Explorer-in-Training Program

As part of its mission to train the next generation of ocean explorers, the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration hosts undergraduate and graduate students in the Explorer-in-Training program, where participants gain valuable experience in deepwater mapping and exploration. The application period for 2019 has closed; please check back for information on 2020 opportunities.

      On this page: About the Program  |  Past Explorers-in-Training

Standing Watch:  Explorers in Training Laura Almodovar, Victoria Dickey, and Kelsey Lane standing mapping watch at the University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center. Image Credits: CCOM

Standing Watch: Explorers-in-Training Laura Almodovar, Victoria Dickey, and Kelsey Lane standing mapping watch at the University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center. Image courtesy of CCOM. Download larger version (jpg, 2.8 MB).

The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) provides the nation with unparalleled capacity to discover and investigate new oceanic regions and phenomena, conduct the basic research required to document discoveries, and seamlessly disseminate data and information-rich products to a multitude of users. OER strives to provide resources, develop technological solutions, and innovate applications to address critical problems in undersea exploration. A fundamental part of the OER mission is the engagement of the marine science community and the general public and the training of the next generation of explorers.

The 2000 President’s Panel on Ocean Exploration Report, Discovering Earth’s Final Frontier: A U.S. Strategy for Ocean Exploration, calls for a national ocean exploration program to “train the next generation of ocean explorers." One of the many ways that OER addresses this goal is through a partnership with the Cooperative Program for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS), a community program of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), to coordinate research and collaboration activities of OER’s expeditions on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is the nation’s only federal vessel dedicated to ocean exploration. The ship is equipped with advanced tools that support systematic exploration of unknown ocean regions. High-resolution sonars, deepwater remotely operated vehicles, and telepresence technology are used to collect baseline information in unexplored areas. Real-time collaboration with scientists and other experts at Exploration Command Centers around the world enables rapid dissemination of information-rich products to the scientific community, allowing them to directly participate in expeditions, even from shore. Telepresence technology ensures that data from new discoveries are available almost immediately to experts in relevant disciplines for further analysis and research.

 

About the Explorer-in-Training Program

A 245 km long section of Horizon Tablemount mapped during strategic Transits of four cruises.   Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

A 245-kilometer-long section of Horizon Tablemount mapped during strategic transits of four cruises. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Download image (jpg, 255 KB).

Since 2009, CPAESS/UCAR and OER have hosted over 120 mapping Explorers-in-Training. For many, this first at-sea experience was invaluable in subsequent academic and career pursuits. OER continues to seek opportunities to work with external groups to train the next generation of explorers.

OER also hosts graduate and undergraduate students as Explorers-in-Training in collaboration with NOAA’s Educational Partnership Program and Cooperative Science Centers.

A typical Explorer-in-Training (EiT) placement will consist of one (1) 20- to 30-day expedition either offshore aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and/or onshore at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Exploration Command Center (ECC) in Durham, New Hampshire.

Offshore EiTs will stand an eight-hour mapping watch for seven days a week throughout their cruise assignment(s). The duties of at-sea mapping watch standers typically include the acquisition and processing of multibeam data and associated sound velocity profile data, as well as precise record keeping.

Onshore EiTs will stand an eight-hour watch at the UNH ECC. This opportunity will provide excellent experience with seafloor mapping sonars, data analysis, and software technology, as well as real-time watch standing and communication with the ship through telepresence equipment in place at the UNH ECC.

Both onshore and offshore trainees will also complete a project of their own interest, with approval and support from experienced mapping team personnel. Travel and housing will be provided as part of both opportunities.

Standard experiences and training during an expedition include:

  • Acquisition and processing of multibeam data
  • Use of hydrographic processing and display software
  • Use of geographic information systems (GIS) software packages
  • Acquisition and processing of sub-bottom and fisheries sonars
  • Data management
  • Familiarity with at-sea routines
A steeply sloped ridge along the Nova-Canton Trough mapped during EX1701: CAPSTONE Telepresence Mapping in Pacific Marine Protected Areas. Onboard were Explorers-in-Training Sarah Rosenthal and Jay Chitnis. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

A steeply sloped ridge along the Nova-Canton Trough mapped during the CAPSTONE Telepresence Mapping in Pacific Marine Protected Areas expedition. Onboard were Explorers-in-Training Sarah Rosenthal and Jay Chitnis. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Download image (101 KB).


 

Requirements

  • U.S. Citizenship, for offshore opportunities
  • Ability to stand an eight-hour at-sea watch, for offshore opportunities
  • Familiarity with Windows and Microsoft Office tools
  • Willingness to learn and follow shipboard Standard Operating Procedures
  • Interest in learning about seafloor mapping operations

For additional information about the Okeanos Explorer and the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, please visit: https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/ and https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/about/welcome.html.

The application period for 2019 has closed; please check back for information on 2020 opportunities.

 

Explorer-in-Training Claudia Thompson in the control room on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Image courtesy of Anna Hallingstand, NOAA OMAO.

Explorer-in-Training Claudia Thompson in the control room on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Image courtesy of Anna Hallingstand, NOAA OMAO. Download larger version (jpg, 5.5 MB).

Kongsberg EM302 bathymetry data collected on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer during EX1807.  Data was acquired and processed by onboard Explorers in Training  Sally Jarmusz, Ryan Mar, Savannah Goode, and EPP Prian Vidal. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

Kongsberg EM302 bathymetry data collected on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer during the Mapping Deepwater Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation expedition. Data was acquired and processed by onboard Explorers-in-Training Sally Jarmusz, Ryan Mar, Savannah Goode, and Educational Partnership Program participant Prian Vidal. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Download larger version (jpg, 3.3 MB).

 

 

Past Explorer Trainees

The more than 120 past participants in the NOAA Explorer-in-Training program have come from a variety of places across the country. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

The more than 120 past participants in the NOAA Explorer-in-Training program have come from a variety of places across the country. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Download larger version (jpg, 3.0 MB).

Since 2009, OER has hosted more than 120 Explorers-in-Training. Learn more about their experiences here.

Read mission logs from past trainees: