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University of Connecticut
Steven is an undergraduate in the Coastal Studies program at the University of
Connecticut at Avery Point. He is using field research opportunities to
observe fish interactions across reef structures to narrow my focus for a
graduate thesis. He hopes to look at trophic dynamics and territorial fish
behavior across tropical coral reef habitats. He is currently looking into
M.S. graduate research programs in coral reef and fish ecology.
Department of Marine Sciences and Northeast Underwater Research Technology & Education Center, University of Connecticut
Peter Auster, from the University of Connecticut, is a Research Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences. He is an ecologist and conservation biologist whose focus is marine fishes. Peter uses a range of diving technologies, from snorkel and scuba to deep sea submersibles to study communities of fishes in an effort to understand how and why they vary across underwater landscapes as well as how the behaviors of individuals vary in order to find prey and avoid predators. His research interests extend beyond basic science to include studies of the ecological effects of fishing and the role that marine protected areas can play in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity. Peter also works directly in the science-policy arena by serving on or providing information to various panels, commissions and councils focused on marine resource conservation and management at local, state, regional, national and international levels. His mantra is "You can't win if you don't play!"
Team Leader for Education and Outreach
NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
Julie Bursek is team leader for education and outreach at the NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. She manages all aspects of education and outreach programs, products, exhibits and partnerships that increase awareness about the sanctuary's living and maritime heritage resources. Prior to her work with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, she was a senior level director at the Orange County Marine Institute (now Ocean Institute) in Dana Point, California where she developed and managed floating laboratory field programs for k-16 schools and the general public. Julie's formal training as a marine biologist in intertidal and offshore field sampling techniques lends well to her hands-on approach to field science and environmental education. She's spent over 22 years conducting scientific investigations of the offshore, shallow subtidal and intertidal systems of the southern California Bight including the Channel Islands. Julie holds a bachelor's degree in Aquatic Biology from University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master's degree in Biology from California State University Fullerton.
they depend on.
Dr. John S. Burke
Research Fisheries Biologist
National Ocean Service, National Center for Coastal Ocean Science
Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research (CCFHR)
At the age of six, during a summer walk with his mother along Boston's Charles River they watched a teenage fisherman catch a sunfish. Iridescent in the morning sunlight; orange spots on yellow blending to green on the back, the sunfish is well named. He'd never seen anything quite so beautiful. He was hooked. For the past 20 years Dr. Burke worked as a fisheries biologist for NOAA trying to understand what fish do; where they live and how they make a living. During the Aquarius Mission he will be investigating fishes that migrate between coral reefs and the sandy areas and seagrass meadows that surround them. During the day these fish seek shelter from predators (barracuda, sharks) around the reef but at twilight migrate to surrounding areas to feed under the cover of darkness. At dawn they return to the safety of the reef with full bellies. What species make this migration? Do they have special feeding grounds? How far do these fish travel? To answer these questions he'll SCUBA dive to identify and count the fishes and watch their migration. After dark he'll use sonar to learn about their movement and distribution. What he learns will be useful in designing marine sanctuaries to protect populations of fish and the habitats that they depend on.
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Paul Chetirkin helps to spread the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' message by producing outreach videos. As a certified NOAA Working Diver, and underwater videographer, his job takes him to many interesting places above and below the surface. As Multimedia Coordinator, he works with NMSP staff on a range of products highlighting the diverse work at the Sanctuary Program. Paul was born in San Francisco and has lived primarily in Florida and California. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in History & Russian Studies from the University of Central Florida and a Master's Degree in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. His focus was on coral reef biodiversity studies and marine protected areas. Paul grew up tide pooling along Monterey Bay's coast, volunteering at the Florida Keys Sanctuary, and diving for many years in the Monterey and Keys Sanctuaries. Prior to coming to the National Marine Sanctuary Program, Paul worked in non-profit for animal and environmental awareness.
California State University
Alex Davis is a junior studying Environmental Science with an emphasis in Marine and Coastal Ecology at CSU Monterey Bay, CA. Alex is originally from New Mexico, but her love of everything water led her to the coasts of California where she had her first experiences surfing, kayaking, snorkeling and SCUBA Diving! She obtained her open water diving certification through CSUMB and has since been rescue diver certified as well as participated in the first science diving program offered at the school. She has also volunteered with the UC Santa Cruz chapter of PISCO.
In addition to her studies Alex works in the CSUMB Sea Floor Mapping Lab, is an assistant coach for the CSUMB Women's water polo team, and a CA State Parks Ocean life guard during her summers. Though she has lots of experience diving in the cold and beautiful waters of the Monterey Bay, this will be her first warm water diving experience as well as her first trip to Florida.
Brian P. Degan
Deepwater Technical and Tri-mix Diver
Brian was Midwestern born but North Carolina bred, and spent countless hours exploring the numerous waterways the Old North State has to offer. These explorations where inevitably driven by the urge to go fishing. Trips afield included chasing brook trout with a flyrod in the mountains, trolling for striped bass in reservoirs, noodling for catfish in lazy rivers, and sight casting to red drum in the marsh. Each excursion helped mold him into the fish fanatic he is today. After graduating NC State University he joined the CCFHR Beaufort Lab in 2001 as a research technician and eventually found a calling within the NOAA Dive Program. Since becoming a scientific diver in 2004, he has attained status as a deepwater technical and tri-mix diver and NOAA Divemaster. This has allowed Brian to participate in many dive research missions throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Southeastern United States. Dive missions have ranged in scope from monitoring marine protected areas to documenting the lionfish invasion. His main duties on this mission are as a fish counter for his dive team. Brian's main research interests are fish morphology and phylogeny, fish habitat utilization, and finding the best 'local' restaurants.
Associate Science Coordinator for the Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Sarah is the Associate Science Coordinator for the Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region and works out of the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary headquarters. Originally from Minneapolis, Minn, Sarah moved to Vermont to complete her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Studies and Biology at Middlebury College. She completed her Master of Science in Marine Affairs at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash. During the completion of her Masters, Sarah had an internship with NOAA and then was awarded a place in NOAA's Presidential Management Fellowship Program. She has worked with NOAA ever since. She is also a NOAA Advanced Working Diver and Divemaster, and has been a certified diver since college.
National Marine Sanctuary Program
Steve Gittings is proud to be a veteran aquanaut. He's worked with NURC and UNCW in a number of ways for over 20 years. His first mission in Aquarius was in 1994 and He has returned several more times to continue collecting data on the condition of the deep habitats of Conch Reef. He went to school at Westminster College in Pennsylvania and got a B.S. in Biology, then went off to grad school at Texas A&M, where he got M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Oceanography. He began working for NOAA about 19 years ago as manager of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Now he is Chief Scientist for the Office of National Marine Sancuaries, where he has had the privilege of working with scientists all over the country who are trying to understand how ocean ecosystems work so we can better protect them. And working in Aquarius and with its crew has been among his most rewarding professional experiences. For a kid who grew up on LakeErie wishing he had gills and reading about
adventure on the high seas, living underwater is a dream come true!
NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Tracy Hajduk has been involved in informal marine science education for the last 10 years most recently as an education specialist for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Her interest in marine science started at a young age and grew after completing an internship at the New England Aquarium in Boston and a semester abroad in Australia.
After college Tracy pursued marine science education at both the New England Aquarium and Northeastern University's Marine Science Center. Her favorite part of her job has always been working with people, especially students and teachers, and getting them excited about the ocean.
Tracy has also been SCUBA diving for 10 years and was first certified when she was studying abroad in Australia. She couldn't be that close to the Great Barrier Reef without getting a close look at it! She was hooked and even though the majority of her diving has been in cold New England water, she loves being able to dive in a new places - warm or cold water!
She is thrilled to be a part of, If Reefs Could Talk, and has been looking forward to the experience.
University of Connecticut's Avery Point Campus
Eric worked in Satellite communications, computers and design for many years, but returned to school to pursue his early love of marine sciences. He is curently working on his masters in biological oceanography at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point Campus. The subject of his work is using physiographic proxies to map the probable locations of vulnerable benthic species, communities and habitats. Eric plans to continue on for a PhD in biological oceanography focusing on larval ecology and population dynamics. Eric is active in online science outreach through his websites at Other 95%, Larval Images and Eclectic Echoes as well as twitter.
Instructional Designer at Tennessee State University
School of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, Cooperative Extension Programs
Jonell Hinsey is the Instructional Designer at Tennessee State University, School of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, Cooperative Extension Program. She received her undergraduate degree from American Baptist College in Theology/Bible/Psychology a Master's Degree from Tennessee State University in Curriculum and Instruction and is currently completing her Doctoral Degree at Tennessee State University in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Technology. She has worked in the Metro Davidson Public School system and later joined the faculty at Tennessee State University where she taught Developmental Reading and Learning Strategies for five years. While recognizing great opportunities to advance her knowledge and skills in the technological arena, Jonell decided to take a career turn and moved over to the School of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, Cooperative Extension Program at Tennessee State University, Agriculture Information Technology Center (AITC). There she serves as the Instructional Designer providing instructional design and technology to support comprehensive distance education programs in the agriculture, natural resources, 4-H and youth development, family and consumer sciences and community resource and economic development. Jonell is also responsible for the day to day operation of the AITC and works on several committees for the University and other institutional and organizational institutions locally and state-wide.
Michelle A. Johnston, Ph.D.
John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Michelle grew up in Marion, Ohio, and was inspired by the ocean ever since she was a kid! She completed her B.S. in Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she studied the behavioral interactions of clownfish and worked at a turtle hospital rehabbing sick and injured sea turtles. Michelle has been an aquarium and scuba dive team member at the Walt Disney World Living Seas Aquarium in Orlando, Florida, a sea turtle field biologist at USCB's Pritchard's Island in South Carolina, and a marine educator and surf instructor for Wrightsville Beach Surf Camp in the Outer banks, Australia, Bahamas, and Hawaii. Michelle's academic studies continued at the University of South Carolina, where she completed her M.S. in the Environmental Health Sciences department in 2007 and her Ph.D. in 2010 studying the impact of pathogenic bacteria from wildlife reptilian sources (in other words, American alligators) in South Carolina's surface waters. Crikey! She is extremely passionate about endangered species conservation and is known as the "Turtle Girl." In her free time, you can find Michelle on her yoga mat, or outside doing anything that invokes a sense of adventure, such as surfing, scuba diving, hiking, running, and traveling.
Dr. James Lindholm
Founder and Director
Institute for Applied Marine Ecology
Dr. James Lindholm (BA, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo (1991), MA (1995) & Ph.D. (1999) Boston University) is the James W. Rote Distinguished Professor of Marine Science and Policy in the Division of Science and Environmental Policy at CSU Monterey Bay. He is also the founder and Director of the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology, which is also at CSUMB. His research interests include the landscape ecology of fishes, the recovery of seafloor habitats and associated taxa following the cessation of fishing activity, and the design and efficacy of marine protected areas. He has conducted research at locations around the world. Current research activities include projects along the central coast of California, the Florida Keys, and the Gulf of Maine.
With a surfer mother and a diver father, it is not a surprise that James ended up studying the ocean as described above. His scientific research is just an extension of his lifelong engagement with the ocean as a surfer, diver, and long-distance swimmer. This is James' 5th mission to Aquarius (2001, 2002, 2005, 2008) and 4th as a saturation diver. He will serve as the lead scientist in saturation on the social foraging of coral reef fishes project. Further, as an active science communicator he is excited by the extensive outreach associated with this mission and is looking forward to interacting with schools all over the country.
MERITO (Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans)
Bilingual Program Coordinator
Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Rocío has a B. Sc. Degree in Oceanography from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Ensenada, Mexico, and a M. Sc. in Marine Resource Protection from Herriot Watt University of Scotland sponsored by the British Council. She has dedicated the last 20 years of her life to marine science research, conservation, sustainable business and public education and outreach in Mexico, Japan, Scotland and California. From 1991 to 2004, Rocío worked as a consultant and principal investigator for a number of organizations in marine resource protection projects while she co-owned and directed Baja Quest, an ecotourism company until 2004 when she joined NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, as a community liaison initially, and currently works as the MERITO (Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans) Program Coordinator for Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.
National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS)
Jon Parker earned his Chemical Engineering degree from Prairie View A & M University and his Master's of Business Administration degree from Texas Southern University. He is currently working at Morgan State University for the Dean of the School of Engineering. In that role he constantly volunteers to work educational outreach activities where he seeks to assist students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Additionally, he volunteers with the National Aquarium as a volunteer diver.
Jon Parker is representing the National Association of Black Scuba divers or NABS. This world wide organization has a membership of over 3,000 divers and 50 clubs. This reach is significant in the diving world where many of their efforts help young people explore recreational scuba. This path has the possibility to lead working for NOAA.
Originally selected as a saturation diver, Mr. Parker eventually settled in, supporting this mission, working with educational outreach activities where he focuses on finding interested students who wish to explore activities that could place them on future missions like this and pursuing other science and engineering careers.
California State University Monterey Bay
Chelsea Parrish Kuhn received a bachelors degree in marine biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz (2008), and is currently attending California State University Monterey Bay, where she will receive a masters degree in Coastal and Watershed Science and Policy. After becoming a SCUBA diver in 2005 Chelsea became immediately interested in subtidal research and quickly became an AAUS scientific diver. Chelsea's research interests include kelp forest ecology, monitoring design, fishing gear impacts on seafloor habitat, and the science of marine reserves. Her masters thesis involves determining if a volunteer SCUBA based monitoring organization (Reef Check), is able to monitor seasonal variations in fish abundance in Monterey California. Chelsea's research interests include kelp forest ecology, monitoring design, fishing gear impacts on seafloor habitat, and the science of marine reserves.
Having grown up on the beach in Santa Cruz, Ca the ocean has always been an integral part of Chelsea's life. Whether it was body surfing, Jr. Lifeguards, or SCUBA diving, she always found a way to get into the water. Chelsea has participated in diving research projects in California, French Polynesia, and Washington State, but has never been to the Florida Keys and is very excited to be involved in the social foraging of coral reef fishes project.
University of Connecticut
Tory is pursuing her Master's in Oceanography in Peter's lab at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests involve the applications of acoustic cameras (especially high-resolution sonar) for integrated pelagic observatory networks to study pelagic fish behavior. She is also interested in using these cameras to observe piscivore behavior, predator-prey dynamics, and the indirect interactions between demersal and midwater predators in reef environments. Her goal is to work directly with the development of effective observatory networks so that extremely useful long-term, real-time data can be collected and used to further understand the behavioral ecology of pelagic fishes.
Young Audiences of Houston
Jacqui is an educator who is also an author, illustrator, speaker and supporter of several marine societies. She specializes in fostering ecological literacy by making the marine environment relevant to all age groups through frequent presentations, workshops, and seminars at schools, libraries and conferences both nationally and internationally. She has a BA from the University of Western Australia, and a MA from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. She completed educator certification at Western Washington University. A passionate diver for over thirty-seven years, Jacqui has dived in almost all the oceans of our world, and is amazed at the pristine quality of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. She currently works with Young Audiences of Houston.
Tennessee Aquatic Project and Development Group, Inc.
Kenneth Stewart Is a "Visionary" and founder of the Tennessee Aquatic Project and Development Group, Inc. He has taken his passion for diving and his concern for the future of minority youth, and developed programs that have exposed young people to people, places, and experiences they could only dream about! One hundred percent of the youth completing the TAP program are attending college or are college graduates, 11 have achieved Master Diver certification, 23 are Lifeguards, 14 are Water Safety Instructors and 5 are Lifeguard Instructors. His passion for youth has extended beyond the borders of Tennessee working on the NABS Youth Summits since their inception and serving as NABS Youth Coordinator for over 8 years. His dedication to continuing environmental education and preservation was demonstrated by the development of the "Diving With A Purpose" (DWP) program, a partnership with Biscayne National Park that features underwater archeology and REEF, and winner of the U.S. Department of the Interior's 2009 Take Pride in America Award for Outstanding Public Private Partnership. Since 2004 DWP has experienced growth starting with four divers and reaching fifty-four divers in 2009. To assist with DWP's long-term goal of producing volunteer dive teams that can independently complete 75% of the required fieldwork associated with documentation of shipwrecks in the Nation's largest marine park, Ken's leadership initiated scholarships which are awarded annually to fund engaged youth. His vision is to spark a long-term interest in underwater archeology and develop a sense of pride and stewardship in youth for the outdoors. In 2007 Ken was selected by the Department of the Interior as the George B. Hartzog recipient for Outstanding Volunteerism and in 2008 as a NABS Hall of Fame Inductee.
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Mitchell Tartt is a marine ecologist and diving supervisor for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS). He earned his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Colorado in 1991, and his Masters of Science in Marine Ecology from the University of Maryland in 1998. He is stationed in Maryland at the ONMS National office where he focuses his work on supporting all aspects of the ONMS Conservation Science Program. Mitchell also serves as the National Diving Coordinator for the ONMS and works to develop and implement dive programs that support the ONMS mission in ocean conservation.
NOAA's National Ocean Service at the Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research
How does a kid from the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota become interested in coral reefs? Just ask Chris Taylor. He'll tell you that the closest he got to the ocean as a child was watching NOVA and Jacque Cousteau specials on Public Television. In fact, he didn't set foot in saltwater until he was in 7th grade. But after going to college in central Wisconsin (getting closer!) and while on a field trip to the Gulf of Mexico (there it is!) his sophomore year, he decided to go to graduate school and moved to North Carolina to get his PhD in marine sciences and fish ecology at North Carolina State University. Now, he is a marine ecologist with NOAA's National Ocean Service at the Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, North Carolina. He's been with NOAA since 2008 and has been working on coral reef fishes since 2001. He is particularly interested in observing fish behavior and using high-tech ways of spying on fishes without disturbing them or their habitats. His job on this mission is leading the SONAR operations and dive surveys for fishes. Using scientific fish finders, not unlike a fisherman's Humminbird, Chris and his team are able to watch from the surface how fish move around in coral reef habitats. When not on research missions, Chris tries to spend as much time outside and on the water as possible. He shares this time with his wife, Larisa Avens (a sea turtle biologist, also with NOAA), twin boys Kai and Lukas, dogs Molly and Cedar, and box turtles Lucky and Helen.
National Education Coordinator
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Kate Thompson coordinates the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries education programs to enhance ocean and climate literacy through national marine sanctuaries. Kate has been working for sanctuaries at both the site and national level coordinating education and outreach for projects, programs and expeditions for the past ten years. She has a B.A. in History from Lake Superior State University, and an M.S. in Park, Recreation, and Tourism Management with a specialization in Cultural Resource Management from Michigan State University. Kate also studied abroad for a Coastal Resource Management certification in Anguilla, British West Indies.
Onan Marroquin Trinidad
Student-Morgan State University
School of Engineering- Civil Engineering
Onan Marroquin is a Civil Engineering student, senior at Morgan State University, in Baltimore Maryland. He is very active in his school, participating in the Morgan State Scuba Club, American Society of Civil Engineers, and president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers student chapter. Aside from school, Onan participates in community service projects around Baltimore City, and works a part time job. His hobbies include hiking, swimming, jogging, and music performance. He believes that helping out both underwater and on land is a job for all, and though major or minor one's role may be, we can all contribute to maintaining our earth.
The Institute for Applied Marine Ecology
At the age of eight, after reading a book about creatures of the sea, Jessica Watson decided to become a marine scientist. Growing up in a small foothill town of California, coastal access was non-existent, but she was not deterred and with support of her family she has made the dream of being a marine scientist a reality. Jessica received a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Policy with an emphasis in Marine and Coastal Ecology in 2007. During her undergraduate time at CSU Monterey Bay, Jessica took an open water diving course and began her diving career. In 2008 Jessica began the next step of her academic career and entered into the master's program at CSU Monterey Bay in the Coastal Watershed Science and Policy Program. Jessica's thesis focuses on fine-scale movement patterns of individual coral reef fishes at Conch Reef in the Florida Keys. Specifically she is looking at how habitat features mediate the behavior of three coral reef species-blue parrotfish Scarus coeruleus (a herbivore), black grouper Mycteroperca bonaci (a piscivore), and hogfish Lachnolaimus maximus (a benthivore).
Jessica has worked with several state and federal agencies such as the California Department of Fish and Game, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Council, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Currently Jessica is a member of the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology (IfAME) and works on a marine protected area (MPA) monitoring project on north central California coast and is also a teacher's associate for undergraduate and graduate marine science courses at CSU Monterey Bay. Second to her passion for marine science is Jessica's passion to inspire children to follow their dreams. Thus she returns yearly to her third grade class where she had her dream of becoming a marine scientist and hopes her time at Aquarius will inspire more children to follow their dreams.
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Katalin Zakar has been a Web Developer with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries for 5 years. She graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in Psychology. As she is usually creating graphics and setting up blogs for the numerous expeditions she covers every summer, this time she'll be experiencing first hand what happens on an expedition and will be writing some of the blogs and tweeting to keep everyone following the mission in the loop. She's excited to be part of the team and looks forward to this expedition and gaining some valuable experience in the field.