Operation Life on the Edge 2005 Explorers

Doni AngellDoni Angell
Educator at Sea
Walter Johnson Middle School

In her second year as a 7th grade teacher, Doni is enjoying the new curricula as well as the new age group. Prior to moving to middle school seven years ago as an 8th grade teacher, Doni taught environmental education to K-6 students as well as to adult educators for a number of years. She earned a B.S. in agricultural education from N.C. State University, and a M.A. in middle school education with a science concentration from Appalachian State University. She is a N.C. State Museum of Natural Sciences Educator of Excellence, having participated in New England Coastal and Tropical Ecology Institutes. This is her second trip with the Life on the Edge researchers, having also served as the Educator at Sea in the 2003 mission.

Liz Baird Liz Baird
Co-principal Investigator
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

As director of school programs at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Liz Baird is accustomed to sharing science information with students and teachers across the state and around the world. During the Life on the Edge mission, she will share research activities with the public via satellite transmissions from the ship. She will work closely with researchers and the ship's crew to answer questions sent from students, and will assist the research team wherever she's needed. She will also assist Art Howard with the development of a High Definition program highlighting deep-sea research. Ms. Baird's work with the museum includes supervising staff delivering classes and programs for students and teachers at the Museum and via videoconferencing , as well as leading teacher workshops in North Carolina, Maine and Belize. She has a BS in biology from Salem College and MS in science education from North Carolina State University.

Tim BirdsongTim Birdsong
Data Manager
Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

Tim joined NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration (OE) this year as a Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow.  Tim spent his childhood exploring the many streams and reservoirs that dominate the landscape of southeastern Oklahoma.  These experiences began a life-long interest in aquatic and marine ecosystems that led him to pursue an education and subsequent career as a marine ecologist.  Tim has a B.S. from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and a M.S. from Louisiana State University, where he conducted ecological research in the northern Gulf of Mexico focused on identification of essential habitats for fish species of economic importance.  Since joining OE, Tim has coordinated the NOAA Southeastern US Deep-Sea Corals Initiative, which is an effort to document the distribution of deep-sea corals in the South Atlantic Bight.  Information obtained from the initiative will be used to make management decisions regarding the protection of deep-sea corals and their associated communities.  During the Life on the Edge Expedition, Tim will serve as the OE data manager.

Tara L. CasazzaTara L. Casazza
Research Associate and Graduate Student
Center for Marine Science, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Tara Casazza is a research associate and graduate student enrolled in the marine science program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she also earned a BS degree in marine biology.  Casazza started working for Dr. Ross as a summer intern in 2000.  Her master’s project consists of comparing open ocean surface fish communities in two habitats: Sargassum versus open water, and determining trophic relationships between fishes collected in these two habitats.  Her current research interests also include biology of flying fishes and distribution and abundance of eel larvae off North Carolina.  During our cruise, Casazza is chief of the night watch.  She will also assist with gear management, data collection, including submersible operations, and fish identifications.

Renee Green Reneé Green
Educator at Sea
Level Cross Elementary/Randolph County Schools
Randleman, NC

Reneé Green has been an educator for over twenty-one years, having taught GED courses, as well as, second, third, and fifth grades. She became an Educator of Excellence through her 2001 Belize, Central America field experience with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  At the state level, Green is a representative for the NC Teaching Fellows selection process.  Green earned an A.S. in Early Childhood education from Wingate University, and a B.A. in Elementary Education from Pfeiffer University.  Green achieved National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist.  She enjoys camping, hiking, and traveling with her family.

Art HowardArt Howard
Producer/ Director of Photography

For 22 years, Emmy Award-winning photographer and producer Art Howard has helped viewers experience life through images from the Middle East to the Galapagos Islands. As a native North Carolinian, this adventure will be closer to home. He will follow the researchers aboard the SEWARD JOHNSON, documenting the excitement and challenges of offshore reef exploration. Art will use the latest high definition video equipment to bring viewers as close as possible to life at sea, from the surface to depths of 3000 feet, capturing both the scientists and the life they seek to understand. This project is part of a permanent HD theater experience at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. In his fourth year of ocean exploration, Art will also provide digital still photo support for the scientists as the Museum continues its mission of helping everyone understand our planet below the ocean’s surface.

Barb LubinskiBarb Lubinski
U.S. Geological Survey
Leetown Science Center

Barb Lubinski is a biologist working for the USGS-BRD Leetown Science Center Aquatic Ecology Branch. Barb earned a BS in biology at Bowling Green State University, and an MS in biology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She has worked at the Leetown Science Center since 1995 and specializes in using molecular genetic techniques to study the genetic structure, population biology, ecology, and evolution of natural populations of Atlantic salmon and other organisms. Barb will assist with genetic sampling and data collection, and other activities as needed.  This will be her first cruise experience.

Jennifer McClainJennifer McClain
Undergraduate Student
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Jennifer McClain is an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She will be graduating in May 2006 with a BS in marine biology and a minor in chemistry. Jennie has been a volunteer in Dr. Steve Ross’ lab since January 2003, creating final museum labels, sorting plankton samples for fish larvae and leptocephali, measuring specimens, and analyzing videos. She also completed a directed independent study under Dr. Ross in the spring of 2005 on the ecology of Eumunida picta, a species of galatheid crab. Jennie is fascinated by the deep sea and hopes to continue research in this field.  She plans on attending graduate school in the fall of 2006. Her responsibilities on this cruise include: isotope work-up, videotape copying, sonar surveys, and night lighting.

Cheryl MorrisonDr. Cheryl Morrison
USGS-BRD Leetown Science Center, Aquatic Ecology Branch

Cheryl Morrison is a biologist for the USGS-BRD Leetown Science Center. She works in a conservation genetics lab that aims to develop and use genetic techniques to determine population structure and management units for species of concern. Dr. Morrison earned a BS in marine biology at University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and her Ph.D.  in biology at Florida State University. Dr. Morrison’s research interests can be broadly classified as molecular ecology- the use of molecular tools to understand the distributions of species and populations, and how this is influenced by their environments, behavior, and interactions with other organisms. Her research has involved the study of evolutionary relationships among tropical coral reef dwelling snapping shrimps, hermit crabs and other anomuran crustaceans, stream fishes, orchids, and freshwater mussels. Dr. Morrison is using molecular tools to study deep-sea coral biodiversity and population genetics. On the cruise, she will assist with sampling and data collection, including submersible operations, and will oversee the preservation of coral and invertebrate tissue for DNA studies.  Morrison enjoys running, kayaking, SCUBA diving, and spending time with friends and family, especially her boyfriend and dog.

Martha S. Nizinski Dr. Martha S. Nizinski
NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service National Systematics Laboratory

Martha Nizinski is a zoologist for NOAA/NMFS National Systematics Laboratory, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC. Dr. Nizinski earned a BS in biology at West Virginia Wesleyan College, a MS in zoology at University of Maryland, and her Ph.D. in marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, School of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. She has been employed by the Systematics Laboratory since 1987, first as a technician, then as a zoologist. After completion of her doctoral degree in 1998, Dr. Nizinski began her research program studying the biodiversity, biogeography, taxonomy, and systematics of marine invertebrates, particularly decapod crustaceans. Her current research interests include biodiversity, biogeography and community structure of decapod crustaceans, biodiversity and community structure of invertebrate fauna associated with deep-water coral reefs, impact of spiny lobster predation on their molluscan prey assemblage, and biodiversity of shallow-water gastropod and bivalve mollusks in Florida Bay. Dr. Nizinski is the invertebrate specialist of the research team.  She will participate in submersible operations and data collection and will oversee all invertebrate collections.


M.T. PalmerM.T. Palmer
Coordinator of Student Outreach and Distance Learning
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences

M.T. Palmer has proudly worked as an educator for the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences for 8 years.  Palmer served as the Classroom Programming Specialist providing natural science programs for K-5th grade and has worked closely with volunteers to guarantee the high quality of the programs. In 2004, Palmer led a teacher education trip to Alberta, Canada looking for dinosaur fossils and has led numerous workshops across the state. As of September 2005, Palmer began her new role as Coordinator of Student Outreach and Distance Learning. From the Museum, Palmer uses interactive videoconferencing technology to provide real-time audio/video classes for students and teachers across the state. She will be sharing the research activities of Life on the Edge '05 with the public via transmissions from the ship for the second half of the voyage. Palmer earned a B.S. in environmental education and environmental journalism from Huxley College of Environmental Studies at Western Washington University in Washington State. She enjoys playing with her 4-year-old daughter, reading, visiting art galleries, running, and napping in the hammock. 


Melissa L. PartykaMelissa L. Partyka
Ecologist, GIS-Specialist
Center for Marine Science, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Melissa Partyka is a recent addition to Steve Ross' research team having just moved to the North Carolina coast at the end of July 2005. Her position at UNC-Wilmington entails the classification and mapping of deep-sea habitats as well as data management for previous and current expeditions. She completed her undergraduate degree in marine biology at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL and her MS degree in fisheries ecology at the University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to beginning her master's degree she worked as a research assistant and laboratory manager for the Bimini Biological Field Station, Bimini, Bahamas, where she participated in numerous studies of the local shark populations. Her current research interests include the spatial relationships of fragmented marine habitats, species assemblages and community interactions in fragmented/altered habitats, the impact of fisheries activity on local populations and the status of coastal elasmobranch fisheries. After completing her work at UNC-Wilmington she intends to pursue her doctoral degree in fisheries management. Melissa will be acting as a data-manager, GIS-specialist and general support technician for this expedition.

Andrea M. QuattriniAndrea M. Quattrini
Fisheries Research Technician
Center for Marine Science, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Andrea Quattrini is a fisheries research technician with the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Center for Marine Science. She holds a BS in biology from Millersville University in Pennsylvania. In 2002, Andrea completed her MS in marine biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she investigated the distribution of larval fishes among water masses off North Carolina. Her current research interests include the ecology and life histories of shelf-edge and deep coral bank fishes. Andrea is also currently assisting efforts to map deep coral habitats off the southeastern United States. Andrea has worked with Dr. Steve Ross since 2002 and has participated in several offshore cruises with the current research team. On the 2005 research mission, she will be responsible for overall data management, specimen collection, and submersible support.

J Murray RobertsDr. J Murray Roberts
Marine Biologist
Scottish Association for Marine Science
Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory
Oban, Argyll, UK

Murray Roberts is a marine biologist working on the biology, ecology and conservation of cold-water corals. Following a Ph.D. on the symbiosis between sea anemones and zooxanthellae, he began working in the Deep-sea Biology Group at SAMS in 1997. Since then he has worked with industrial and academic partners including several pan-European projects. He currently leads a team of five working on complimentary aspects of cold-water coral ecology. Murray has taken part in 13 offshore research cruises, but this is his first experience of an American cruise and his first opportunity to work with a manned research submersible.

Dr. Steve W. RossDr. Steve W. Ross
Associate Research Faculty
University of North Carolina at Wilmington (currently on assignment to US Geological Survey)

Dr. Ross is a native of North Carolina and has spent most of his career involved in the marine sciences of this area. He earned a BS degree in Zoology from Duke University, a Master's degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. from NC State University. He was the Research Coordinator for the NC Coastal Reserve Program for 13 years. He is currently a member of the research faculty at UNC-W and is also on an appointment to the US Geological Survey. He holds adjunct faculty appointments at NC State University and UNC-Wilmington. His area of specialization is ichthyology (fishes), particularly in areas of ecology and life history (age, growth, feeding, reproduction) studies. He has conducted numerous, diverse projects in estuaries and offshore waters and has served as chief scientist on many cruises, including several using submersibles. The current work of Dr. Ross and his team involves assessment of the fish communities of several unique deep-water habitats off the southeastern US. In particular, they are looking at energy flow (trophodynamics) and relationships of animals to various habitats, including coral banks, canyon systems, and rocky areas. One ultimate goal of such studies is to provide information for these poorly known areas that will facilitate management and protection of productive habitats.

Bob SchwartzBob Schwartz
Web Coordinator

Bob Schwartz is in his seventh year as a video producer for NOAA’s Office of Public and Constituent Affairs. As part of a two-man team, he runs an award-winning, full-production studio that serves the entire agency. His work includes outreach documentaries, public service announcements, live broadcasts, news releases, etc. in support of NOAA’s varied missions. No stranger to life at sea, Bob has spent many hours working aboard NOAA research vessels, commercial fishing boats, and even beneath the surface as a NOAA diver. On this mission, Bob will be serving as the website coordinator and looks forward to bringing the excitement of Life on the Edge 2005 to a computer near you.

Colleen YoungColleen C. Young
U.S. Geological Survey, Leetown Science Center

Colleen Young is a biologist at the Leetown Science Center in Kearneysville, WV. She earned a BS in biology at Ursinus College, and a MS in marine biology and biochemistry from the University of Delaware, College of Marine Studies, Lewes, DE. She has done research on the population genetics of several different species, including horseshoe crabs, diamondback terrapins, brook trout, and black bears.