Board of Directors & Staff

Private Sector Representatives

Dr. Alyssa Dausman
Dr. 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
Fugro

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 2023.

Bill Lingsch
Bill Lingsch
Coordinator, U.S. Glider User Group

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, of Following Seas, LLC, 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 U.S. Glider User Group Coordinator, a joint position of GCOOS and the U.S. IOOS Program Office, and recently retired as the Director of Ocean Science and Technology for Perspecta (formerly Vencore, Inc.) at Stennis Space Center, MS.

While at Perspecta, his responsibilities included 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 included 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.

Dr. Ruth Perry
Dr. 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 2022.

 

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 2022.

Government Sector Representatives

Dr. Kimberly Yates
Dr. Kimberly Yates

Dr. Kimberly Yates is a Research Oceanographer at the U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Center for Coastal and Marine Science (SPCMSC). She specializes in regional-scale, integrated science studies that examine how changes in coastal ecosystem processes may impact or mitigate risks from coastal hazards, using a whole system perspective that considers the interactions and linkages among chemistry, biology and the physical environment.

Much of her recent work has focused on coastal and ocean acidification impacts in estuaries and on coral reefs; how seafloor erosion in coastal carbonate ecosystems changes risks from sea level rise, waves and storms; and identifying and characterizing coastal climate change refuges. She currently leads the Tampa Bay Ocean Acidification Monitoring Program in collaboration with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and University of South Florida and has established the first real-time ocean acidification monitoring systems in Tampa Bay and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Yates has been a member of the U.S. Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification (IWG- OA) of the National Science and Technology Subcommittee since 2009 and served as Co-Chair of the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program — Ocean Acidification Subcommittee from 2011 to 2016. From 2015 to present, she has served as a founding Executive Committee Member, Steering Committee Member and recently completed her term as Co-Chair of the Science Working Group for the Southeast Ocean and Coastal Acidification Network. She became a Steering Committee Member of the GCOOS Gulf of Mexico Coastal Acidification Network (GCAN) in 2016.

As the current Chair of GCAN’s Steering Committee, she has worked to expand the GCAN stakeholder network by engaging end-users directly in development of research and monitoring plans, and has facilitated partnerships across the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast Region acidification networks to work toward better understanding linkages between environmental health in the Gulf of Mexico and along the U.S. Southeast Coast. Yates completed her Ph.D. in Geology with specialization in Biogeochemistry (1996) and her undergraduate degree in Geology and the Honors Program at the University of South Florida (1992).

Her GCOOS Board term expires in the Fall of 2023.

Steven Buschang (Chair Elect)
Steven Buschang (Chair Elect)
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 2023.

Dr. Pat Hogan
Dr. Pat Hogan
Naval Research Laboratory

Dr. Hogan is an oceanographer who serves as the Ocean Sciences Branch Chief for the National Centers for Environmental Information. 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 2022.

Kirsten Larsen (Secretary)
Kirsten Larsen (Secretary)
NOAA/NCEI-MS

Kirsten Larsen joined NOAA’s National Centers of Environmental Information (NCEI) in 2016 as the Coastal Data Science Advisor. She manages the NCEI coastal science portfolio, which includes developing and maintaining data products such as the Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas, HypoxiaWatch, Gulf HABS Observing System, as well as working with coastal data providers both within and external to NOAA to help archive their data at NCEI. Previously she worked at NOAA Headquarters in several positions.

Larsen led a national habitat science team for NOAA Fisheries in the Office of Science & Technology, and prior to that she was the assistant to the NOAA Fisheries Chief Scientist. Kirsten was a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) where she earned her M.S. in Biology and Fisheries. She worked as a research fisheries biologist at USM’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and with the NOAA Fisheries Pascagoula Laboratory where she spent much of her time in the marsh and out at sea. Kirsten is married to another NOAA employee, and they have three young children plus his two adult daughters.

Her GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2023.

Academic Sector Representatives

Dr. Antonietta Quigg
Dr. Antonietta Quigg

Dr. Antonietta Quigg is the Senior Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG). She is a Regents Professor in the Department of Marine Biology (TAMUG) and has a joint appointment in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University in College Station (TAMU). Dr. Quigg also has graduate appointments in the Marine Biology Interdisciplinary Degree Program (TAMUG), Department of Marine Science (TAMUG), Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Interdisciplinary Research Program (TAMU) and the Department of Life Science at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi.

Dr. Quigg uses photosynthetic organisms (phytoplankton, seaweeds, seagrasses, wetland plants) as proxies to investigate consequences of environmental perturbations on aquatic environments. Her research is conducted in a diversity of places from Galveston Bay (Texas), the Gulf of Mexico, to Prince William Sound (Alaska) and further afield to the Gulf of Aqaba (Israel), Moreton Bay (Australian), and others. Laboratory studies compliment field based research and involve examining the composition of ballast water, the fate and transport of engineered nanoparticles as well as potential use of algae as an alternative fuel source (biofuels).

Since arriving at A&M in 2003 she has (is) participated in more than 50 extramural research awards (total of >$20 million) funded by NSF, NOAA, EPA, GOMRI, Texas Sea Grant and other agencies. As the principal investigator, she has raised more than $10 million. Further, she has been awarded ~$700,000 from competitively conferred internal grants to faculty at TAMUG and TAMU. As a result, she and her group of postdoctoral fellows and students have published >120 peer reviewed papers since 2003 in a variety of journals including Nature, Science, Limnol. Oceanogr., Limnol. Oceanogr. Letters, PLOs One and the Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. In fact, the first paper in Limnol. Oceanogr. Letters was led by Dr. Quigg and her colleagues. Her research is presented at conferences around the world and she is frequently invited to give talks.

Dr. Quigg is a member of professional societies including the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography and the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation. She reviews at many papers each per year, most frequently for the Journal of Phycology, Coastal and Shelf Science, Journal of Plankton Research, Estuaries and Coasts and the Bulletin of Marine Science and serves as an editor for two journals. Dr. Quigg frequently reviews grants from a variety of agencies. She has also has severed on panels for NOAA and the EPA.

Dr. Quigg serves on numerous committees — both at the university and in the community, in part due to her role, and in part due to her various passions. She was the first female faculty member in the Department of Marine Biology at TAMUG in 2003. Amongst her greatest passions are serving and promoting fellow women and minority students (English is also her second language). Her roles include promoting education and outreach, mentoring, collegiality and support amongst all members of the campus and broader community.

Her GCOOS term expires in the Fall of 2023.

Dr. Stephan Howden
Dr. 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 2022.

Dr. Nick Shay
Dr. 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

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.

Dr. Sara Graves (Immediate Past Chair)
Dr. Sara Graves (Immediate Past 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 2023.

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

Capt. Joseph W. Swaykos, 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 2023.

Dr. Nan Walker
Dr. Nan Walker
Louisiana State University

Over the last 25 years, Walker’s research has focused on advancing the understanding of circulation in the Gulf of Mexico by developing techniques to detect and track coastal and oceanic water masses. She has been involved in the real-time surveillance of Gulf of Mexico circulation (river plumes and Loop Current) since 1991.  She served as Associate Director of LSU’s Earth Scan Laboratory (www.esl.lsu.edu) alongside founder Oscar Huh, and became its Director in 2003. She has managed research programs funded by NASA, NSF, MMS, USACOE, LA Board of Regents, NOAA Sea Grant, GCOOS, GOMRI, and the Water Institute of the Gulf.

Walker’s  experience includes the near real-time use of geostationary satellite measurements (from GOES-East) to track hurricanes/tropical storms and to improve understanding of air-sea interactions related to hurricane intensity changes over the Loop Current and GoM warm and cold-core eddies. Her use of satellite data for emergency response activities includes oil spill tracking during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon event, coastal flood mapping of storm surge, estuarine-shelf and shelf-slope exchanges after hurricane events, tracking Mississippi River flood waters and harmful algal blooms in coastal Louisiana. Much of her research integrates satellite data with in-situ measurements of currents, suspended sediments, and chlorophyll a. Her published research includes field and satellite studies of Louisiana bay and shelf circulation, understanding the role of Loop Current frontal eddies in GoM circulation, how hypoxia relates to shelf chlorophyll a; and storm erosion of coastal Louisiana. She has worked with at least a dozen numerical modelers of circulation, sediment transport, and ecology in her career at LSU.
She has managed the development of satellite data products in support of Education and Outreach as well as science from a 20+ year history of polar-orbiting and geostationary satellite sensors (AVHRR, GOES-East GVAR, Oceansat-1 OCM, MODIS, VIIRS). Daily-updates of images and animations of coastal hazards and events are made easily accessible to the public on the Earth Scan Laboratory web page (www.esl.lsu.edu). Currently she and staff are developing new SST products from the new Advanced Baseline Imagery (ABI) of GOES-16 and coastal sediment products from VIIRS.

Walker is a motivated advocate for the use of satellite data as a teaching tool in K-12 education and has participated in Louisiana Sea Grant’s Ocean Commotion event for K-8 students at LSU for ~20 years! She teaches an undergraduate course entitled “Introduction to Oceanography” and a graduate level course in “Satellite Oceanography” each year.

Her GCOOS board term expires in Fall 2022.

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
Bill Lingsch
Bill Lingsch
Coordinator, U.S. Glider User Group

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 U.S. Glider User Group Coordinator, a joint position of GCOOS and the U.S. IOOS Program Office, and recently retired as the Director of Ocean Science and Technology for Perspecta (formerly Vencore, Inc.) at Stennis Space Center, MS.

While at Perspecta, his responsibilities included 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 included 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.

Felimon Gayanilo
Felimon Gayanilo
Systems Architect, Co-Data Manager

Felimon Gayanilo is a Systems Architect/Enterprise IT  and Co-Data Manager working on various projects with GCOOS and with the Harte Research Institute. 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. 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
Dr. Kerri Whilden
Dr. Kerri Whilden
Oceanographer

Dr. Kerri Whilden, GCOOS Oceanographer, is an Assistant Research Scientist at the Geochemical & Environmental Research Group (GERG) at Texas A&M University. She received her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University, and briefly worked for a land development engineering and consulting firm before heading to Texas A&M University to pursue a M.S. in Ocean Engineering. For her M.S. thesis, she studied the formation and propagation of idealized tidal vortices using particle image velocimetry in a laboratory setting. She continued at Texas A&M University for her Ph.D. where her dissertation involved designing and implementing an adaptive sampling field campaign to study the formation and propagation of tidal vortices on the Texas coast. As part of her current role at GERG, she manages the day-to-day operations of the autonomous vehicle laboratory and the Texas high frequency radar network. As a data user and provider coupled with her coastal and offshore experience, Dr. Whilden provides physical oceanographic context for the GCOOS data products and ocean observing data management.

kwhilden@tamu.edu
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, Co-Data Manager

Bob Currier is a Research Specialist in the Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University and GCOOS Product Developer and Co-Data Manager. 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
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
Stephanie Watson
Stephanie Watson
Stakeholder Engagement, CETACEAN

Stephanie Watson is a consultant who has worked at the interface of the ocean and economic communities for the last 20 years to consistently find opportunity and value for public, private, and academic institutions. She has been brought on board by GCOOS as Product Owner/Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Compilation of Environmental, Threats, and Animal Data for Cetacean Population Health Analyses (CETACEAN) collaborative project  funded through the Deepwater Horizon NRDA Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group. She has M.S. degrees in Ecology and Environmental Science (coastal and marine focus) and in Spatial Information Science and Engineering from the University of Maine. Born on Mount Desert Island, Maine, Watson is committed to protecting the ocean, as well as the communities and economies that depend upon it. Watson has been engaged in ocean observing systems on the U.S. Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico coasts since the start of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System in the early 2000s. She has partnered with GCOOS in various roles since 2005, including data management, the GCOOS Build-out Plan, communications, and stakeholder engagement.

stephanie.watson@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 Research Scientist and Product Developer. At GCOOS, he is 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
Jilla Sandeep
Jilla Sandeep
Graduate Research Assistant

Jilla Sandeep worked as a Project Engineer for Wipro Limited, India, from June 2016 to May 2017 and served as a Business Technology Analyst in Deloitte, India, from June 2017 to December 2018. He is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Computer Science at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He worked as a Grader for a mobile software development course during the Spring 2019 semester and also as a Graduate Assistant in the TAMUCC College of Graduate Studies for the Summer 2019 semester.

sjilla@islander.tamucc.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

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 as needed; 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.