Lophelia II 2010 Explorers



Erin BeckerErin Becker
Postdoctoral Researcher
Pennsylvania State University

Erin is a postdoctoral researcher at Penn State.  Her research focuses mostly on food webs in cold seep and deepwater coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico.  On this cruise, she will be using digital still photos of the seafloor to put together photomosaics.  A photomosaic is a series of overlapping photos of an area of the seafloor, usually targeting an animal community such as a patch of coral and all of the crabs, shrimp, brittle stars, and other animals associated with it.  The team uses photomosaics of the same coral communities over multiple years to monitor change in the communities over time. 

An additional duty will be to collect quantitative community samples of corals, tubeworms, and mussels.  These data are used to look at the species compositions and abundance in the different community types.  Samples are also taken from these collections for genetic and stable isotope analysis.  Stable isotope compositions of animal tissues are the primary tool Erin uses to analyze food webs and nutritional inputs.

Walter ChoWalter Cho, PhD
Postdoctoral Investigator
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Walter is a postdoctoral investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his PhD from the Joint Program in Biological Oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he studied the community structure of seamount fauna and the population genetics of invertebrates associated with deepwater corals. His research focus is the community structure and population dynamics of invertebrate fauna associated with deepwater corals, in particular focusing on the population genetics of brittlestars associated with deepwater corals. On this cruise, he will help with sample collection and the preservation of invertebrates for genetic and taxonomic studies.

Eric CordesErik Cordes, PhD
Assistant Professor
Temple University

Erik is an ecologist studying cold-seep and coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico. On this project, his group is working on the physiological tolerances of Lophelia pertusa and the genetic connectivity among gorgonian populations. He received his Master’s from Moss Landing Marine Labs working on the age and growth of cold-water corals, and his PhD from Penn State where he studied the tubeworms of the upper slope of the Gulf of Mexico. As a post-doc at Harvard he worked on the ecology of the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa and their associated communities and the microbial ecology of Juan de Fuca Ridge hydrothermal vent chimneys.

Amanda DemopoulosAmanda Demopoulos, PhD
Southeast Ecological Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey

Amanda Demopoulos is a Benthic Research Ecologist with the US Geological Survey, Southeast Ecological Science Center in Gainesville, FL. Dr. Demopoulos earned a B.S. in Oceanography at the University of Washington and her PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of Hawaii Manoa. Her current research interests include biodiversity, community ecology, and food-web structure of benthic invertebrate communities. Her research spans from intertidal wetlands to deep-sea coral and chemosynthetic ecosystems. While at sea, Dr. Demopoulos will oversee sediment core collections of invertebrates and will assist with specimen collections for food-web studies.

Darren DepewDarren Depew
Coastal Studies Institute
Louisiana State University

Darren works at LSU's Coastal Studies Institute with Dr. Harry Roberts. The institute has a wide range of field projects, from studying waves and currents, to atmospheric studies. Darren does everything from fabrication and diving to deployment, maintenance, and recovery.

Brian DesantiBrian DeSanti
Graduate Student
Florida State University

Brian is a graduate student at Florida State University and is currently studying Lophelia in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dong Feng

Dong Feng, PhD
Post-Doctoral Researcher
Louisiana State University

Dong Feng is currently a Post-doctoral researcher from Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is working in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University. His research interests focus on the geology and geochemistry of modern and ancient hydrocarbon-seeps. He is particularly interested in reconstructing the history of fluid flow at hydrocarbon-seeps. In deep water of the continental slope, his research interests involve developing a better understanding of cold hydrocarbon seep carbonates from mussel- and tubeworm-associated environments. Traditional petrological methods and various types of modern geochemical techniques as well are used in his research.

Janessy Frometa

Janessy Frometa
Biological Technician
U.S. Geological Survey

Janessy Frometa received her B.S. in Biology at the University of Florida in 2010. Since then she has been working as a research technician in Dr. Amanda Demopoulos' Benthic Ecology lab at USGS. Her research interests include deep sea biology and invertebrate ecology. She is primarily responsible for identifying benthic invertebrates in sediment push core samples collected.

Chuck Fisher

Chuck Fisher, PhD
Pennsylvania State University

Charles (Chuck) Fisher is a professor of biology in the Eberly College of Science at The Pennsylvania State University. He received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University. He then moved to the University of California in Santa Barbara where he received his PhD, working on algal-invertebrate symbioses in corals and giant clams. He began working at hydrothermal vents during his first cruise with the submersible Alvin in 1982 and began at the cold seeps of the Gulf of Mexico in 1987. He has been on 54 oceanographic expeditions over the past 24 years and was chief scientist for 23 of those expeditions. He has made 122 dives with six different research submarines, and logged over 77 days at sea working with remotely operated vehicles. Chuck's research group uses a wide variety of techniques and approaches to discover new animals, investigate the metabolic and life history adaptations of vent and seep animals, and study the ecology of the often strange communities found in these deep sea habitats.

Samuel E. GeorgianSamuel E. Georgian
PhD Student
Temple University

Sam graduated in 2010 with a BS in biology and a BA in environmental studies from Hobart College. His undergraduate research focused on aquatic science, ornithology, and invasive plant ecology. He entered the PhD program at Temple University this fall as a graduate student in the Cordes Laboratory. He currently has a broad range of research interests including the community ecology of deepsea ecosystems, the physiology of cold water corals and seep organisms, and the natural history and evolution of deepsea organisms. On this cruise, he is studying total alkalinity and nutrient concentrations at depth.

Pen-Yuan HsingPen-Yuan Hsing
Graduate Student
Pennsylvania State University Department of Biology
http://www.PenOneK.com/ exit icon External Links Icon

Passionate in ecology, Pen-Yuan ("Pen") has participated in field research around the world. Whether it is surmounting a cliff to reach an owl's nest in South Africa; running transects in the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica; directing the collection of specimen from hydrothermal vents near Papua New Guinea; and measuring leatherback sea turtle nest temperatures in Trinidad, Pen is interested in doing ecological research that will inform conservation efforts. Pen also loves to share his passion in science with a general audience, having designed and presented interactive chemistry demonstrations to people aged from 9 to 90.

On this research cruise, Pen assists with the making of seafloor photo mosaics. Comprised of more than a hundred images stitched together, yearly photo mosaics help us learn about how a deep-sea biological community changes over time. Another of Pen's roles is the quantitative sampling of those communities. This will tell us about the relationships between deep-sea corals, mussels, tubeworms, and their associated fauna, such as crabs, brittle starts, and shrimp. Tissue samples will be taken from them for genetic and stable isotope analyses in the lab.

Originally from Taiwan, Pen earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Environmental Sciences and Biology from Duke University in May, 2010. Currently, he is conducting graduate research under the direction of Dr. Chuck Fisher at The Pennsylvania State University Department of Biology.

Michela IngrassiaMichela Ingrassia
Visiting Scholar
University of La Sapienza

Michela Ingrassia is a graduate student in Marine Science at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”.

She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Mississippi in Oxford since July 2010. She is working on her master thesis project studying the benthic macrofauna MC118. The study involves use of video images and sonar data collected over the last five years.

Jack Irion Jack Irion, PhD
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement

A native Texan, Jack received his doctorate degree from The University of Texas in 1990. With over 37 years experience in underwater archaeology, he has participated in or directed archaeological expeditions in England, Mexico, Belize, Turkey, Italy, Puerto Rico, and throughout the United States. Prior to 1995, Jack served as a private consulting marine archaeologist working under contract to both private industry and state and federal agencies. His work has resulted in the discovery and documentation of numerous historic sites and shipwrecks, including the Confederate Harbor Obstructions in Mobile Bay, the wreck of the steamship Columbus in Chesapeake Bay, and the Confederate ironclad Louisiana. Since joining the former Minerals Management Service, now, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), Jack has directed the Seafloor Monitoring Team in the documentation of several historic shipwrecks on the Outer Continental Shelf. These have included the Civil War gunboat U.S.S. Hatteras and the 19th century coastal steamers New York and Josephine. Most recently, Jack has overseen projects that documented the deepest shipwrecks ever found in the Gulf, including the German submarine U-166 in 5,000 feet of water, and some of its most historic, such as a potential War of 1812 privateer codenamed the “Mardi Gras Shipwreck.” Jack is currently the Supervisor of the Social Sciences Unit comprised of 10 social scientists, economists, and archaeologists.

Kody KramerKody Kramer
Dept of the Interior
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, & Enforcement (BOEMRE)

Kody works for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, & Enforcement (BOEMRE) – formerly MMS. As the government representative on the Lophelia II 2010 cruise, Kody oversees regulatory statutes and secures any governmental, proprietary data. Using 3-D seismic surveys, he provides seismic amplitude maps of the seafloor, with high amplitudes (bright spots) indicating hard-grounds and chemosynthetic communities, and low amplitudes (dim spots) indicating oil and gas natural seep sites. Kody is also concerned with locating the icy, methane hydrate on the seafloor and in the subsurface, as they may be an intriguing natural gas resource for the future.

Kody graduated with his B.S. in geology from Kansas State University in 2007, and is working on the completion of his M.S. in hydrogeology from Louisiana State University. At BOEMRE, Kody partners with Bill Shedd (Lophelia II 2009) and others in the Resource Evaluation section.

Jay LundenJay Lunden
Temple University

Jay is a PhD candidate in the Biology Department at Temple University. He is interested in the mechanisms of coral calcification and potential impacts of ocean acidification on cold-water coral communities.  As part of his dissertation work, Jay will be using a combination of techniques to study calcification in the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa.  Jay received his B.S. in Biology from Temple in 2007 and hopes to pursue a post-doc in environmental physiology before teaching college.

Ian MacDonaldIan MacDonald
Florida State University

Ian MacDonald is a professor of oceanography at Florida State
University.  He has been doing research in the Gulf of Mexico for over 25 years, primarily focusing on natural hydrocarbon seeps.  He studies seafloor ecology by combining in-situ instrumentation deployed from submarines and ROVs with remote sensing techniques used to map natural seeps from space. Among his original discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico are brine pools harboring dense chemosynthetic life, pulsed
discharge of oil from hot mud volcanoes, and massive asphalt flows
resembling lava discharges.

Cheryl MorrisonCheryl Morrison, PhD
U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division

Cheryl Morrison is a geneticist for the USGS-Biological Resources Division, Leetown Science Center in West Virginia. Cheryl earned a BS in marine biology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and her PhD in biology at Florida State University. Cheryl’s background in conservation genetics includes studies of evolutionary relationships and population connectivity in a diversity of organisms, such as tropical coral reef-dwelling snapping shrimps, hermit crabs, stream fishes, orchids, and jumping mice. She has interest in the historical relationships among deepsea coral species and connectivity among populations of Lophelia pertusa. She has participated in over a dozen research cruises focused on deepsea corals and cold seeps utilizing manned submersibles and ROVs. On the cruise, she will assist with ROV operations, sample collection, and the preservation of stony corals and invertebrates for genetic and taxonomic studies.

Andrea QuattriniAndrea Quattrini
PhD Student
Temple University

Andrea holds a BS in biology from Millersville University, PA and a MS in marine biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). Before beginning the PhD program at Temple University in 2009, Andrea was a research associate at UNCW and participated in over a dozen offshore cruises.  She investigated open-ocean, shelf-edge, and deepsea coral ecosystems, with particular emphasis on mesopelagic and demersal fishes. Andrea's interests span the diversity, taxonomy and ecology of deepsea ecosystems, but she is particularly interested in metacommunity and metapopulation dynamics of deep-sea corals and associated fishes. At Temple, Andrea’s dissertation research focuses on the population genetics of Callogorgia americana and the community phylogenetics of habitat forming deep-sea octocorals.

Dannise V. RuizDannise V. Ruiz
PhD Student
Pennsylvania State University

Dannise is a PhD student in biology at Pennsylvania State University. She received her master's in marine biology from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, were she studied the genetic variation of the fire coral Millepora. Currently, she is working on the genetic variation and the population genetics of the black coral Leiopathes glaberrima and its symbionts.

Mark SchropeMark Schrope
Freelance Journalist
http://www.MarkSchrope.com exit icon External Links Icon

Mark Schrope is a full-time freelance journalist covering a wide range of topics under the general headings of science and travel with a special focus on the ocean. His work has taken him on a flight into the eye of a hurricane; to the seafloor multiple times by submersible; and around the world — from a remote Colombian island to the coral reefs of Indonesia and Fiji. He has participated in oceanographic expeditions in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Southern Oceans. His articles have appeared in Nature, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Outside, Sport Diver, Scuba Diving, Caribbean Travel + Life, New Scientist, and others.

He is currently working on a book on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill called The Blowout Experiment, scheduled for release in 2011.

Mark worked for several years as the science writer for Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, and as an oceanography technician at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He has a bachelor's in biology from Wake Forest University, a master's in chemical oceanography from Florida State University, and he completed the graduate science-writing program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Thimothy M. ShankTimothy M. Shank, PhD
Associate Scientist
Biology Department
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
http://www.whoi.edu/science/B/people/tshank exit icon External Links Icon

Tim Shank earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and German from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After college he worked in the Genetic Toxicology Division of the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate how airborne pollution creates fine-scale genetic damage, the precursor to cancer growth. Applying genetic approaches developed during this research, he received a PhD in ecology and evolution from Rutgers University, where he examined the evolution of deep-sea hydrothermal vent communities and the genetic relationships of vent fauna and their adaptations to thrive in extreme chemosynthetic environments.

Tim's research interests focus on understanding the evolution of life in the deep sea and the ecological processes responsible for creating and maintaining biodiversity in the oceans.  He combines molecular genetic approaches and ecological field studies to understand the conditions and adaptations that allow various species to migrate, evolve, and thrive along the global mid-ocean ridge and seamount systems.

Most recently, Tim's genetic approaches to understanding evolutionary processes that drive patterns of diversity and connectivity in coral ecosystems have led to burgeoning insights on the co-evolution and co-dispersal of coral hosts and their invertebrate associates. This research has been driven both by the model system that coral hosts and associates provide for fundamental evolutionary biology and by the need to understand the impacts and sustainability of deep-sea fisheries and increasing mineral exploration activities on these deep-water faunas.

Tim has conducted more than 35 scientific expeditions to deep-sea hydrothermal vents, hydrocarbon seeps, continental slopes, and seamounts throughout the world’s oceans, including the North Atlantic, the Sea of Cortez, the central Indian Ocean, and eastern, northeast, and southeast Pacific. He has participated in more than 50 submersible dives, 40 remotely operated vehicle dives, and 35 autonomous underwater vehicle dives, and recently the first use of a full-ocean depth hybrid remotely operated vehicle capable of diving to the deepest regions of the oceans to explore the evolution of life under most extreme pressure conditions.

Tim has been involved in many educational and public outreach activities that have reached millions of individuals. He developed a high school and undergraduate educational curricula on hydrothermal vents and seamounts, as well as web-based teaching modules for the NOAA OceanExplorer and Dive and Discover exit icon External Links Icon.

His research efforts have been featured in Science, Discover and other magazines; on National Public Radio, and numerous nationally broadcast television documentaries on The Discovery Channel, BBC, and The National Geographic channel.

Sheli SmithSheli Smith, PhD
PAST Foundation

A maritime archaeologist by training, Sheli Smith specializes in ship architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries and has examined shipwrecks around the world over the last three decades. Smith currently directs operations and educational programs for the PAST Foundation, which works with STEM educational reform building bridge programs that pivot on current research and global issues. Smith joins the second phase of the Lophelia II cruise to lend her expertise in the study of ship architecture of the sunken vessels under investigation.

Daniel J. WarrenDaniel J. Warren
C & C Technologies, Inc.

Mr. Warren is a Senior Marine Archaeologist at C & C Technologies, Inc. He has worked as a professional archaeologist for over 20 years and is trained in both terrestrial and underwater archaeology, as well as material culture analysis. Since 1998, he has been working at C & C Technologies, interpreting high-resolution geophysical data for shipwreck investigations, oil and gas surveys, search and recovery operations, and cable route studies in U.S. waters and around the world. In his capacity as a marine archaeologist at C & C, he has spent several hundred hours offshore monitoring diver and ROV investigations of potential archaeological targets for the oil and gas industry. Mr. Warren is one of two C & C archaeologists recognized by the oil and gas industry and the BOEMRE as being among the most experienced deepwater marine archaeologists working in the Gulf of Mexico. He was part of the archaeological team that located and identified the German submarine U-166 in the Gulf of Mexico during 2001. In 2002, he verified the identities of the H.M.S. Ark Royal in the Mediterranean and the wreck of the steam yacht Anona in the Gulf of Mexico from AUV and ROV data. He was also the Principal Investigator for the 2003 archaeological investigations at the U-166 wreck site. In 2004, he served as the Co-Principal Investigator on the MMS DeepWrecks project. In 2006, Mr. Warren also served as Co-Principal Investigator on the MMS Viosca Knoll Shipwreck Project. He is currently the Principal Investigator for Archaeology on the ongoing BOEMRE Reefs, Rigs, and Wrecks Project: Lophelia/Shipwrecks II Study. In this capacity he is responsible for coordinating, planning, and overseeing all aspects of the project’s shipwreck component investigations.