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Alligator Exploration Team 2005

Christine Arrasate is the Education Manager at Nauticus, The National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Education from Old Dominion University.  For the last three years, Christine has supervised the Alligator project which has progressed from an after-school science club to a multi-disciplined, semester long, elective course for 6th through 8th graders in a  Hampton Roads Middle School.

Deanna Connor is a junior at Friends’ Central School in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Throughout her school years at Friends’ Central, she has enjoyed participating in environmental science projects such as Earth Force, Stream Watch, and IGLES. Her science studies at Friend’s Central have included topics in biology, chemistry, ecology, geology, physics, and astronomy. She first heard of the Alligator Project during a visit to the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. “It was interesting to learn about the history of the Alligator, its proposed missions, and its fate during the storm on April 2, 1853,” says Deanna. “I am very excited to have the opportunity to participate in this multi-faceted project, which integrates science, technology, and history.”

Dyann Connor is a middle school science teacher at Friends’ Central School in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a B.A. in anthropology and later attended the University of Washington’s Teacher Education program. She is currently in the Masters of Education program at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Over her teaching career, she has taught courses in oceanography, geology, biology, environmental science, and anthropology. For the past three years, she has taken her middle school students on a field trip to the Independence Seaport Museum to participate in their River Adventure on the Delaware (RAD) program. “The museum has been a wonderful resource for us to learn more about marine history, ecology, and environmental science,” says Dyann. “Recently I participated in the Seaport Museum’s Teacher Advisory Committee to help develop lesson plans for the Alligator project. This year my students will be able to learn about the technological tools being used in the Alligator Project and we will have an opportunity to follow the actual progress of the Hunt for the Alligator.

Karen Cronin has been with Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum for nine years, where she has held positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as Vice President for Operations. Karen has more than fifteen years experience in finance, operations and program resource management. She provides leadership for planning exhibitions and programs that fulfill the museum’s mission. Karen is also the project manager for the restoration of the museum’s historic vessels, Cruiser Olympia and Submarine Becuna, leading a team of staff and professional consultants in prioritizing activities and allocating resources. As project manager, she has managed well over $4 million in restoration funding over the last four years. Karen currently serves as the Museum liaison to NOAA as a program partner on the Alligator project. She oversees the museum’s education and public programming effort as well as fosters community and public relations outreach. Karen is coordinating plans for the Third Annual Alligator Symposium being hosted at the museum this fall. Prior to coming to Independence Seaport Museum, Karen was the controller for the Eastern Technology Council, an association of technology companies in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Joseph Hall is a Marine Science Investigation/Maritime Historical Investigations teacher at Flora D. Crittenden Middle School in Newport News, Virginia. Originally from Elmira, New York, Joseph has a B.A. in history and psychology from SUNY Brockport. Last year, Joseph introduced his sixth-grade students to the lost Civil War sub using an Alligator-themed curriculum developed by Nauticus-The National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia.

David Hall, East Coast media coordinator for NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program, will serve as the NOAA media coordinator for the 2005 Hunt for the Alligator Expedition. David has extensive experience providing media support for oceans-related projects. He provided media support for the 2003 survey of the wreck of the steamship Portland, also known as New England's Titanic. He also served as the NOAA media coordinator during the 2002 recovery of the gun turret of the famed Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.

Melissa Madrigal is a Ph.D. candidate in ECU’s Coastal Resources Management program. She holds a B.S. in anthropology and a B.S. in psychology from the University of Houston. Most recently she worked as a contract archaeologist and crew chief for HRA Gray & Pape and PBS&J in Texas. Melissa spent two years working as an Environmental Planner and Archaeologist for URS Corporation. While there she earned a merit award from the Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District for her work on the Bayport project. Melissa was a member of the 2004 Hunt for the Alligator team.

Michael Overfield, a marine archaeologist with NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, is the coordinator of the 2005 Hunt for the Alligator expedition. Overfield received his B.A. in archaeology from California State University, Hayward and his M.A. in Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology from East Carolina University.

CDR Jerry Stefanko has 20 years of experience in U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve assignments in submarine operations and technology, naval intelligence, and education. Following graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1984, he completed nuclear power training and a tour of duty on the USS PORTSMOUTH (SSN 707) in assignments as electrical officer, damage control assistant, and communications officer. He was then selected as a member of the Naval Academy military faculty and was designated a Master Instructor in the Chemistry Department. As a Naval Reserve officer, CDR Stefanko has held assignments supporting the USS SIMON LAKE (AS-33), Office of Naval Intelligence, and Naval Beach Group Two. He is currently the Alligator Project Officer for the Office of Naval Research and the executive officer for an Office of Naval Research Reserve unit. He has been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (four awards) and Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two awards). In his civilian career, he is a senior manager at Northrop Grumman with ten years of experience in process improvement, systems engineering, and project management on major defense and national security programs.

Valarie Thorpe is the webmaster for NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries and the lead developer for the Hunt for the Alligator web site. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in communications/journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Krista Trono is the communications coordinator for NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Through outreach events and educational curricula, Krista shares her enthusiasm and love for the ocean and the maritime heritage resources within. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental studies from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Arts in marine affairs and policy from the University of Miami-RSMAS in Florida.

Odean Vanthul is the educator at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Norfolk, Virginia. He is also a retired Navy Senior Chief who has over 11 years experience teaching various naval courses, from operating cruise missiles to operating Navy hovercrafts. Odean was involved with forming and teaching various interdisciplinary science lessons at a local school, based on the search for the USS Alligator. Presently the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary are working together on a partnership that will bring different maritime heritage education programs to school systems.