Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007 Explorers


Erin Becker Erin Becker
Graduate Student
Penn State University

Erin Becker is currently a PhD student in biology at Penn State University, having completed a BS in ecology and evolution at the University of Pittsburgh in 2005. She has worked with using stable isotopes to determine food web interactions in communities associated with the reef-building coral Lophelia pertusa on the Upper Louisiana Slope. She is currently employing the same techniques to determine food web structure in tubeworm-, mussel-, and pogonophoran-associated communities in the deep slope environment.

Bernie Bernard Bernie Bernard
TDI-Brooks International, Inc.

Dr. Bernie Bernard received a PhD in chemical oceanography from Texas A&M University in 1978. For the next two years as an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma School of Geology and Geophysics, Dr. Bernard taught graduate level courses in organic geochemistry and isotope geochemistry. In 1980, he accepted a position as vice president of O. I. Analytical, Inc., a supplier of analytical instruments for the measurement of trace organics in water, soil, and air. While at O. I., he was the director of research and development, designing and bringing to market instruments for the measurement of gases, volatiles, and petroleum hydrocarbons in the environment. In 1993, he was appointed deputy director of the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group of Texas A&M, serving with Dr. James M. Brooks. In 1996, Dr. Bernard and Dr. Brooks formed TDI-Brooks International, Inc., a Texas company that delivers high-quality field and analytical services, and scientific interpretation, to the marine oil exploration and environmental marketplace. Dr. Bernard has over 20 years of experience in natural gas geochemistry. His published models for the interpretation of the natural sources of light hydrocarbon gases have become commonly known in the scientific literature as “Bernard Plots.” The analytical methods he has developed for the measurement of the concentrations of interstitial gases in marine sediments are also in wide use, and have resulted in an accumulation of data from over 25,000 cores taken in the continental shelves, slopes, and the deep water adjacent to continental margins worldwide.

Marshall BowlesMarshall Bowles
PhD Student, Marine Sciences
University of Georgia – Athens

Marshall Bowles is a first year PhD student in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia in Athens. He received his BSc in integrated science and technology from James Madison University in 2003 and his masters of environmental management (water and air resources) from Duke University in 2005. His PhD research focuses on the regulation of sulfate reduction at cold seep sediments. He is particularly interested in oil-degrading sulfate reducers.

James P Brennan IIJames P Brennan II
Engineering Assistant II, Electronics
Alvin Operations
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

James Brennan works with the Alvin Group at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as a pilot-in-training and electronics technician. He is currently on loan to the Deep Submergence Lab, Jason Operations as their navigator and electronics technician. Brennan's previous projects include: Florida’s Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS), remote solar powered radio repeater systems for Iraq, and military avionics for the Marine Corps MALS-14. He received his formal electronics education at the Naval Air Technical Training Center Pensacola, with the Marine Aviation Training Support Group, studying avionics. He also holds a FCC general radio operators license.


Bob Carney Bob Carney
Louisiana State University

Dr. Robert S. Carney has been fascinated by deep-sea ecology since he first participated in deep sampling in 1967 as an undergraduate at Duke University. As graduate student at Texas A&M University, he sampled in the deep Gulf of Mexico, and in the deep northeastern Pacific as a student at Oregon State. He also spent two years as a Smithsonian Fellow, examining a fraction of the thousands of specimens archived at the U.S. National Museum of Natural History. After three years directing the Biological Oceanography Program of the National Science Foundation, he returned to teaching and research. At Moss Landing Marine Lab on the Pacific, he began submersible-based investigation of animal distribution. During this period, chemosynthetic communities were discovered in the deep Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Carney came to Louisiana State University in 1986, and has been conducting research on deep Gulf of Mexico ecology ever since.

During Expedition to the Deep Slope, he will concentrate on two areas of concern. First, to what extent do normal deep-sea fauna feed upon the abundant seep animals? This is in collaboration with Drs. Steven Macko of the University of Virginia and Stephen MacAvoy of American University. Second, he will try to determine dispersion of tubeworm larvae through use of larvae attracting devices. Dr. Carney is active in a growing group of deep-sea scientists concerned about pollution and environmental impact in that poorly understood environment.

Mike CohenMike Cohen
Penn State University

Michael Cohen is a sophomore majoring in biochemistry and Spanish at Washington University in St. Louis. This summer, he has been working at the Fisher Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University under the supervision of several graduate students. He is currently working with geographic information systems (GIS) to explore the composition of mega-fauna at hydrothermal vent sites. Combining this tool with high-resolution imagery and chemical data, this work aids in drawing hypotheses about what factors are influencing these mega-fauna communities.

Erik CordesErik Cordes
Harvard University

Erik Cordes is an ecologist studying cold-seep and coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico. During his time at Moss Landing Marine Labs in California, he worked on the age and growth of soft corals and the gorgonian, Primnoa resedaeformis. He then went to Penn State, where he studied the tubeworms of the upper slope of the Gulf of Mexico, including the ecology of communities associated with Lamellibrachia luymesi and Seepiophila jonesi aggregations, age and growth models of the tubeworms, and models of their sulfide sources. He also worked on a Minerals Management Service project on the ecology of the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa and the associated communities in the Gulf of Mexico. At Harvard, he is studying the microbial ecology of Juan de Fuca Ridge hydrothermal vent chimneys.

Irmgard EichingerIrmgard Eichinger
Graduate Student
University of Vienna, Austria

Irmgard Eichinger is a first year PhD student at the Department of Marine Biology at the University of Vienna. Her master's thesis dealt with the ectosymbiosis of the Stilbonematinae. Currently my interests focus on the tubeworm Sclerolinum endosymbiosis, concentrating especially on the bacterial symbionts and on the anatomy and organization of the symbiont-containing organ, the trophosome.

Chuck FisherChuck Fisher
Pennsylvania State University

Charles (Chuck) Fisher is a professor of biology in the Eberly College of Science at The Pennsylvania State University. He received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University. He then moved to the University of California in Santa Barbara where he received his PhD, working on algal-invertebrate symbioses in corals and giant clams. He began working at hydrothermal vents during his first cruise with the submersible Alvin in 1982, and began at the cold seeps of the Gulf of Mexico in 1987. He has been on 54 oceanographic expeditions over the past 24 years and was chief scientist for 23 of those expeditions. He has made 122 dives with six different research submarines, and logged over 77 days at sea working with remotely operated vehicles. Fisher's research group uses a wide variety of techniques and approaches to discover new animals, investigate the metabolic and life history adaptations of vent and seep animals, and study the ecology of the often strange communities found in these deep sea habitats.

Gernot FriederichGernot Friederich
Research Specialist
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Gernot Friederich is a research specialist at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in Moss Landing, California, where he has worked since 1987. He received degrees in chemistry and oceanography in 1971 from the University of Washington, where he subsequently worked as an oceanographer. While at MBARI, he has studied nutrient and carbon fluxes in highly productive regions of the oceans, such as coastal and equatorial upwelling systems. Other research interests are investigations of nitrogen and carbon transformations at oxic/suboxic interfaces and within suboxic zones. He has participated in research examining the formation of natural and synthetic gas hydrates in the ocean. In all of these programs, he has developed sampling tools and analytical systems. For this expedition, Friederich will be investigating the utility of a newly developed in-situ mass spectrometer to examine gas venting from the sea floor.

Matt FryeMatt Frye
Minerals Management Service

Matt Frye currently serves as a staff geoscientist with the Minerals Management Service in Herndon, Virginia. He joined the Methodologies Branch of the Resource Evaluation Division in May, 2006. Currently, Frye has the project lead for the ongoing national assessment of methane hydrate resources on the outer continental shelf. Previously, he spent nearly eight years with the MMS Office of Resource Evaluation in the Gulf of Mexico Region. In the Gulf, he was actively involved in the tract evaluation and fair market value determination processes, where he became interested in deep-water depositional systems and salt tectonics. Frye earned a BS from Ohio University and an MS from New Mexico State University, both in geological sciences.

Oscar GarciaOscar Garcia
PhD Candidate
Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi

Oscar Garcia is a PhD candidate in the Coastal and Marine System Science Program at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. He holds a bachelor's of engineering in electronics and a master's degree in quality systems. His research interests are in the field of remote sensing applied to ocean sciences. Currently, his studies are focused in monitoring the transfer of hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico using synthetic aperture radar satellites and numerical models, integrating oceanographic and meteorological factors. During this cruise, he is assisting Dr. Ian MacDonald in the deployment of cameras which will monitor natural seepage of hydrocarbons in the sea floor and chemosynthetic communities.

Peter GirguisPeter Girguis
Professor of Microbiology
Harvard University

Peter Girguis is an assistant professor of microbiology in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He received his undergraduate degree with honors in marine biology from the University of California – Los Angeles. He conducted his doctoral dissertation research at the University of California – Santa Barbara, under the supervision of Dr. James Childress. His research focused on understanding the metabolism of hydrothermal vent symbioses, and involved the design and fabrication of high-pressure and high-vacuum instrumentation for measuring metabolism in deep-sea organisms. He received a postdoctoral research fellowship from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, where he continued his research on the physiology of deep-sea microbes, in particular anaerobic methane-oxidizing archaea, and led the development of an underwater mass spectrometer for measuring dissolved gasses on the sea floor. He and his research group design new instruments and incubators to study the physiology of the countless microbes that live in the oceans, in particular those that we cannot easily grow in the laboratory

Eric HawkinsEric Hawkins
Minerals Management Service

Eric Hawkins has served as a geoscientist in the Minerals Management Service Resource Evaluation Office, Resource Studies Section for the past three years. He currently performs regional geologic mapping throughout the Western Gulf of Mexico, with an emphasis on the emerging Lower Tertiary play. He has also completed numerous petrophysical evaluations on newly drilled wells throughout the deep-water Gulf of Mexico. Hawkins previously performed extensive water bottom mapping on newly acquired three-dimensional seismic surveys, as well as prospect evaluations for an independent petroleum exploration company. He received BS and MS degrees in geology from Tulane University, where he studied geologic and geochemical processes in the lowermost Mississippi River.

HourdezStéphane Hourdez
Station Biologique de Roscoff, France

Stéphane Hourdez's research focuses on the adaptation of deep-sea organisms to the low environmental oxygen concentrations found at hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. The scaleworms form a group of annelids that are particularly interesting: they are found at all hydrothermal vent and cold-seep sites investigated so far, as well as in shallow-water environments, where oxygen is found at higher concentrations. This allows a study of the strategies developed by the seep and vent species to cope with hypoxia (low levels of oxygen), using the shallow-water species as references. Such adaptations are, for example, the presence of gills in about half the hypoxia-exposed species, whereas none of the shallow-water ones have gills.

Jesse L. Hunt, Jr.Jesse L. Hunt, Jr.
Minerals Management Service

Jesse Hunt received BS and MS degrees in geology from the University of Georgia in 1969 and 1974, respectively. His thesis involved the geology of Gray’s Reef off Sapelo Island, Georgia. Following a two-year sedimentological study of the Venezuelan Caribbean continental margin for a private Venezuelan research foundation, he began working for the U.S. Department of Interior in New Orleans and was involved with offshore oil and gas leasing. He worked for four years with Gulf Oil in offshore oil and gas exploration, and returned to the Minerals Management Service and worked in tract evaluation. Since 1998, he has worked in the Resource Studies Section of the Office for Resource Evaluation, involved with studies of gas hydrates and deep water sea-floor hydrocarbon seeps. His duties have involved the mapping of the sea-floor reflector on approximately 150 overlapping three-dimensional seismic surveys covering the entire slope of the central and western Gulf of Mexico. He has also done extensive analysis of seismic amplitude anomalies that are related to sea-floor seeps.

Christina Kellogg  Christina Kellogg
Environmental Microbiologist
U.S. Geological Survey

Chris Kellogg received her PhD in marine microbiology from the University of South Florida for her work on the genetic diversity of marine viruses. She did postdoctoral research on a National Institutes of Health-funded fellowship at the Georgetown University Medical Center, using molecular methods to identify novel drug targets in pathogenic fungi. She also interned for several months at Human Genome Sciences, processing microarrays and using bioinformatics software to mine the data. She joined the U.S. Geological Survey as one of the first Mendenhall Fellows, characterizing the microbial communities in African dust, beach sediments, sea grass beds and coral reefs. In her current position as an environmental microbiologist, Kellogg continues to study the microbiology of African desert dust, developing molecular methods to move the project beyond its present culture-based work. She is also researching the microbial ecology of deep-sea corals and has participated in submersible dives in both the Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Mexico. She recently received a grant from Mote Marine Laboratories' Protect Our Reefs program to study the possibility of controlling coral diseases with marine viruses that specifically infect coral bacterial pathogens.

Michael Robert Kullman  Michael Robert Kullman
TDI-Brooks International, Inc.

Michael Kullman received an MS in geography from Texas A&M University in 1996 and began working for TDI-Brooks International in 1997. He currently serves as a geographic information system (GIS) specialist during offshore hazard and seismic survey projects aboard the TDI-Brooks research vessel J. W. Powell.

Stephanie Lessard-PilonStephanie Lessard-Pilon
Graduate Student
Pennsylvania State University

Stephanie Lessard-Pilon is working on her PhD at the Pennsylvania State University. In 2005, she complete her BS in biology at Cornell University, where she carried out undergraduate research in nutrient cycling in stream invertebrates. Her work focuses on using photomosaics to examine the spatial distributions of benthic invertebrate communities associated with deep-water Lophelia pertusa sites and cold seeps in the Gulf of Mexico. She is also interested in the ecology of sea urchin and mussel communities. 


Kathy LoftisKathy Loftis
PhD Student
University of Georgia

Kathy Loftis is a PhD student in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia. She graduated from Florida International University with a BS in chemistry, studying the photodegradation of the naturally occurring toxin, microcystin-LR. Her current research focuses on the effects of microbial degradation on lignin-derived phenol compositions and their compound-specific δ13C signatures. Other related research interests include identifying microbes responsible for lignin degradation in salt-marsh sediments.

Ian MacDonaldIan MacDonald
Professor of Environmental Science
Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi

Ian MacDonald will be part of the benthos team during the cruise. He received a PhD in biological oceanography from Texas A&M University in 1990. His expertise is in deep-sea ecology, submarine gas hydrates, image processing, remote sensing, and geographic information system (GIS) techniques, with ongoing work on natural gas and oil seeps and deep-sea ecology in the Gulf of Mexico. His article "Asphalt volcanism and chemosynthetic life in the Gulf of Mexico" was recently published in Science.

Lara MilesLara Miles
Penn State University

Lara Miles is a recent graduate of Penn State University, where she earned a BSc in biology. She has previously worked on the nutrient excretion of tubeworms from the Gulf of Mexico, and has conducted a study investigating the population genetics of a new hybrid species of Rhagoletis fruit fly. Currently, she is working on developing condition indices of community viability for vent sites in the Lau Basin and applying to graduate schools.


Nicole MorrisNicole M.B. Morris
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

Nicole Morris recently started working at the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration as a Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellow. She graduated from Jacksonville State University with a BS in biology and a minor in chemistry in 2003. As an undergraduate, she participated in a National Science Foundation sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) fellowship at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL). During the REU and later as a lab technician at DISL, she conducted a year-long marsh ecology project, focusing on the response of two saltpan plant species, Distichlis spicata and Salicornia bigelovii, to fertilization. In 2004, she started her graduate work at the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola, Florida. Her work examined the utilization of shipwrecks as habitat by fishes across a depth gradient in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This year, Morris earned her MS in biology from UWF.

Jeremy PotterJeremy Potter
Web Coordinator
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

Jeremy Potter grew up in wild wonderful West Virginia and graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina. Immediately after college, he went to Alaska to work as an observer in the Bering Sea crab fishery, and later as an instructor at the Wallops Island Marine Science Consortium. In 1997, he moved to Japan and worked in a remote Japanese fishing village on Tsushima Island. In 2000, he returned to the United States to begin graduate school at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment. His fascination with the deep sea led him to NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration (OE), where he spent 2002 as a Knauss Marine Policy Sea Grant Fellow. As the OE Expeditions Coordinator, Jeremy now dedicates most of his time to the marine operations and science teams.

Harry RobertsHarry Roberts
Co-chief Scientist
Louisiana State University

Harry Roberts is an Emeritus Professor at Louisiana State University and former director of the Coastal Studies Institute. He teaches and advises graduate students in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. Over his career, he has worked on both carbonate and terrigenous clastic depositional systems. Currently, his research interests focus on the Mississippi River delta system and marine geology of the northern Gulf of Mexico continental slope. His delta research is largely concentrated on the Atchafalaya-Wax Lake deltas. In the deep water of the continental slope, his research interests involve developing a better understanding of both the geologic and biologic impacts of fluid and gas expulsion on the modern sea floor. Surface and near-surface gas hydrates constitute a part of the fluid and gas expulsion response spectrum. Manned submersibles, ROVs, and various types of seismic data are used in this research.

Vladimir SamarkinVladimir Samarkin
Associated Research Scientist
University of Georgia – Athens

Vladimir Samarkin is an associate research scientist at the Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia – Athens. He received his PhD in geology (biogeochemistry) from the Institute of Geology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. Dr. Samarkin studies the rates of anaerobic microbial processes in extreme environments, such as deep-sea methane seeps and brines, perennially ice-covered Antarctic lakes, soda lakes, and hot springs. He uses radioisotopes to quantify the role of microorganisms in geochemical processes. Vladimir is an author of over 30 research papers published in Russian and international scientific journals. He participated in several expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic, and in number of oceanic research cruises.

Katherine SeggaraKatherine Segarra
PhD Student
University of Georgia – Athens

Katherine Segarra is a PhD student in marine sciences at the University of Georgia – Athens. After spending her formative years on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, she received her BS with honors in environmental sciences from Brown University in 2002. Her doctoral research concerns the influence of climate change on terminal metabolisms in coastal sediments. Her current work is focused primarily on the role of temperature in methanogenic and acetogenic pathways. 

Sunati ShahSuni Shah
PhD Student
Harvard University

Suni Shah is a PhD student in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at Harvard University. She is interested in the role that marine Crenarchaeota play in carbon cycling in the ocean. Her last few years have been spent mostly in the lab, making compound-specific radiocarbon measurements on archaeal lipids from ocean sediments and the marine water column. She is also interested in developing isotopic metabolic "fingerprints" of autotrophic metabolisms. Her first cruises were with the U.S. Geological Survey in Woods Hole, where she was an intern studying the sediments in Long Island Sound and Massachusetts Bay. She also has an MS from the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences Department at the University of Michigan, and she studied biochemistry as an undergraduate at Columbia University  

William (Bill) SheddWilliam (Bill) Shedd
Minerals Management Service

William (Bill) Shedd is the Mineral Management Service (MMS) contract inspector and the geophysicist involved in the site selection process for the May 2006 Alvin dives. Along with Dr. Harry Roberts of Louisiana State University and Jesse Hunt of the MMS, Shedd used three-dimensional seismic bathymetry with amplitude extraction overlay to pick the sites. He has been involved in site selection for the MMS-sponsored Johnson Sea Link dives, researching both natural gas hydrate distribution and chemosynthetic communities in the Gulf of Mexico, and is presently involved in the assessment of natural gas hydrates as a potential resource in the Gulf and the Atlantic. After receiving a BA in geology from the University of Rochester and completing coursework toward a master's of geology at Louisiana State University, he worked in the oil industry for 22 years before joining the MMS in 1997.

Guy TelesnickiGuy Telesnicki
Senior Research Technician
Penn State University

Guy Telesnicki is a senior research technician at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania. He is responsible for maintaining several pieces of the specialized equipment needed to collect deep-sea organisms. He will also help process biological samples collected during the cruise, preparing them for identification and further analysis. Telesnicki has an MS in biology from Florida International University where he studied coral reef ecology. He is currently working towards an MS in mechanical engineering.

Julia ZekelyJulia Zekely
PhD Student
University of Vienna

Julia Zekely is currently finishing her doctorate at the University Vienna, Department of Marine Biology, under the supervision of Dr. Monika Bright. Since earning her master's degree, she studied the meiobenthos associated with different hard substrates (tubeworms, mussels, and bare basalt) at hydrothermal vents at the East Pacific Rise. The focus was on the entire meiobenthos community structures, considering species richness, diversity, and trophic levels. She will now focus on meiobenthos from cold seeps, doing community structure studies too, and also compare these two amazing chemosynthetic environments.


Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Jason ROV Crew


Brian Bingham Brian Bingham
Assistant Professor
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

Dr. Brian Bingham is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Olin College) in Needham, Massachusetts. He is also a guest investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Deep Submergence Laboratory (WHOI-DSL). Dr. Bingham's work focuses on increasing the scientific capabilities of underwater robots, specifically how they navigate in the deep ocean. Based on a background in dynamics and control systems, he works on hardware (instruments) and software (algorithms) for improving the precision and the robustness of underwater robot navigation. Currently, Dr. Bingham is working on bringing together in-situ chemical sensing and real-time localization so that future autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) can make decisions based on their environment.

Dr. Bingham has participated in recent expeditions collecting vent snails in the Lau Basin (South Pacific), measuring heat-flux of hydrothermal vents at the Juan de Fuca Ridge (off the Seattle coast), mapping the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and surveying ancient shipwrecks in the Cyclades islands and in the Black Sea. Dr. Bingham holds PhD and SM degrees in from MIT and a BS from the University of Missouri – Rolla — all in mechanical engineering.

kevis-stirlingNile Akel Kevis-Stirling
Jason Group

Akel Kevis-Stirling has been working as a Jason II navigator and data systems specialist since 2002. He graduated from the University of Hawaii with a BS in geology and geophysics in 1998. Kevis-Stirling completed an MS in marine geophysics in 2003, with a research project in global plate tectonic modeling. He formerly worked for at the University of Hawaii with the Hawaii Mapping Research Group as a sonar and data systems specialist and assistant director of field operations.

pelowskiJames Pelowski
Jason Group

James Pelowski is currently an undergraduate student majoring in mathematics at Stony Brook University, and he has worked at the Stony Brook University Marine Sciences Research Center. This is his second cruise as data processor with the Jason Operations Group, and he will be working as navigator in the future.

Additional WHOI Jason Crew:

Casey Agee

Andy Bowen

James Brennan

Alberto Collasius


Robert Elder

Will Handley

Matt Heintz

Robert Waters