NOAA Ocean Exploration Seeks Pacific Islands Science Advisor

NOAA Ocean Exploration is currently seeking a Pacific Islands Science Advisor. The science advisor will support an upcoming campaign to map and explore the deepwater areas in the vicinity of the remote Pacific Islands, with a focus on areas in and around the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). We intend to work with this individual for an approximate four-year period (end of 2023 through end of 2027), on a full- to part-time basis, depending on the availability of the selected candidate. Formal consideration of applications will occur on a rolling basis and will continue until a selection is made, though the priority deadline for consideration is September 25, 2023.

On this page: About the Campaign  |  About the Science Advisor Role  |  Application Information

Remotely operated vehicle hovering over rocks and corals

About the Campaign to Explore the Pacific Islands Region

Starting in 2024, NOAA and partners will embark on a campaign to address high-priority ocean exploration gaps in the Pacific Islands region. As some of the most remote and least explored areas on Earth, this campaign will provide timely, actionable information to support decision-making based on reliable and authoritative science. It also serves as an opportunity to highlight the uniqueness and importance of these areas. Through the upcoming campaign, NOAA hopes to:

  • Expand the exploration footprint within the U.S. EEZ to a diversity of depths and features
  • Close bathymetry gaps in the U.S. EEZ and the high seas
  • Gather data in unexplored areas prioritized by the science community - e.g., maritime archaeology, fracture zones, hydrothermal vents, etc.
  • Map and locate deepwater coral and sponge communities, as well as other ecosystems and communities, that are vulnerable to climate change
  • Collect data to support management of marine protected areas and resource management decisions
  • Support meaningful relationships within the ocean science community, resource managers, indigenous communities, and with other regional and local partners
  • Incorporate traditional knowledge to expand our understanding of the deep sea
  • Build exploration capacity within communities that currently lack access, both domestically and internationally
  • Conduct outreach activities to connect people to the unexplored areas in their regions
  • Improve our exploration tools to better address science community needs/priorities
  • Generate publicly available data that can be used by current and future generations to build knowledge about the ocean

These priorities have been developed through collaboration with and input from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership Pacific basin workshop , National Ocean Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization (NOMEC) strategic priorities, U.S. bathymetric gap analysis, initial conversations with partners, and community input. The science advisor will play a key role in bringing in a new perspective on exploration gaps and priority areas, supporting the development of additional campaign objectives, and establishing new relationships with local communities.

About the Science Advisor Role

The role of the science advisor will be to provide multidisciplinary advice to inform field operations and to support community-driven exploration (additional information about this model can be found in Cantwell et al. 2020 [PDF download , 567 KB]). We anticipate whoever fulfills this role will be engaged in the following activities:

  • Understand and advocate for the priorities identified by science, management, local and indigenous communities
  • Conduct QA/QC on samples (biological, geological, and eDNA) collected during campaign expeditions, either digitally or in person
  • Provide consistency across campaign expeditions, platforms and asset investments. This includes active participation in the planning and execution (frequently from shore) in most, if not all, NOAA Ocean Exploration expeditions on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
  • Collaborate with NOAA Ocean Exploration staff and advise on campaign objectives and regional priorities/interests from the community
  • Provide experience and functional expertise to NOAA Ocean Exploration and serve as a point of reference for logistics for the region of interest
  • Serve as a connecting point for NOAA Ocean Exploration personnel and resources to regional networks/connections to provide continuity for the region/campaign
  • Engage a diversity of expertise, experience, organizations, and personnel to garner input into exploration and data applicability, as well as support outreach to the community to gain insight into priorities for exploration and needed improvements to operations
  • Help identify and train a diverse pool of expedition science leads, based on expedition needs, particularly from underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields
  • Serve as an expedition science lead (on ship or shore, depending on requirements)

Candidates with expertise in any relevant STEM discipline are eligible to apply. At this time, we specifically encourage applicants with expertise in interdisciplinary ocean exploration. We anticipate the science advisor starting the work described above as early as November 2023.

Application Information

The Opportunity

  • Selected individual will receive salary support for 6 to 12 months (dependent upon selected individual’s availability) annually over a four-year period at their home institution
  • Related travel and conference costs will be covered

Qualifications and Required Experience

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR)
  • Expertise in a relevant ocean exploration discipline or related field
  • Knowledge of NOAA Ocean Exploration’s exploration community-driven paradigm is desired, but not required
  • Experience using seafloor mapping and/or remotely operated vehicle data, with a preference for individuals with experience using both
  • Strong ties to the local communities in the Pacific Islands, with a strong preference for experience working with indigenous communities and local resource managers
  • Established network with the deep-sea science community
  • Proven track record of collaboration and amplification of interests beyond their own, as well as a commitment to open data and FAIR data practices to ensure rapid dissemination of results
  • Ability to sail as a science lead on campaign expeditions strongly preferred; sailing will require an individual to obtain medical clearance to sail on NOAA ships
  • Ability to fully participate in expeditions remotely (as scheduled)
  • Experience mentoring and training scientists/students
  • Positive attitude and strong communication skills (e.g., ability to participate in public outreach, media interviews, scientific presentations, or engagement with government representatives and/or indigenous community leadership)
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility

Application Materials

Interested candidates should submit their application to with the subject line of “Science Advisor Application - [insert your name].” A complete application will consist of the following:

  • Current CV
  • Contact information (email address and phone number) for two professional references
  • Statement of interest with the following information:
    • Time commitment preference (full time or part time)
    • Past experience in the Pacific Islands Region and why you are interested in the science advisor position
    • Description of your journey and how your lived experience may contribute to NOAA Ocean Exploration's goal of prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility as a fundamental component of our operations


For any questions about this position, please contact:

Kasey Cantwell, Operations Chief
NOAA Ocean Exploration

Published September 13, 2023