Gulf of Mexico 2017





Meet the On-ship Expedition Team

 


 

Dr. Diva Amon

Dr. Diva Amon

Co-science Lead
Natural History Museum, London

Diva Amon is a Trinidadian deep-sea biologist who studies chemosynthetic habitats and human impacts on the deep ocean, including from deep-sea mining and oil and gas extraction. She will be undertaking a two-year Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship at the Natural History Museum in London, United Kingdom, starting next year. In 2013, she completed her PhD at the University of Southampton, UK, after which she spent three years at the University of Hawai’i researching the largely unknown abyssal megafauna of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, an area targeted for deep-sea mining in the Pacific Ocean. Throughout her career, Diva has participated in deep-sea expeditions around the world, including as Biology Lead during the first leg of the Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in 2016. Diva is very much looking forward to sailing on the Okeanos Explorer again, especially as she has not worked in the Gulf of Mexico before. You can find her on Twitter (@DivaAmon External Link) or visit her website (https://divaamon.com External Link).

Dr. Charles Messing

Dr. Charles Messing

Co-science Lead
Nova Southeastern University

Dr. Charles G. Messing is Professor of Marine Science at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His research centers on the evolution, taxonomy, and ecology of living crinoids (sea lilies and featherstars) and on the ecology of deep-sea coral communities and rocky-substrate habitats. He has also been involved in assessment of both shallow and deepwater habitats for proposed fuel pipelines, fiber-optic cables, artificial reefs, and beach renourishment. Charles has led 14 deep-sea submersible expeditions funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA and has led or participated in over 30 other research and educational expeditions, deep, shallow and terrestrial, as far afield as Papua New Guinea and the Bahamas. He has written or co-authored 63 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and has 47 years’ experience as a scientific illustrator. Currently, he is also a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution and at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and has been a repeated Visiting Scientist at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris. He has also written or hosted several science educational television programs. For more information, please visit: http://charles-messing.squarespace.com External Link.

 

 

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.

Alexandra M. Avila

Alexandra M. Avila

Ph.D. Student, NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar
Oregon State University

Alexandra M. Avila is a Fisheries Ph.D. student and a NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar at Oregon State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Her research will examine the effects of nearshore currents and upwelling patterns on the dispersal of larval rockfish of rockfish (genus Sebastes spp.) from marine protected areas in Oregon and Washington Coast, including the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. For this she will determine if larvae contribute to population stock and genetic diversity of the marine reserves and whether there is a detectable spillover effect into the surrounding non-reserve areas; she will also help in the development of oceanography-based larval dispersal models and recommendations for the use of oceanographic data to improve the design and formation of future marine reserves.

Alex has always loved anything and everything having to do with water, whether it’s the ocean, rivers, or lakes. This has led her to work in many coastal areas in the United States and in Ecuador. She has studied the genetic diversity and conservation of the misty grouper (Hyporthodus mytacinus) in the Galapagos Islands, conducted environmental impact research in the Amazon, researched the oyster (Crassostera virginica) and blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) populations in the Chesapeake Bay with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and helped in assessing the salmon habitat in Oregon with the U.S. Forest Service. She has also done wildland firefighting. Alex is really excited to be participating in the expedition, as it has been a dream of hers for a long time to do deep-sea research, and she is truly grateful for this unique opportunity to work with people who are as passionate about protecting our ocean as she is.

Alex Avila graduated with a B.A. in Biology from Hood College in Maryland, with two minors: Coastal Studies and Environmental Science and Policy. She obtained her M.Sc. in Ecology at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in Ecuador.

 

 

Caitlin Bailey

Caitlin Bailey

Video Producer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Caitlin Bailey holds a B.S. in Animal Biology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and a MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University. Her scientific background includes fieldwork with sea otters in Alaska, lab research on wild mice vocalizations, and mentoring undergraduate students in biology. She also volunteered with the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network and the Second Chances Wildlife Rehabilitation Program at the Texas State Aquarium. 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. She was also a video engineering intern onboard the E/V Nautilus. Caitlin was the web coordinator and video producer on the NOAA Hidden Ocean 2016: The Chukchi Borderlands expedition. She started with NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in April 2016 and loves nothing more than being at sea. When on land, Caitlin resides in San Antonio, Texas, where she enjoys photography, SCUBA diving, camping, 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.

 

 

Joshua Carlson

Joshua Carlson

Mechanical Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Joshua Carlson attended the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, where he received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with minor in Business Administration. He went on to receive his M.S. in Marine Observation Technology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology. Josh has a diverse background, encompassing the use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and other types of ocean observation platforms for the purpose of studying ocean turbulence. He has designed and built a deep-ocean camera platform for filming deep-water krill in the Antarctic Ocean and provided mechanical engineering and software capabilities on the Woods Hole Oceanographic AUV Sentry during a recent cruise aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer. In his current position with NOAA’s Ocean Exploration program, Josh provides engineering, programming, and at-sea support, acting in the capacity of navigator, pilot, and co-pilot for NOAA’s 6000-meter-rated remotely operated vehicle system, Deep Discoverer. His broad range of skills in both engineering and software control development makes him an invaluable member of our team. When not traveling, Josh resides in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.

Art Howard

Art Howard

Photographer and Producer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

For 34 years, Emmy-award winning photographer and producer Art Howard has helped viewers experience life through images from 50 countries and seven continents. A native North Carolinian, Art has followed researchers aboard multiple deep-sea missions, documenting the excitement and challenges of offshore reef exploration. Art will use the latest video technology to bring viewers as close as possible to life at sea from the surface to depths of 3,000 feet, capturing both the scientists and the life they seek to understand. Howard has spent the last 11 years independently producing media for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

 

 

Lauren Jackson

Lauren Jackson

Sample Data Manager
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information

Lauren Jackson holds a B.S. in Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures from Auburn University and an M.S. in Coastal Sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Lab. Lauren is a Data Content Manager for coastal environmental data at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. Prior to joining NCEI, Lauren was a Fisheries Biologist at the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s Mississippi Lab working on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response and National Marine Fisheries Service stock assessments and as an ichthyoplankton taxonomist. Lauren enjoys being on the water and has participated in NOAA Fisheries sampling cruises in the Gulf of Mexico on NOAA Ships Oregon II and Gordon Gunter.

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 expedition manager and telepresence coordinator. Brian has participated in or led more than 25 expeditions of exploration taking him to two oceans, three continents, and through the waters of more than 10 countries.

 

 

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.

Bob Knott

Bob Knott

Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Bob has almost 50 years’ experience in broadcast engineering. Following a 37-year career with RIPBS, departing in 2006 as Chief Engineer, he worked for the Sea Research Foundation and Ocean Exploration Trust as the Senior Broadcast Engineer. He was responsible for the design, commissioning, and maintenance of the Inner Space Center located at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. He also worked on many research vessels and supported telepresence operations from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, E/V Nautilus, R/V Endeavor, and R/V Atlantis, plus many other UNOLS ships.

Bob is married and has six adult children, nine grandchildren, and a great-grandson. He and his wife Donna play French horn and are active in many community music ensembles in Rhode Island.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

Bobby Mohr

Bobby Mohr

Systems/Robotics Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Bobby Mohr is a Systems/Robotics Engineer, specializing in autonomous and remotely operated underwater vehicles. He holds a B.S. in physics and graduated cum laude from Davidson College in 2009. Bobby started his career as an engineering technician with Greensea Systems where he was responsible for the design, development, and testing of autonomous underwater vehicle control systems. Like many of our engineers, Bobby realized that he would enjoy the design-build process more if he was able to also pursue the challenges of making vehicles work successfully at sea.

After serving on several projects at Greensea where he specialized in electrical and software systems support, Bobby joined the Ocean Exploration program as an electrical systems engineer. During his time at Greensea and now with NOAA, he has been one of the key electrical engineers on the development of our 6000-meter-rated remotely operated vehicle system, Deep Discoverer and Seirios. Like many of our engineers, he has multiple skills and is a tremendous asset to our program.

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, D.C. for three years, where she made public service announcements, ad campaigns, and promotional videos for non-profit and environmental organizations. Since 2010, 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. Emily first started sailing onboard the Okeanos Explorer in July 2016, and has since sailed on nearly half a dozen expeditions. 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.

Dan Rodgers

Daniel R. Rogers

ROV Engineer
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Dan Rogers has a diverse background in engineering, media production, and education. Daniel holds a B.S. in Physics and earned a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Hawaii in 2013. Before starting his graduate program, Daniel worked as a Science Educator at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. He continued to work with the museum as a Digital Media Producer while in school, partnering with the Polynesian Voyaging Society to produce a 30-minute film about traditional sailing and star navigation for the fulldome planetarium format. He has now been working as an ROV engineer and videographer on the Okeanos Explorer for over four years.

 

 

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.

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 dinosaur fossils, to studying wild wolves, to filming cougars, grizzly bears, and now, deep-sea creatures. The years she spent living and traveling with captive ambassador wolves kick-started Annie’s interest in science education and inspired her to reach out to larger audiences through film. Her credits include projects for NOAA, BBC, National Geographic WILD, Travel Channel, Curiosity Stream, and various non-profit groups. In all of her work, Annie endeavors to bring together science, wildlife conservation, and compelling narratives to spark wonder and draw audiences into the lives of real animals. When not at sea, Annie loves to travel, write, and look for any excuse to get out into the natural world.

 

 

Michael White

Michael White

Mapping Lead
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

A native of Long Island, New York, Mike took a deep interest in ocean science at a young, age growing up in and on the water. After graduating from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in geological sciences, Mike continued his education at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. At Stony Brook, he worked on several projects, including acoustic mapping of coastal areas, coastal sediment management, remote sea level monitoring, submarine groundwater discharge, and applying his GIS proficiencies. Mike’s M.S. thesis focused on the processing of multibeam backscatter and its relationship to the physical characteristics of the seafloor. After completing a graduate certificate in geospatial science and earning a reputation as a reliable field scientist, Mike started a new position as a hydrographic analyst with NOAA’s Sandy Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping team at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM) at UNH. At CCOM Mike processed outside to NOAA hydrographic datasets, examined additional applications for topobathymetric lidar, collaborated on a seafloor imaging device, and served as a physical scientist supporting hydrographic surveys. As the newest member of the Okeanos Mapping Team, Mike is truly excited to support their mission exploring the oceans. During his off hours, Mike can be found cooking, hiking, or watching movies.

 

 

 

 

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