Header image for expedition: The Search for Norlindo

Meet the Explorers

Leonardo (Leo) Macelloni

Leonardo (Leo) Macelloni

Research Associate Professor
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Leonardo (Leo) Macelloni is a Research Associate Professor of the School of Ocean Science and Engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a marine geophysicist with over 15 years’ experience in ocean science and exploration both with academia and industry. Dr. Macelloni is an Italian native and received his M.Sc. in Geology (2001) and is Ph.D. in Applied Geophysics (2005) both from La Sapienza University of Rome. Dr. Macelloni led the effort of the high-resolution mapping of the Hudson Canyon and the bio-geological characterization of several natural hydrocarbon seeps in Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea. Dr. Macelloni’ s research interests are advanced seafloor mapping using unmanned vehicles (unmanned underwater vehicles [UUVs] and unmanned surface vehicles [USVs]); sediments geo-mechanics and petrophysics, marine mineral resources and alternative energy. In 2014, Dr. Macelloni was awarded with the prestigious European Union Marie Curie Fellowship. Macelloni is co-principal investigator of the Norlindo study, will coordinate the multibeam data acquisition and processing effort and will serve as Chief Scientist of the first leg of the expedition.

Dr. Leila J Hamdan

Dr. Leila J Hamdan

Associate Professor and Associate Director - School of Ocean Science and Engineering - University of Southern Mississippi

Leila Hamdan is an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the School of Ocean Science and Engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). She received her Bachelor of Science in biology from Rowan University of New Jersey, and a Master of Science and Ph.D from George Mason University in Virginia. Prior to joining USM, she was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate, a Research Microbial Ecologist in the Marine Biogeochemistry Section at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and Assistant Professor at George Mason University. Dr. Hamdan’s studies center on marine and coastal microbial biogeography and the study of human impacts on the deep sea microorganisms, including investigations of built habitats. She has led and participated in oceanographic expeditions in every ocean and has led research programs supported by NOAA, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and Office of Naval Research. In 2018 she received the National Oceanographic Partnership Program’s Excellence in Partnering Award for leadership of the Gulf of Mexico – Shipwreck Corrosion, Hydrocarbon Exposure, Microbiology and Archaeology Project (GoM-SCHEMA) . Hamdan is co-principal investigator of the Norlindo study, and will serve as Chief Scientist of the second leg of the expedition involving remotely operated vehicle operations, collection of video and still images of the site, and sample collection for sediment microbiome analysis.

Melanie Damour

Melanie Damour

Marine Archaeologist - Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Melanie Damour is a marine archaeologist and the Environmental Studies Coordinator for the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s New Orleans Office in New Orleans, Louisiana. Melanie received Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from the Florida State University with a focus on underwater archaeology. Her primary area of expertise is historic shipwrecks and she has worked at sites ranging in age from the 16th century through the World War II era and in water depths from shallow rivers and coastal areas to more than 2,285 meters (7,500 feet). Over the course of a 23-year career, she has investigated submerged archaeological sites throughout the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern U.S. as well as in Guatemala, Panama, and Mexico. She received the National Oceanographic Partnership Program’s Excellence in Partnering Award for leadership of the Gulf of Mexico – Shipwreck Corrosion, Hydrocarbon Exposure, Microbiology and Archaeology Project (GoM-SCHEMA) . For the Norlindo project, she will be responsible for directing all archaeological tasks including analysis and interpretation of multibeam bathymetric and backscatter data to identify potential shipwreck sites, overseeing archaeological investigation and documentation by remotely operated vehicle, developing baseline archaeological site characterizations, assessing any shipwrecks found for National Register of Historic Places eligibility, selection of locations for sediment coring around shipwrecks, and co-authoring of project-related publications.

Doug Jones

Doug Jones

Marine archaeologist - Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Doug Jones is a Marine Archaeologist and the Regional Preservation Officer for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) New Orleans Office. Doug received a BS in Biology from Virginia Tech and a MA in Maritime Studies from East Carolina University. Doug came to BOEM in 2010 after nine years as an underwater archaeologist and remote-sensing specialist with a private cultural resources management and engineering firm. He has worked on shallow and deep water historic shipwrecks throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast, with particular emphasis on 19th century steam and sailing vessels, and Word War II merchant vessels. Doug will be assisting the archaeological investigations of the Norlindo project, including analysis of remote-sensing data, guiding ROV investigations of any discovered shipwrecks, archaeological data analysis, and historical and archival research.

Max Woolsey

Max Woolsey

Undersea Systems Engineer
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
University of Southern Mississippi

Max Woolsey received a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Mississippi. He has over a decade of experience in undersea systems engineering, and has worked extensively on applications concerning uncrewed maritime systems. His publications span ecological studies involving seafloor lander experiments, seafloor imagery products, and the design of computational tools for marine research. Woolsey has extensive experience in the design and operation of autonomous vehicles through his work with the National Institute of Undersea Technology and has participated in numerous oceanographic expeditions. For this project, Max will contribute to autonomous underwater vehicle surveys (AUV Eagle Ray) and will supervise all shipboard navigation of autonomous and remotely operated vehicles.

Rachel Moseley

Rachel Moseley

Research Associate
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
University of Southern Mississippi

Rachel Moseley is a Research Associate at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). She received both her BS in Marine Biology and MS in Coastal Sciences from USM. Rachel’s thesis research involved using bioinformatic and statistical approaches to investigate how historic shipwrecks shape seafloor microbial biogeography and the island effect shipwrecks have on deep-sea microbiomes. For the Norlindo project, Rachel will be aboard the second leg of the research cruise to assist in the sampling efforts and laboratory work.

Rachel Mugge

Rachel Mugge

Graduate Research Assistant (PhD Program)
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
University of Southern Mississippi

Rachel Mugge is a PhD student under Dr. Leila Hamdan at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). She received a BS in Biology from Oral Roberts University and a MS in Coastal Sciences from USM. Her research interests have focused on the effects of oil spill contaminants on microbially-induced corrosion and biofilm formation on metal-hulled historic shipwrecks. She has participated in numerous research cruises involving sampling and deploying seafloor experiments near historic shipwrecks and artificial reefs. For the Norlindo project, she will be aboard the cruise to assist in the sampling efforts and laboratory work.

Marco D’Emidio

Marco D’Emidio

Multibeam Data Specialist and Analyst
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
(former Research Associate at The University of Mississippi)

Marco grew up in Civitella del Tronto, a little town on the east coast of central Italy. In 2007 he received his M. S. degree in Geology from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. After working as geologist and geophysicist for a private Italian geophysical surveying company, Marco joined The University of Mississippi (MMRI) in 2010 as GIS spatial Analyst. Marco soon became Chief Navigator and Mapper for both UM’s (MMRI) ROV’s and AUV’s research cruises (former NIUST), participating in 40+ research cruises. Marco specializes in multibeam (seafloor mapping, backscatter images, water column) and side scan sonar data acquisition and processing, which will be the main focus of the first leg of the cruise of the Norlindo study.

Darrielle M. Williams

Darrielle M. Williams

Intern with Ocean Exploration Internship Program (OEIP)

Darrielle is an intern in the Tuskegee University Ocean Exploration Internship Program (OEIP). This educational program is under the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI). She received a BS in Animal, Poultry, and Veterinary Sciences from Tuskegee University. This is her first research cruise. For the Norlindo project she will assist in data collection efforts.

Isabelle Townsend

Isabelle Townsend

Graduate Research Assistant (M. S. Program)
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
University of Southern Mississippi

Isabelle Townsend is a Master’s student under Dr. Leila Hamdan at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). She received a BS in Biochemistry from USM. Her research involves using bioinformatic and statistical approaches to investigate seafloor microbiomes near historic shipwrecks and artificial reefs. For the Norlindo project, she will participate in sampling efforts, laboratory work, and development a thesis based on this project.

Dr. Vernon Asper

Dr. Vernon Asper

Professor Emeritus
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
University of Southern Mississippi

Vernon Asper retired in 2018 from the University of Southern Mississippi following 32 years of service and is now a Professor Emeritus who enjoys keeping up with the latest technology. Following undergraduate study at Messiah College in PA, he went to the University of Hawaii for a Master’s degree and then to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for Ph. D. work that included voyages of discovery in such places as the Arctic, the Black Sea, the Equatorial Pacific and many others. In all, he has not accumulated roughly 3 full years of at sea experience, much of which was accrued during his 19 trips to Antarctica but an equal amount has also taken place in the Gulf of Mexico. Due to a fortunate convergence of plans, he was a member of the very first scientific team to visit the Macondo oil spill site and his further investigations in the surrounding area have included numerous water sampling efforts, deployment of a time-series collector for settling material, acquisition of dozens of sediment samples, and deployment both of the autonomous mapping vehicles that will be used on this expedition.

Roy Jarnagin

Roy Jarnagin

Senior Research Engineer
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
University of Southern Mississippi

Roy Jarnagin is a senior research engineer with the Hydrographic Sciences Research Center of The University of Southern Mississippi. His area of expertise is Uncrewed Maritime Vehicles with primary focus on Autonomous Undersea Vehicles. He holds a Master of Science degree in Ocean Engineering from Florida Atlantic University and Master of Science degrees in Systems Engineering and Engineering Technology from the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at Kennesaw State University. In addition to more than eight years of experience in the marine vehicles field, Mr. Jarnagin has more than twenty years of experience developing electronic systems in various industries. He has co authored several conference papers on topics related to marine robotics.

Agno Rubim de Assis

Agno Rubim de Assis

Graduate Research Assistant (Ph.D. program)
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
University of Southern Mississippi

Agno is a doctoral student under Dr. Leonardo Macelloni at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). He received a B.S. in oceanography from the Federal University of Espirito Santo in Brazil and has a CAT-A surveyor certification from the master of science program in hydrographic sciences at USM. His research interest is in autonomous underwater and surface vehicles focused on hydrographic surveys. Agno has been involved with several oceanographic expeditions. For the Norlindo project, he will be processing autonomous underwater vehicle multibeam data (bathymetry and backscatter).

Peter Komolafe

Peter Komolafe

Graduate Research Assistant (M.S. Program)
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
University of Southern Mississippi

Peter Komolafe is a master’s student under the supervision of Dr. Anand Hiroji at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). He received his Bachelor of Technology degree in marine science and technology from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria. He was involved in various geophysical surveys off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea before proceeding to USM to pursue the FIG/IHO CAT-A certification in hydrography. For this expedition, he will contribute to the acquisition and processing of the side scan-sonar imagery.

Kevin Walsh

Kevin Walsh

Satellite Communications Engineer
Inner Space Center, University of Rhode Island

Kevin Walsh received a B.A. in the history of science and a M.S. in computer science and engineering from the University of California, San Diego. He has several decades of experience supporting computer networking and satellite communications for the University of California, San Diego, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the U.S. Academic Research Fleet, and the U.S. Navy. For the Norlindo project, Kevin will contribute to the Inner Space Center’s partnership with the NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute to provide enhanced satellite communications in support of autonomous underwater vehicle surveys, educational outreach, and telepresence.

Patrick Flanagan

Patrick Flanagan

Documentarian and Telepresence Technician
University of Rhode Island - NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute

Patrick Flanagan is a curious, creative, collaborative explorer and storyteller, perpetually seeking new ways to connect more communities with the ocean. He has worked in education and science communication for over 10 years, in settings including aquariums and museums, small nonprofits and large academic institutions, online, and with a variety of mobile outreach vehicles. In addition to his formal training in ecology and oceanography, Patrick's background includes firefighting, emergency medicine, carpentry, videography, bus driving, and scientific research. In 2017, he started an ocean education nonprofit called OLLIE/OceanLab, built a simulated submarine inside a mobile learning laboratory, and has brought immersive ocean experiences to thousands of people in schools, libraries, museums, and events. Patrick is an avid diver, maker, MacGyver-er and dog dad.