Naming every expedition participant in a telepresence-enabled mission is next to impossible! Many from dozens of institutions across the country have provided input into the expedition plan and are expected to participate. However, we've assembled information about the members of the team who are physically onboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.
And of course, none of this exploration would be possible without the work of the dedicated NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps and civilians who operate NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer as part of NOAA's fleet managed by NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.
Biology Science Lead, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University
Stephanie Farrington is a biological research specialist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University (HBOI/FAU). She has a bachelor’s degree in marine science and biology from the University of Tampa and a master’s in marine biology from Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center (NSUOC). While at NSUOC, she studied the biogeography of the Straits of Florida to complete a comprehensive study of the deep-sea animals of the region. At HBOI-FAU, she manages and analyzes deep-sea data using her self-created Microsoft Access database. Stephanie has participated in more than 25 cruises using remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and human occupied vehicles. She has almost 15 years of experience identifying and studying deep-sea and mesophotic invertebrates in the Western Atlantic, Straits of Florida, Gulf of Mexico, and Cuba. Most of her work has been conducted off the Southeastern United States and Eastern Gulf of Mexico, including shelf-edge marine protected areas from Florida to North Carolina, the deepwater Oculina Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC), and the deepwater coral HAPC. In 2017, she participated in an ROV cruise that circumnavigated Cuba with Cuban scientists to explore and document the mesosphotic reefs of Cuba and taught a data management course at the University of Havana Marine Lab. Stephanie sailed with NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in 2012, assisting with nighttime multibeam mapping, and in 2014 as the biology science lead during the Exploration of the Gulf of Mexico 2014 expedition. She has co-authored over 75 publications, technical reports, and presentations.
Geology Science Lead, Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami
Kimberly Galvez is a marine geology doctoral candidate at the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) at the University of Miami. A Miami, Florida, native, Kim’s interests in marine life started from a young age with regular trips to the beach and snorkeling among reefs in the Florida Keys. During her undergraduate studies at the University of Miami, where she studied biology, Kim became involved with the Marine Geosciences Department at RSMAS as a student research assistant. She learned how her love of marine biology is heavily intertwined with geology while working with graduate students on projects involving carbonate sedimentology. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Kim began working on her doctorate at RSMAS with a focus on cold-water coral systems within the carbonate province of the Straits of Florida. Her research includes habitat mapping and terrain classification with acoustic maps, carbonate sedimentology, stable isotope geochemistry, and geochronometry. During her spare time, Kim enjoys traveling, hiking, scuba diving, and baking.
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Fernando Aragon graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. During his studies, he had experience in several fields including conceptual design, aerospace research, mechanical design, robotics and software development. From these activities he was able to intern for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, present research T a national conference, and even coauthor a technical paper in the Journal of the Astronautical Sciences. His most recent position was at the Field Robotics Laboratory (FRL) where he helped support operations, testing and software development for two unmanned surface vehicles. From his time in FRL, he discovered a true passion for development and design of robotic systems. Originally from Colombia, Fernando enjoys outdoor activities and currently resides in State College, Pennsylvania.
Video Producer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Caitlin Bailey holds a Master of Fine Arts in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University and a Bachelor of Science in Animal Biology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Her background includes fieldwork with sea otters in Alaska, lab research on wild mice vocalizations, research on migratory bird distribution on the Texas coast, and mentoring undergraduate students in biology. She also volunteered with the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network and the Second Chances Wildlife Rehabilitation program at the Texas State Aquarium. In pursuit of her filmmaking career, Caitlin held a writing and film internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and worked as a camera operator and stage manager with Montana PBS. Before her current position with the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, she discovered the amazing world of ocean exploration as a video engineering intern onboard Exploration Vessel Nautilus.
Video Engineer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Brian Doros is a television broadcast engineer who was born in Long Branch, New Jersey. Active in sports throughout high school, Brian moved to Southern California and spent the next few years traveling the world surfing and then exploring his technical interests at college in San Diego, California. After changing his course of study to electronics, he then focused on broadcast electronics and technical maintenance in broadcasting. His career path first led him to employment at IBM/MCA Video Laser Disc Company in Costa Mesa, California, doing research and development in the early days of optical laser disc, then to Los Angeles, where he specialized in film for television post production. The next several years were spent working in the Hollywood post production industry at Paramount Pictures, MGM / Lorimar Telepictures, 20th Century Fox, NFL Films, and Sony Broadcast Company North America, contributing to his 25 years of experience in television post production and broadcast systems integration. After Hollywood, Brian worked in the field, traveling and upgrading network television facilities to digital broadcasting capabilities during the analog to digital conversion. He now has moved on to less broadcast traditional applications of his background working in his current position.
Network Systems Engineer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Mark holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and a master's degree in computer information systems from Tarleton State University, where he focused on network security solutions. Mark has over 28 years experience in designing, testing, and supporting numerous variations of voice/data wired/wireless telecommunications networking solutions and security solutions, services, and products. During his career at MCI/Verizon, he held several engineering, research and development, and management positions and was with the company a combined total of over 23 years. During this time, he worked on key network projects and initiatives, including federal security solutions, access solutions, security services, virtualization, and many other large network solutions. In addition, he received four patents for networking and security solutions. Mark is married to his wife of 30 years, Laura, and has three kids and five grandkids. Some of Mark's hobbies and interests include car, truck, and boat repair/restoration, hiking, biking, running, camping, hunting, fishing, boating, amateur radio, storm chasing, home automation/security systems, fitness instructing, and scuba diving.
Satellite Engineer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Dr. Mike Durbin started his professional career in the U.S. Army, where he worked with the Army Security Agency as a satellite engineer for the Army and NASA at a deep-space research station in Asmara, Ethiopia. Following the Army, Mike continued to support NASA and the Army as a consultant for two years before returning to the U.S. to finish his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Texas A&M University. He continued work in satellite communications while working for Rockwell International and a small satellite company called Dalsat. Mike was the lead engineer and instructor for many systems around the world. This work included designing and installing a system for the royal family of Saudi Arabia. Mike continued his education and received a doctorate in electrical engineering. He has designed and operated satellite systems on board exploration ships worldwide for over 27 years as a private consultant. Mike has been working with radios and electronics since he was nine years old and has an amateur radio license. He still loves to design and support communications around the world. Mike is proud and honored to be working with his son Mark Durbin on this expedition.
Photographer and Producer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
For more than 30 years, Emmy-award winning photographer and producer Art Howard has helped viewers experience life through images from 50 countries and seven continents. A native North Carolinian, Art has followed researchers aboard multiple deep-sea missions, documenting the excitement and challenges of offshore reef exploration. Art will use the latest video technology to bring viewers as close as possible to life at sea from the surface to depths of 3,000 feet, capturing both the scientists and the life they seek to understand. Art has spent the last 11 years independently producing media for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
Mapping Lead, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
Shannon Hoy is a mapping lead with the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER). She has always had a love of the ocean and pursued a degree in marine biology from the College of Charleston, where she was first introduced to seafloor mapping in 2009. During her undergraduate career, she participated with four seafloor mapping expeditions, allowing her to increase her seafloor mapping knowledge and skills, make valuable connections, and travel to exotic places such as Indonesia and Antarctica. Two of these expeditions were actually aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in 2010! After completing her undergraduate degree, Shannon spent the next few years gaining as much multidisciplinary ocean experience as possible. She worked for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Submarine Geohazards Group in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, as well as University of Bristol’s paleoceanography group in the United Kingdom. She continued to map throughout these years, and began specializing in habitat mapping using high-resolution techniques (such as remotely operated vehicle mounted multibeam), seamlessly combining her three disciplines: marine biology, geology, and seafloor mapping. In 2015, Shannon began pursuing her master’s degree in ocean mapping at the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, with the aim to increase her theoretical acoustic and geodetic background. Towards the end of her graduate degree, she jumped at the opportunity to join the OER team as a Mapping Lead, as being an OER Explorer-in-Training nearly a decade earlier had greatly shaped her career and allowed her to pursue her passion for ocean exploration.
Mechanical Engineer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Sean Kennison holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in engineering mechanics from Pennsylvania State University. He first sailed on the Okeanos Explorer as an intern and member of the engineering group, where he performed tasks associated with the launch, operation, and recovery of the remotely operated vehilce (ROV) system. He has also worked shoreside, designing mechanical parts for the ROVs and assisting with assembly and testing of previously and newly installed equipment. Sean also assisted with installing electronics, testing, data analysis, and troubleshooting on the vehicle. Most recently, he assisted in assembling and modifying a new bio storage box for ROV Deep Discoverer. While at Penn State, Sean served as team leader on a number of engineering design projects.
Electrical Engineer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Jeff Laning holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Vermont. He started his career as an intern with Greensea Systems, Inc., where he worked on design, development, and integration of components and software associated with remotely operated vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicle systems. Jeff came to the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration with a desire to learn new and complex electrical systems. He was a key member of the team that built Deep Discoverer and has become a skilled pilot, co-pilot, and navigator. Jeff currently resides in Vermont.
Systems Administrator, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Jim Meyers attended Williams College and received a B.A. in History. He has worked in the information technology field for over 20 years, including 19 years at various positions at Sea Research Foundation, Inc. in Mystic, Connecticut. He is married with two adult children. Outside of work, he is an avid soccer fan and plans European vacations around match schedules.
Ocean/Mechanical Engineer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Lars Murphy holds a Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Rhode Island. Growing up on the coast of Maine he developed a constant pull towards the unknown, the unexplored, and chaotic environments and acquired a drive to bring meaning, understanding, and order to these areas. Lars has a professional background working with autonomous underwater vehicles and other subsea robotics systems both internationally and nationally and now supports the Deep Discoverer and Seirios as an ocean/mechanical engineer.
Sample Data Manager, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information
Madalyn Newman is joining the team on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer for the first time as the sample data manager of biological and geological samples collected during the dives of remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer. She is a Mississippi Gulf Coast native who graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) with a bachelor’s degree in marine science and is completing her master’s in environmental geosciences at Mississippi State University (MSU). She began her career as a plankton taxonomist with USM and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service working primarily with Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill samples. Currently, she is working as a data archivist and outreach specialist for the Northern Gulf Institute at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi under a NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information-MSU cooperation.
Mapping Watch Lead, Inner Space Center
Colleen Peters has a bachelor’s degree in marine science and an associate degree in small vessel operations from Maine Maritime Academy as well as a 200-ton U.S. Coast Guard master’s license. She recently graduated from the University of Rhode Island’s (URI) Blue MBA Program with master’s degrees in oceanography and business administration and a certificate in GIS and remote sensing. Prior to attending URI, she worked as lead technician on Research Vessel Falkor and as senior survey technician on NOAA Ships Okeanos Explorer and Oscar Dyson. Colleen has supported over 70 research and exploration expeditions around the world. Her specialty is seafloor mapping, including acquisition, processing, and visualization. At the Inner Space Center, Colleen assists with a variety of technical and data management projects. Her focus is supporting scientific research and exploration through technology and communication. What is Colleen’s favorite part of ocean exploration? Mapping previously unexplored areas of the ocean!
Remotely Operated Vehicle Team Lead, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Chris first sailed on the Okeanos Explorer on the Cayman Rise Expedition in 2011, just prior to being hired full time by NAVSEA. For the next three years, Chris continued to participate in the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration's design, engineering, and offshore operations. Chris holds bachelor of science degrees in ocean engineering and aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech University with a minor in mathematics. Chris has been a major contributor to our design-build process and a tremendous asset to our offshore operations. He is a skilled navigator, pilot, and co-pilot of our vehicles and brings with him a level of enthusiasm that everyone around him appreciates and respects. In late 2014, Chris joined the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration's mechanical engineering team full time and he is enthusiastic about training the next generation and tackling new projects. Chris resides in Falls Church, Virginia.
Producer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Tara Smithee has been sailing on Okeanos Explorer expeditions since 2012 as a producer, editor, and remotely operated vehicle camera operator. She holds a master's degree in ocean systems from Stanford University and is pursuing a second master's degree in science and natural history filmmaking from Montana State University. Tara has a tremendous interest in science and exploration and amazement for the natural world. She is an avid scuba diver and one of her most treasured marine memories was swimming with dolphins in the wild. When not at sea, she enjoys dancing and writing in Portland, Oregon.
Electrical Engineer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Levi Unema is an Eagle Scout from Lynden, Washington. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering along with a certificate in electric power engineering from Michigan Technological University. Levi has experience in a number of different industries, ranging from the railroad, to steel mills, to automotive supplier light manufacturing. Currently living in west Michigan, he enjoys being outdoors and staying active.
Video Producer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Annie White is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, photographer, and biologist who specializes in conservation biology and animal behavior. She holds a B.A. in Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology from the University of Colorado, and is currently finishing a Master's in Fine Arts degree in Science and Natural History Filmmaking at Montana State University. Her career has taken her from collecting dinosaur fossils, to studying wild wolves, to filming cougars, grizzly bears, and now, deep-sea creatures. The years she spent living and traveling with captive ambassador wolves kick-started Annie’s interest in science education and inspired her to reach out to larger audiences through film. Her credits include projects for NOAA, BBC, National Geographic WILD, Travel Channel, Curiosity Stream, and various non-profit groups. In all of her work, Annie endeavors to bring together science, wildlife conservation, and compelling narratives to spark wonder and draw audiences into the lives of real animals. When not at sea, Annie loves to travel, write, and look for any excuse to get out into the natural world.
Expedition Manager, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
A native of Long Island, New York, Mike took a deep interest in ocean science at a young age growing up in and on the water. After graduating from the State University of New York at Geneseo with a degree in geological sciences, Mike continued his education at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. Upon receiving his master's in marine and atmospheric science and completing a graduate certificate in geospatial science, Mike started with NOAA as a hydrographic analyst with NOAA’s Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping team at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire. Mike joined the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) mapping team in 2016 and has led deep-sea mapping teams in the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Carribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean. Mike now serves as an expedition coordinator for OER, where he will continue to lead remotely operated vehicle/mapping and technology demonstration expeditions. When not at sea, Mike loves spending time at home in the garden and with his goldendoodle, Wendy.
Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration
Chris Wright holds a B.S in Business Administration from the University of Mary Washington and a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College. After graduation, he worked as a network and systems administrator and engineer in the tourism/ski resort industry in the North East and Mountain West for 15+ years. Recently relocating back to the East Coast, Chris joined the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE) data team in early 2019 as one of the newest members to the organization. He recently completed his first open-ocean cruise aboard the Okeanos Explorer and is extremely excited about continuing the journey to explore the oceans around the world. When he isn't sailing aboard the Okeanos Explorer, he is working out of the Quonset, Rhode Island, office planning, designing and implementing data solutions to help GFOE continue to refine and mature its base of operations for ocean exploration. Chris and his family currently reside in Newport, Rhode Island.