Coral Ecosystem Connectivity 2015: Explorers



Jana K. AshJana K. Ash
Graduate Student
Nova Southeastern University

Jana recently completed her Master’s thesis at Nova Southeastern University Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography with a dual major in Marine Biology and Coastal Zone Management. Her thesis characterized the Pourtalès Terrace, off of Southeastern Florida and analyzed the coral Habitat Area of Particular Concern and marine protected area borders. Jana grew up in Ohio, and attended Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio for her undergraduate degree majoring in Biology with a minor in Marine Science. She is currently working for Broward County water quality division.

Milton Carlo Milton Carlo
Diving Safety Officer
University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

Milton is a geologist and has been a SCUBA diving instructor since 1982. He has been the Diving Safety Officer for the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico and has been for over 20 years. Besides his diving career, he also likes mountain biking, fishing, and hunting.

Robbie ChristianRobbie Christian
Assistant Diving Safety Officer
Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, University of Miami

Robbie is the Assistant Diving Safety Officer at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. He was born in West Virginia and grew up in Ohio. During his four years at Denison University in central Ohio studying Physics, he spent a semester abroad in South Africa where he first learned to dive. Quickly finding it to be a passion, he worked his way up to be a Divemaster during the semester abroad. After finishing at Denison he became a recreational instructor and spent the following year teaching diving around the world. He then ended up at the University of Miami and after a year of taking classes, he accepted the position of Assistant Diving Safety Officer.

Brian Cousin Brian Cousin
Video Production Specialist
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University

Brian Cousin is the video production specialist and photographer at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University. On this mission, he will be documenting cruise activities onboard using high definition video and still images and underwater using scuba, and serving as web coordinator. For over 20 years at Harbor Branch, Brian has documented the Institute's marine science activities near and far in the Galapagos archipelago, Mexico and the Bahamas, as well as points around the United States including the Gulf of Maine and the Gulf of Mexico. Brian was on our 2013 and 2014 cruises, and a 2010 research cruise to the Pulley Ridge region that gathered baseline information about these sensitive habitat areas to measure any potential Deepwater Horizon spill impacts against.

Casey Coy Casey Coy
Director of Diving Operations
The Florida Aquarium

Casey Coy is the Director of Diving Operations (DSO) at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida. He oversees a department of divers that are responsible for all exhibit and open water diving operations. The dive program consists of over 130 divers that conduct more than 8,000 dives annually in support of scientific, exhibit, commercial and recreational diving. He participated in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 research cruises to Pulley Ridge and the Dry Tortugas. He is certified as a NAUI Instructor trainer, technical instructor and CCR diver. He is a former board member for the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), and currently the President Elect of the Association of Dive Program Administrators (ADPA). He also holds a 100 ton masters license through the United States Coast Guard. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and currently resides in Tampa, Florida, with his wife, Susan, and daughters Shelby and Keely.

Stephanie Farrington Stephanie Farrington
Biological Researcher
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University

Stephanie is a Biological Research Specialist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University. She works in part for the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology (CIOERT) with Dr. Shirley Pomponi and John Reed on the mesophotic and deep coral reef projects. She is a contributor to the development of the ‘Database Solution for Benthic Surveys’ currently utilized on all of the NOAA CIOERT mesophotic and deep-water surveys. The database is used to visualize and characterize habitats and includes detailed maps of all collection sites, samples, photographs, species density and geospatial analyses. Stephanie has managed and processed data from several remotely operated vehicles and submersibles, studying deep-water marine protected areas from North Carolina through the Gulf of Mexico, in a variety of habitats including: deep-water Lophelia and Oculina coral reefs, and Pulley Ridge. In 2014, she was selected to serve on the Okeanos Explorer as the Biological Science Co-Lead in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as to help streamline their data collection and dissemination processes. Stephanie received her B.S. from the University of Tampa in Marine Science and Biology in 2001 and her M.S. from Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center in Marine Biology.

Lauren Freeman Lauren Freeman
Manager, Diving Operations
The Florida Aquarium

Lauren is the Manager of Diving Operations at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida. She has been working for the aquarium since October 2004. She is certified as a National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), Divers Alert Network (DAN) Emergency First Aid Instructor, Handicapped Scuba Association Instructor, Tech 1 and Tri-Mix Dive Certified, Cave Level 1 Diver, and a Level 1 Free diver with Free Diving Instructors International. Lauren earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa in Marine Biology and Biology in 2003.

Rick Riera-Gomez Rick Riera-Gomez
Scientific Diving Officer
Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, University of Miami

Rick has been the scientific diving officer for the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science since 1994. His diving background comprises a wide variety of experience including underwater data collection techniques and scientific methodologies, mixed gas and decompression diving, cave diving, and saturation diving. His training includes many instructor and teaching credentials, as well as certification as a diver medic and hyperbaric technician. Rick is very active in the scientific diving community and is the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) President Elect. He has been active in AAUS serving on the Board of Directors in 1997-98 and currently serving on the AAUS Standards Committee. Rick is also co-author of the AAUS overhead environment standards and is now working with his colleagues from other science diving programs to create a Scientific Diving Officer training course.

M. Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D.M. Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D.
Research Professor
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Hanisak is a Research Professor at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University and Director of its Marine Ecosystem Health and Education programs. He has over 30 years of experience in marine biology and ecology with an emphasis on marine plants, particularly macroalgae (seaweeds) and seagrasses. He has conducted research on marine plants, with extensive experience on mesophotic reefs in Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Dr. Hanisak is the author of over 70 scientific publications, a frequently invited participant at national and international meetings and workshops, a past President of the International Phycological (the study of algae) Society, and a past President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Phycological Society of America.  This will be his eighth cruise to Pulley Ridge; his first one was a Johnson-Sea-Link submersible dive there in 1984. He is also Director of Harbor Branch's Education Program and dedicated to fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation by students and the public of the importance of the oceans and their impact on our lives.

Lance HornLance Horn
Operations Director
Undersea Vehicles Program, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Lance is primarily responsible for managing the Undersea Vehicles Program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, fostering intra-NOAA and extramural collaborations, and pursuing technology to keep the Program and its undersea assets on the cutting edge of in situ marine science research. The program currently operates three remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and a Slocum glider autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Lance has participated in undersea research activities as mission coordinator, AUV supervisor/technician, chief ROV pilot/technician, and diver for 30 years. He has conducted 140 ROV missions (1670 dives), 12 AUV missions, 25 manned submersible missions, 83 scuba dive missions (1013 dives), 12 Aquarius Saturation Habitat missions, and 5 surface supply diving missions.

Brittany JensenBrittany Jensen
Graduate Student
University of Miami

Brittany is a M.S. student at the University of Miami. She began studying coral reefs and phytoplankton biodiversity at the University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with an emphasis in marine and freshwater biology in 2013. For her Master’s research, she is looking at coral respiration and how it is affected by different stressors. She worked as a diver for the Texas State Aquarium prior to graduate school. Brittany served as the technician processing collected samples on the M/V Spree cruise.

LT Heather MoeLT Heather Moe
Staff Scientist
NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center

LT Moe is a staff scientist and NOAA Corps officer stationed at the NOAA Fisheries Panama City Laboratory. She got her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 2008 and is currently working on a Master’s of Science in Operations Research from Kansas State University. After graduating from RIT she joined the NOAA Corps. Her first assignment was as Safety Officer on the NOAA Ship MILLER FREEMAN, where she got her U.S. Coast Guard 1600 ton mates license. Heather’s next assignment was with the Global Monitoring Division, where she spent a year at South Pole Station, Antarctica and another 3 months at Summit Station, Greenland, working as the station chief for climate monitoring research. LT Moe is now stationed at the Panama City Laboratory and is working with the Marine Protected Area team on fish identifications from the previous Pulley Ridge cruises. On this cruise, Heather will work with the remotely operated vehicle team to annotate fish species observed on the dives.

Kimberly PugliseKimberly Puglise
Oceanographer and Federal Program Officer of this project
NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science

Kimberly is an Oceanographer with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and serves as the Federal Program Officer responsible for overseeing and monitoring this competitively awarded research project. She has worked at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD for the past 13 years including over 6.5 years with NOAA’s Undersea Research Program. She has managed research programs covering such diverse topics as methane hydrates; shallow, mesophotic, and deep-sea coral ecosystems, marine genetic resources, and goal setting for South Florida. She works as an interface between scientists and managers and is a member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Coral Advisory Panel. Prior to taking a desk job, Kimberly was an active marine researcher and has spent a significant amount of time at sea doing everything from sediment coring to zooplankton sampling to marine mammal surveys.

John ReedJohn Reed
Research Professor
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University

John is a Research Professor at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University and Principal Investigator for the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology. His projects emphasize research and conservation of coral reefs, including deep-water and mesophotic coral reefs throughout the Caribbean, Florida, and Gulf of Mexico. He has conducted over 60 research expeditions visiting 40 countries, including Seychelles, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Galapagos Islands, Canaries, and Africa. He has utilized manned submersibles, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), automated underwater vehicles (AUVs) for his research. John’s research on the deep-water Oculina coral reefs off Florida established the 300 sq.mi. Oculina Coral Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC), the first in the world to protect deep-water coral. In June 2015, this protected reef was doubled in size based on discoveries made by John and Stephanie Farrington during a NOAA cruise in 2011. His research on deep-water Lophelia reefs off the southeastern United States helped establish in 2010 the 23,000 sq. mi. deep-water Coral HAPC from North Carolina to south Florida. He has over 100 publications, reports, and articles on research expeditions worldwide, deep-sea coral reefs and biomedical research. John received his B.S. from the University of Miami and M.S., specializing in marine ecology, from Florida Atlantic University in 1975.

Evan TuohyEvan Tuohy
Graduate Student
University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

Evan is currently a graduate student in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. He received a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Florida Institute of Technology in 2009. He is a mixed gas closed circuit rebreather diver, working with the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute (CCRI) to explore mesophotic coral ecosystems between the depths of 50 and 100 m. Evan’s expertise includes tagging and monitoring of Nassau grouper spawning aggregations in Puerto Rico.

Jason WhiteJason White
Research Operations Manager
Undersea Vehicles Program, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Jason is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) technician for the Underwater Vehicles Program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). Jason received his B.S. in Marine Science and Meteorology from North Carolina State University in 2008. After graduation he worked for C & C Technologies as a hydrographic surveyor in the Gulf of Mexico conducting NOAA marine debris surveys and Oil & Gas surveys. He then worked as a satellite oceanographer in the commercial fishing industry for DigitalGlobe in Herndon, Virginia. During this cruise Jason will be assisting the UNCW ROV team with operations.

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