert J. Magnússon
Software Engineer
Hafmynd ehf

Eggert Magnússon's role in the Bonaire expedition is chiefly as a technical adviser for operations of the Gavia AUV and a data analyst. He holds a BSc in computer science from the University of Iceland. He has been involved in all aspects of programming the Gavia AUV, but his main focus is on the user interface. He has traveled extensively with the Gavia AUV, all the way to the Arctic and down to Australia, and has been involved with numerous AUV projects.


mallinson Jenny Mallinson
Diving Officer
National Oceanography Centre, UK

Jenny Mallinson is in charge of scientific diving within the School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK. She also runs the marine research aquarium, using collecting trips as a means of monitoring the local marine environment. Her study of the marine life growing on the historic Tudor warship for the three years prior to raising of the wreck, was the first of numerous artificial reef colonization studies. She has a particular interest in hydroids and published a paper on those from the Galapagos marine reserve

mccoleKathleen (Kat) McCole
University of Delaware

Kat McCole is an undergraduate at the University of Delaware (UD), studying wildlife conservation. She has previously interned at the UD College of Marine and Earth Studies studying horseshoe crabs, and is currently interning at the Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy. McCole is interested in studying conservation of marine species and is looking forward to attending graduate school in 2009.

miller Doug Miller
Associate Professor
College of Marine and Earth Studies
University of Delaware

Doug Miller’s interests in benthic ecology began with studies of the interaction of near-bottom flow and sediment transport with deposit- and suspension-feeding marine benthos. More recently, he has examined the role of submarine groundwater discharge in distributions of sandflat infauna and biological productivity as well as the distribution and formation of temperate worm-reef communities and utilization of these hard-bottom habitats by motile invertebrates, including non-indigenous species. Habitat mapping and the use of historical benthic data sets to address present and future environmental questions are two of his newest interests. Miller welcomes the opportunity to mentor both graduate and undergraduates in these research programs, whether in the local waters of Delaware Bay, Delmarva’s coastal bays, or as part of study abroad programs in New Zealand and Bonaire. He received a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Notre Dame and his master's and doctoral degrees in oceanography from the University of Washington.


morris Nicole M.B. Morris
Web Coordinator
NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Nicole Morris started working at NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) as a Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellow in February 2007. She graduated from Jacksonville State University with a bachelor of science degree in biology and a minor in chemistry, in 2003. As an undergraduate, she participated in a National Science Foundation sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) fellowship at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL). During the REU and later as a lab technician at DISL, she conducted a year-long marsh ecology project focusing on the response of two saltpan plant species, Distichlis spicata and Salicornia bigelovii, to fertilization. In 2004, she started her graduate work at the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola. Her work examined the utilization of shipwrecks as habitat by fishes across a depth gradient, 84 to 1,964 m, in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In 2007, Morris received a Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship and also graduated with her master of science degree in biology from UWF. This is her last expedition with OER as a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow; her fellowship will be finished at the end of January 2008

pattersonMark Patterson
Bonaire Expedition Leader
Associate Professor of Marine Science
Director, Autonomous Systems Laboratory
Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary

Mark Patterson received his AB, AM, and PhD in biology from Harvard. His research interests include developing AUVs and new ways to use them, how organisms like corals and their allies respond to water motion, and how size affects the biology of aquatic invertebrates and plants.  He was the software, sensor, and computer architect behind the Fetch- (US Patent 5,995,822) and NNemo-class AUVs (Northrop Grumman). From 1996 to 2005, Patterson served as co-founder, CTO (chief technical officer), and vice president of Sias Patterson, Inc, the first commercial maker of small AUV technology (now owned by Fetch LLC).  He is lead inventor on US Patent 7,221,621, a method for recognizing targets from side scan sonar using neural networks. His field work with AUVs has taken him to the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, Caribbean, California, and Antarctica. A veteran of a dozen research cruises, he also has logged 79 days as a saturation diver in the world’s only underwater laboratory, NOAA’s Aquarius, where he recently taught live underwater classrooms as part of Project SeaCAMEL, an outreach effort of the Living Oceans Foundation.

PattersonSusan Patterson
Logistics Coordinator and Public Relations
Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary

Susan Patterson has a degree in architecture from SUNY Delhi, and has enjoyed a varied, interesting career including contract administration, management, and oversight of everything from custom home construction, commercial development, to large public projects like airports, laboratories, and HUD development. A former principal at Jacobs Engineering Group, a Fortune 500 firm, Patterson now works with an angel investor group in Virginia, and helps Robot Venture, a regional initiative to facilitate the autonomous vehicle industry in Hampton Roads. As CEO of the FernGroup, she currently has a patent pending for a ship hull scanning device for use in underwater security. A Virginia Institute of Marine Science volunteer with Bonaire experience, she is coordinating logistics, meals, and public relations for the expedition.

rellesNoelle J. Relles
Graduate Fellow
Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary

Noelle Relles started her undergraduate career as a human development major at Cornell University, but after a spring break trip to Florida her love of the ocean was rekindled.  She returned to Cornell in search of a way to study marine biology in the middle of upstate New York, and was surprised to find plenty of opportunities there. She took two courses at Cornell's marine lab at the Isle of Shoals off the coast of Maine and spent a semester in Hawaii, studying earth and environmental systems and the dynamics of marine ecosystems. Her undergraduate advisor sparked her interest in marine invertebrates and coral reefs, alerting her to the global crisis of climate change. After graduating from Cornell with a degree in interdisciplinary study in December of 2006, she began working on her master's degree in August of 2007 at the College of William & Mary's School of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. She will be working with her advisor, Mark Patterson, mapping the sea floor surrounding the island of Bonaire. 

ruttenOtto Rutten
Associate Center Director
NOAA’s Undersea Research Center
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Key Largo, Florida

Otto Rutten is currently the associate director with NOAA's Undersea Research Center (NURC) in Key Largo, Florida, but he has held several different positions with them in the last 13 years. Working with NURC, he has provided operational support to hundreds of science missions and worked with Mark Patterson, Jim Leichter, Sal Genovese, and Dale Stokes on many occasions. His role on the Bonaire mission will be to provide oversight for the mixed-gas research dives and conduct fish censuses. Before NURC, Rutten was a fisheries biologist with the state of North Carolina, where he conducted juvenile fish surveys, worked on stock assessment of several species of fish, and regulated the shrimp fishery. He received an AAS in marine technology at Cape Fear Technical Institute, and a BS and MS in marine biology at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington.   

stevensHilary Stevens
Graduate Student
University of Delaware

Hilary Stevens is a doctoral student at the University of Delaware. Her research interests include shoreline change and coastal management. She completed a bachelor’s degree in earth and environmental sciences from Wesleyan University in 1996 and a master’s in coastal and watershed management from Yale University in 1999. Following that, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines in integrated coastal management and then spent several years in the Northern Mariana Islands before returning to her native East Coast for doctoral work. 


stokesM. Dale Stokes
Project Co-principal Investigator
Associate Research Physical Oceanographer
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Dr. Dale Stokes is a research associate in the Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL) at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He has participated in over 16 research cruises studying the pelagic and benthic physical environment around the world from a variety of different research vessels, including the research platform FLIP, and the submersibles Alvin, Seacliff, Turtle, and Delta and the ROVs Scorpio, ATV, and Tiburon. He has spent four seasons in Antarctica with the National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs, and three in the Arctic with the NASA Haughton Impact Crater project. An experienced diver, he has made hundreds of research dives under the polar ice, inside caves, deep trimix dives, and from the Aquarius saturation habitat. His interests include coupling between the physical environment and the biological community, the transport of gases between the atmosphere and upper ocean, and the design and fabrication of new oceanographic instrumentation. Some of the instruments used in the Bonaire project were fabricated in his lab at MPL.

trembanisArthur Trembanis
Project Co-Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor, University of Delaware
AUV Operations, and Marine Geologist 

Dr. Arthur Trembanis is the director of the Coastal Sediments, Hydrodynamics, and Engineering Laboratory (CSHEL) in the College of Marine and Earth Studies at the University of Delaware. He completed his undergraduate studies in geology and oceanography at Duke University. After completing a Fulbright fellowship at Sydney University, he received his doctorate from Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary. His research deals with measuring and modeling coastal morphodynamics, the interplay of physical processes with sea-floor features and shallow geology. The work of CSHEL involves the development and utilization of advanced oceanographic instrumentation particularly AUVs. He focuses on topics such as beach erosion, beach nourishment, bedform behavior, and scour processes. He is particularly interested in scour related to recent and ancient shipwrecks and other seabed objects. He has conducted field studies from sites around the world, including the Black Sea, New Zealand, Australia, Panama, and throughout the Eastern and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. This past summer, Dr. Trembanis helped lead an AUV component of the Okeanos Explorer project through NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration to study the archaeology and geology of the Northern Black Sea. In addition to his involvement with the present research project in Bonaire, Dr. Trembanis is also the co-director, along with Dr. Doug Miller, of an intensive four-week study-abroad program on the island.

yeoRichard Yeo

Dr. Richard Yeo received his undergraduate degree in physics and electronics at St. Andrews, in Scotland. He then moved to Cambridge for a job in the Antarctic, followed by a second degree in physics with Southampton University. Yeo is the field operations and testing manager for Gavia and has conducted various field efforts from Antarctica to the Arctic, mainly as a physicist or electronics engineer. He will be in charge of field operations and support for the Gavia AUVs during this campaign. He recently returned from a trip to the arctic sea ice to test the system and collect data.

2008 University of Delaware Study Abroad Program

Ashley Beers
Maggie Beird
Kenneth Bijansky
Cheryn Clark
Christopher Coccaro
Krystal Golankiewicz
Jonathon Gordon
Paul Grube
Laura Hegarty
Sarah Hendrickson
Matthew Kern
Nathan Maier
Kathleen McCole
Ashley Schutt
Natalie Simon
Megan Wolters

Island Government of Bonaire

leonRamón de Leon
Manager, Bonaire National Marine Park

As the manager of the Bonaire National Marine Park, Ramón de Leon has a unique job. A native of Uruguay, he arrived in Bonaire in April of 1998. His educational background is in oceanography with a PhD in environmental engineering from the University of Sao Pãolo, Brazil. In August of 2004, STINAPA hired de Leon as the marine park manager. In this capacity, he collaborates with the other managers involved in the long-term strategy for the foundation. On a daily basis, he is responsible for all the maintenance, law enforcement, education and different park monitoring programs.  Because the park is a multi-use, users range from water sport operators, to fishermen and people who live on the shoreline. This presents some unique challenges for STINAPA as the main income of the economy is tourism, specifically dive tourism. Knowing that Bonaire has the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean due to 30 years of protective policy implementation, de Leon is motivated to keep this wonderful natural resource sustainable.

slobbeFrank van Slobbe
Secretary of the Commission Marine Environment
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Government of the Island Territory of Bonaire

Frank van Slobbe was born and raised in Surinam and spent a large part of his youth in Brazil. He studied environmental engineering and science at the HTS in Utrecht, and then worked as an environmental consultant in Central America. After completing his master's degree in environmental science in Australia, he worked there for a number of years as an environmental consultant. Since May 2005, he has worked for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Bonaire.