Sound in the Sea team

The Sound in the Sea team gathers with members from other science parties on the front deck of the NOAA Ship Ron Brown.

Explorers' Biographies

Dr. Christopher Fox
Dr. Jim Mercer
Dr. Robert Dziak
Dr. Dave Mellinger
Jonathan Klay
Lyle F. Gullings
Dr. Haru Matsumoto
Andra M. Bobbitt
Tai-Kwan “Andy" Lau
Sharon L. Nieukirk

Christopher Fox, PhDDr. Christopher Fox
Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA
Principal Investigator, Pioneer Seamount Acoustic Monitoring Project

As the principal investigator for the Pioneer Seamount Project, Dr. Fox is responsible for the planning, logistics and coordination of the numerous resources and agencies required for this experiment. He has served as a principal investigator within the VENTS Program of NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory since June 1985, and leads a diversified program in marine mapping, geophysics, and underwater acoustics. Dr. Fox is also an associate professor (courtesy) at Oregon State University's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. He received an AB in geology from the University of Tennessee in 1974, an ScM in geological sciences from Brown University in 1976, and a PhD in geological sciences from Columbia University in 1985. In recognition of his efforts to develop the U.S. Navy's Sound Surveillance System for environmental applications, Dr. Fox received the U.S. Department of Commerce highest award, the gold medal, in 1994.

Jim Mercer, PhDDr. Jim Mercer
University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory
Hydrophone array installation/ambient noise studies

Dr. Mercer is a principal physicist at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and a research associate professor in the geophysics program at the University of Washington. During his nearly 30-yr tenure at APL, underwater acoustics has been the central theme of Dr. Mercer's research. His studies have covered the spectrum, from basic research to advanced applications. He has authored and co-authored scores of scientific and technical publications, and has served as the chief scientist on numerous expeditions at sea. He received a BS in physics in 1968 and a PhD in geophysics in 1983, both from the University of Washington. Dr. Mercer currently leads a team of scientists and engineers at APL, and is an associate editor of the U.S. Navy Journal of Underwater Acoustics.

Robert Dziak, PhDDr. Robert Dziak
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies
Oregon State University

Dr. Dziak holds a BS in geophysics from the University of Illinois and
a PhD in geophysics from Oregon State University. He is currently working with NOAA/PMEL in Newport, OR, as chief seismologist in charge of monitoring volcanic activity off the Pacific Northwest coast. He also has a joint appointment with Oregon State University, where he is an assistant professor. He has participated in several oceanographic research cruises, and two submersible dives, in various parts of the Pacific Ocean. In 2000, he received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for his work on detecting sea-floor volcanic activity.

Dave Mellinger, PhDDr. Dave Mellinger
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies
Oregon State University

A specialist in analyzing whale sounds, Dave Mellinger has worked since the early 1990s on ways to learn more about whales from the sounds they make. He has worked extensively on methods for automatic call recognition, and has applied these methods to studying blue, fin, minke, bowhead, and right whales and harbor seals. Presently, he is working on making these methods user-friendly, so that they are available for those who are not signal-processing specialists. Dr. Mellinger received BS degrees in math and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983, and a PhD in computer science from Stanford University in 1992. He studied whale sounds in the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell from 1992-96, and worked on seal sounds at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute from 1997-99. He came to PMEL in spring 2000.

Jonathan KlayJonathan Klay
System Administrator
Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA
Communications/Computer Technology

Jonathan Klay has worked in a variety of marine fields for the past 14 years. After receiving an MS in coastal sedimentology from the University of South Florida, he was an officer in the NOAA Commissioned Corps for over 10 years. As a NOAA Corps officer, he served as a Junior Officer on the NOAA Ship Rainer conducting hydrographic surveys in Alaskan waters, a marine geologist at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, Florida, the Field Operations Officer and Executive Officer of the NOAA Ship Rude, and the Operations Support Officer for the Pacific Marine Environmental Lab division in Newport, Oregon. While Field Operations Officer on Rude, the ship was instrumental in locating the wreckage of TWA flight 800, a task for which it received the Department of Commerce Gold Medal. He is currently the IT System Administrator for the PMEL Vents group in Newport, OR.

Lyle GullingsLyle F. Gullings
Senior Field Engineer
Applied Physics Laboratory
University of Washington

Lyle Gullings provides engineering support to several of the Applied Physics Laboratory's programs in the areas of equipment design, assembly and testing. He has designed and supervised the fabrication and installation of components for integrating two government-furnished AN/WQC-2 Sonar Communications Sets and interfacing them with a commercial communications control system. He has participated in studies characterizing the use of sidescan sonar for mine hunting and in defining acceptable noise levels for divers working underwater. He has also participated on assessment and certification teams for evaluating the effectiveness of shipboard sensor test facilities for the U. S. Navy and NATO. He was responsible for assembly and tests of the electronic components for the VLA (Vertical Line Array) deployed at Pioneer Seamount and the Telemetry Receiver at Pillar Point. Mr. Gullings joined the Laboratory in 1992, having provided contractual engineering services since 1967.

Haru Matsumoto, PhDDr. Haru Matsumoto
Senior Engineer
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies
Oregon State University

Haru Matsumoto is involved in the development of various oceanographic systems including an in-situ optical instrument, side-scan sonar, hydrophone array design, and data logging systems. He holds a Ph.D in Ocean Engineering from the University of Hawaii. He joined NOAA/PMEL in 1991 and has a joint appointment with Oregon State University. One of the most successful systems he has designed is a battery-operated autonomous hydrophone (acronym: HARU-Phone), which has played a key role in the detection of seismic events and whale vocalizations in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Andra M. BobbittAndra M. Bobbitt
Senior Research Assistant
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies
Oregon State University
Vents Program, NOAA/PMEL

Andra Bobbitt has participated in over 35 research expeditions in 17 years of working in marine geology. Her work has involved processing acoustic navigation and multibeam bathymetry data, establishing an oceanographic geographic information system (GIS) and serving as the webmaster for the Vents program. She graduated from the University of California at San Diego in 1984 when she began working at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In 1991 she moved to Oregon to work for the Vents Program. For the Sound of the Sea program, she will be collecting multibeam bathymetry on the expedition and updating the Vents Acoustic Program’s websites with data collected from this project.

Tai-Kwan "Andy" LauTai-Kwan “Andy" Lau
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies
Oregon State University

Tai-Kwan "Andy" Lau is the programmer/mathematician for the NOAA/PMEL Acoustic Monitoring Project. He developed all of the software code that will be used in the analysis of hydrophone data from Pioneer Seamount and developed (with Andra Bobbitt) the realtime web display site. Andy has worked with the project since 1985. He received B.S. degrees in both computer science and mathematics from Oregon State University in 1980, an M.S. in Mathematics in 1982 also from OSU, and an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Operations Research, Statistics, & Economics from OSU in 1987.

Sharon L. NieukirkSharon L. Nieukirk
Marine Mammal Biologist
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies
Oregon State University

Ms. Nieukirk is a marine mammal biologist with more than 15 years experience in marine mammal field studies. She holds a BS degree in biology from Guilford College and a MS in wildlife science from Oregon State University. Previous work includes studies of humpback whale vocalizations and behavior in the Caribbean and the North Atlantic, and investigation of the movements and dive behavior of the critically endangered north Atlantic right whale. She has also worked as a marine mammal consultant to the US Coast Guard and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Currently she is involved in acoustic studies of marine mammal distributions in the Atlantic, Pacific, Eastern Tropical Pacific, and the Gulf of Alaska via autonomous hydrophones and the SOSUS array.


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