Lophelia II 2009 Explorers

Luke ByrnesLuke Byrnes
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Erik Cordes' Deep Sea Ecology Laboratory
Temple University

Luke Byrnes is expecting to graduate from Temple University with a BS in biology in January 2009. His work in the Cordes lab has been focused on Callogorgia americana, and the environmental factors that control its distribution in the Gulf of Mexico. After graduation, he plans to search for graduate programs that suit his interests in ecology and conservation biology. He is elated to be a part of the Ronald H. Brown research expedition!


Robert ChurchRobert Church
Senior Marine Archaeologist
C & C Technologies, Inc.
Lafayette, Louisiana

Robert Church is a marine archaeologist with C & C Technologies, Inc. (C & C), an international hydrographic survey company headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana. He has a master's degree in maritime history and nautical archaeology from East Carolina University and a bachelor of arts degree in history with a minor in biology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. As part of his job at C & C, Church routinely works with deep-ocean remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), as well as conventional marine geophysical equipment. He has lead field investigations on numerous deepwater shipwreck sites in the Gulf of Mexico, including four of the five wrecks being studied during this cruise. Church was chief scientist and project manager for the Deep Wrecks I Study (MMS 2007-015) and will serve as the archaeological field principal investigator for the current study.


Eric CordesErik Cordes, PhD
Lophelia II Chief Scientist

Assistant Professor
Temple University

Erik Cordes is an ecologist studying cold-seep and coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico. On this project, his group is working on the physiological tolerances of Lophelia pertusa and the genetic connectivity among gorgonian populations. He received his master’s degree from Moss Landing Marine Labs, working on the age and growth of cold-water corals, and his doctorate from Penn State, where he studied the tubeworms of the upper slope of the Gulf of Mexico. As a post-doc at Harvard he worked on the ecology of the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa and their associated communities and the microbial ecology of Juan de Fuca Ridge hydrothermal vent chimneys.


Carole DeckerCarole Decker

Carol Decker started working on her doctorate last November at the Laboratoire Environnement Profond at IFREMER, in Brest, France. She is working on vesicomyid bivalves associated with reduced deep-sea environment, studying the ecology of two species of vesicomyid colonizing the REGAB pockmark at the Gulf of Guinea and their adaptations to their environment with the study of their symbionts, and their hemoglobin. Decker obtained her master's degree in marine biological sciences at the European Institute of Marine Studies, also in Brest. During her master-level studies, she participated in a cruise on board the Polarstern and worked on benthic macrofauna community structure and nutritional patterns of three cold-seep sites on the Norwegian margin.


Amanda DemopoulosAmanda Demopoulos, PhD
Benthic Ecologist
U.S. Geological Survey
Florida Integrated Science Center

Amanda Demopoulos is currently a benthic research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, in Gainesville, Florida. Demopoulos earned a BS in oceanography at the University of Washington and her PhD in biological oceanography from the University of Hawaii – Manoa. Her current research interests include biodiversity, community ecology, and food-web structure of benthic invertebrate communities, and the recruitment and succession patterns of the benthos. Her research spans from intertidal wetlands to deep-sea coral and chemosynthetic ecosystems. While at sea, Demopoulos will oversee sediment core collections of invertebrates and will assist with specimen collections for food-web studies.

Peter EtnoyerPeter Etnoyer, PhD
Doctoral Fellow
Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies

Peter Etnoyer is a doctoral fellow at Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and a recent PhD graduate from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. He studies marine ecology with an emphasis on taxonomy, zoogeography, and oceanography. He investigates species’ distribution patterns in relation to their environment, using large spatial datasets within a geographic information system (GIS) framework. For example, his dissertation research explored the diversity and distribution of octocorals in the Gulf of Mexico. On this cruise, Etnoyer will collect, identify, and preserve octocorals. He will also assist with video production. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Duke University. He has been an OceanAge Explorer since 2004.

Dong Feng

Dong Feng, PhD
Post-doctoral Researcher
Louisiana State University

Dong Feng is currently a post-doctoral researcher from Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is working in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University. His research interests focus on the geology and geochemistry of modern and ancient hydrocarbon seeps. He is particularly interested in reconstructing the history of fluid flow at hydrocarbon-seeps. His research interests in the deep water of the continental slope involve developing a better understanding of cold hydrocarbon-seep carbonates from mussel- and tubeworm-associated environments. Feng uses traditional petrological methods as well as various types of modern geochemical techniques in his research.

Chuck Fisher

Chuck Fisher, PhD
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 he began study 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.

Chris German

Chris German, PhD
Chief Scientist for Deep Submergence
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Born in the United Kingdom, Chris German studied chemistry and geology at the University of Cambridge for his BA in natural sciences, in 1984; and then stayed on in the Earth Sciences Department at Cambridge for his PhD in marine geochemistry, in 1988. Following graduation, German spent two years as a NATO Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he began the work on hydrothermal systems that has shaped much of his career since. From 1990 – 2005, German worked for the UK’s national deep-ocean research center, studying the geologic setting of hydrothermal systems and their impact on ocean geochemistry. Along the way he pioneered techniques for systematic vent exploration, including novel use of AUV’s. This led to him becoming co-chair of the Census of Marine Life project ChEss, since 2003, investigating the biogeography of animals in vent and seep locations around the world. In 2005, German moved back to the US to join the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as their chief scientist for deep submergence. A veteran of more than 1,000 days at sea and more than 100 articles in the peer-reviewed literature, he continues to explore new deep-ocean environments worldwide. This is the first of four cruises he will participate in between now and February 2010, taking him from the Gulf of Mexico via the Caribbean to southernmost Chile, and on into the Southern Ocean.


Liz GoehringLiz Goehring
Ridge 2000 Education Outreach Coordinator
Education Outreach Coordinator
Pennsylvania State University

Liz Goehring is the education outreach coordinator for the Lophelia II project as well as for the National Science Foundation Ridge 2000 research program. As an ecologist by training and a teacher at heart, she describes her role as a "bridge builder" — working with scientists and educators to bring science to life in the classroom. Goehring is also the principal investigator for FLEXE (From Local to EXtreme Environments), a Web-based K-12 science education project developed in collaboration with GLOBE. Through FLEXE, students learn about deep-sea science in the context of their own environment. Goehring is currently working with Kathryn Kelsey and others on this cruise to develop new activities for the FLEXE project. She earned her MS in ecology from the University of Minnesota, where she studied environmental factors that influence reproductive diapause in monarch butterflies, and helped develop a K-8 monarch ecology curriculum. Before that, she worked for IBM as a systems engineer for nine years. She has another MS in systems engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she studied decision analysis.


Santiago HerreraSantiago Herrera
PhD Student
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Santiago Herrera is a PhD student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Biological Oceanography. He earned his bachelor's degree in biology and microbiology at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. He holds a master's degree in biological sciences from that same university. Santiago's research interests are phylogeography, connectivity patterns, and adaptation of deep-sea invertebrates — in particular, corals and associated organisms.

Jack Irion Jack Irion, PhD
Supervisor/Social Science Unit
Office of Leasing and Environment
U.S. Minerals Management Service

Jack Irion is supervisor of the Social Science Unit in the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) Office of Leasing and Environment in the Gulf of Mexico Region. He has over 34 years experience in underwater archaeology and has participated in or directed archaeological expeditions in England, Mexico, Belize, Turkey, Italy, Puerto Rico, and throughout the U.S. Prior to joining the MMS in 1995, Irion served as a private consulting marine archaeologist to both industry and government agencies. His work has resulted in the discovery and documentation of numerous historic sites and shipwrecks. Since joining the MMS, Irion has directed the Seafloor Monitoring Team, comprised of a group of diver/scientists with the MMS, in the documentation of several historic shipwrecks on the outer continental shelf. These have included the Civil War gunboat USS Hatteras and the nineteeth-century coastal steamers New York and Josephine, the latter of which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Most recently, Irion has planned and participated in deepwater archaeological investigations of vessel casualties of World War II, as well as those of several nineteenth-century shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico.


Lori JohnstonLori Johnston

Lori Johnston has a master's degree in environment and management from Royal Roads University and has worked on numerous wreck projects around the globe, including RMS Titanic, HMHS Britannic, DKM Bismarck, U-166, and the Deep Wrecks Project with C & C Technologies. Her primary research interest lies in the microbiology and deterioration of these wrecks, and how it effects the surrounding environment.

Steven J. JonesSteven J. Jones
Field Support Group Manager
Louisiana State University

Steven Jones is currently the field support group manager at Louisiana State University’s Coastal Studies Institute. Prior to this, he worked in the Institute’s Wave-Current-Surge Information System, an oceanographic and atmospheric monitoring station. Jones was active duty in the U.S. Navy for six years, serving on the USS Bataan. After the Navy, he received his BFA in sculpture from the University of New Orleans. He has been diving for 15 years, and has logged over 500 dives. With the exception of his education, the entire body of his resume is working in and around the water.

Kathryn KelseyKathryn Kelsey
Science Teacher
Seattle Public Schools

Kathryn Kelsey works with middle school science teachers and students in the Seattle Public Schools. On this cruise, she will be working closely with Liz Goehring and cruise scientists to learn more about the ecology of deep-sea coral systems and the scientists’ on-going experimental work. Her goal is to help create more opportunities for students to participate in authentic science research as they learn about deep sea environments along with the environments where they live. In Seattle, Kelsey supports middle-school science teachers in their classrooms and in professional development workshops. She has taught high school general science, biology, zoology, and environmental science courses in Seattle, New York City and Bénin in West Africa. She has a PhD in wildlife ecology.

Troy KitchTroy Kitch
Writer and Web Developer
NOAA National Ocean Service

Troy Kitch is a writer and Web developer with the Communications and Content Services Branch of the Communications and Education Division of NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS). He develops written content, style sheets, javascript, graphics, and Flash projects for the NOS Web site. He also produces a bi-weekly NOS news and information audio podcast called Making Waves. Kitch holds a bachelor's degree in history and political science and a master of science degree in science journalism.

Stephanie Lessard-Pilon Stephanie Lessard-Pilon

Stephanie Lessard-Pilon is interested in the ecology of deepwater cold-seep and coral communities, specifically focusing on community assembly and the influence of foundation or dominant fauna on community composition, structure, and successional patterns. One aspect of the work she’s been involved with includes determining the influence of the deepwater coral Lophelia pertusa in providing habitat for mobile fauna. She is also involved with a project where she used both photomosaics repeated over consecutive years and physical collections to investigate community composition and temporal change at mussel- and tubeworm-dominated cold-seep communities deeper than 1,000 meters. In addition, she is interested in the biology of burrowing heart urchins and the effect of their bioturbation on the abundance and diversity of meiofauna communities at cold-seep sites in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jay LundenJay Lunden
PhD Student
Temple University

Jay Lunden graduated with a BS in biology in 2007 from Temple University, and subsequently enrolled in the PhD program in the biology department. His thesis involves the study of the distribution and physiology of the cold-water stony coral Lophelia pertusa in the Gulf of Mexico. Stony corals (class Scleractinia) form their skeletons by using dissolved calcium carbonate in the mineral form of aragonite. He is interested in how this process occurs and the effects that experimental pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen factors will have on Lophelia biomineralization and growth. He is currently a National Science Foundation Bridge-to-the-Doctorate fellow. Upon completing his dissertation, Lunden wants to teach at a university.


Ian MacDonald Ian MacDonald, PhD
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 GIS techniques, with ongoing work on natural gas and oil seeps and deep-sea ecology in the Gulf of Mexico. He has recently published in Science on "Asphalt volcanism and chemosynthetic life in the Gulf of Mexico."

Lara MilesLara Miles
Field Scientist
TDI-Brooks International

Lara Miles is a field scientist and laboratory technician for TDI-Brooks International and B&B Laboratories. She received a BS in biology/minor in geology from The Pennsylvania State University in 2007. While there, she carried out undergraduate research in physiological ecology focusing on the cold-seep tubeworm Lamellibrachia luymes, condition indices for vent sites in the Lau Basin, and investigating the biogeography of a new species of Rhagoletis fruit fly utilizing population genetics techniques. Currently with TDI-Brooks International, she travels the world collecting and analyzing marine sediment cores and reporting on their structural and geochemical properties.

Cheryl Morrison Cheryl Morrison, PhD
Lophelia II Co-principal Investigator
U.S. Geological Survey – Biological Resources Division
Leetown Science Center, Aquatic Ecology Branch

Cheryl Morrison is a geneticist for the U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division, Leetown Science Center. She earned a BS in marine biology at University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and her PhD in biology at Florida State University. Morrison has a diverse background in conservation genetics, including molecular systematics, phylogeography, and population genetics. Her research has involved the study of evolutionary relationships among such diverse organisms as tropical coral reef-dwelling snapping shrimps, hermit crabs, stream fishes, orchids, and jumping mice. She has been working on coral systematics and population genetics of Lophelia pertusa since 2004, and has participated in 10 research cruises overseeing the collection of genetics samples collected via manned submersibles (Johnson-Sea-Link and Alvin). On the cruise, she will assist with remotely operated vehicle operations and sample collection, and will oversee the preservation of coral and squat lobster tissue for DNA studies.

Stephen D. MurphyStephen D. Murphy
Senior Engineering Assistant
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Steve Murphy began his oceanographic career in 1984 serving as a crew member aboard Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) vessels. In 1991, he joined the WHOI mooring and rigging shop to provide engineering assistance to field-going investigations. Much of his major work has involved both the electrical and mechanical aspects of the designing, building, and servicing of a wide variety of moorings and associated equipment. Murphy recently joined the WHOI Mooring Operations/Engineering and Field Support Group, and he continues to lend his years of experience to seagoing operations.

Stephanie Lessard-Pilon Liz Podowski

Liz Podowski is currently working as a research assistant in Dr. Chuck Fisher’s lab at Penn State University. During this cruise, she will be working with the other scientists to study the animal communities associated with the deep-sea reef-building coral Lophelia pertusa. She and others will use two different collection devices (the Bushmaster and mussel pots) to quantitatively sample and describe these communities. They will also be collecting high-resolution imagery of Lophelia communities in order to construct photomosaics. The photomosaics will be imported into a geographic information system (GIS), enabling the study of animal distributions and the spatial relationships among different animals.

Andrea M. QuattriniAndrea M. Quattrini

Andrea Quattrini holds a BS in biology from Millersville University, in Pennsylvania, and an MS in marine biology from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington (UNCW). She is currently pursuing a PhD in Dr. Erik Cordes' lab at Temple University in Philadelphia. Before beginning the PhD program in 2009, she worked at UNCW with Dr. Steve Ross and participated in over a dozen offshore cruises off the southeastern U.S. that targeted open-ocean, shelf-edge, and deep-sea coral ecosystems. Quattrini's broad interests in deep-sea ecology include deep-sea coral reefs and associated fishes. Particularly, she is interested in the spatial and temporal distributions and the interconnectedness of deep-sea species, communities, and populations. At Temple, she will be studying the genetic connectivity of gorgonians, including Callogorgia americana (family Primnoidae), in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.

Harry RobertsHarry Roberts
Lophelia II 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 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 seafloor. Surface and near-surface gas hydrates constitute a part of the fluid and gas expulsion response spectrum. Manned submersibles, remotely operated vehicles, and various types of seismic data are used in this research.

Timothy M. ShankTimothy M. Shank, PhD
Associate Scientist
Biology Department

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
http://www.whoi.edu/science/B/people/tshank exit icon External Link

Tim Shank earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and German from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received a doctorate in ecology and evolution from Rutgers University, where he examined the evolution of deep-sea hydrothermal vent communities and the genetic relationships of vent fauna and their adaptations to thrive in extreme chemosynthetic environments. His research interests focus on understanding the evolution of life in the deep sea and the ecological processes responsible for creating and maintaining biodiversity in the oceans. Shank has conducted more than 35 scientific expeditions to deep-sea hydrothermal vents, hydrocarbon seeps, continental slopes, and seamounts throughout the world’s oceans. He has participated in more than 50 submersible dives, 40 remotely operated vehicle dives, and 35 autonomous underwater vehicle dives, and recently the first use of a full-ocean depth hybrid remotely operated vehicle. Shank has developed a high school and undergraduate educational curricula on hydrothermal vents and seamounts, as well as Web-based teaching modules for the NOAA Ocean Explorer and Dive and Discover exit icon External Link Web portals. His research efforts have been featured in Science, Discover and other magazines; on National Public Radio; and in documentaries on The Discovery Channel, BBC, and The National Geographic channel.

William SheddWilliam (Bill) Shedd
U.S. Minerals Management Service

William (Bill) Shedd graduated from the University of Rochester in 1973, with a BA in geology. As part of his coursework there, he attended the 1972 fall semester at the West Indies Lab, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and worked for the Smithsonian Institution under Dr. Walter Adey on a Holocene carbonate reef research project. After completing MS coursework in geology at Louisiana State University (LSU), he worked for Shell Oil Co. from 1977 to 1981. He worked as a geoscientist for several independent oil companies until 1989, when he co-founded Independent Energy Corp. From 1994 to 1997, he consulted for several independent oil companies in exploration, development, log analysis, geophysical interpretation, and well-site analysis. In 1997, he joined the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) as a geophysicist in the Resource Evaluation Division, Geological and Geophysical Section evaluating lease blocks after lease sales. While doing this work, he recognized that seafloor amplitude response on industry three-dimensional seismic data is an effective tool in locating oil and gas seeps, subsurface migration conduits, natural gas hydrates, and chemosynthetic communities. Shedd then joined the MMS Resource Studies Section and became active in the submersible dive program contracted through LSU to Dr. Harry Roberts to groundtruth the seismic mapping of the seafloor amplitude anomalies. He is currently also active in the methane hydrate assessment in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic basins.

Jake ShidnerJake Shidner

Jake Shidner is a graduate student at the University of West Florida, majoring in anthropology with a focus in maritime archaeology. His interests include maritime history, ship construction and technologies, artifact conservation, and zooarchaeology. His master's thesis is an examination of the faunal remains of two, sixteenth century Spanish vessels, including both macro- and microscopic remains.

Sheli SmithSheli Smith, PhD
PAST Foundation

A maritime archaeologist by training, Sheli Smith specializes in ship architecture from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and has examined shipwrecks around the world over the last three decades. Smith currently directs operations and educational programs for the PAST Foundation, which works with STEM educational reform building bridge programs that pivot on current research and global issues. Smith joins the second phase of the Lophelia II cruise to lend her expertise in the study of ship architecture of the sunken vessels under investigation.

Katie SongileKatie Songile

Katie Songile is a fourth year biology major with a minor in environmental studies. She was recently awarded the 2009 Diamond Research Scholarship to undertake the project entitled “Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent and Cold Seep Communities” within the Cordes Lab. She is interested in marine mammal protection and awareness, and hopes to pursue a career involving either coral reefs and associated organisms or rain forest preservation.

Robert F. WestrickRobert F. Westrick
Marine Archaeologist
C & C Technologies, Inc.

Robert Westrick currently works as a marine archaeologist for C & C Technologies, one of the world’s leading companies in deep-water geophysical survey. This past fall, he served as an archaeologist for the 2008 Reefs, Rigs, and Wrecks project and has returned again this year to investigate several deep-water shipwrecks. Westrick holds a master’s degree in maritime history and nautical archaeology from East Carolina University. A registered professional archaeologist, Westrick has worked on numerous shipwreck projects over the past decade, ranging from remote sensing surveys to complete excavation and mapping investigations. In 1997, he completed the first archaeological survey of the USS Peterhoff, a Civil War steamship lost off the coast of North Carolina. In addition to his work on Civil War shipwrecks in North Carolina and Virginia, Westrick has worked on projects ranging from seventheenth century Spanish merchant ships off Bermuda to nineteenth century schooners in Lake Erie.