Discovering the Deep: Exploring Remote Pacific MPAs






Meet the On-ship Expedition Team

 


 

Dr. Amanda Demopoulos

Dr. Amanda Demopoulos

Co-science Lead
Research Benthic Ecologist
U.S. Geological Survey

Amanda Demopoulos is a Research Benthic Ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center in Gainesville, Florida. Her work examines the community structure and function of animals found on the seafloor or in the mud (a.k.a. sediment). After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Amanda obtained her current position at USGS, where she conducts research on the community ecology of coastal wetlands, seagrass habitats, shallow and deep-sea corals, seeps, submarine canyon, and seamount environments.

Amanda Demopoulos received a B.S.in Oceanography from the University of Washington (1996), and M.S. (2000) and Ph.D. (2004) in Biological Oceanography from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

 

Steven Auscavitch

Steven Auscavitch

Co-science lead
Temple University

Steve is a PhD student in the Cordes Lab at Temple University. He is broadly interested in deep-sea coral biogeography, particularly between seamount ecosystems. Specifically, he is interested in how deep-sea water mass characteristics influence coral assemblages over depth. In late 2017, he will be returning to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area aboard the R/V Falkor to continue surveying unexplored seamounts in the region. Steve has also participated in several field seasons aboard the E/V Nautilus in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Pacific Ocean as data manager and watch leader.

Steve received his B.S. in Marine Sciences at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point. He then went on to receive an M.S. at the University of Maine, Darling Marine Center, where he studied biogeographic patterns on seamount communities in the Drake Passage and Southern Ocean. He is currently at Temple University studying deep-sea coral biogeography on seamounts in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. More information about Steve’s research updates can be found on his website at http://stevenauscavitch.weebly.com

 

Brian Kennedy

Brian Kennedy

Expedition Coordinator
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

When Brian was five years old, he decided that he wanted to be a marine biologist and explore the unknown reaches of the planet, and now he has his dream job. Originally from land-locked Athens, Georgia, Brian grew up fascinated with marine mammals and the ocean. Brian attended the Honors College at the College of Charleston (CofC) in South Carolina where he majored in Marine Biology and minored in Marine Geology. While at CofC, he had the opportunity to sail on multiple research cruises aboard two different NOAA research vessels and meet multiple NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps members. Shortly after graduating with honors from CofC, Brian was awarded a commission in the NOAA Corps. His first sea assignment was as a Junior Officer aboard NOAA's Okeanos Explorer, America's Ship for Ocean Exploration. Upon completion, Brian was then assigned to NOAA's Ocean Exploration Program, where he worked as an Expedition Coordinator for the Okeanos Explorer. Now separated from the NOAA Corps, Brian works for the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research as the telepresence coordinator. Brian has participated in or led more than 25 expeditions of exploration taking him to two oceans (Atlantic and Pacific), three continents (North America, South America and Asia), and through the waters of more than five countries (Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Indonesia). Brian is serving as the ROV navigator on this expedition.

Katharine Weathers

Katharine Weathers

Scientist/Data Manager, General Dynamics
Information Technology

Katharine Weathers currently works as a scientist and data content manager for NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information where she prepares geospatial data packages for long-term archiving and determines best practices for submission. Her past research experience includes looking at bio-physical interactions with emphasis on mesoscale eddies in the Gulf of Mexico using an integrated satellite sensor approach, and research at the ASIST wave-tank at the University of Miami with the Oceans and Human Health project. She received her M.S. in Physical Oceanography from the University of Southern Mississippi and a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami. Katharine brings a diverse skill to the team, including data collection and management, sample handling and processing, data analysis, troubleshooting and writing scripts, knowledge of multiple programming languages and platforms, and geographic information systems. She is joining the team during this cruise leg to help with sample processing and data management.

 

 

Derek Sowers

Derek Sowers

Physical Scientist/Hydrographer
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Derek Sowers holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of New Hampshire and an M.S. in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University. He has 14 years of previous coastal research and management experience, including work for NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve network and the Environmental Protection Agency's National Estuary Program in both Oregon and New Hampshire. Derek has participated in ocean research expeditions in the Arctic Ocean, Gulf of Maine, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Northwest continental shelf, North Atlantic Canyons, and New England Seamounts.

During at-sea expeditions, Derek leads sonar data collection by planning the ship's mapping routes and producing maps of seafloor and water column features to guide exploration. On shore, Derek works at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center at the University of New Hampshire to coordinate future mapping expeditions, process and archive data, and collaborate with other scientists. Derek is also a part-time Oceanography Ph.D. student focused on using Extended Continental Shelf and Okeanos Explorer data to develop marine ecological classification maps.

Jason Meyer

Jason Meyer

Mapping Technician

Jason Meyer first pursued his passion for seafloor exploration while earning a B.S. from the University of Hawaii Hilo in Geology studying volcanic processes along the Hawaiian Islands. He would later go on to receive his M.S. in Geology from the University of South Carolina focusing on regional mapping and classification of seafloor volcanoes along the East Pacific Rise and the Galapagos Spreading Center in the Pacific Ocean.

After graduating in 2006, Jason has worked as a hydrographer mapping the coast, rivers, reservoirs, and lakes along the west coast from Mexico to Alaska and Hawaii. He has endured long hours and challenging conditions at the helm collecting data that serves maritime navigation and construction, environmental studies, and academic exploration. Since dedicating his career to hydrography, Jason continues to be driven by curiosity and the challenge of the unknown depths.

This will be Jason’s second season working on the Okeanos Explorer as a mapping technician. While not at sea, he enjoys climbing, surfing, and backpacking with his family in Battle Ground, WA.

 

 

Karl McCletchie

Karl McCletchie

Ocean/Mechanical Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Karl McLetchie is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Ocean and Mechanical Engineering. After graduating, he worked as an engineer on the development of autonomous underwater vehicles and as a naval architect on the design of high-speed aluminum vessels. After a brief, two-year stint of delivering sailboats around the Caribbean, he started his own contracting company, SeaKnowledge, in 2008. Through SeaKnowledge, Karl works on the mechanical design and operation of underwater vehicles. Karl has worked on Okeanos Explorer for six seasons, in all positions on the ROV Team from Winch Operator to Dive Supervisor. When not on assignment for Ocean Exploration, Karl resides in Pemaquid, Maine.

Fernando Aragon

Fernando Aragon

Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Fernando graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. During his studies, he had experience in several fields including conceptual design, aerospace research, mechanical design, robotics and software development. From these activities he was able to intern for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, present research in a national conference, and even coauthor a technical paper in the Journal of the Astronautical Sciences. His most recent position was at the Field Robotics Laboratory (FRL) where he helped support operations, testing and software development for two unmanned surface vehicles. From his time in FRL, he discovered a true passion for development and design of robotic systems. Originally from Colombia, Fernando enjoys outdoor activities and currently resides in State College, Pennsylvania.

 

 

David Casagrande

David Casagrande

Electrical Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

David Casagrande holds a B.S. and M.S. in Ocean Engineering from the University of Rhode Island, completing his masters in 2013 with a focus on robotic instrumentation and computer vision. As a student, he worked on an autonomous profiling and imaging platform used for fisheries habitat assessments and counts. Since graduating, he has worked on a range of autonomous profiling and surface vehicles, measuring chemical and physical properties of the water, sonar mapping, and sea floor imaging. He has sailed on a number of research cruises to support and operate these vehicles. David also worked on underwater stereo camera systems, both standalone and ROV-based. Improving the calibration of these camera systems, required for accurate 3D reconstruction and measurements, continues to be an interest.

When not at sea, he lives in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.

Andy Lister

Andy Lister

Mechanical Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Andy earned a Bachelor's in Ocean Engineering from Texas A&M. He then obtained a Master's in Mechanical Engineering focusing on Robotic Artificial Intelligence and Systems Engineering from Embry Riddle in Daytona Beach. After college, he lent his knowledge to the oilfield service industry for four years, living in various places including Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska while on assignment. Recently, he has come back to the mechanical and software side of engineering to contribute to the team at the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration. He loves traveling, exploring, and being outdoors.

 

 

Levi Unema

Levi Unema

ROV Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Levi Unema is an Eagle Scout from Lynden, Washington. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering along with a Certificate in Electric Power Engineering from Michigan Technological University. Levi has experience in a number of different industries, ranging from the railroad, to steel mills, to automotive supplier light manufacturing.

Currently living in west Michigan, he enjoys being outdoors and staying active.

Jeff Laning

Jeff Laning

Electrical Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Jeff Laning holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Vermont. He started his career as an intern with Greensea Systems, Inc., where he worked on design, development, and integration of components and software associated with remotely operated vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicle systems.

Jeff is one of our youngest members and came to our group with a desire to learn new and complex electrical systems. Electrical engineers interested in and capable of working on deep submergence systems are one of the hardest positions to fill. Jeff has done a great job as a key member of the team that built Deep Discoverer and has become a skilled pilot, co-pilot, and navigator. His contribution to ocean exploration is certainly something to be proud of and we hope that other young engineers will be inspired by what he has accomplished. Jeff currently resides in Vermont.

 

 

Andrew O'Brien

Andrew O'Brien

Software/Data and Satellite Engineer - ROV Pilot/Copilot

Andy started his professional career in the U.S. Navy where he ran a small electronic test system calibration laboratory and instructed NATO students in Satellite Ground Station repair.  Following the Navy, he obtained a B.A. in History and a M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Vermont before hiring on as the Lead Software Engineer at Greensea Systems. During his tenure at Greensea, Andy designed, developed, and supported over 40 widely varying custom robot control systems and their operator interfaces for government and industry. Notably, Andy was the software lead on our very own Deep Discoverer and Seirios remotely operated vehicles.

Andy reports he so enjoyed working with the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research team, and their exploration mission, that he asked to join. Andy now splits his time between developing software; managing science and engineering data; maintaining the satellite communications system; and navigating, piloting, and co-piloting the deep-submergence vehicles. During his free time you can often find him in Monkton, Vermont.

Sean Kennison

Sean Kennison

Electrical Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Sean Kennison holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Engineering Mechanics from Pennsylvania State University. He first sailed on the Okeanos Explorer as an intern and member of the Engineering Group, where he performed tasks associated with the launch, operation, and recovery of the ROV system. He has also worked shoreside, designing mechanical parts for the ROVs and assisting with assembly and testing of previously and newly installed equipment. Sean also assisted with installing electronics, testing, data analysis, and troubleshooting on the vehicle. Most recently, he assisted in assembling and modifying a new bio storage box for the Deep Discoverer ROV. While at Penn State, Sean served as team leader on a number of engineering design projects.

 

 

Don Liberatore

Don Liberatore

Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Don Liberatore has more than 35 years of experience in manned and unmanned submersible operations as a diver-medic, mixed gas lock-out diver and hyperbaric chamber operator and Chief Submersible Pilot for Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution’s Johnson-Sea-Link I & II research submersibles. He has logged nearly 1,800 dives as a pilot, hundreds more as a pilot-trainer, and over 200 as a mixed gas lock-out diver to 350 feet.

In addition to science missions, he has participated in recovery operations as Submersible Operations Coordinator. These include the search and recovery of the Space Shuttle Challenger, excavation and documentation of the U.S.S. Monitor, documentation of the wreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, and the search for the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s plane in the central Pacific Ocean using two REMUS 6,000 meters autonomous underwater vehicles.

He has worked as crew member and/or project manager for the Kraken (UCONN), Mohawk (UNCW) and Global Explorer (DSSI/Oceaneering Int.) ROVs. He is participating in this expedition as a member of the Deep Discoverer crew.

Annie White

Annie White

Video Producer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Annie White is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, photographer, and biologist who specializes in conservation biology and animal behavior. She holds a B.A. in Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology from the University of Colorado and is currently finishing an MFA degree in Science and Natural History Filmmaking at Montana State University.

Her career has taken her from collecting limestone samples and fossils in Wyoming, to studying wild wolf behavior, to filming cougars and grizzly bears. The years she spent living and traveling with captive ambassador wolves kick-started her interest in science education and inspired her to reach out to larger audiences through film.

Her credits include projects for National Geographic WILD, Curiosity Stream, the Yellowstone Wolf Project, and various other non-profit groups. Now the writer and producer for VisionHawk Films, Annie spends her time developing broadcast TV series about wildlife.

 

 

Joe Biscotti

Joe Biscotti

Video/Audio Engineer

Joe Biscotti is an award-winning broadcast engineer, cameraman, editor, satellite engineer, and aerial drone pilot with 36 years of experience in the broadcast media world. Joe has a long history with Good Morning America and ABC News, with many firsts over the course of his career. Joe joined the Ocean Exploration program to help us establish a very high-quality standard for our underwater imaging capability and is one of our key underwater camera operators. He has spent a great deal of time in Iraq, the Gulf of Mexico, and recently Vietnam setting up a live broadcast from the world's largest cave system. His very high standard of expertise is always in demand. He is a member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers and his list of accomplishments include, but are not limited to, an Emmy for ABC Prime Time Live, Emmy nominations nine times for editing and ten times Emmy nominated for field audio. Joe is also the winner of 10 Cine Golden Eagle awards and when not traveling to the far reaches of the world, he resides in Weston, Florida.

Emily Narrow

Emily Narrow

Video Producer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Emily Narrow is a video producer and editor whose work focuses on science and nature. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College where she double-majored in Biology and Cinema Studies. She also holds an MFA degree in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University. She was a video producer for a production company in Washington, DC, for three years, where she made public service announcements, ad campaigns, and promotional videos for non-profit and environmental organizations. For the past six years, she has been a freelance video producer, creating videos for clients such as the National Park Service, NOAA, and Montana State University. Most recently, she produced and edited a series of educational videos about camping and hunting for Zero Point Zero Productions. This is her first expedition onboard the Okeanos Explorer with the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, and she can't wait to see what amazing discoveries the Okeanos Explorer will reveal. Emily currently resides in Bozeman, Montana.

 

 

Chris Ritter

Chris Ritter

Ocean Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Chris first joined our group on the Cayman Rise Expedition in 2011, just prior to being hired full time by NAVSEA. Since then, an informal NAVSEA-NOAA relationship has allowed Chris to continue to participate in our design, engineering, and offshore operations. Chris holds a B.S. in Ocean Engineering and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech with a minor in mathematics. He is currently working on his M.S. in Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech and expects to complete that program in 2015. Chris has been a major contributor to our design-build process and a tremendous asset to our offshore operations. He is a skilled navigator, pilot, and co-pilot of our vehicles and brings with him a level of enthusiasm that everyone around him appreciates and respects. The Office of Ocean Exploration and Research is very lucky to have his participation and we applaud NAVSEA for their insight, training, and willingness to share great talent. Chris resides in Arlington, Virginia.

Caitlin Bailey

Caitlin Bailey

Video Producer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Caitlin Bailey holds a MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University and a B.S. in Animal Biology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Her background includes fieldwork with sea otters in Alaska, lab research on wild mice vocalizations, and mentoring undergraduate students in biology. In pursuit of her filmmaking career, Caitlin held a writing and film internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and worked as a camera operator and stage manager with Montana PBS. Before her current position on the Okeanos Explorer, she served as a video engineering intern onboard the E/V Nautilus. This is her first expedition onboard the Okeanos Explorer and she is looking forward to being a contributing member of the video-production team at the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration. Caitlin currently resides in San Antonio, Texas where she enjoys photography, SCUBA diving, and volunteering for TEDx events.

 

 

Roland Brian

Roland Brian

Electronic Systems Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Roland Brian brings 29 years of experience and a keen eye for precision HD video to the program as a video/satellite and telepresence engineer. Roland began his career in the U.S. Air Force where he worked as a Satellite Communications Engineering Technician with visions of working on the U.S. Space Station. He traded in that quest for one of deep-ocean exploration and sharing beautiful imagery with the world. He has worked with the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) and the Okeanos Explorer Program since 2009 and has been engaged in every telepresence-enabled remotely operated vehicle (ROV) expedition. He has also provided services for other projects using OER's mobile telepresence system, including the 2012 Ring of Fire Expedition. His duties aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer include operation and maintenance of the ship's Telepresence and video systems, including on ROV Deep Discoverer and the Seirios camera platform. Again, Roland's experience embodies the breadth and depth of knowledge the OER program encourages. When not fine-tuning the video and telepresence systems or training and mentoring new team members, he's actively involved in the editing process of our ever-expanding ocean exploration video library. While not at sea, Roland enjoys life with his wife and family in sunny Sarasota, Florida.

Adrienne Copeland

Adrienne Copeland

Web Coordinator
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Adrienne Copeland is the on board web coordinator for this expedition and is the 2017 Knauss Sea Grant Exploration Fellow for NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. She received her Ph.D. in Zoology with Marine Biology specialization from University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Certificate in Mathematical Biology from Washington State University. Her research interests focus on using active and passive acoustics to understand predator prey dynamics in the open ocean. She has a diverse array of experience from managing grants and budgets, editing and writing website content, teaching students about animal life, and coordinating research expeditions. She has approximately seven years of experience collecting data at sea. Adrienne has been on over 20 seagoing expeditions and was chief scientist on six of these trips, including a 2014 research cruise on Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Ship Falkor. These expeditions have included trips throughout the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. She spent the majority of the past four years leading the active acoustics sampling team on research expeditions on the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette for the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.

 

 

LTJG Nick Pawlenko

LTJG Nick Pawlenko

Expeditions Operations Leader
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

LTJG Nick Pawlenko joins OER as Expedition Operations Leader. Nick is rotating to land after three field seasons aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. During his time aboard the Okeanos Explorer, Nick was able to work with the ROV team, often sitting in as ROV navigator and co-pilot.

Nick graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Business. He also recently completed MIT’s Professional Education program Rapid Robotics: Autonomous Systems with Open Source Software.

Prior to joining NOAA, Nick was very involved in the Pittsburgh community and served on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer for the Oakland Business Improvement District for many years. While in Pittsburgh, he also remodeled residential and commercial real estate and was involved in the bar and restaurant business.

Nick is very excited to continue his work with OER and be an asset to the team in his new land assignment.

 

 

 

 

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