Board of Directors & Staff

Private Sector Representatives

Alyssa Dausman
Alyssa Dausman
The Water Institute of the Gulf, VP of Science

Alyssa Dausman, Ph.D., has more than 20 years of experience working in hydrology, research plan development, and restoration project science and monitoring. Dausman previously served as the Science Director for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, an independent federal agency created by the RESTORE Act in 2012. She focused on Gulf restoration and science for the council, comprised of the governors of the five Gulf states and cabinet-level officials from six federal agencies.

At the council, Dausman led the consensus-based development of the Initial Funded Priorities List — a $156 million suite of projects containing on-the-ground restoration activities and served as the senior scientist in drafting the council’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan.

Born and raised in Mississippi, Dausman has always been passionate about the Gulf, coastal restoration, and water resources. She began her career as a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Florida in 2000 after completing her B.S. at Tulane University and her M.S. at the University of New Orleans. She received her Ph.D. from Florida International University in 2008 while working with the USGS. During her years in Florida she focused on numerical modeling of saltwater intrusion and model independent parameter estimation and uncertainty analysis. This work led her to teach all over the world, including India, Portugal, and Mexico. In 2011, she moved back to the northern Gulf to work on coastal restoration. She was staffed to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force and was a senior representative to the U.S. Department of the Interior to support both the RESTORE Council and restoration monitoring for the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process.

Her GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2021.

David Driver
David Driver
BP America, Inc.

David Driver has 36 years of experience working in the physical oceanography realm, 28 of which were spent working in the offshore oil and gas industry. Before retirement, his primary responsibility was the development of environmental (metocean) criteria for the design, installation, and operation of offshore production facilities (spars, semis, TLP, etc). He collected and analyzed meteorological and oceanographic data from a variety of sources, including measured data from company/industry monitoring programs, government and academia monitoring programs, and proprietary numerical hindcast data. He served as BP’s Principal Metocean Engineer and Technical Authority for the Gulf of Mexico, Trinidad, and Brazil.

Driver has been active on the GCOOS Board of Directors since 2012, participating on the Observing Systems Committee and the Glider Task Team and serving as Board Chairman. BP and the industry routinely send real-time GoM current data to NOAA-NDBC and are actively working on the development of operational forecast tools aimed at better prediction of the Loop Current (LC) and it associated Loop Current Eddies (LCE). He has worked closely with Scripps Institute of Oceanography with Spray glider deployments and offshore HF radar installations, data from which are/will be shared. His M.S. – Physical Oceanography, is from Old Dominion University.

His GCOOS board terms expires in Fall 2020.

Bill Lingsch (Immediate Past Chair)
Bill Lingsch (Immediate Past Chair)
Perspecta, Ocean Science and Technology (Director)

Bill Lingsch’s 37-year career in the ocean sciences has included 31 years with Naval Oceanography and six years in the private sector supporting Navy Oceanography in R&D and operations.

Lingsch is Past Chair of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) (2016-2017) and has been a GCOOS member for five years. He is the Director of Ocean Science and Technology for Perspecta (formerly Vencore, Inc.) at Stennis Space Center, MS.

His responsibilities include serving as Program Manager for approximately $9-10M/Yr in contracts and 50 personnel who provide subject-matter expertise in the ocean sciences, software engineering, software development, database development, process improvement, web applications and documentation. Customers include the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC) and subordinate commands, Naval Research Labs, (NRL) and NASA. Lingsch has served in this position since February 2013.

Before joining Vencore, Lingsch worked for Liquid Robotics as Director of Business Development for Information Dominance for a year, pursuing and developing business opportunities for the wave glider, a revolutionary persistent, long-dwell unmanned surface vessel using wave energy for propulsion and solar power for payloads.

During his government career Lingsch served as:

  • Assistant Chief of Staff (ACOS) N2 Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC) Admiral coordinating and managing programs for meteorology and oceanography (METOC) related with the intelligence community;
  • Director, Littoral and Riverine Department managing and providing leadership to approximately 100 government employees, contractors and military providing environmental intelligence of the riverine and littoral battle space to Expeditionary and Special Operation Forces in support of worldwide combat and Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Recovery operations;
  • Mine Warfare (MIW) Program Manager providing oversight for METOC program sponsored by the Chief of Naval Operations, Expeditionary Warfare, N75;
  • Supervisor, Digital Bathymetric Database Branch responsible for developing the high resolution Digital Bathymetric Databases (DBDB) in support of submarine navigation and underwater surveillance systems;
  • Oceanographer/Physical, participating in more than 24 deep-ocean and hydrographic surveys worldwide in support of ballistic submarine and safety of navigation requirements and building products in support of fleet operations.

Awards and Education:

Bill Lingsch was the recipient of Superior Civil Service Award and Meritorious Civil Service Medal. He holds a B.Ss in Marine Science/Physical Oceanography from Stockton State College; Pomona, N.J. that included overseas studies in coastal geomorphology at University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia. He completed all graduate work course requirements for his M.S. at University of Southern Mississippi in Geospatial Science and Technology.

His GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2021.

Ruth Perry
Ruth Perry
Shell Exploration & Production Company

Dr. Ruth Perry is a Marine Scientist and Regulatory Policy specialist responsible for offshore marine environmental policy for Shell Exploration and Production Americas teams. In this capacity, Perry integrates marine science and ocean technology into regulatory policy advocacy and decision-making in the areas of marine sound, marine spatial planning, ocean observing, and marine mammal and life science, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico. Perry is also responsible for helping Shell to develop public-private science collaborations, such as real-time monitoring programs, to improve industry’s knowledge of the offshore marine environment. Ruth also works with the oil and gas industry trade associations’ to develop and implement joint industry programs for offshore environmental monitoring and to help increase understanding of the effect of sound on marine life generated by oil and gas exploration and production activities. Her recent projects with Shell include working with NOAA and University of Southern Mississippi to deploy autonomous underwater vehicles to better understand oceanographic environment relative to storm and hurricane intensity and establishing a long term deep sea (~3000m) time series station to monitor ocean water column at Shell’s Stones project.

Previously, Perry was a research scientist with the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System and Geochemical and Environmental Research Group at Texas A&M University, where she was worked on the implementation of a regional glider network, developing ocean science outreach for coastal communities, and incorporating geospatial techniques with remote sensing and ocean observing to study Gulf environmental hazards, such as hypoxia, and the effect of physical ocean processes on marine mammal distributions. Ruth has over 10 years of ocean technology research and system implementation, field experience and ocean policy analysis , including research cruises to monitor coastal hypoxia and the offshore physical environment, deploying and operating ocean observing systems and marine mammal observing in the Gulf of Mexico, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands.

Perry, who earned a doctorate in Oceanography from Texas A&M University in 2013, joined Shell in 2014 and is based in Houston.

Her GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2019.

 

Jan van Smirren (Treasurer)
Jan van Smirren (Treasurer)
Ocean Sierra, LLC.

Since graduating with a B.Sc. in Geology and Oceanography (1981) and M.Sc in Oceanography (1982) van Smirren has gained more than 35 years of experience in commercial oceanography. Van Smirren is a Consultant Oceanographer with Ocean Sierra LLC, prior to this he was Partnership Managing Director for the Energy Sector at British Maritime Technology, and previously occupied global and regional senior management positions in the UK, Singapore and USA with Fugro. His oceanographic experience has seen him undertake studies in the North and South Atlantic, South China Sea, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. This has included both field measurement and monitoring system campaigns and the detailed analysis and interpretation of data.

Van Smirren pioneered the use of ADCP’s in mainstream commercial oceanography starting in the mid-1980s with rig-based ADCP measurements, which continues today. Further successes include:

  • The first ROV-based real-time current profile monitoring system (RovADCP);
  • The first purpose designed real-time current profile monitoring system for seismic survey vessels (SeisADCP);
  • Web-based real-time database and display software for geospatial real-time metocean measurements.

Van Smirren was also responsible for the collaborative development of the first commercially available airborne remote ocean current imaging system (ROCIS).

Van Smirren is a founding member and Honorary Secretary of the Houston Branch of the Society of Underwater Technology. In 2004, his contribution to the development of education and outreach in underwater technology was recognized by the SUT who bestowed him with a Fellowship. He is Treasurer of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association and Chairman of the SUT-US Group on Environmental Forces.

His GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2019.

Government Sector Representatives

Steven Buschang (Secretary)
Steven Buschang (Secretary)
Texas General Land Office

Steve Buschang has 20+ years of experience working in the environmental sector along the Texas coast. As the Senior Wetlands Biologist for the Texas General Land Office (GLO), he oversaw a team working on regulatory issues in the South Texas coastal region. His background led to a project that coordinated the accumulation of data and the development of a comprehensive GIS biological data layer for the entire Texas coast that populates the state spill response atlas, commonly known as the TGLO Oil Spill Planning and Response Toolkit.

Buschang currently serves as the TGLO Director of Research and Development (R&D) and State Scientific Support Coordinator (State SSC). As the Director of R&D, he oversees an annual budget of $1.25 million that is a dedicated funding stream for oil spill related projects performed by Texas institutes of higher education. Projects include the building of a near-shore coastal current monitoring network, the TGLO Texas Automated Buoy system (TABS), an ADCP equipped autonomous wave glider, responder buoys that can be deployed during times of need from small boat platforms, and oversight of the design and implementation of a modern web interface to TABS. He oversees TGLO inshore and offshore funded hydrodynamic models and data products, improving hydrodynamic predictions of surface currents near the Texas coast used for rapid oil spill response, integrating next-generation models into the oil spill prediction system for Texas Bays, and a LiDAR project that involves the geoenvironmental mapping of the Texas coast. Additionally, Steve manages the Texas Coastal Oil Spill Planning & Response CD Toolkit, a geospatial operational tool for oil spill response. Buschang is directly engaged in operational ocean observations, forecasts and modeling as the State’s Scientific Support Coordinator.

Buschang currently serves on the Science Advisory Panel for the Coastal Response Research Center (CRRC), the Board of Directors for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS), the MEXUS JAT, the planning board for Clean Gulf Conferences, as the Science and Tech Chair for Regional Response Team VI, and the Texas OneGulf Science Advisory Committee.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Southwest Texas State University in Marine Biology and a Masters degree from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi in Environmental Science.  As an adjunct faculty in the Environmental Science Department at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in environmental regulation and environmental assessment.

His GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2020.

Pat Hogan
Pat Hogan
Naval Research Laboratory

Dr. Hogan is an oceanographer who serves as the head of the Open Ocean Processes and Prediction Systems Section at the Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center. In addition to directing the global ocean forecasting research, Hogan has been modeling and forecasting the Gulf of Mexico circulation for many years. These models have been and are used by many in the community for research and for boundary conditions to nested regional models within the Gulf.

As an oceanographer at the Naval Research Laboratory — Stennis Space Center, Dr. Hogan has been working in the area of ocean dynamics and prediction since 1987. He served as head of the Ocean Monitoring and Prediction Systems Section from 2007 to 2009 and since 2009 has served as the head of the Open Ocean Processes and Prediction Systems Section. His interests include ocean circulation dynamics, coupled process studies, probabilistic forecast methods, and development and application of real-time forecast systems and products. Hogan serves on the international board GODAE Ocean View Science Team. He has authored or co-authored more than 50 refereed journal publications and is the recipient of five NRL Alan Berman Publication Awards. He is also a member of the American Geophysical Union and the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society. Hogan received his Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2000, his M.S. degree in Geophysics from the University of New Orleans in 1987 and B.S. in Geology from the University of Kansas in 1985.

In addition to directing the global ocean forecasting research as section head (inclusive, i.e. research to operations), Hogan has been modeling and forecasting the Gulf of Mexico circulation for many years. He has employed the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM), Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM) and the Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS). He employed the first real-time 1/25 degree (~4 km) HYCOM-based forecast system for the Gulf of Mexico, which continues to produce a 7-day forecast every day. Variants of this system have been running since about 2007 and the results are made available to the community through the HYCOM.org file server. These results have been and are used by many in the community for research and for boundary conditions to nested regional models within the Gulf. For the last several years, he has directed a real-time ensemble forecasting effort in the Gulf of Mexico designed to perform long-term (~60 day) predictions of the Loop Current Eddy shedding process. Hogan has also employed a coupled ocean-atmosphere-wave forecast system to study coupled processes in the Gulf.

His GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2019.

Ed Kearns
Ed Kearns
Chief Data Director, NOAA

As NOAA’s first Chief Data Officer, Dr. Edward J. Kearns leads the development of strategies and practices for managing NOAA’s data as a national asset. Kearns is seeking to promote new uses and wider understanding of environmental data through new partnerships and technologies, such as the NOAA Big Data Project [noaa.gov]. As part of the White House’s Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset [performance.gov] initiative, he is also leading the Commercialization, Innovation and Public Use working group toward the development of the new Federal Data Strategy [strategy.data.gov]. Prior to his position as NOAA’s Chief Data Officer, Kearns led the Climate Data Record program and NOAA’s data archive; guided coastal ecosystem restoration projects for the National Park Service and evaluated environmental “big data” to inform Everglades restoration and vicariously calibrated ocean products from NASA’s satellites and developed regional integrated ocean observing and data management systems as a professor at the University of Miami. Kearns holds degrees in Physical Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island (Ph.D. 1996) as well as Physics and Marine Science from the University of Miami (B.S. 1990).

His GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2020.

Kirsten Larsen
Kirsten Larsen
NOAA/NCEI-MS

Kirsten Larsen is the Lead Oceanographer for NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Mississippi (NCEI-MS) and the Science Advisor for the Coastal Data Development Program. Kirsten is responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas, Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Watch program as well as the Gulf Harmful Algal Blooms Observing System (HABSOS).

Larsen has extensive hands-on experience working with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Pascagoula. In the past year she has returned to the Gulf Coast to assume her current position after several years working at NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring.

Her GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2020.

Mike Lee
Mike Lee
US Geological Survey

Michael Lee works for the U.S. Geological Survey as the Coastal Science Coordinator of the Texas Water Science Center. He has worked for the USGS since 2007, also having served as the Studies Chief in the Gulf Coast Program Office and the Water Quality Specialist for Texas.

As the Coastal Science Coordinator, Mike leads the scientific, technical and administrative direction of coastal investigations including those carried on in cooperation with local, state, and other federal agencies. His research focuses on environmental/ecological monitoring and research of coastal/marine regions along Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, studies utilizing real-time systems/networks, the development of monitoring solutions for environmental research and the use of SCUBA diving for scientific data collection.

Prior to joining the USGS, Lee worked as a scientific and technical consultant in the private sector where he managed numerous projects involving the collection, processing, analysis and interpretation of environmental data from designed experimentation, remote sensing platforms and modeling. Additionally, he worked as a research scientist at NASA Johnson Space Center Earth Observation Program, adjunct faculty within the University of Houston system, as well as serving more than nine years as an officer in the United States Coast Guard.

Lee has been a longstanding member of the GCOOS-RA and previously served as the Chair of the GCOOS Membership Committee for two years. In his capacity as the Coastal Science Coordinator, Lee serves on a variety of committees and boards working on issues along the Gulf Coast, including being on the Council of the Galveston Bay Estuary Program, Vice-Chair of the Monitoring and Research Subcommittee of GBEP and GOMA Data & Monitoring and Water Resources Priority Issues Teams. Over the course of his career, Lee has gained extensive experience in coastal monitoring, interagency collaboration and leading large-scale projects spanning Texas and the Gulf Coast in academic, industry and the federal government.

His GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2021.

 

Academic Sector Representatives

Stephan Howden
Stephan Howden
University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Stephan D. Howden is an Associate Professor in the Department of Marine Science at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he has directed the Central Gulf of Mexico Ocean Observing System since 2003.  Howden has been involved with what became the GCOOS since 2003. His activities with GCOOS include:

  • Member of the Board of Directors since 2010;
  • HF Radar Technical Steering Team for the NOAA Integrated Ocean Observing System Program Office, 2010-present.
  • Chair of the GCOOS Observing System Committee from its inception in 2005 until 2014;
  • Chair of the GCOOS Gulf Glider Task Team since its inception in 2013 until 2014 (still a participating member);
  • Chair of the Business Plan Working Group 2004-2005 that produced the first business plan for the organization;
  • Member of the 2011 writing team for the GCOOS Build-Out Plan required for submission to the NOAA IOOS Office (led the HFR and AUV sections) and subsequent writing teams updating the plan;
  • Participated as a GCOOS representative at the NFRA meeting to coordinate all of the Regional Association Build-Out Plans in spring 2011 in Portland, Maine;
  • Participated in revision of GCOOS Build-Out Plan for submission to the NFRA and NOAA IOOS Office after the NFRA meeting in spring 2011.

Selected related activities include:

  • Member Program Advisory Committee for the Ocean Observatories Initiative, from 2013 until it ended in 2015;
  • Member of the Review Panel for the IOOS Plan for a National HF Radar Surface Current Capability, 2008;
  • Members of Nutrient Priority Team of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance;
  • Served as a panel member for a NOAA Town Hall Meeting on the role of the private sector in IOOS during the Oceans09 Conference in Biloxi, MS;
  • Participant at The U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Regional Coordination Workshop, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Nov. 7-9, 2006.

His GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2019.

Nancy Rabalais
Nancy Rabalais
Louisiana State University

Dr. Nancy N. Rabalais is a Professor and Shell Chair at Louisiana State University, as well as a Distinguished Research Professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Her research interests include the dynamics of hypoxic environments, interactions of large rivers with the coastal ocean, estuarine and coastal eutrophication, benthic ecology, fate and effects of contaminants, and science policy.

She has deployed instrumentation in the northern Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’ since 1989 and has served as an academic representative on the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System-Regional Association Board of Directors since 2005. Rabalais is active in other state and national working groups, panels, and advisory boards and is currently a member of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratories Fleet Improvement Committee. She holds many honors for her work on oxygen deficiency in aquatic systems, for example, American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, American Geophysical Union Fellow, an Aldo Leopold Leadership Program Fellow, and in 2012 was named a MacArthur Fellow.

Her GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2020.

Nick Shay
Nick Shay
University of Miami, RSMAS

Dr. Lynn. K. (Nick) Shay holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Physical Oceanography (Applied Math minor for the Ph.D. specializing in upper ocean response to strong atmospheric forcing events) from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a B.S. in Physical Oceanography from Florida Institute of Technology. He is currently Associate Dean and Professor in the Department of Ocean Sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and directs the Upper Ocean Dynamics Laboratory. He has published more than 115 peer-reviewed publications in top-tier journals and books and has chaired or served on 40 student committees.

The overarching goal of the research is to conduct scientific and technological investigations that require both basic and applied research activities that have societal relevance at its core. In this context, research interests include: experimental and theoretical investigations of the ocean response and coupled air-sea interactions during strong atmospheric forcing events (tropical and extratropical cyclones, atmospheric jets, fronts), Loop Current effects of the atmospheric boundary layer, coastal oceanographic process studies associated with the Florida Current, radar oceanography using high-frequency radar and satellite altimetry, and temperature, salinity and velocity profiling techniques from floats and aircraft-deployable measurements during hurricanes. A large fraction of this effort has been in and above the Gulf of Mexico and northwest Caribbean Sea and is directly relevant to multiple NOAA missions, BP-sponsored Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative and the NAS Loop Current Program.

Shay and his colleagues developed the ocean heat content monitoring from space-based systems for tropical cyclone intensity forecasting that has been in use for the North Atlantic and Pacific Ocean basin — now operational at NOAA NESDIS and UM. Working with Teledyne Webb, Shay and colleagues developed a float capable of measuring physical and biochemical processes that can be deployed from ships and aircraft.

Dr. Shay is an elected fellow of the American Meteorological Society since 2012, was part of the NASA Genesis Rapid Intensity Program Team receiving an achievement award (2011) for participation in the field campaign and more recently was awarded the Richard H. Hagemayer Award (2016) by NOAA’s Office of the Federal Coordinator of Meteorology. He is also on the Board of Directors for SECOORA, GCOOS and the Florida Institute of Oceanography.

His GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2021.

Outreach and Education Sector Representatives

Jean May-Brett
Jean May-Brett
Louisiana Department of Education (Retired)

Jean May-Brett was the Director of the Math Science Partnership (MSP) Program and STEM Partnership Coordinator for the Louisiana Department of Education before her retirement. Her duties included oversight of the MSP program in Louisiana providing, professional development in math, science and technology to classroom teachers through long-term projects provinding sustained support and instruction. May-Brett worked with public and private partners in an effort to develop regional and state STEM initiatives. Since retiring she continues to serve science and math education through the LDOE efforts as a member of the science standards and assessment committees.

Previously she served as the Assistant Director of Educational Television Technology at Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Baton Rouge, Louisiana from 1998-2003 and was the Curriculum Director and Producer for the award-winning middle school Enviro-Tacklebox© video series. May-Brett was also the content producer for Literacy and Learning©, another award-winning program that provided professional development materials on teaching strategies.

During her 25 years of classroom teaching, May-Brett taught Earth Science, Environmental Science and Mathematics to students in New York and Louisiana at the middle and high school levels.

She is an officer in both the Louisiana Science Teachers Association and the Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics. She is a past-president of the Louisiana Science Teachers Association (LSTA), the Louisiana Environmental Educators Association, the Southern Association of Marine Educators (SAME) and the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA). She serves as the State Coordinator for the Science Matters communication network. May-Brett has held numerous positions on committees and served on the Council for the National Science Teachers Association.

May-Brett is serving three-year Advisory Board terms for the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Gulf Research Program. She is an advisor to the American Petroleum Institutes Delta Chapter for educational programs and is a board member of Core Element, a regional hub working to improve STEM programs for teachers and students.

Her GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2019.

Renee Collini
Renee Collini
Mississippi State University

Renee Collini has served as the Coordinator for the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Cooperative since 2014. Focused on sea-level rise, Collini works throughout the northern Gulf to facilitate the flow of information between researchers and decision-makers to improve science application. Collini integrates a multi-state network of stakeholders, researchers, NGOs and state and federal agencies to build tools, programs and projects to address gaps in sea-level rise observing, research and decision-making.

Collini formerly split her time as Sentinel Site Coordinator, working with the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP). As their Science Coordinator, duties included Program Manager of the Alabama Real-time Coastal Observing System (ARCOS), maintaining operations and funding for the observing system, coordinating the Science Advisory Committee to the MBNEP, and working with local experts and researchers to ensure MBNEP projects were scientifically sound. Collini still serves as the ARCOS Program Manager.

Before working for the MBNEP and Cooperative, Collini was lead technician on ARCOS, working on coastal observing and monitoring with various local, state and regional partners. Collini continues to work on standardizing and coordinating monitoring and observations across the Gulf and encouraging use of these data in management and policy decision-making.

Collini lives in Dauphin Island, Alabama, with her husband and three dogs where she enjoys spearfishing, boating and beach-going. She holds a Master of Science in Marine Science from the University of South Alabama and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Texas at Dallas and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Mississippi State University.

Her GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2021.

Sara Graves (Board Chair)
Sara Graves (Board Chair)
University of Alabama Huntsville

Dr. Sara Graves is the Director of the Information Technology and Systems Center (ITSC), University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, University Professor and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She directs research in scientific data management, data mining, interoperability of data and systems, large-scale distributed systems and geoinformatics.

Graves has also served as the Principal Investigator on more than $70 million worth of research and development grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, NOAA, Dept of Defense, etc.  and as Co-I of the NSF Scholarship for Service program at UAH and past Secretary General of the International Council for Science Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA).

Graves is a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Gulf Research Program Board and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) Board. She was a founding member of both the NOAA Data Archive and Access Requirements Working Group (DAARWG) of the Science Advisory Board (SAB) and the Science Advisory Board of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Climate Change Science Institute.

Her GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2020.

Joe Swaykos (Chair Elect)
Joe Swaykos (Chair Elect)
National Data Buoy Center (Retired,Chief Scientist)

Capt. Joseph W. Swaykos, Vice Chairman of the GCOOS Board of Directors, is a native of Bloomfield New Jersey. A graduate of Bloomfield High School, Capt. Swaykos entered the U.S. Naval Academy in July of 1972 and graduated with a B.S. in Oceanography in June 1976.

Capt. Swaykos served in the U.S. Navy for 28 years following his four years at Annapolis. He started as an Unrestricted Line Officer sailing on USS Badger (FF-1071) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He was then selected for attendance at the Naval Postgraduate School where he earned Masters Degrees in Meteorology and Physical Oceanography. He continued his service as a Navy Oceanographer (Restricted Line Officer Community) and served in several sea tours and key shore assignments. His last three tours of duty included serving as Deputy Oceanographer of the Navy (Washington D.C.), Commanding Officer of Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (Monterey CA), and Chairman of the Oceanography Department at his alma mater. He also earned Masters Degrees in Systems Management and in National Security and Strategy from the University of Southern California and the Naval War College, respectively.

Capt. Swaykos retired from active duty in 2004 and accepted a position with the University of Southern Mississippi, where he served as the Director of the Center of Higher Learning and Immersive Visualization Center at Stennis Space Center. Additionally, he was selected as a Fellow in the American Meteorological Society in 2007 and was selected to represent the University of Southern Mississippi in the statewide Leadership Mississippi program. He also served as Chairman of the Outreach and Education Council for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS).

Capt. Swaykos retired from USM in 2012 and assumed the duties of Mission Control Center Branch Chief at the National Data Buoy Center. In 2016, he was designated as Chief Scientist at NDBC and retired in 2018. He has served on the GCOOS Board of Directors since 2012, including terms as Secretary. He was recently elected to serve as Vice Chairman.

His GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2020.

Staff

Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick
Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick
Executive Director

Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick is the Executive Director for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observation System (GCOOS). She has more than 35 years of experience in human and environmental epidemiology and started her career as a Respiratory Care Supervisor at Duke University Medical Center before going on to receive a Master’s Degree in Health Occupations Education at North Carolina State University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Sarasota.

After completing her graduate program, Kirkpatrick served as an Associate Professor at Manatee Community College in Bradenton, FL, where she continued her research interests in human respiratory health and assessing clinical teaching effectiveness. In 1999, Kirkpatrick joined Mote Marine Laboratory as a staff scientist and shifted her research focus to environmental human health, particularly the respiratory effects linked to harmful algal blooms.

As a senior scientist and program manager at Mote Marine Laboratory, her continued research efforts focused on harmful algal blooms and the effects they have on humans. She was co-leader of the first major multi-institution study of Florida’s red tide on humans that was funded by the National Institutes of Health. The 11-year study was the first to scientifically document the impacts that red tide has on humans — particularly those who have chronic respiratory diseases.

She was the co-chair of the National Harmful Algal Bloom steering committee for six years and co-chaired the National HAB science meeting in 2013.

As Executive Director of GCOOS, she has been instrumental in broadening the scope of the ocean monitoring organization to include biological aspects of ocean monitoring — particularly monitoring for toxic algal blooms and marine animal movements.

barb.kirkpatrick@gcoos.org
Dr. Chris Simoniello
Dr. Chris Simoniello
Outreach and Education Coordinator

Dr. Chris Simoniello, Texas A&M University Research Scientist and GCOOS Outreach and Education (O/E) Manager, is one part scientist, one part educator, one part adventure-seeker and one part coach. Too many parts? Not when they are integrated. She received a B.S. in Biological Sciences and Certificate in Marine Science from Florida International University, 1988, while competing in three Division 1 sports. Her love of learning and action led to conducting herpetological studies in Everglades National Park, working in analytical chemistry for the Drinking Water Research Center, Miami, and researching bears, birds, seals and otters for the Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska, following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She completed her Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at the University of South Florida in 2003 and has conducted ship-based research in the area of physiological ecology from the Arctic to the Southern Ocean.

Before joining GCOOS, Simoniello developed a regional O/E program for the Office of Naval Research-funded IOOS testbed, the Southeast Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System. She has been engaged in leadership roles spanning the United Nations, NOAA, the U.S. IOOS and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. Locally, she chairs the City of St. Petersburg Program for Public Information committee and participates on the City’s Local Mitigation Strategies team.

Among her accolades are the Antarctica Service Medal of the United States, a National Oceanographic Partnership Program Excellence in Partnering Award for the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network project, Business Partner of the Year recognition from the Pinellas Education Foundation, and four EPA Gulf Guardian awards. Simoniello is committed to creating dynamic mechanisms to nurture innovation and the scientific processes critical to better understanding our world and provide an adventurous call to action for our future ocean leaders.

chris.simoniello@gcoos.org
Felimon Gayanilo
Felimon Gayanilo
Interim DMAC Manager

Felimon Gayanilo is a Systems Architect/Enterprise IT working on various projects with GCOOS and with the Harte Research Institute. He currently serves as interim Data Management and Communications (DMAC) Manager for GCOOS. He had more than three decades of experience in the design, development and deployment of information systems in local, national, regional and international settings before joining Texas A&M University in 2012.

Gayanilo is the Systems Architect for several scientific data portals in the Gulf of Mexico:

  • He initiated the design and development of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information and Data Cooperative (GRIIDC);
  • He designed and developed the GCOOS data portal, a NOAA RICE-certified data center that is nested in a national backbone of coastal observations to aggregate and disseminate the region’s near real-time oceanographic data using community standards to facilitate interoperability among coastal and ocean observing sensors.

Gayanilo is also a co-PI to the NSF-funded “EarthCube Cross-Domain Observational Metadata for Environmental Sensing (X-DOMES),” and primary developer of the SensorML Registry and Repository (SRR).  He is an active member of DataONE, serving as a member of DataONE Steering Committee (2014-2015) and co-Chair of DataONE User Group (2015-2017),  member of several advisory groups and professional organizations including IEEE Computer Society and IEEE Computational Intelligence Society.

felimon.gayanilo@gcoos.org
Dr. Shinichi Kobara
Dr. Shinichi Kobara
Assistant Research Scientist, Product Developer

Dr. Shin Kobara is an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University. He has a Ph.D. in Geography and is a certified Geographic Information System Professional (GISP). He is a marine GIS scientist with experiences in GIS analysis and visualization, geospatial predicting model and GIS server management.

His role at GCOOS is product development, including the design and synthesis of web-based map applications with near real-time ocean-observing data in the Gulf of Mexico. He applies modern GIS techniques to marine environmental sciences, including fish spawning aggregations site prediction and a has a strong ability in geospatial software engineering. His current interest is in applying GeoAI to ocean data science.

shinichi.kobara@gcoos.org
Bob Currier
Bob Currier
Research Specialist, Product Developer

Bob Currier is a Research Specialist in the Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University and GCOOS Product Developer. His primary area of expertise is ocean observation data management and visualization using a variety of developmental tools, including Python, Flask, Keras and TensorFlow. His current research involves automated classification of phytoplankton using deep learning.

Prior to joining Texas A&M, Currier spent nine years with Mote Marine Laboratory as a Senior Data Engineer in the Phytoplankton Ecology and Ocean Technology programs. Currier also spent 20 years with Duke University where he served as Director of Data and Telecommunications. Currier was the chief architect of a two-time national award winning 30,000 node network, served as Duke’s Technical Representative to the Internet2 consortium and was a Senior Technical Staff Member of the North Carolina Networking Initiative.

Currier jointly holds US Patent 7,797,109 relating to the IT infrastructure of the Beach Conditions Reporting System and is the author of more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings and trade press including Linux Magazine, Linux.com, Network World, ITworld.com, Ziff-Davis ZDnet.com and Smart Computing.

robert.currier@gcoos.org
Dr. Steven Baum
Dr. Steven Baum
Associate Research Scientist

Dr. Steven K. Baum is an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University and is a member of the GCOOS Data Management and Communications team.  He has degrees in civil engineering (B.S.), ocean engineering (M.S.) and physical oceanography (Ph.D.).

His areas of interest/expertise include numerical modeling, the management and visualization of numerical model output and observational data, computer system construction, maintenance and administration, and vegetable gardening in hostile climates.  His current tasks/interests are whatever needs to be done on any given day, which typically involves at least a score of command-line terminals opened in the service of Python/SciPy, netCDF, THREDDS and ERDDAP.

Dr. Baum has been at Texas A&M since August 1983, and has been a graduate student and research assistant/associate in ocean engineering (1983-1985), oceanography (1985-1989), paleoclimate research (1989-2001) and again oceanography (2001-present).

baum@geos.tamu.edu
Jennifer Vreeland-Dawson
Jennifer Vreeland-Dawson
Research Associate

Jennifer Vreeland-Dawson is a Marine Biologist with a Master’s degree in Environmental Science. Her research has focused on phytoplankton taxonomic behavior in the Gulf of Mexico, including red tide events. Prior positions include Senior Biologist and Analytical Lab Manager with Mote Marine Laboratory’s Phytoplankton Ecology Research Program, Sarasota, FL. Her duties included sample analysis and product development, field work and managerial oversight of the lab’s daily processing and monitoring activities.

Currently, Vreeland-Dawson is Research Associate for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS), where her position includes a variety of responsibilities including serving as coordinator for the Gulf Coast Ocean Acidification Network (GCAN), grant writing, events coordination and assisting the GCOOS Executive Director and the Board of Directors.

Vreeland-Dawson is also a faculty member at Ringling College of Art and Design, teaching “Ecology of Water,” which focuses on the value of integrating art, design and science.

jen.vreeland@gcoos.org
Marion Stoessel
Marion Stoessel
Senior Research Associate

Marion Stössel is Senior Research Associate in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University and a member of the GCOOS Data Management and Communications team, working mainly on data processing and data review.

She received her Masters from the University of Hamburg, Germany, 1985, in physical Oceanography and has since worked with all types of data, including:

  • Remote sensing data from Landsat Thematic Mapper, for a NASA Study at the Helmholtz-Zentrum, Geesthacht, Germany (former GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht, Germany).
  • Analysis of Modular Ocean Model Global Circulation Model (MOM GCM) output data for an Equatorial Atlantic Circulation study.”
  • Model input and output data for Antarctic-Sea-Ice modeling studies, providing higher resolution input data to the regional part of the Global Circulation Model (GCM) and analysis of  the output data.
  • Since 2008 she has mainly reviewed, processed and analyzed observational data for the Arabian sea and the Gulf of Mexico projects at Texas A&M.
marion.stoessel@gcoos.org
Grant Craig
Grant Craig
Program Coordinator

Grant Craig has spent most of his career as a marine science educator and coastal resource manager. He has worked in this capacity in different areas of the Gulf of Mexico, settling in St. Petersburg, FL, 15 years ago.

Craig has a passion for teaching field programs and the focus of his career has been the translation of scientific information and interpretation of the natural world for a wide variety of formal and informal audiences. He is program coordinator for GCOOS and his role includes coordination with GCOOS Councils and Task Teams, product development and outreach and education projects.

Past career work includes developing outreach programs for NOAA Protected Resources to mitigate harassment of marine mammals, managing education programs and ecosystem protection for coastal county preserves in Pinellas County, FL, and teaching field-based marine science programs in Alabama and the Florida Keys.

 

grant.craig@gcoos.org
Nadine Slimak
Nadine Slimak
Public Relations & Content Marketing, Vetted Communications, LLC

Nadine Slimak is a communications professional with more than 25 years of experience in public relations, journalism and marketing. As owner of Vetted Communications, LLC, she helps clients share their stories through a range of mediums — from press releases to social media and fundraising appeals. With experience as a communications director, newspaper reporter and editor, her expertise includes developing strategic and crisis communications plans as well as interpreting information for key audiences, including internal and external stakeholders.

Slimak’s content-marketing expertise includes identifying and assessing subject matter for news media interest and finding appropriate niches for topics of less-broad interest and working with scientists to help make their work relevant and understandable to laymen.

Her skill and experience includes writing a broad array of communications materials, including strategic plans, annual reports, brochures, press releases, media advisories, web and social media content and, especially, in translating complex scientific subject matter to the public in a variety of settings, including public exhibits, magazine and newspaper stories, press releases and opinion pieces.

Slimak’s background includes handling on-the-spot and crises communications; serving as key spokesperson in hundreds of interviews with local, national and international journalists from print, television (news and documentary), radio and Web outlets and has  identified and trained appropriate staff to represent their organizations to the media. Her professional experiences include developing successful working relationships with representatives from state and federal agencies (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and local governments.

Slimak created Vetted Communications, LLC, in 2014 as a communications consulting agency specializing in working with science and marine-science focused nonprofit organizations.

nadine@vettedcommunications.com
Dr. Chuan-Yuan Hsu
Dr. Chuan-Yuan Hsu
Post Doctoral Research Associate

Dr. Chuan-Yuan Hsu is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University. At GCOOS he is a product developer, especially focused on developing applications for near-time ocean observation databases. His expertise includes numerical modeling, machine learning/AI, as well as the ocean data/product management. His current research involves the development of regional coupled model simulation, nearshore ocean physics, extreme weather studies (e.g. Hurricane Harvey) and deep learning predictive modeling of coastal recreation water quality.

chsu1@tamu.edu
Robbie Iles
Robbie Iles
Graduate Research Assistant

Robbie Iles is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University and
is a Graduate Research Assistant for the GCOOS Data Management and Communications
team. He has degrees in geography (B.S.) and oceanography & coastal science (M.S.) from
Louisiana State University (LSU).

His areas of scientific research interest include physical/biological interaction in the coastal
zone, estuarine ecology, ocean currents, tropical storms, remote sensing, GIS, and marine
invertebrates. In particular, Iles’s doctoral research is concerned with the impacts of
changes in water quality (e.g. salinity, sediment, nutrients) in estuarine environments,
particularly in terms of their influence on invertebrates (e.g. decapod crustaceans and bivalves).

Iles provides GIS support for ongoing GCOOS projects.

riles2@tamu.edu
Laura Caldwell
Laura Caldwell
Staff Assistant

Laura Caldwell works for the TAMU Department of Oceanography and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System. She has been at TAMU for 28 years and supports all aspects of the GCOOS regional association, especially Outreach & Communications and Data Management.

laura.caldwell@gcoos.org

The Role of the Board

  • Set policy for the organization and provide direction to the Executive Director Revise bylaws and other documents as necessary;
  • Establish and maintain the structure of the Regional Association including approval of appointments to the RA Councils, Committees, Task Teams or other groups;
  • Approve budgets, the business model, proposals and endorsements requested by members for proposals they intend to submit.

About Board Service:

  • Terms are three years and begin at the autumn Board meeting;
  • The Board meets twice annually in person and via phone every two months; the Board may also be called to meet when priority situations arise;
  • Directors are not paid; however expenses related to GCOOS in-person Board meetings are reimbursed;

Board Elections:

GCOOS holds an annual election to replace outgoing directors. The Membership Committee seeks nominees, with notice given through its enewsletter, website and social media. Nominees must agree to serve and be committed to working within an organization dedicated to provide data, information and products to the Gulf of Mexico stakeholder community that includes the private sector, governmental agencies at all levels, academia and researchers, non-governmental organizations and the general public. Self-nominations are welcome.