R/V Neil Armstrong
Center for Marine Robotics
Ocean Observatories Initiative
of international trade TRADE travels by ship
Simon Thorrold is an ocean ecologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He uses techniques that span isotope geochemistry, next generation DNA sequencing, and satellite tagging to study the ecology of a wide variety of ocean species. He recently discovered that blue sharks use warm water ocean tunnels, or eddies, to dive to the ocean twilight zone, where they forage in nutrient-rich waters hundreds of meters down. Born in New Zealand, Simon received his B.S. from the University of Auckland, and Ph.D. from James Cook University, North Queensland, Australia. With much of his work in the South Pacific and Caribbean, Simon has been on many cruises, logging 1,000 hours of scuba diving and 800 hours in tropical environs. He has been a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution since 2001.
Dr. Gregory Skomal is an accomplished marine biologist, underwater explorer, photographer, and author. He has been a fisheries scientist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries since 1987 and currently heads up the Massachusetts Shark Research Program. He is also adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology and an adjunct scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). He holds a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and a Ph.D. from Boston University. For more than 30 years, Greg has been actively involved in the study of life history, ecology, and physiology of sharks. His shark research has spanned the globe from the frigid waters of the Arctic Circle to coral reefs in the tropical Central Pacific. Much of his current research centers on the use of acoustic telemetry and satellite-based tagging technology to study the ecology and behavior of sharks. Greg has been an avid SCUBA diver and underwater photographer since 1978. He has written dozens of scientific research papers and has appeared in a number of film and television documentaries, including programs for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, and numerous television networks. His most recent book, The Shark Handbook, is a must buy for all shark enthusiasts. He is a Boston Sea Rover and a member of The Explorers Club; his home and laboratory are on the south coast of Massachusetts.
Robert Ballard, Ocean Explorer
Robert D. Ballard is Founder and President of the Ocean Exploration Trust; Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration and Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. He is an Explorer-At-Large at the National Geographic Society, Commissioner for the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and a Research Scholar at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He served in the U.S. Navy for more than 30 years and continues to work with the Office of Naval Research. A pioneer in the development of deep-sea submersibles and remotely operated vehicle systems, he has taken part in more than 155 deep-sea expeditions. In 1985, he discovered the RMS Titanic, and has succeeded in tracking down numerous other significant shipwrecks, including the German battleship Bismarck, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown, and John F. Kennedy’s boat, PT-109. He has also discovered hydrothermal vents and “black smokers” in the Galapagos Rift and East Pacific Rise in 1977 and 1979. The author of numerous books, scientific papers, and articles, he has been featured in several National Geographic television programs, including “Secrets of the Titanic” a five-part mini-series, “Alien Deep with Bob Ballard.” and, in 2019, “Expedition Amelia.” He was a special advisor to Steve Spielberg on the futuristic television show seaQuest DSV. His honors include 22 Honorary Doctorates, National Geographic’s highest award, the Hubbard Medal, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014.
Tim Shank, Deep-Sea Biologist
Timothy Shank is a deep-sea biologist, Associate Scientist in the Biology Department, and former Director of the Ocean Exploration Institute at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He is known for his research on the ecology and evolution of fauna in deep-ocean hydrothermal, seamount, canyon and deep trench systems. He has conducted more than 60 scientific expeditions in the Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Tim has completed more than 50 dives in the human operated submersible Alvin, and more than 100 dives with autonomous underwater and remotely-operated vehicles, including the first use of a hybrid ROV (Nereus) in the ocean’s deepest trenches. He is the author of the award-winning, best-selling book “Discovering the Deep.”
NASA Astronaut Sunita L. Williams
Sunita L. Williams (Suni) was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1998 and is a veteran of two space missions Expeditions 14/15 and 32/33. She is currently training for the first post-certification mission of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft – the second crewed flight for that vehicle – and her third long duration mission aboard the International Space Station. Williams and her crewmates are working closely with Boeing to develop their new spacecraft systems, which will provide roundtrip crew transportation services to the International Space Station and, along with SpaceX’s CrewDragon, return the ability to launch humans into space from United States soil.
Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser, WHOI Biologist
Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser is an Assistant Scientist in the Biology Department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Her research explores how the larvae of seafloor invertebrates such as anemones and sea stars disperse to isolated, island-like habitats, how larvae settle and colonize new sites, and how their communities change over time. Kirstin is currently Principal Investigator for an interdisciplinary project on shipwrecks in Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary, including the steamship Portland, often termed “New England’s Titanic.” This project uses cutting-edge technology to construct 3D photogrammetric models of the Portland and other wrecks for archaeological and biological research and resource management. Kirstin also has ongoing projects in the Arctic and on coral reefs in Palau. Her work frequently takes her underwater using remotely operated vehicles and SCUBA and carries her to the far corners of the world.