Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity: Explorers

 

 

Aylem Hernández ÁvilaAylem Hernández Ávila
Researcher and Specialist in Marine Protected Areas
National Center of Protected Areas (CNAP-CITMA)

Aylem Hernández Ávila is the main specialist in Marine Protected Areas for the project Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will coordinate the implementation of the results of the project through management plans in the National System of Protected Areas. She has worked with protected areas in several Latin-American countries, such as Venezuela, Haiti, Panama and Honduras. She received a Prince Berhard Fellowship for nature conservation by World Wide Fund in 2012.


Beatriz Rosa Martínez DaranasBeatriz Rosa Martínez Daranas
Professor
University of Havana (CIM-UH)

Dr. Beatriz Martínez is the Cuban leader for macroalgae for the Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate on Leg 1. She is Professor of Marine Botany and Research Seminaries & Head of Marine Ecology Group, Center of Marine Research, at the University of Havana. She works on the diversity and ecology of seagrasses and seaweeds in Cuba,the assessment of the health of coastal-marine ecosystems (seagrasses, coral reefs), and climatic change and its effects on marine biodiversity. She has received several awards for her scientific results, including the Awards of Havana University, the Cuban Academy of Sciences, and the Critics of Scientific Book of the Cuban Institute of Book (2015) for Macroalgas marinas de Cuba.


Andrew DavidAndrew David
Research Fisheries Biologist
NOAA Fisheries

Andy David will identify and record fish species observed with the ROV on Leg 1 of the expedition. He is a Research Fisheries Biologist with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in Panama City, FL. He has worked for NMFS since 1990 and focused upon reef fish and corals in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. South Atlantic for most of the last 15 years. Andy’s research focus is reef fish associated with hardbottom habitats on the outer edge of the continental shelf. These have been studied in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. South Atlantic and the opportunity to examine insular populations off Cuba will offer an excellent occasion for comparison.


Silvia Patricia González DíazSilvia Patricia González Díaz
Professor & Director of Center of Marine Research
University of Havana (CIM-UH)

Dr. Patricia González is the Cuban scientific leader of the Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in the expedition. She is Professor of Marine Ecology and Director of Center of Marine Research at the University of Havana (CIM-UH). She conducts research on the community, population and individual level indicators in ecological research of corals, sponges and gorgonians, natural and anthropogenic impact on coral reefs, and conservation and management of coastal ecosystems. She also heads the Master’s and Ph.D. Programs in Marine Biology and Aquaculture at CIM-UH and is on the affiliate faculty at the University of Vermont.


Gabriela Ulmo DíazGabriela Ulmo Díaz
Researcher
Center of Marine Research, University of Havana (CIM-UH)

Gabriela Ulmo works in Conservation Genetics of the Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in the studies on connectivity derived from the expedition. She is a Researcher in the Conservation Genetics group at the Center of Marine Research, University of Havana (CIM-UH). She has a Master’s degree in Marine Biology and Aquaculture from the University of Havana.


Cristina Diaz Cristina Diaz, Ph.D
Affiliated Research Professor
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Maria Cristina Diaz will participate in the ROV dives and be responsible for sponge collections and identifications of the expedition. Dr. Diaz is an internationally recognized expert on Porifera, who has been carrying out research on the tropical western Atlantic, and Indo-Pacific sponge fauna for 25 years. Dr. Diaz has reviewed the taxonomic classification of various sponge taxa, described unknown species, and new genera, created sponge guides, applied molecular tools to reveal microbial associates to sponges, measured nitrification rates of Caribbean sponges, and studied phylogentic relationships among extant taxa.


Felicia DrummondFelicia Drummond
Fisheries Biologist
NOAA Corps

LTJG Felicia Drummond will be responsible for reef fish identification on Leg 2 of the expedition. Felicia graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Vermont in 2011. She started her career as a NOAA Corps Officer in January 2013 and completed Officer Candidate School in May 2013. She reported to Marine Operation Center-Pacific, assisting the NOAA fleet's Environmental Compliance Specialist, Julie Wagner, in training, guidance, procedure development and research on all compliance issues for 18 ships. In October 2013, Felicia reported to NOAA Ship Nancy Foster and served as a junior officer for 2 years taking on the roles of Deck Watch Officer, Environmental Compliance Officer and Navigation Officer as well as ship's diver, and small boat coxswain. Felicia reported to the NOAA Fisheries Panama City lab in 2015. She is currently working as a fisheries biologist on MPA and Gulf Coast fisheries surveys.


Stephanie Farrington Stephanie Farrington
Biological Research Specialist
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University

Stephanie Farrington will be the Data Manager and Benthic Community Analyst on this expedition. At Harbor Branch, she works with John Reed on mesophotic and deep coral reef projects. She is the principal contributor to the design and development of the Database Solution for Benthic Surveys (DSBS) utilized on all NOAA CIOERT mesophotic and deep-water surveys since 2011. DSBS is used in conjunction with ArcGIS to visualize and characterize habitats and includes detailed maps of all collection sites and hot links to samples, photographs, species density, percent cover analysis, MDS analysis, and geospatial analysis. In 2014 she was selected as the Biological Science Co-Lead on the Okeanos Explorer during the Exploration of the Gulf of Mexico Cruise verbally annotating and directing ROV dives to a live internet audience of >700,000 people a day. In July, she will be a guest speaker, sharing her experience on the Cuba Expedition at the Mensa Annual Gathering in Hollywood, FL.


Jorge Luis Viamontes Fernández Jorge Luis Viamontes Fernández
Specialist in Oceanography
Marine Investigations Agency of the Geocuba Estudios Marinos

Jorge Viamontes is one of the Cuban specialists of oceanography for the Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in Leg 1 of the expedition. He is a physical oceanographer who studies the dynamics and hydrological water characteristic in bays, estuaries and the ocean. He currently has projects on an oceanographic database for the study of the global change effects on the marine and coastal biodiversity of Cuba, global changes, and evolution of the Cuban marine environment.


José Andrés Pérez García José Andrés Pérez García
Researcher
Center of Marine Research (CIM-UH)

José Pérez is one of the Cuban specialists for the Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in the identification and preservation of the invertebrates collected during the expedition. He is a Researcher and Member of the Marine Ecology group at the Center of Marine Research (CIM-UH). He received his Master’s in Marine Ecology and Aquaculture from the University of Havana and is currently working on a Ph.D. project related to the diversity and taxonomy of free-living nematodes of the meiofauna.


Delmis Cabrera Guerra Delmis Cabrera Guerra
National Aquarium of Cuba (ANC-CITMA)

Delmis Cabrera Guerra is one of the Cuban specialists in fishes for the project Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project. She received her Bachelor's in Biology at Havana University in 2014. Since then, she works at the Aquariology and Ecology Department in the National Aquarium of Cuba (ANC-CITMA). She conducts ecological research on marine fish using several sampling methodologies: video-transects, identification, and enumeration of the different fish species.


M. Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D. M. Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D.
Research Professor
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University

Dr. M. Dennis Hanisak will be participating in the ROV dives on Leg, be responsible for macroalgal collections, and led education/outreach activities. He is Research Professor, and Director of the Indian River Lagoon Observatory and Director of Education at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University. He has over 30 years of experience in marine biology and ecology with an emphasis on marine plants, particularly macroalgae (seaweeds) and seagrasses. He has conducted research on marine plants, with extensive experience on mesophotic reefs in Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. In his education endeavors, he is dedicated to fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation by students and the public of the importance of the oceans and their impact on our lives.


María Rosa García Hernández María Rosa García Hernández
Specialist in Marine Protected Areas
National Center of Protected Areas (CNAP-CITMA)

María García will participate in the management of marine resources of the MPAs, using the results of the expedition. She is a Specialist in Marine Protected Areas at the National Center of Protected Areas (CNAP-CITMA). She received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Havana in 2016.


Lance Horn Lance Horn
Operations Director
Undersea Vehicles Program, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Lance Horn is one of the two-man crew operating and maintaining the ROV during the cruise. This work will include piloting the ROV, tether management on the back deck, operating the manipulator, and fixing any issues that come up with the ROV during the cruise. Lance is responsible for managing the Undersea Vehicles Program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, fostering intra-NOAA and extramural collaborations, and pursuing technology to keep the Program and its undersea assets on the cutting edge of in situ marine science research. The program currently operates three remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and a Slocum glider autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Lance has participated in undersea research activities as mission coordinator, AUV supervisor/technician, chief ROV pilot/technician, and diver for 31 years.


Mingshun Jiang, Ph.D Mingshun Jiang, Ph.D
Associate Research Professor
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Mingshun Jiang will investigate the carbonate chemistry of the mesophotic and deep coral reefs using in-situ mapping of pCO2/pH with state-of-the-art sensors onboard the ROV and traditional water sampling. He is a physical oceanographer specializing in coupled physical-biogeochemical-ecological modeling. His research interests include estuarine and coastal dynamics, iron and carbon cycles in shelf and open oceans, water quality and ecosystem dynamics in coastal and shelf regions, and coastal inundation. Dr. Jiang has been developing numerical models for various marine systems from coastal to open oceans including Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay, Indian River Lagoon, south Florida Shelf and Florida Straits, and Southern Ocean.


Linnet Busutil López Linnet Busutil López
Research Associate
Institute of Marine Sciences (ICIMAR-CITMA)

Linnet Busutil is the Cuban specialist of sponges for the Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in both legs of the expedition. She is Research Associate and Head of Benthos Department at Institute of Marine Sciences (ICIMAR-CITMA). She has a Master’s Degree in Marine Biology and Aquaculture with emphasis in Marine Ecology from the University of Havana. Her research interests include ecology and taxonomy of marine sponges, ecology of coral reefs, and benthic ecology. Her work has been devoted to the investigation of coral reefs, mainly of marine sponges. She has participated in scientific projects involving species inventories, community health assessments, and proposals for environmental bioindicators.


Dr. Erik García Machado Dr. Erik García Machado
Senior Researcher and Professor
Center of Marine Research, University of Havana (CIM-UH)

Erik García is the Cuban leader on Conservation Genetics for the Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in the studies on connectivity derived from this expedition. His research interests include population genetics and evolution and phylogeography of freshwater and marine organisms, with focus on fishes, including patterns of species and population structure and connectivity found in Cuba. He is also editor-in-chief of Revista de Investigaciones Marinas and a member of the National Oceanographic Committee.


Sheila Rodríguez Machado Sheila Rodríguez Machado
Researcher
Institute of Marine Sciences (ICIMAR-CITMA)

Sheila Rodríguez works in Conservation Genetics on the Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in the studies on connectivity derived of the expedition. She is a Researcher at the Oceanology Institute, Institute of Marine Sciences (ICIMAR-CITMA) and currently finishing her Master's degree in Marine Biology and Aquaculture with Mention in Marine Ecology from the Center for Marine Research of the University of Havana. Her research has been related to ecology of reef fish and phylogeny of marine and freshwater fish.


Juliett González Méndez Juliett González Méndez
Specialist in Marine Protected Areas
National Center of Protected Areas (CNAP-CITMA)

Juliett González is one of the Cuban specialists of corals for the Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate on Leg 2 of the expedition, as well as in the implementation of the results of the expedition in the management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). She is a Specialist in Marine Protected Areas at the National Center of Protected Areas (CNAP-CITMA). She received her Master in Natural Environments, Global Change and Socioecological Sustainability at the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía in Spain. She has worked on several projects devoted to management and monitoring of MPAs, especially focused on coral reefs in Ciénaga de Zapata National Park and invasive species.


Daniel Estrada Pérez Daniel Estrada Pérez
Oceanographer Specialist
Marine Research Agency (AIMAR), GEOCUBA Estudios Marinos

Daniel Estrada is one of the Cuban specialists in oceanography for the Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in Leg 2 of the expedition. He has worked as an Oceanographer Specialist at the Marine Research Agency, belonging to GEOCUBA Estudios Marinos in Havana since 2012. He has specialized in studies on physical oceanography (sea level variations, hydrology and waves), chemistry, and the environment. He has participated in research and development projects and taken a postgraduate course in digital image processing.


Shirley Pomponi, Ph.D. Shirley Pomponi, Ph.D.
Research Professor & Executive Director of the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Shirley Pomponi will characterize the mesophotic sponge community sampled during this expedition. She is Research Professor and Executive Director of the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, and Special Professor in Marine Biotechnology at Wageningen University, Netherlands. Her research focuses on marine biotechnology, in general, and sponge systematics, cell and molecular biology, in particular. Dr. Pomponi co-chaired the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council report on ocean science priorities for the next decade, “Sea Change: 2015 – 2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences”.


John ReedJohn Reed
Chief Scientist & Research Professor
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University

John Reed is the Chief Scientist for this expedition and will lead the ROV surveys to discover and characterize Cuba’s mesophotic reefs. John is a Research Professor for the Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology (CIOERT) at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, and has led research and conservation programs on deep-water and mesophotic coral reefs at HBOI for over 40 years. His research and outreach efforts on the Oculina coral reefs off Florida resulted in the establishment of the 600-sq.mi. Oculina Coral Habitat Area of Particular Concern (OHAPC), the first marine protected area in the world to protect deep-water coral ecosystems. His research on the deep-water Lophelia coral reefs off the southeastern United States, which form coral mounds over 300-ft tall and at depths of 2800 ft, was instrumental in NOAA’s designation of the Deep-water Coral HAPC which extends from North Carolina to south Florida, protecting over 23,000 sq. mi. of fragile coral and essential fish habitat.


Alain García RodríguezAlain García Rodríguez
Associate Researcher
Institute of Marine Sciences (ICIMAR-CITMA)

Alain García is one of the Cuban specialists of fishes for the Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in Leg 2 of the expedition. He obtained a Master's degree in Marine Biology and Aquaculture in Marine Ecology from the Center for Marine Research of the University of Havana (CIM-UH) in 2015. His research has focused on biology and ecology of marine fish in reefs, mangroves and seagrasses.


Víctor Manuel Ferrer RodríguezVíctor Manuel Ferrer Rodríguez
Research Technician
University of Havana (CIM-UH)

Víctor Ferrer is one of the Cuban specialists of corals for the Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project. His research interests are coral health and natural and anthropogenic impacts on coral reefs. He graduated as Bachelor in Biology Science at Havana University in 2015 and he works at the Marine Ecology Group of the Marine Research Center at the University of Havana (CIM-UH).


Dorka Cobián RojasDorka Cobián Rojas
Research Technician
University of Havana (CIM-UH)

Dr. Dorka Cobián is the Cuban leader for fishes for the Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in Leg 1 of the expedition. She has been working as a specialist in Guanahacabibes National Park since 2004, which belongs to ECOVIDA, Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment of Cuba (CITMA). She is in charge of the program of research and monitoring of the park and has been involved in the creation, management, strengthening, and enforcement of the Guanahacabibes National Park. She has also led or has been involved in projects related to research, monitoring, and management of endangered species, coral reefs and habitat quality of areas all over the Cuba.


Amanda Ramos RomeroAmanda Ramos Romero
Research Technician
University of Havana (CIM-UH)

Amanda Ramos is one of the Cuban specialists of macroalgae for the project Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in the identification and taxonomy studies of the macroalgae collected during the expedition. She received her Bachelor in Biology at Havana University in 2015. Since then, she has been working at the Marine Research Center (CIM-UH) in the Marine Ecology Department and is a Master´s degree student of Marine Biology and Aquaculture. Her work is related to algae taxonomy and ecology, as well as ecology of coral reefs for evaluating the state of conservation of the coral reefs.


Patricia María González SánchezPatricia María González Sánchez
Researcher
Institute of Marine Sciences (ICIMAR-CITMA)

Patricia González is one of the Cuban specialists of macroalgae for the Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project. She is a Researcher in the Benthos Department at Institute of Marine Sciences (ICIMAR-CITMA). She has specialized in studies on ecology, biodiversity, taxonomy and systematics of macroalgae and seagrasses. She has worked as a phycologist at the Oceanology Institute (presently ICIMAR), Havana, since 2011. She received a Master´s degree in Marine Biology and Aquaculture, specializing in Marine Ecology at the Marine Research Center, University of Havana.


Yusimí Alfonso SánchezYusimí Alfonso Sánchez
Research Associate
National Aquarium (ANC-CITMA)

Yusimí Alfonso is one of the Cuban specialists of macroalgae for the Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in Leg 2 of the expedition. She obtained her Master's degree in Marine Biology and Aquaculture at the University of Havana. She has 10 years of experience, with emphasis on taxonomy of marine macroalgae and is the curator of the Herbarium of the National Aquarium of Cuba (HANC). She is co-author of the book Macroalgas Marinas de Cuba, which has received Awards of Havana University, the Cuban Academy of Sciences, and the Critics of Scientific Book of the Cuban Institute of Book (2015).


Michael StudivanMichael Studivan
Ph. D. Student, Integrative Biology
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University

Michael Studivan will participate in the ROV dives on Leg 1 to characterize benthic habitat and conduct molecular analyses of mesophotic corals to assess ecological connectivity and symbiont types. Michael is a Ph.D. candidate who joined the lab of Dr. Joshua Voss in 2012 under the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Exploration, Research, and Technology. His dissertation research examines the ecology and genetic connectivity of mesophotic coral reefs and the interaction of environment and genotype on coral morphological adaptation to depth. He is a technical diver, drone pilot, and filmmaker specializing in underwater and aerial media. Prior to Michael’s graduate work, he completed his undergraduate degree at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and then worked at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory identifying Arctic benthic invertebrates for climate change and petroleum exploration research.


Joshua Voss, Ph.D.Joshua Voss, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Joshua Voss will participate in the ROV dives on Leg 2 to characterize benthic habitat and conduct molecular analyses of mesophotic corals to assess ecological connectivity and symbiont types. His primary areas of interest include shallow and mesophotic coral reef ecology, coral health and disease, molecular ecology, marine conservation and management. Through Harbor Branch’s Robertson Coral Reef Program and the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Exploration, Research, and Technology, he works to discover, characterize, and protect coral reefs ecosystems. Dr. Voss is a certified technical diver and scuba instructor who has completed over 1300 scientific dives and led more than 30 scientific expeditions primarily in the Bahamas, Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas, and Gulf of Mexico with additional investigations in Panama, Belize, Curacao, Bonaire, Dominica, USVI, and St. Eustatius.


Jason WhiteJason White
ROV Pilot/Technician
Undersea Vehicles Program, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Jason White is one of the two-man crew operating and maintaining the ROV during the cruise. This will include piloting the ROV, tether management on the back deck, operating the manipulator, and fixing any issues that come up with the ROV during the cruise. Jason is an ROV pilot/technician for the Undersea Vehicles Program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). Jason received his B.S. in Marine Science and Meteorology from N.C. State University in 2008. After graduation he worked for C & C Technologies as a hydrographic surveyor in the Gulf of Mexico conducting NOAA marine debris surveys and Oil & Gas surveys. He then worked as a satellite oceanographer in the commercial fishing industry for DigitalGlobe in Herndon, Virginia. Jason has been with the Undersea Vehicles Program for 4 years.


Raúl Igor Corrada WongRaúl Igor Corrada Wong
Research Associate
National Aquarium (ANC-CITMA)

Raúl Corrada is one of the Cuban specialists for the Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity project and will participate in the identification and taxonomy of the fishes and invertebrates collected during the expedition. He is a Research Associate in the Quarantine Department in the National Aquarium of Cuba. His work involves the taxonomic identification of fish and invertebrates and he carries out ecological work in the field with marine fish.


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