Seascape Alaska 4: Gulf of Alaska Deepwater Mapping


Exploration Team

Naming every expedition participant in a telepresence-enabled mission is next to impossible! Many researchers from dozens of institutions across the country have provided input into the expedition plan and are expected to participate. However, we've assembled information about the members of the team who are physically onboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

And of course, none of this exploration would be possible without the work of the dedicated NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps and civilians who operate NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer as part of NOAA's fleet managed by NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.

Thomas Morrow

Thomas Morrow

Expedition Coordinator, NOAA Ocean Exploration

Thomas Morrow is a physical scientist with NOAA Ocean Exploration. He spends his time working as an expedition coordinator on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and supporting NOAA’s ocean exploration mission. Thomas is a marine geologist and geophysicist who started his ocean exploration career while earning his bachelor’s degree in geology at the University of Florida. He then moved to the University of Idaho for master’s and doctorate degrees in geological sciences, studying mid-ocean ridges, fracture zones, and hotspot seamounts. Prior to joining NOAA Ocean Exploration, Thomas spent several years as a postdoctoral research fellow at Boston College, coordinating missions to explore the Gofar transform fault on Research Vessel Atlantis and Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson.

Thomas Morrow

LTJG Abby Letts

Technical Operations Team Lead and Expedition Coordinator in Training, NOAA Ocean Exploration

Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LTJG) Abby Letts is a NOAA Corps officer who is currently serving as the Technical Operations Team Lead for NOAA Ocean Exploration. In this role, she assists with shoreside coordination and field operations on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. She attended Haverford College, graduating with a B.S. in geology and a B.A. in Spanish. She received an M.S. in Earth science from University of California, Santa Barbara, with a focus on paleoclimate. For her master's thesis, she analyzed trace elements and structural changes in speleothems to reconstruct the precipitation history of Central Asia. After graduate school, she was commissioned into the NOAA Corps and sailed for two years as a deck officer aboard Okeanos Explorer before joining NOAA Ocean Exploration for her current assignment.

Erin Heffron

Olivia Andrus

Video Editor, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Olivia Andrus graduated from Montana State University with a master’s of fine arts degree in science and natural history filmmaking and two bachelor’s degrees from Purdue University in wildlife biology and film/video studies. With these degrees, she has pursued her passion in creating science-based documentaries for companies all around the world such as The Marine Mammal Center, Marine Mammal Foundation, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and the American Chemical Society. This will be her first tour with the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration and NOAA Ocean Exploration and she is very excited to begin! When she isn't filming, Olivia spends the majority of her time hiking around her home in Bozeman, Montana.

Roland Brian

Roland Brian

Video Engineer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Roland Brian brings 38 years of electronics and satellite experience, with 29 of those years focusing on television and video engineering specialization. Throughout his early years in television, Roland worked to hone his skills and experience for various television stations and remote broadcasters as well as national broadcasters ranging from CBS, PBS, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, ESPN, Fox Sports, and the Golf Channel. With a keen eye for precise high-quality, high-definition video, he really enjoys and helps bring the imagery to life for the viewers. Roland began his career in the U.S. Air Force where he worked as a satellite communications engineering technician with visions of working on the U.S. Space Station. He traded in that quest for one of deep-ocean exploration and sharing the beautiful imagery with the world. He has worked with NOAA Ocean Exploration since 2010 and plays an integral part in telepresence-enabled remotely operated vehicle (ROV) expeditions. He has also provided engineering design, integration, and operation services for other projects using various Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE) and NOAA Ocean Exploration mobile telepresence systems. His duties aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer include operation and maintenance of the ship's telepresence and video and satellite systems, including those on ROVs Deep Discoverer and Seirios. Again, Roland’s experience embodies the breadth and depth of knowledge that GFOE and NOAA Ocean Exploration encourage. When not at sea, Roland enjoys life with his wife and family in sunny Sarasota, Florida.

Rose Leeger

Jennifer Clifton

Contract Mapper

Jennifer Clifton has a bachelor's degree in environmental studies with minors in coastal management and biology from Eckerd College. She enjoys working on various research and literature review projects conducted under the guidance of her professors. Her areas of interest include marine ecosystems, coastal management, and marine conservation. In her downtime, Jennifer enjoys being outdoors and exploring various nature preserves.

Andrew O'Brien

Marcel Peliks

Mapping Watch Lead, NOAA Ocean Exploration

Marcel Peliks is a passionate and dedicated professional who has focused his career on exploring and mapping the world's ocean. With a strong academic background in marine geology and oceanography, as well as technical expertise in hydrographic instrumentation, Marcel is well positioned in his role as a mapping watch lead aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to help uncover the geological processes, biodiversity, and potential resources that lie beneath the ocean's surface. Beyond the scientific aspect, Marcel is deeply committed to the preservation and conservation of marine environments. Through his work, he aims to enhance our understanding of the ocean's role in the Earth's ecosystem, supporting ongoing efforts to protect and sustainably manage these fragile habitats, as well as inspire others to appreciate the profound beauty and importance of the underwater realm. When he is not sailing, Marcel resides in California where he likes to spend his free time on the coast or in the mountains.

Rebecca Ruiz

Mary Ella (Mella) Rinzler

Explorer-in-Training, NOAA Ocean Exploration

Mary Ella (Mella) Rinzler is a third-year undergraduate at the University of Colorado Boulder studying physical geography and GIS. She loves rock climbing, biking, and anything that gets her outside. Her academic interests surround changes in the Arctic due to climate. Mella currently works for a research group at the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, working on a coastal mapping project that strives to increase the amount of accessible and usable coastal data in Alaska. After graduating, Mella plans to work towards a master's degree in geology or geophysics.

Chris Wright

Chris Wright

Data Engineer, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

Chris Wright holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Mary Washington and a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College. After graduation, he worked as a network and systems administrator and engineer in the hospitality industry in the Northeast and Mountain West for more than 15 years. Recently relocating back to the East Coast, Chris joined the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE) data team in early 2019 as one of the newest members of the organization. In 2019, he completed his first expedition aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and is extremely excited about continuing the journey to explore the oceans around the world. When he isn't sailing on Okeanos Explorer, he's busy working in GFOE's Quonset office planning, designing, and implementing data solutions to help refine and mature its base of operations for ocean exploration. Chris and his family currently reside in Newport, Rhode Island.