Charleston Bump Explorers

Fred Andrus Ph.D.Fred Andrus, PhD
Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
University of Georgia

Fred Andrus was born and raised in Charleston, SC. He received his BA and MA degrees in anthropology with a focus in archaeology from the University of Georgia. He then expanded his education to include geology, in which he earned his PhD. His research often focuses on the relationship between past climate, ecology, and human activity. For example, a recent project involved assessing changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures and fish populations through stable oxygen isotope analysis of fish otoliths excavated from archaeological sites on the coast of Peru. The goal of this research was to better define the Holocene history of El Niño and determine the ways in which it affected local human populations through time. Other projects also focus on the paleoclimatic and paleoecological records preserved in the geochemistry of marine oraganisms, such as mollusks and corals, and what these records tell us about past climate and human-environment interaction. Dr. Andrus will collect deep-water corals on this cruise to help determine their growth rates, incremental periodicity, and utility as paleoclimate proxies by employing elemental, stable isotope and radioisotope chemistry.

Charles A. Barans, Ph.D.Charles A. Barans, PhD
Senior Marine Scientist
Marine Resources Research Institute
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Charlie Barans grew up in the Midwest “corn belt” and received a BS from Ohio State University (OSU). He obtained an MA in marine fisheries from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, and returned to OSU for his PhD. For more than 23 years, he assisted in guiding a team that developed fishery-independent research and assessments for the National Marine Fisheries Service's largest continuous contract (MARMAP) in the southeast. The resulting long-term databases were created with standardized techniques for detection of future changes in species relative abundances and fish assemblages in several important habitats. Also, production scale processing of life history materials was established, and several assessment techniques, including routine use of underwater video, were developed. At present, Dr. Barans is focusing on the application of multi-frequency acoustics to study plankton transport through inlets. Recent crusades include establishing marine fisheries reserves as ecosystem management tools and developing a mentor-based project to train minority students in marine and environmental science.

Frank HeliesFrank Helies
Marine Biology Research Technician
Fish Ecology Laboratory
University of South Carolina

Frank Helies was born and raised at the New Jersey shore, and received a BS in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina in 2002. He has research experience in zooplanktivory by marine invertebrates, particularly brittlestars, light trap modification for the capture of larval freshwater and saltwater fish, and fish otolith increment analysis. His research interests include the age, growth, life history and predation patterns of saltwater fish. He is currently working on the age and growth of larval and juvenile freshwater fish from the Savannah River Site with respect to anthropogenically impacted streams.

Brian Helmuth PhDBrian Helmuth, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences and Marine Sciences Program, University of South Carolina

Dr. Helmuth is a marine physiological ecologist with a focus on benthic invertebrates. He and his students use engineering methods (biophysics and biomechanics) to study the ways in which animals interact with their environment. Much of his most recent research has centered on the effects of climate change on intertidal animals in the eastern Pacific, and he and his colleagues have developed methods for predicting the temperatures of animals from climatic data. Dr. Helmuth also has extensive experience working on coral reefs, and he has active projects in Belize and Florida, including several saturation missions in the Aquarius habitat. Dr. Helmuth is a principal investigator for the Invertebrate Diversity project on this cruise, and will work with other team members to link aspects of small-scale water flow to patterns in invertebrate diversity. He also has a deep interest in developing collaborations between higher education faculty and K-12 students and teachers, and is an active member of the South Carolina Marine Educator’s Association exit icon.
For more information on the Helmuth Lab, please visit their web site exit icon

Dara HookerDara Hooker
Laboratory Technician
Marine Science Program
University of South Carolina

Dara Hooker is the lab technician for the Boundary Layer Stress and Sediment Transport (BLASST) laboratory at the University of South Carolina (USC), a position she has held since May 2002. She holds a BA in international studies and a BS in marine science from USC. She begins work on her master's in marine science at USC this fall. During this, her first research cruise on the open ocean, she will gather data using the CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) gage and the Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP). She will also help create and deploy the clod cards. Ms. Hooker is interested in the dynamics of sediment transport, specifically as it relates to the spread of pollutants. She is also interested in the effect of current flow on the physiological characteristics of benthic invertebrates which makes this cruise perfect for her.

Connie LeverettConnie Leverett
Science Teacher Specialist
Burke High School
Charleston, SC

Connie Leverett grew up along the Gulf Coast in Gulfport, Mississippi. She holds a BS in biology and an MA in education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She became a teacher because she loves exploring patterns in the natural world with students. She has taught school for 19 years. Her jobs have included teaching high-school biology and physical science, leading marine camp at the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center, and instructing teachers in Curriculum Leadership Institutes when she worked as a science specialist at the Charleston Math & Science Hub. Currently, she is the science teacher specialist at Charleston's Burke High School. Ms. Leverett is also an educational leadership partner at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston. In all of her teaching jobs, principles of marine biology and oceanography have been woven into the curriculum, and the distinctive adaptations of hydrothermal vent organisms have always been a favorite topic.

Josh LoeferJosh Loefer
Marine Biologist
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Josh Loefer is a marine biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. He will assist with cruise logistics, data acquisition, sample collection, and satellite tagging of billfish. He received a BA in biology from Furman University in 1996, and an MS in marine biology from the College of Charleston (SC) in 2000. His main research interests include the life history of sharks, snappers, and groupers; satellite telemetry tagging of billfishes and sharks; and the hydrography of the Charleston Bump complex.

John McDonoughJohn McDonough
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration
Expeditions Coordinator

John McDonough received his master’s in environmental science and policy from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, in 1998, and a BS in coastal geomorphology from the University of Maryland in 1989. He served as a physical scientist with NOAA’s National Ocean Service from 1989 to 2002, where he developed data and geographic information systems related to coastal and marine environments, and applied that information to help prepare management plans for marine protected areas. From 1998 to 2002, Mr. McDonough was the project manager for large-scale undersea research expeditions using a variety of tools and techniques, including manned and unmanned submersibles. Specific efforts include the Sustainable Seas Expeditions, a joint endeavor between NOAA and the National Geographic Society to explore the system of National Marine Sanctuaries managed by NOAA’s National Ocean Service. Mr. McDonough joined the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration in January 2003 as the expeditions coordinator. He is committed to exploring and learning more about natural systems in marine and coastal areas, and providing the data and information required for effective ecosystem-based management.

Jerry McLellandJerry A. McLelland
Associate Professor
Research Associate
Department of Coastal Sciences
University of Southern Mississippi<

Jerry McLelland, a native of Mississippi, has worked for 25 years as a marine biologist at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. He specializes in invertebrate taxonomy, systematics and ecology, with expertise in both the planktonic and benthic environments. His background includes investigations into coastal and marine habitats of the northern Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys, and several sites in the Caribbean Sea, including the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Tobago. His publication record includes new species descriptions of Polychaeta, Chaetognatha and Cumacea. He is currently working on doctoral research on the zoogeography and systematics of deep-water Tanaidacea, micro-crustaceans similar to isopods. Mr. McLelland will assist in collecting plankton and benthic invertebrates and hopes to obtain tanaid specimens for his research.

Jeremy PotterJeremy Potter
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

Jeremy Potter grew up in wild wonderful West Virginia and graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina. Immediately after college, he ran off to Alaska to work as an observer in the Bering Sea crab fishery, and later as an instructor at the Wallops Island Marine Science Consortium. In 1997, he moved to Japan and worked in a remote Japanese fishing village on Tsushima Island. He returned to the US three years later to pursue his interests in international environmental politics, facilitation, and negotiation. Jeremy graduated from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University with a Masters of Coastal Environmental Management. His fascination with the deep sea led him to NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration (OE) where spent 2002 as a Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellow. Now an OE employee, he dedicates most of his time working within the science program and operations. During the FY03 field season, Jeremy will be Data Manager for Investigating the Charleston Bump, and Expedition Coordinator for ‘Life on the Edge’ as well as the ‘Gulf of Mexico Bioprospecting’ expeditions.

Leslie R. Sautter, Ph.D.Leslie R. Sautter, PhD
Associate Professor
Project Oceanica, Dept. of Geology and Environmental Geosciences
College of Charleston

Leslie Sautter received her PhD in geological sciences at the University of South Carolina in 1990. Her recent research focuses on the distribution and ecology of benthic foraminifera within surface sediments of the South Atlantic Bight. She is also examining the rocky outcrops exposed on the deep reef habitats of the shelf edge and Charleston Bump. In 1992, Dr. Sautter became a geology department faculty member at the College of Charleston where she teaches marine and coastal geology and general marine science to undergraduates, graduate students and K-12 teachers. Her activities are devoted to promoting undergraduate research. Her involvement with developing new methods of teaching marine science to college students and teachers earned her the 2002 National Marine Education Award. With NOAA/NOS funding, she recently established Project Oceanica at the College of Charleston, which serves to bring scientific results to a broad audience of users – focusing on college students – through development of Web-based, research-oriented educational resource products. Dr. Sautter participated in both the Islands in the Stream 2001 and 2002 expeditions, and will serve as a shipboard geologist and science education liaison for the Charleston Bump expedition.

George SedberryGeorge Sedberry
Senior Marine Scientist
Marine Resources Research Institute
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

George Sedberry is the principal investigator of this expedition to the Charleston Bump. He spent his formative years on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, where he completed a BS in biology at Old Dominion University, and an MS and PhD in marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. He is a senior marine scientist at the Marine Resources Research Institute, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. He is the assistant director of MRRI, where he has worked since 1980. His interests and experience are in the biology, conservation and management of reef fishes and highly migratory oceanic fishes, as well as deep-sea biology and coral-reef ecology. Most of his research is concentrated on hard-bottom reefs of subtropical and temperate waters off the southeastern U.S., but he has conducted research on marine protected areas (MPAs) in Belize and on the population biology of fishes from the North and South Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and western South Pacific. He serves on the Marine Protected Areas Advisory Panel and the Snapper/Grouper Assessment Panel of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council; is Vice Chairman of the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council; and is on the boards of the Southeast Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence and the South Carolina Marine Educators Association. He is also an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston, a member of the American Fisheries Society and the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and a fellow of the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists. He has authored more than 70 scientific publications on marine fishes and ecosystems.

Stephen E. StancykStephen E. Stancyk
University of South Carolina

Stephen Stancyk has been a professor of marine science and biological sciences at the University of South Carolina since 1975. Steve grew up in Colorado, and received his BA from the University of Colorado. He holds an MS and a PhD in zoology from the University of Florida. He teaches courses in marine biology, invertebrate zoology and reproductive ecology. He has studied a wide range of organisms from sea turtles to copepods, and his current research centers around life histories and reproduction of ophiuroid echinoderms (brittlestars). He is particularly interested in how brittlestars have modified growth and reproductive patterns to adapt to frequent arm loss. Dr. Stancyk was the principal investigator on a previous manned submersible project, and has performed research in a variety of marine habitats in Bermuda, the Caribbean, Central America, Ecuador and the Galapagos, Brazil, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. He enjoys fishing, boating, hiking, birdwatching and scuba diving.

Denise StricklandDenise Strickland
Laboratory Technician
Marine Science Program, College of Education
University of South Carolina

Denise Strickland is a lab technician for Dr. Brian Helmuth, working on various biophysics projects and education initiatives. She holds a BS in biology from the University of South Carolina, and hopes to start graduate school next fall. Her previous research includes work at the University of South Carolina and Savannah River Ecology Laboratory involving American alligator population genetics and quantification of mercury in alligator tissues. During the cruise, she will work on invertebrate taxonomy and education, two of her primary interests. Other interests include invertebrate reproductive strategies and physiological adaptations of intertidal organisms.

Richard StylesRichard Styles
Assistant Professor
Marine Science Program & Department of Geological Sciences
University of South Carolina

Richard Styles grew up in Tennessee, and following a 3-year stint in the U.S. Army, he received a BS in physics from the University of Tennessee. He holds an MS in physical oceanography from the Florida Institute of Technology, and a PhD in oceanography from Rutgers University (NJ). After graduating in 1998, he remained at Rutgers as a postdoctoral researcher and research scientist. He joined the University of South Carolina in December 2002 as an assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. Dr. Styles' primary research interests include coastal processes and bottom boundary layer dynamics. He conducts research on the turbulent flow very near the seabed and develops mathematical models to describe this flow. In particular, he is interested in understanding how near-bed currents mix the water column and supply nutrients and food to bottom-dwelling organisms. He also conducts studies of sediment transport in the context of water quality and pollutant dispersal. His research has carried him from the murky cold waters of New Jersey to the warm inland estuaries of South Carolina.

Susan Thornton-DeVictorSusan Thornton-DeVictor
Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Ms. Thornton-DeVictor is a laboratory assistant at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. She holds a BS in biological sciences from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She taught high school for several years and attended graduate school at Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center. Her masters work (completed in 2000) investigated the growth rate of the Caribbean coral Porites astreoides, or Mustard Hill coral. She spent several years doing assessment, monitoring and restoration work on coral reefs in South Florida, Puerto Rico, and various areas in the Caribbean. Her interest in coral growth and ecology includes deeper water species, which she will investigate on this expedition. An avid scuba diver, she has collected organisms for the Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center's curated specifien collection from the South Atlatnic Bight. She also maintains the center's Web site (

Phil WeinbachPhil Weinbach
GIS Manager
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Phil Weinbach grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. He earned a BS in marine biology (1996) followed by an MS in environmental science (1998) from the University of Charleston. His love for the ocean and the outdoors has kept him in beautiful Charleston and has allowed him to enjoy his favorite hobbies: fishing, surfing and boating. He began working for the Marine Resources Division of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in 1998, and is currently the GIS Manager. Mr. Weinbach is actively involved in many projects for the DNR, including the Charleston Bump study. He has participated in several longlining cruises involving satellite tagging of swordfish and various shark species. While at sea, he will use his GIS skills to help researchers decide on dive sites and to analyze data.

Dr. Elizabeth L. WennerDr. Elizabeth L. Wenner
Research Marine Scientist
Marine Resources Center
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Dr. Wenner grew up on the Chesapeake Bay, where she developed an early love for the sea and its inhabitants. After receiving a BS in biology from Mary Washington College, she attended graduate school at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, where she received an MS and PhD in marine science. For 22 years, she has worked as a research marine scientist and program manager for Crustacean and Wetlands Research at the Marine Resources Center of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. During her tenure at the Marine Resources Center, she has studied invertebrate communities in a variety of habitats from estuaries to the deepsea. Her special interest is the decapod crustaceans, or crabs and shrimps. Dr. Wenner also heads up the Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center, housed within SCDNR’s Marine Resources Research Institute (MRRI). The SERTC provides a regional focus on developing taxonomic expertise and skills, as well as the infrastructure needed to support the natural resource management and scientific communities within the South Atlantic Bight. The Secretary of Commerce appointed her to the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee of the National Marine Fisheries Service. She has written more than 80 scientific publications.

David M. WyanskiDavid M. Wyanski
Fish Biologist
Marine Resources Research Institute
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

David Wyanski is a fish biologist with the Marine Resources Monitoring Assessment and Prediction (MARMAP) Program, a cooperative fishery-independent monitoring and research program based at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service. A native of New England, he holds a BA in zoology from the University of Maine. After working in Savannah, Georgia, as a research technician for a fish ecologist and as a middle-school science teacher, he migrated to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, to complete an MS in marine science. He presently oversees studies of fish reproduction -- part of the life history research being conducted by MARMAP -- and participates in cruises to monitor the size and abundance of reef fishes off the U.S. southeast coast. His other research interests are the taxonomy, growth, and movements of marine fish. During the Charleston Bump mission, he will put his fish taxonomy skills to work by examining rarely encountered species collected on submarine dives and by identifying fishes on videotape.