Mountains in the Sea Explorers

Dr. Peter AusterDr. Peter Auster
Fish Biologist
National Undersea Research Center

Dr. Peter Auster (Ph.D., National University of Ireland, Galway) is the science director of the National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut. His research in fish habitat conservation has earned him national recognition. For example, NOAA named him an Environmental Hero for the Year 2000 for his ecologic research at the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. His diving interests and research span three decades and span the globe from the deep lakes of Africa to the reefs of Bonaire, and have included hundreds of dives using occupied submersibles and remotely operated vehicles. Often with Dr. Les Watling, he investigates the impacts of mobile fishing gear on benthic communities off the coast of New England.

Ivar Babb
University of Connecticut’s National Undersea Research Center

Ivar G. Babb is the Director of the University of Connecticut’s National Undersea Research Center for the North Atlantic and Great Lakes Regions, located at the Avery Point Campus. He received his M.S. from the University of Maine focusing his research on the physiological ecology of seaweeds. He then received a M.A. in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island. His current research interest is focused on the development of innovative educational programs to link research and education and the development and application of new technologies for education. Mr. Babb is currently the Principal Investigator on the NSF-sponsored Classroom of the Sea project that is developing innovative science educational opportunities for deaf learners and the NOAA-sponsored Aquanaut Program that provides science teachers hands-on research opportunities.

He has participated on 37 research and education cruises in the Atlantic, Great Lakes, and abroad. Field experience includes underwater imaging and video analysis and digital encoding, fish tagging, side scan sonar, laser line scan, and geographic information systems. Other research interests include the ecology of kelps, the foraging behavior of fishes and factors influencing the distribution of pelagic fishes.

Mercer BruglerMercer Brugler
Graduate Student
College of Charleston

Mercer Brugler (B.S. University of Miami) is a graduate student at the College of Charleston. Mr. Brugler learned to SCUBA dive in high school, where his appreciation for marine life took him to the University of Miami, where he majored in marine biology and minored in chemistry. During the summer months of his undergraduate career, he spent his time in Texas at the Dallas World Aquarium, working directly with manatees, crocodiles, and various fish. Currently, Mr. Brugler attends graduate school at the College of Charleston, where he is analyzing mitochondrial gene order of a deep-sea black coral (antipatharian) and a tube anemone (cerianthid) to determine their relationship. Thus, Mercer's interest in this cruise is to collect more antipatharians and cerianthids for use in his project, and secondly, to enjoy the diversity of life that exists on the seafloor.

Mary Jane BrushMary Jane Brush
Scientific Illustrator

Mary Jane Brush discovered the intriguing and exciting career of Scientific Illustration during college. In her 25-year career at the University of Connecticut, she illustrated for the Departments of Physiology, Molecular and Cell Biology, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology. When Mrs. Brush is not drawing deep sea illustrations, she and her husband are working together on a book of the natural history of the southeastern United States.

Maya CrosbyMaya Crosby
Lincoln Academy

Maya Crosby (B.S., University of Rochester, M.S., University of Maine) teaches biology, chemistry and marine biology at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, ME. She has been involved with education and marine science in various ways - teaching labs at Bowdoin College, studying oyster disease at the Darling Marine Center, and coordinating summer children's programs. Ms. Crosby is excited to bring back information and activities about the Deep East expeditions to share with her marine biology class and summer programs.

Dr. Scott C. FranceDr. Scott C. France
Deep Sea Biologist
College of Charleston

Dr. Scott France (Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego) is a biology professor at the College of Charleston. He has long been interested in dispersal among deep-sea invertebrate populations and how this affects their evolution. He was attracted to a career in marine biology when, as a fine-arts major at Concordia University taking an elective course in Oceanography, he learned about the discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. He immediately switched majors. He has analyzed genetic variation among scavenging amphipods from a variety of deep-sea habitats, including hydrothermal vents, abyssal plains, and deep trenches. Dr. France’s current research focuses on patterns of variation in mitochondrial genes of deep-sea octocorals using DNA sequencing technology.

Pat FriskettiPat Frisketti
Hamden High School

Pasquale (Pat) Frisketti has been teaching Biology and Marine Biology at Hamden High School in Hamden, CT, since 1993. He is the lead teacher of the Hamden Bermuda Workshop, a week-long, field research experience for students to study the coral reef ecology of Bermuda. The excursion uses the facilities of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research; the program has provided students from Hamden High School an extracurricular enrichment opportunity for the past six consecutive years. Mr. Frisketti also administers a summer program at the Sound School in New Haven, CT. Sound Summer Exploring Aquaculture is a state-sponsored program allowing up to 200 diverse students from New Haven and the ten surrounding districts a four-week enrichment experience focusing on marine and aquaculture science and the rich maritime history of New Haven and Southern Connecticut.

Mr. Frisketti is a graduate of Southern Connecticut University where he holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Biology with a certification in Science Education for grades 7- 12 and a Masters of Science Degree in Environmental Education. He has also earned a Sixth Year Degree in Education Administration and Supervision from Sacred Heart University.

He is currently involved in the Institute for Science Instruction and Study Program, which is designed to place science educators in working relationships with research scientists.

Catalina MartinezCatalina Martinez
Physical Scientist
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

Catalina Martinez joined NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration (OE) as a Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellow in 2002. Ms. Martinez completed a master’s degree in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island's (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography in 2000, and she also received a second master’s degree in Marine Affairs from URI in 2002. She spent several years while in graduate school developing and implementing inquiry-based marine environmental programs that included field-based and classroom components. These educational programs included a ship-based oceanography program on board the URI research vessel, Cap’n Bert. Ms. Martinez has worked on fishery and other marine-related issues in various regions of the world’s oceans. Her most recent work with OE took her on research cruises to the Gulf of Alaska, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the Caribbean in the vicinity of the Puerto Rico trench.

Diana PayneDiana Payne
Biologist and Education Coordinator
Connecticut Sea Grant

Diana Payne is the Marine Education Specialist at Connecticut Sea Grant. Her experience in marine and aquatic science and education has extended throughout New England and the Chesapeake Bay region, with a strong focus on teacher professional development and the integration of field and research science into the classroom. Ms. Payne is actively involved in professional organizations, including the Sea Grant Educators Network, Southeastern New England Marine Educators, and National Marine Educators Association. She was a member of the award-winning team that produced the education component for Deep East 2001.

Laura RearLaura Rear
Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellow
Marine Archaeology Program
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

Laura Rear received her Master’s Degree in physical oceanography in December 2002, from the University of Connecticut. She has a B.S. (2000) in marine science, cum laude, with minors in math and physics, from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Her master’s thesis research involved looking at the vertical structure of tidal currents outside Block Island Sound, while incorporating the effects of stratification on tidal current ellipse parameters. This year, Ms. Rear was awarded a Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellowship, where she is working in the marine archaeology program at NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration. She also received a fellowship from the University of Rhode Island in the summer of 1999 to conduct research on mantle plumes at mid-ocean ridge transform faults. She will serve as web coordinator for the Mountains in the Sea expedition.

Melissa RyanMelissa Ryan
Education Coordinator
College of Exploration

Melissa Ryan has been the Education Coordinator for The College of Exploration for the past two years. She has a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of Connecticut and a M.S. in Natural Health from Clayton College of Natural Health. Her experience includes more than ten years of designing and teaching environmental and marine science curricula, and she has participated in several oceanographic research cruises using different submersible systems. She is currently serving as a member of the education team that will be designing lessons which integrate the history of ocean exploration into modern ocean science curricula.

Michael Vecchione
National Marine Fisheries Service National Systematics Laboratory

Michael Vecchione went to sea as a cabin boy on a three-masted schooner in Maine at the age of 16. He completed undergraduate studies in biology at the University of Miami in 1972, and then spent four and a half years as a U.S. Army officer. He has been working on cephalopods since his graduate studies on planktonic molluscs during 1976-79 at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), the School of Marine Science for the College of William and Mary. After receiving his Ph.D degree there, he worked briefly for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before accepting a faculty position at McNeese State University where he studied cephalopods, zooplankton, and ichthyoplankton in addition to teaching from 1981-86. In 1986 he moved to his present position as Cephalopod Biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Service National Systematics Laboratory (NMFS/NSL), located at the National Museum of Natural History where he is a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution. He has been Director of the NSL since 1997. From 2000-2002, he also served as founding Director of a Cooperative Marine Education and Research program between NMFS, Hampton University and VIMS, where he is an adjunct faculty member.

Dr. Les WatlingDr. Les Watling
Chief Scientist
Benthic Ecologist
University of Maine

Dr. Les Watling (Ph.D., University of Delaware) currently is a professor of oceanography at the University of Maine. His research interests have principally spanned two areas—crustacean taxonomy and phylogeny, and benthic (seafloor) oceanography. His benthic interests are focused on impacts of humans on benthic environments, with an emphasis on organic enrichment and habitat disruption. Recently, he was the co-sponsor of two symposia dealing with impacts of mobile fishing gear on ocean communities, such as the coral beds in the Georges Bank Canyons. His research projects have focused on the potential loss of marine biodiversity associated with fishing activities. He has conducted much of his current work using research submersibles like Alvin.