The Deep Scope mission team gather in front of the Harbor Branch submersible.

The Deep Scope mission team gathers in front of the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible. Click image for larger view.

Don CollinsDon Collins

National Environmental Satellite
Data and Information Service

Don Collins is an oceanographer for the NOAA National Oceanographic Data Center. He works primarily on problems relating to creating effective metadata for oceanographic data sets (for both discovery and long term usability), developing and improving archival management systems for digital data, and defining international standards for exchanging oceanographic data. This is his first voyage as data manager for the Office of Ocean Exploration and his first cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Don has a BS in geology from Indiana University, an MS in oceanography from the University of New Hampshire, and an MLS from the University of Maryland.

Tamara Frank, PhDTamara Frank

Biological Oceanographer
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

Tamara Frank is currently the head of the Visual Ecology Department exit icon in the marine science division at HBOI. Her research focuses on how light controls the daytime distributions and vertical migrations of mid-water animals. Her work combines in situ studies from the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible to quantify animal distribution patterns, with shipboard-based laboratory studies on the photosensitivity of animals brought up with mid-water trawl nets. She is particularly interested in animal-eye adaptations to dim light environments. She has participated in over 70 research cruises, both as chief scientist and lucky hitchhiker. She received a BA from California State University, Long Beach; an MA and PhD from University of California, Santa Barbara; and postdoctoral fellowships from the University of Connecticut Medical School, the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Oregon, and HBOI.

Erika HeineErika Heine

Graduate Student
Johns Hopkins University/Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

Erika Heine is pursuing a PhD in oceanography at Johns Hopkins University. She bases her research out of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution under the guidance of Dr. Edith Widder. She is primarily interested in the spatial and temporal distribution of coastal bioluminescence. On this cruise, Erika will use the Eye-in-the-Sea camera system to observe the response patterns of deep-sea visual predators to artificial bioluminescence. She received both a BS and MS in biology from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo; and she participated in collaborative efforts at Rutgers Marine Station and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

Sönke Johnsen, PhDSönke Johnsen

Assistant Professor
Duke University

Sönke Johnsen is an assistant professor in the biology department at Duke University. He studies the effect of light on oceanic organisms, in particular how animals hide from predators and prey in the open sea. His work combines field studies on oceanic research cruises with microscopy and mathematical modeling of light propagation through tissue and water. He is particularly interested in various forms of crypsis, such as whole body transparency, cryptic coloration, reflectivity, and bioluminescence. Other interests include the use of UV and polarization vision as camouflage breakers. He holds a BA in mathematics from Swarthmore College and a PhD in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Brian JohnsonBrian Johnson

Environmental Analyst
National Ocean Service

Brian Johnson is an environmental analyst with the NOAA National Ocean Service (NOS). Brian has been with NOAA since 1995. For the past six years, he has designed and managed NOAA Web offerings and other outreach products. (He is the founding project manager of, which debuted in April 2001.) Prior to joining the NOS team, he was a member of several international NOAA delegations sent to China to promote the exchange of ideas and professionals in the field of Integrated Coastal Zone Management. He holds an MBA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and a BA in marketing from James Madison University. On this mission, he will coordinate and develop mission logs and multimedia content for the Web.

Justin Marshall, PhDJustin Marshall

Marine Biologist
Vision Touch and Hearing Research Centre
QBI, University of Queensland

Justin Marshall studied zoology at St. Andrews University in Scotland, and went on to specialize in sensory neurobiology of marine animals during his doctoral studies at Sussex University in England. His research's principal aim is to understand how animals perceive their environment. By taking an approach to sensory systems that is based around ecology but also includes physiology, anatomy, behavior and neural integration, this research is helping to reveal the signals that animals use and their intentions. He has worked extensively on the stomatopods (mantis shrimps), reef-dwelling crustaceans with the world's most complex color-vision system. Currently, he is studying the way in which animals use ultraviolet light and polarization (a feature of light to which humans are blind) in communication.

Mikhail V. Matz, PhDMikhail V. Matz

Research Assistant Professor
University of Florida

Mikhail Matz is a research assistant professor at University of Florida's Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience. He is studying the genetics and evolution of coloration, fluorescence, and luminescence in marine organisms. The main focus of his research is the evolutionary origin of the color diversity of coral reefs. His approaches include cloning of new genes, phylogenetic analysis of molecular sequences, application of “molecular clock” strategy to estimate evolutionary times, recreation of ancestral proteins, population genetics, and gene expression profiling. In addition to corals, Mikhail is also interested in the evolution of coloration and bioluminescent systems in deep-sea animals. In 1991, he graduated from Moscow State University (Russia) biology department; he received his PhD from Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry (Moscow) in 1999.

Charles H. MazelCharles H. Mazel, PhD [ microphone OceanAGE interview ]
Principal Research Scientist
Physical Sciences Inc.

Charles Mazel is the area manager for Marine Optics and Imaging at Physical Sciences Inc. His research focuses on the optical properties -- fluorescence and reflectivity -- of marine organisms. He develops equipment and instruments to observe and measure these properties; then applies the new tools in field research. This has primarily been oriented to shallow-water scuba diving (usually at night), but is now being applied to the search for fluorescing organisms in the deep sea. Dr. Mazel founded a company, NightSea, to make the specialized equipment available to others in the scientific community and to sport divers. Dr. Mazel has a BA from Brandeis University, an MS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a PhD from Boston University.

Nicole McMullenNicole McMullen

Graduate Student
Florida Atlantic University/ Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

In 2001, Nicole McMullen earned a BS in marine biology from Florida Atlantic University, where she is currently pursuing her master’s degree in biological sciences. She recently completed her coursework at FAU and is now focused on her research, which is based at HBOI. Under the supervision of Dr. Tamara Frank, Nicole is researching the visual ecology of two species of fiddler crabs, Uca pugilator and U. thayeri. She is using electro-physiological methods to investigate various aspects of their visual system (including spectral sensitivity, polarization sensitivity, and temporal resolution). She is interested in understanding how these components of the fiddler crabs' visual system have adapted to meet the particular needs of their ecology.

Mark Schrope Mark Schrope

Science Writer
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

Mark Schrope is the science writer at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. During the Deep Scope cruise, he will prepare photos and regular dispatches that will appear on Harbor Branch @Sea expedition Web site. Before coming to HBOI, Mark worked as a freelance writer and president of Open Water Media, Inc. His articles have appeared in Nature, New Scientist, Popular Science, Outside, and others. He received a BS in biology from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, and an MS in chemical oceanography from Florida State University. He first worked as a research technician at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point. He later completed a one-year graduate program in science writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Alison SweeneyAlison Sweeney

Graduate Student
Duke University

Alison Sweeney graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2001 with a BA in biology and Russian. Now in graduate school at Duke University, she is entering her fourth year in Sönke Johnsen’s laboratory. (She is the grateful recipient of a James B. Duke Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.) After spending the first two years of graduate school studying the evolution of iridescent color in tropical butterflies, Alison returned to her interest in marine invertebrates. On the Seward Johnson II, Alison is participating in blue-water diving operations to collect transparent animals for visual ecology studies. She is interested in the evolution of complex optics in animal eyes, and is studying lenses in deep-water squid collected by the ship’s submersible.

Edith A. WidderEdith A. Widder, PhD [ microphone OceanAGE interview ]
Senior Scientist
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

Edie Widder received her PhD in neurobiology in 1982 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 1989, she joined HBOI, where she is senior scientist and director of the bioluminescence department. She also holds adjunct appointments at Johns Hopkins University, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida Institute of Technology. In 1984, working from the single-person submersible Deep Rover, she made the first video recordings of bioluminescence in the ocean. She has been striving to quantify the phenomenon ever since. This enterprise has involved the development of several instrument systems, including the HIDEX-BP on which she co-holds the patent. (The system is now the standard in the U.S. Navy for measuring bioluminescence in the oceans.) She also developed Eye-in-the-Sea, a deep-sea observatory designed to record bioluminescence behaviors. Besides authoring articles for over 60 peer-reviewed scientific publications, Dr. Widder has produced two children’s books -- The Bioluminescence Coloring Book and Lucinda’s Lamps: A Mermaid’s Guide to Bioluminescence -- as well as an award-winning educational video, “Bioluminescence: Secret Lights in the Sea."

Jörg Wiedenmann, PhDJörg Wiedenmann

University of Ulm

Jörg Wiedenmann received his PhD in 2000 for his work on the molecular biological characterization of GFP-like fluorescent proteins in sea anemones. Fascinated by their tremendous potential as molecular tools and their impressive colors, he dedicated his career to the discovery and optimization of such proteins. He is also interested in the biological function of these pigments in corals and sea anemones. Currently, he is leading a group working in this field at the department of general zoology and endocrinology at the University of Ulm, Germany. Having studied fluorescent cnidarians in the light-flooded waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Great Barrier Reef, he is anxious to see what colors nature hides in the darkness of the deep sea. During this trip, he will join Mike Matz, isolating fluorescent compounds of deep-sea organisms.