Meet the Participants of the Chief Scientist Training Program

* – Indicates participant in the chief scientist training program

** – Indicates scientific staff

*** – Indicates Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI


Harriet Alexander*

Affiliation: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Biology Department

Position: Assistant Scientist

Research description: My research focuses on trying to characterize the interplay of physiological ecology and diversity in the ocean with a focus on eukaryotic plankton. Much of my research has leveraged meta-omic data to derive insights into the diversity and function of these ecosystems. More generally, I am interested in open science, data visualization, and the improvement of computational tools and resources for scientists.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? A large portion of the field work from my PhD research occurred at Station ALOHA, so I am excited for the opportunity to return! During this cruise, I am excited to collaborate directly with other early career researchers to examine the higher-trophic level interactions at Station ALOHA.

Fun fact: I played rugby competitively for several years but retired and now fill my time training for open water swimming. My current goal is to swim one day the length of Lake George (32.6 miles) in one go.


Rebecca Asch*

Affiliation: East Carolina University

Position: Assistant Professor

Research description: I study how climate change and climate variability affect the early life history stages and reproductive behavior of fishes, working across a variety of ecosystems and time scales. During this research cruise, I will be examining the gut contents of diel vertically migrating mesopelagic fishes to investigate their role in transporting carbon to depth as part of the biological pump. I’m also planning to analyze data on zooplankton diversity, abundance, and size distribution gathered during this cruise using a ZooScan, which is an instrument that can do semi-automated taxonomic identification of zooplankton based on machine learning algorithms.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? While I participated in ten research cruises early in my career as a Masters and Ph.D. student, it has been several years since I’ve been to sea since my recent research has focused more on ecological modeling and time series analysis. As a result, I’m really excited about this opportunity to become involved in oceanographic fieldwork again, as well as to receive training on how to act as a chief scientist.

Fun fact: My main hobby these days is trying to learn different languages.  I’m currently working on Portuguese and Hungarian!


Erin Black*

Affiliations: Dalhousie University and Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory

Position: Ocean Frontier Institute Postdoctoral Fellow

Research description: My research focuses on improving our understanding of the internal cycling of elements and isotopes in the modern ocean through observation-based studies. My primary aim is to elucidate the oceanic controls on global climate change by examining the factors influencing the biological carbon pump. To do this, I use a suite of radiochemical techniques focusing on the isotopes that constitute the U−Th decay series.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? I’m looking forward to learning from my peers and seeing the methods behind a lot of the productivity data I use, but do not collect myself.

Fun fact: I am enormously passionate about being an oceanographer despite the fact that I am extremely prone to motion-sickness, whether on a bus or boat.


Abigail Bockus*

Affiliation: Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON)

Position: Assistant Professor

Research description: I use comparative physiology to examine organismal adaptability to environmental change and how these interactions affect metabolic performance, distribution, and ecosystem stability. My research addresses acclimatory and adaptational responses to a number of variables, including temperature, salinity, hypoxia, acidification, and hydrostatic pressure, and provides insight into the physiological mechanisms driving patterns in biological oceanography.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? I’m excited to be participating in this program to a) conduct professional development activities to assist me in leading smooth and successful research cruises in the future, and b) being given the opportunity to go to sea with a group of stellar scientists to pursue exploratory oceanographic work as a multidisciplinary team.

Fun fact: When I’m not spending my free time building LUMCON’s fish hatchery, I like to climb 14ers and lose at chess.


Macarena Burgos**

Affiliation: University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Position: Postdoctoral Researcher

Research description: My research interest focuses on understanding primary production in the ocean and the factors driving its variability. Since this biological process is related to oxygen production and carbon sequestration from the atmosphere, accurate knowledge of primary production is decisive in a changing world.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? I am excited to learn about the different measurements and experiments happening in the EAGER cruise to collectively answer a common question. This multidisciplinary approach is in my opinion very valuable to becoming a chief scientist.

Fun fact: I work with water, I play with fire!


B.B. Cael*

Affiliation: University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Position: Postdoctoral Fellow

Research description: My research applies the perspective of a statistical physicist to questions of ocean biogeochemistry. I focus in particular on understanding controls on the biological pump (i.e. the biologically-mediated transfer of carbon from the atmosphere to the deep ocean). I am particularly interested in characterizing and explaining the variability of the carbon cycle across spatial and temporal scales.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? I am thrilled about the opportunity to learn more about how to orchestrate a research cruise, and to compare the size distributions of sinking vs. suspended material to help constrain the relationship between particle size and sinking speed – a big unknown in how the biological pump works. I am also excited to conduct a novel test of the surface microbiome’s response to increased alkalinity, which will provide crucial preliminary information about the ecological effect a possible method for large-scale carbon capture and storage.

Fun fact: I make a mean baguette and a meaner soupe a l’oignon.


Matthew Church***

Affiliation: University of Montana, Flathead Lake Biological Station

Position: Associate Professor

Research description: I am a microbial ecologist and biogeochemist interested in how microbial metabolic activities catalyze the cycling of carbon and nutrients. I am particularly interested in microorganisms that catalyze key processes in the nitrogen cycle.

Why am I excited about this research cruise?  I am excited to lead this cruise because I enjoy developing collaborations and working with new people. I am also confident we will learn a lot about the coupling between the upper ocean and the interior waters based on the diverse research activities planned for this cruise.

Fun fact: I love spending time outside with my family.


Tara Clemente**

Affiliation: University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Position: HOT – SCOPE Operations Manager

Research description: My research interests include biogeochemical cycling and carbon sequestration.  I’m interested in furthering this field, not by answering one particular question, but by providing state-of-the-art and cutting edge sampling techniques, oceanographic platforms, and multidisciplinary support for scientists around the world.

Why am I excited about this research cruise?  I currently coordinate, organize, implement, and supervise the Hawai’i Ocean Time-series (HOT) and Simons Collaboration for Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE) field operations and science teams, often serving as Chief Scientist on research cruises.  I’m excited to share my expertise on field operations management, logistical planning, and how to successfully execute and facilitate science operations on research cruises.

Fun fact: I have a passion for tall ship sailing and was fortunate to spend several months onboard the S/V Bark Europasailing between Ushuaia, Argentina – Antarctica – South Georgia – Tristan Da Cunha – Cape Town, South Africa for a total of 7,432 nautical miles.


Bethanie Edwards*

Affiliation: University of California-Berkeley

Position: Assistant Professor-McMinn Endowed Chair

Research description: I am a microbial oceanographer and lipid geochemist. I am interested in the role lipids play in the biological and microbial carbon pumps as sources of fuel and as chemical signals.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? The planning for this cruise has been intellectually rejuvenating because it isn’t every day that you get to connect with other early career scientists and plan an entire research expedition. I am also looking forward to learning from the senior scientists organizing this program as we delve behind the scenes into what makes a cruise productive.

Fun fact: I worked as a personal trainer and yoga instructor during graduate school to make ends meet.


Sara Ferrón***

Affiliation: University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Position: Assistant Researcher

Research description: Mechanisms governing ocean productivity and its role in regulating climate through the biological pump

Why am I excited about this research cruise? This cruise will be a great opportunity to gather early-career scientists with different skillsets to work together on the same project, while learning all the nitty-gritty of leading an oceanic research expedition.

Fun fact: Unfortunately I will not be able to join the cruise as I need to care for my 7-month old baby, but I will provide support from land!


Erica Goetze***

Affiliation: University of Hawai’i

Position: Associate Professor

Research description: I am a zooplankton ecologist, broadly interested in the ecology, evolution, and genomics of metazoan plankton.  On this cruise, I am excited to be focusing on zooplankton-mediated fluxes in the biological pump, and understanding the roles zooplankton play in moving C, N and P between the epi- and mesopelagic in the open ocean.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? We have an amazing team of very talented early career investigators working together to plan and lead this cruise, and I am very excited to see all the cutting-edge science that is coming together.

Fun fact: I spend my free time chasing my daughters Eva (13) and Hanna (9) out of the ocean to reapply sunscreen.


Nicholas Hawco*

Affiliation: University of Southern California, Department of Earth Sciences

Position: Postdoctoral Scholar

Research description: All life on earth needs iron to grow and life in the ocean is no exception. The ocean around us is filled with microscopic plankton who spend their day sifting through water and salt to find a few precious iron atoms. But can they find enough to meet their needs?

Why am I excited about this research cruise? On the UNOLS Chief Scientist Training Cruise, I’ll be working with other scientists to track how much iron these plankton accumulate each day, and how efficiently this ecosystem can recycle iron and other scarce resources. By outlining the flow of iron into the ocean, into plankton cells, into sinking particles, and (eventually) to the seafloor, we can predict how the balance between iron supply and demand might be disrupted by climate change and other human activities.

Fun fact: I was first published in the Lego Magazine (1996)!


Katherine Heal* 

Affiliation: University of Washington

Position: Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

Research description: My research interests sit at the interface of microbial ecology and analytical chemistry, with an emphasis in using advanced mass spectrometry tools to elucidate microbial processes in natural systems. I am particularly interested in nutrient cycling and utilization in the surface ocean.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? This cruise is an exciting opportunity to gain exposure to the higher level decision making that happens at sea, as well as learn different sampling techniques.  I’m also excited to meet and work with other earlier career marine scientists.

Fun fact: I like getting into the mountains to go hiking or biking.


Tom Iwanicki*

 Affiliation: University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Position: Ph.D. Candidate

Research description: Light encodes a wealth of information for animals equipped to detect it. I am interested in how light acts as a cue of life, ranging from bright sunlit surface waters down to the depths dominated by bioluminescent light.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? I am very excited to collaborate with a diverse and brilliant team of researchers from across the globe. The sheer effort and expertise required to pull off a successful research cruise is truly inspiring.

Fun fact: I like to sing popular songs to my dog but I insert his name in random places throughout the song. I also enjoy sharing embarrassing personal details about myself.


David Karl**

Affiliation: University of Hawai’i

Position: Professor and Director of the Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and Education (C-MORE)

Research description: The Hawai’i Ocean Time-series (HOT) program, co-founded by David Karl, provides a cornerstone in understanding of the ocean’s role in regulating climate and global nutrient cycles. C-MORE, the NSF-supported Science and Technology Center Karl and colleagues established in 2006, assesses marine microorganisms from genomes to biomes. Karl has also co-established the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE) to enhance understanding of how microbes control the flow of energy and material in the open sea.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? It is always thrilling to be part of any research expedition, especially one to Station ALOHA. Although I will not be deploying on your voyage of discovery, I will be following your progress from C-MORE Hale and look forward to meeting you at pier 35 upon your safe return.

Fun fact(s): I attended Woodstock, taught high school, stood at South Pole Station, participated in HOT-1 and HOT-300, and now have the pleasure of meeting all of you!


Sarah Lerch*

 Affiliation: University of Rhode Island

Position: Postdoctoral Scholar

Research description: I research diatoms, a group of single celled phytoplankton whose growth influences how different elements, like carbon and silicon, move through the ocean. I’m interested in how diatoms respond to changes in their environment and how this ultimately effects marine elemental cycling.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? I’ve never participated in a full scale research cruise before. I’m excited to work with researchers from diverse fields to learn how to oceanographic science is done at sea.

Fun fact: In my free time, I enjoy climbing rocks and spending time outside.


Ashley Maloney*

Affiliation: Princeton University

Position: Harry Hess Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Research description: I am interested in how microbes and their biomolecules respond to change. I use microbiology and stable isotope geochemistry in controlled laboratory studies to complement field observations along physical and metabolic gradients to develop tools that characterize microbial metabolism in modern and past environments.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? This research cruise is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with and learn from several stellar scientists and a great opportunity to study the oligotrophic ocean.

Fun fact: I love to swim.


Aric Mine*

Affiliation: California State University, Fresno, Earth and Environmental Sciences Department

Position: Assistant Professor

Research description: I’m broadly interested in nutrient cycles in aquatic systems and their link to earth’s past and present climates. I study the how microbes use and access nutrients and the biogeochemical implications of this interaction.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? I’m excited to work together with new collaborators and complete experiments at sea that lead to unique discoveries. I’m also excited to learn a lot, from techniques to cruise management and planning.

Fun fact: I enjoy cross-country mountain bike racing and cycling in general.


Eric Orenstein*

Affiliation: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Position: Postdoctoral Fellow

Research description: My work lives at the exciting intersection of biological oceanography, ocean engineering, and computer science. I spend a lot of time thinking about creative ways to observe the smallest denizens of the ocean and how to do meaningful work with the resulting data.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? Ermagawd! Field work is the best! I have not been out on a proper cruise in years and I am ready to get back out there. Moreover, I am eager to interact with all the talented scientists coming on the cruise. Spending time with people from diverse disciplines is always refreshing and enlightening.

Fun fact: Despite my work in computer science, I only joined the 21stcentury about 6 months ago…my flip phone from college finally died at the ripe old age of 9.


Paulina Pinedo*

Affiliation: Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Position: Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Research description: I am an oceanographer interested in the biogeochemical cycles of trace metals in the ocean. In particular, I’m interested in studying the links between trace metal distribution and primary productivity, which is crucial for understanding the global carbon cycle, including the factors that regulate atmospheric CO2.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? Conducting research at sea is a key aspect of oceanographic research. I’m particularly excited about this program because it offers an unparalleled opportunity to learn the skills required to effectively plan and lead a research cruise, skills that aren’t taught in standard classrooms.

Fun fact: When not on a research cruise or the lab, I enjoy spending time with my two fluffy cats and brewing beer.


Wei Qin*

Affiliation: University of Washington, School of Oceanography

Position: Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

Research description: My research interests revolve around the use of Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) approaches, mass spectrometry-based proteomics and metabolomics techniques, bioinformatics tools, and physiological methods to characterize marine microbial communities, uncover their functional importance in complex ecosystems, and decipher the molecular and metabolic mechanisms underpinning their adaptation and stress responses to anthropogenic perturbations and global climate change processes.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? The UNOLS Early Career Chief Scientist Training Cruise offers me an excellent opportunity to develop my abilities and confidence in identifying major scientific questions, preparing research proposals, planning and directing scientific cruises, and generating post-cruise reports. I am very excited and honored to join this training cruise to prepare myself to lead a future collaborative effort on chemical and molecular sample collection, as well as on board data analysis, as a competent chief scientist.

Fun fact: I love all things microbial, especially about Archaea, the root of life! My favorite food is noodles.


Matthew Rau*

Affiliation: The Pennsylvania State University, Mechanical Engineering

Position: Assistant Professor

Research description: I am interested in multiphase flows and how they related to transport, energy sustainability, and the environment. As part of this cruise, I will quantify the strength and breakup characteristics of organic marine aggregates in turbulence to explain the importance of particle disaggregation on transport in the ocean.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? I am very excited about this research cruise because I will learn about diverse research areas, new-to-me field sampling techniques, and what it takes to lead oceanographic field work using UNOLS vessels. I am also eager to work with and to get to know all of the other scientists aboard the cruise.

Fun fact: This will be my first time at sea!


Aspen Reese*

 Affiliation: Harvard University

Position: Junior Fellow

Research description: I am a microbial ecologist interested in how explicitly including the microbiome in our models changes the way we think about organismal biology. Much of my research is on how microbial metabolism alters host nutrient acquisition, or in the case of diel vertical migrators changes host nutrient loss at the heart of the biological pump.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? I have worked with specimens collected at sea before but have no personal experience with research cruises. I’m excited to learn everything about how it works from what all the acronyms mean to the methods for collecting and processing all kinds of samples to how many stars you can see while doing midnight tows.

Fun fact: I’m a big reader and am a little concerned about bringing enough novels to last the whole cruise!


Adam Subhas*

Affiliation: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry

Position: Assistant Scientist

Research description: I am interested in all of the organisms that grow calcium carbonate shells in the ocean. Shells deposited on the seafloor eventually form limestone rocks, and they play a crucial role in the buffering of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? This research cruise is a great opportunity to meet my peers in the field, many of which will become colleagues over the course of my career.   I am excited to collect some great data sets during the cruise, to learn about how to run a successful research mission, and also to generate lasting scientific collaborations.

Fun fact: I play drums in a rock band.


Angelicque White***

Affiliation: University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa

Position: Associate Professor

Research description: As a microbial ecologist, my research has focused on the role of microbes in defining the function of ocean ecosystems and how this function may change in response to environmental pressures. I use a range of tools spanning bio-optics, imaging flow cytometry, and classical measures of elemental stocks and rates to understand the linkages between microbial diversity and production.

Why am I excited about this research cruise? As the saying goes: science is a team sport! I am excited to see this team of enthusiastic and bright young scientists learn more about the oligotrophic ocean, learn how to plan and work together and collectively expand their research horizons.

Fun fact: I played basketball in college and was an English major before choosing science.