Our Submerged Past: Exploring Inundated Late Pleistocene (10,600 - 17,000 years ago) Caves in Southeast Alaska with Sunfish
May 15-June 4, 2022 / May 24-June 10, 2023
Principal Investigator; CTO, Sunfish, Inc.
Kristof Richmond is the Chief Technology Officer of Sunfish, Inc., and the principal investigator for the Our Submerged Past expedition. Growing up in Colorado, he didn't have much experience with the ocean, but caught the marine robotics bug working on automating some capabilities for remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) from MBARI (the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) during graduate school (despite constant battles with seasickness!). He completed his Ph.D. at Stanford University on a visual mapping, navigation, and control system for the MBARI ROVs and then started working with Stone Aerospace on a variety of robotics projects, almost all with an underwater component. He's taken advanced, highly maneuverable underwater robots into all kinds of places, from caves in Namibia to under the McMurdo Ice Shelf in Antarctica. He has been involved with the development of the highly maneuverable autonomous underwater vehicle SUNFISH® from its beginnings at Stone Aerospace, and now continuing at the spin-out Sunfish, Inc. Dr. Richmond will lead the robotic deployment of the SUNFISH® vehicle during Year 2 of the project, having the vehicle autonomously map and survey any interesting caves or other features to identify high-interest areas to sample some sediments from for further analysis.
Co-Principal Investigator; Data Analyst, Mount Royal University’s Registrar's Office; Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Calgary
Kelly Monteleone is an underwater archaeologist and data analyst at Mount Royal University’s Registrar's Office and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Calgary. She completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology in May 2013 from the University of New Mexico and is actively seeking an assistant professorship in Canada. She has a Master’s of Science in Maritime Archaeology from the University of Southampton, United Kingdom, and an Honors Bachelors of Science in Archaeology from the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on locating submerged archaeological sites on the continental shelf of southeast Alaska. The larger research questions revolve around how and when people migrated to North America, whereas local questions involve interdisciplinary collaboration to understand the environment at the end of the Pleistocene and beginning of the Holocene, specifically 17,000 to 10,000 calendar years before present (cal BP). Dr. Monteleone is exploring a Two-Eyed Seeing approach to her research, in which scientific answers are viewed and detailed alongside the local Indigenous Knowledge. In southeast Alaska, she works with the Sealaska Heritage Institute to collaborate and learn from the local Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian peoples who have inhabited the region since at least the last glacial maximum.
Tamara Adame (Year 2)
Tamara is a technical diver from Puerto Morelos, Mexico. She holds a B.Sc. in communication, but works full time as a cave diving guide. She holds a scientific diving diploma from the National University of Mexico and has been involved in conservation, monitoring, and reef restoration projects in Mexico and internationally. Her technical dive training and experience includes full cave, cave diver propulsion vehicle (DPV), cave survey, and cave closed circuit rebreather (CCR). She dives and teaches back-mounted and side-mounted configurations. She speaks fluent Spanish, English, and French.
Mimi Alexander (Year 2)
Field and Robotics Technician, Sunfish, Inc.
Mimi Alexander is a field and robotics technician with Sunfish, Inc. While relatively new to the field of robotics, her diverse background ranges from working as a touring electronics technician for Cirque du Soleil to expedition caving in Mexico. These experiences have left her with a unique set of skills well suited to doing challenging things in hard-to-get-to places. She's looking forward to joining the Sunfish team on this year's deployment to southeast Alaska.
Jason Gulley (Year 2)
Lead Technical Diver and Photojournalist
Jason Gulley is a Tampa-based geology professor, diving instructor, and photojournalist specializing in climate and the environment. Before heading to university in 1998 and accidentally becoming a scientist, Jason spent a year as a photographer, darkroom technician, and reporter for the Harrison Press, a small, weekly broadsheet in rural Ohio. Jason received a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Florida in 2010 and is currently a geology professor at the University of South Florida. When travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 impacted all of his research projects, he had a lot of time to reflect on his career and had an epiphany of sorts: scientists know more about how humans are impacting the planet than at any other point in history, but fewer non-scientists seem to understand or care about it. Recognizing that more science was not going to help address some of the most urgent issues facing society, he began using his background in journalism to photograph, and occasionally write, news stories that dovetailed with his research. His work has been featured in National Geographic Magazine, GEO France, Wired, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian.
Tyler Haden (Year 2)
Robotic Software Engineer at Sunfish, Inc.
Tyler Haden is a robotic software engineer at Sunfish, Inc., where he helps develop the autonomous navigation, control, and mapping for autonomous underwater vehicle SUNFISH®. He graduated with a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Virginia (UVA) where he began his underwater robotics interest. While working as a research assistant at UVA's VICTOR robotic autonomy laboratory, he built a remotely operated vehicle and developed algorithms and simulations for a two-robot autonomous aquaculture project. He is one of the operators of SUNFISH® during field deployments, both directing and monitoring its behaviors.
Phil Hartmeyer (Year 1)
Marine Archaeologist, NOAA Ocean Exploration
Phil Hartmeyer is a marine archaeologist at NOAA Ocean Exploration and will be supporting survey data acquisition and marine operations during the Our Submerged Past expedition. He has 11 years of marine science and archaeology field experience including marine remote sensing, archaeological site documentation, and resource protection. Phil is the NOAA Ocean Exploration point of contact for this expedition. He holds a B.A. in archaeology from Saint Mary's College of California, an M.A. in maritime studies from East Carolina University, and is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed 50-Ton captain.
Taylor Heaton (Year 2)
Taylor Heaton is embarking on this expedition in the summer between her junior and senior years of undergraduate. She is originally from Seattle, Washington, but is pursuing a geology degree at Cornell University’s Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department. At Cornell, she is involved with Native American and Indigenous Students at Cornell (NAISAC) and is also co-president of Cornell’s American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) chapter. Through these organizations, she has been able to attend numerous impactful and beneficial Indigenous conferences and events all over the country. She has been interested in Earth science since she was 12 years old and also has an intense interest in learning about the Indigenous side of her heritage (Tlingit Eagle Shark from Sitka and Wrangell). She hopes to use her passion for Earth science to support Indigenous peoples in any way she can. In her free time, she likes to see live music and be an active supporter of local rock and metal music communities. In the past, she has done barista work out of Seattle as well as worked for Tlingit-owned Allen Marine Tours out of Colt Island near Juneau, Alaska.
Roberto Medina is a lifelong Prince of Wales Island resident. A former 12 year police officer, he recently resigned after his charter fishing business required his entire summer as a result of fully booking summers. He also enjoys real estate and working on his rental homes. He loves hunting and fishing and has four kids. Roberto is of Haida and Tlingit descent from his mother and Spanish and Mexican from his father.
Field Operations Manager, Sunfish, Inc.
Vickie Siegel is the Field Operations Manager for Sunfish, Inc. as well as one of the company’s founders. For over 16 years, Vickie has pursued a passion for technical fieldwork in challenging environments. She has accumulated over a year’s time in Antarctica, seven months in Greenland, and many months in warmer places working as a robotics researcher, field coordinator, and camp manager. In 2019, she led an international expedition to explore and map two of Namibia’s deepest water-filled caves, called Dragon’s Breath Cave and Harasib Cave, with the SUNFISH® autonomous underwater vehicle. Avocationally, Vickie is an avid expedition caver and participates in multi-month expeditions to explore and map some of the world’s deepest caves systems, located in southern Mexico. During the Our Submerged Past project, she is excited to work at the intersection of autonomous underwater robotics, cave exploration, and archaeology. For the 2022 field campaign, Vickie will assist Dr. Kelly Monteleone to search for caves that have – so far – remained undiscovered by modern humans…but which were perhaps visited by earlier ones!
Patrick Weston (Year 1)
Crew and STEAM Student
Patrick Weston is the Sealaska Heritage Institute intern that will be joining the crew during the first year of the Our Submerged Past expedition. Patrick is Tlingit Raven Coho from Yakutat and Klukwan. He was born in Juneau and graduated from Thunder Mountain High School, class of 2021. He enjoys boats and he is considering a career in the STEAM field. He is excited about the project and grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.
Liang Wu (Year 1)
2022 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow, NOAA Ocean Exploration
Liang Wu is a 2022 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow with NOAA Ocean Exploration, supporting federal efforts of marine science communication and taking the initiative of examining the relationship between international law and maritime conventions, national policies, and priorities, and ocean exploration, conservation, navigation, and jurisdiction. Liang is also a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, where he studies the international shipping industry and lives of multinational seafarers working on ocean-going container ships. His interdisciplinary project began in 2006, and he has since been researching the lived experiences and meanings of contemporary seamanship that are integral to the transportation of 90% of global trade, including everyday commodities. Through his engaged scholarship, Liang not only sheds light on the lifeways and lifeworlds of seafarers as humans at sea and reflects on the complex reality of globalization, supply chain logistics and politics, and techno-capitalism and labor, he also makes a humanistic commitment to the study of maritime cultures and societies in general as he joins the UN Ocean Decade movement that promotes marine biodiversity, social equity, and planetary sustainability and resiliency.