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NOAA Corps

BOTC 114

BOTC 114 class members in their ODUs

Members of NOAA Corps Basic Officer Training Class 114 at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York.

August 27, 2009

Ensign Carmen Alex

ENS Alex grew up in Austria and Germany where she was introduced to the ocean world during family vacations. While earning her BS in Geophysics from UC Santa Barbara and her MS in Earth Science from UC Santa Cruz, ENS Alex’s interest in all things ocean increased further and she was able to join several research cruises to Antarctica, Samoa and Japan. After spending several summers at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico ENS Alex ventured into IT and database development. Most recently, ENS Alex worked at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, FL, in the Physical Oceanography Division performing statistical time series analyses and other data related tasks. She indulged her love of teaching as adjunct faculty at Miami-Dade College where she taught Earth and Physical Science classes. Aside from her professional life ENS Alex has enjoyed volunteering at the Scripps Aquarium in San Diego and at the Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz where she worked as a docent, as well as at Shake-a-Leg Miami where she was able to introduce handicapped teenagers and others to the joys of sailing. In her spare time ENS Alex likes to travel, hike, snowboard, scuba dive, kayak, snorkel, catamaran sail and anything else that involves water. ENS Alex is excited about applying her experience to her new career and becoming a productive and valuable NOAA Corps officer.

Ensign Bryan Begun

Bryan Begun grew up in Northern California near San Francisco. He attended the University of California, Davis and majored in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology with a specialization in Marine Biology. During college Bryan studied overseas for three semesters at the graduate department of Marine Science, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. During this time Bryan was an officer of the Otago University Dive Club and worked his way from Open Water Diver to a PADI certified scuba instructor. Bryan also got his first taste of shipboard life and worked as a deckhand for Blue Ocean Charters Ltd., a family owned charter fishing boat company. After graduation from UC Davis, Bryan went to work for Blackbeard’s Cruises in the Bahamas, first as a dive instructor and then as ship’s engineer. More recently, Bryan has worked for a variety of residential building contractors and concurrently began a small construction business serving clients in Santa Cruz, California. Before joining the NOAA Corps Bryan was helping his Dad with a sustained effort to get a small business off the ground; a business which handled and composted green waste. Bryan’s interests range wide; on any given day off work he might be found climbing alpine routes in the Sierra Nevada mountains, negotiating the price of a motorbike rental in Vietnam, or sitting in front of a computer trying to learn how to build websites. In any case he loves a good adventure and is usually quick with a joke. Acceptance to the NOAA Corps was a huge honor for Bryan and he is excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.

Ensign Jasmine Cousins

ENS Cousins, born in Arizona and raised in Chicago, joins NOAA from Norfolk Virginia. She grew up loving the outdoors and admiring the power and beauty of the ocean. ENS Cousins attended Hampton University and received her BS in Biological Science (Summa Cum-laude). Upon graduation she participated in MAST as a scientist and crew of a 53 foot sailboat. Her research projects included a study of the Chesapeake Bay’s water quality with emphasis on bottom water oxygen depletion and determining the presence of Vibrio cholera. She attended Graduate School at Old Dominion University’s Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Science. As a member of the Bio-Optical Research Group (BORG) her research focused on quantifying water column components from measured optical properties. Her immediate responsibilities included measurements of seagrass abundance and productivity, and modeling of light attenuation within the canopy. SCUBA and scientific dive certifications have allowed her to work with the assessment and comparison of the Bermuda coral reef ecosystem. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her wonderful son and husband. ENS Cousins has a great interest in NOAA’s hydrographic surveying and the necessity for safe waterways, however is enthused by the numerous opportunities available in the Corps. She looks forward to the opportunity to learn and lead within the NOAA Corps.

Ensign Albert Davison

ENS Davison joins the NOAA Corps via the Washington, D.C. area. Born in Brasilia, Brazil and having lived in Peru and Bolivia prior to settling in the United States, he has always enjoyed traveling and already feels at home with the NOAA Corps. ENS Davison graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2000 with a B.S. in Astronomy. He began his career working for NASA as a science and education support specialist; he studied the predictability of radio emissions from Jupiter and developed the Radio JOVE project, an educational outreach program focusing on these radio emissions. He then worked for a private consulting firm as a lead data quality analyst for programmatic and financial data within the Global Health Bureau of USAID. Playing and watching soccer are some of his favorite pastimes as well as visiting new and exciting places. ENS Davison is grateful to take part in an organization such as the NOAA Corps and is excited about the variety of opportunities it brings.

Ensign Alice Drury

ENS Drury grew up near Seattle and recently graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Environmental Studies. During her time at UW, ENS Drury worked extensively on solid waste issues with the Washington State Department of Ecology and the US EPA Region 10. She worked on statewide projects designed to increase recycling in public areas and on the launch of the EPA’s Federal Green Challenge, of which NOAA is a part. ENS Drury also enjoyed her survey work while in school. She conducted surveys in forest stands along the Pacific Coast for UW’s forestry program and was a litter survey specialist for the Washington State Department of Ecology. As a litter survey specialist she helped conduct surveys that determined the sources of roadside litter, which enabled the department to effectively target the major litter contributors. She has found working with solid waste diversion a rewarding experience because of the tangible impact it makes. For similar reasons, ENS Drury was immediately attracted to the NOAA Corps mission; she is enthused to be working hands on with scientific projects that contribute to informed policy-making decisions. ENS Drury is ready for the NOAA Corps’ adventure and commitment to science.

Ensign Matthew Forrest

ENS Forrest was born in The Bronx, New York into a seagoing family, and grew up in New Rochelle, NY, where he had his first experience on the water on Long Island Sound. After moving to Virginia at age 11, he furthered his experience on the water on Norfolk’s Elizabeth River and the Intracoastal Waterway aboard a Catalina 30 sailboat. After graduating from Princess Anne High School in 2001, ENS Forrest continued his education at Old Dominion University, where he earned a Bachelors of Arts in History, with a minor in Geography. He also earned a certificate in Geographic Information Science at the same school, which led him to jobs in GPS mapping and land surveying. It was during his land surveying job that ENS Forrest was called to work aboard NOAA Ship Rude as an Assistant Hydrographic Survey Technician. Having waited for this position, he accepted the offer and began work on October 1, 2007. Following the ship’s decommissioning in March 2008, ENS Forrest moved to NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, where he honed his hydrographic skills, eventually becoming a small boat crew member and hydrographer in charge, as well as earning promotion to Hydrographic Survey Technician. Aboard both Rude and Thomas Jefferson, ENS Forrest had the opportunity to work with a number of truly great officers, who greatly influenced his decision to apply for the NOAA Corps. Having always had a desire to serve his country in the military, he saw this as an opportunity to put his skills to use in a greater way. ENS Forrest looks forward to returning to the sea aboard any NOAA ship. In his free time, ENS Forrest enjoys target shooting, reading, driving his Cadillac Brougham, visiting historical sites, movies, music and studying history and philosophy.

Ensign Laura Gibson

ENS Gibson earned a BS in Marine Science from Coastal Carolina University in 2000. While in her junior year she began employment with the university’s Center for Marine and Wetland Studies where she had the opportunity to see her scientific work applied to Myrtle Beach renourishment projects as well as being given the opportunity to cruise as a scientist aboard different research vessels including NOAA ship Ferrel and EPA vessel Peter W. Anderson. ENS Gibson was offered a crew position aboard the Anderson as the ship’s Science Technician and subsequently began employment as a contracted sailor, cruising the eastern seaboard, gulf coast and Caribbean. She worked at Old Dominion University for several years as a R/V Mate aboard their 55 ft vessel, Fay Slover. In 2004 she acquired her 100 Ton Near Coastal Master License. ENS Gibson became more intrigued by NOAA upon regularly seeing the vessels and port operations; the Slover is berthed at Marine Operations Center, Atlantic. She enjoys spending time with her wonderful husband and son. ENS Gibson is ready for the challenge and excitement of sailing more blue water with the NOAA Corps.

Ensign Denise Gruccio

Denise Gruccio received a BS in Biology from Virginia Tech. After graduation, she served in the NOAA Corps for 11 years. Her first sea assignment was on the NOAA Ship Ferrell and she later served as Operations Officer on the NOAA Ship Albatross IV. While ashore, Denise held billets as College Relations Coordinator, Fisheries Management Specialist, NMFS Lab Staff Scientist, and Oil Spill Contingency Planner. She resigned her commission to start a family in 1999.
More recently, Denise was a Middle School Science and Math teacher at Virginia Beach Friends School. During this time, she used the experiences, skills and connections she gained with NOAA to create a unique classroom experience. Denise’s students became stewards of the Lynnhaven River watershed as she engaged them in such activities as water quality sampling, oyster culturing, using rain barrels, and gardening with native plants. Her husband recently retired and is now able to take over running the household as well as running after their two children. Denise is excited to accelerate her career by returning to her passion of serving as a NOAA Corps Officer.

Ensign Leigh Hedgepeth

Leigh Hedgepeth grew up in Norfolk, Virginia on the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River. After developing an interest in the environment at an early age, she received a dual degree in Environmental Policy and Planning and Applied Geography with a certification in Geographic Information Systems from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. While at UNCW, ENS Hedgepeth was a brother of the Phi Sigma Pi National Honors Fraternity, a member of the UNCW Pep Band and served as the treasurer and vice president of the UNCW Model United Nations Association. During college she interned with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Eastern Virginia Regulatory Branch in Norfolk. Upon graduation she worked for the New Hanover County Planning Department in North Carolina as a GIS intern. Some of her favorite activities include horseback riding, rowing, whitewater rafting, ice hockey, kayaking, sailing, volleyball and playing with her chocolate lab, Frisco. ENS Hedgepeth is excited to fulfill her goal of helping to “save the world” as part of the NOAA Corps.

Ensign Van Helker

ENS Van Helker is from Seattle, Washington and graduated from the University of Washington in 2008 with a BS in Biology. While attending college, Helker performed animal surgeries for the UW Department of Anesthesiology, examined crowded oral-nasal pathways for the UW Department of Otolaryngology, and performed subtidal research on algal-drift and sea urchins for Friday Harbor Marine Labs. During summers, Helker supervised litter crews for the Ecology Youth Corps, removing 70 tons of trash and recycling from Seattle interstates. He hopes manuevering a large EYC van is analagous to piloting a research vessel. Prior to arriving at BOTC 114, Helker was an onboard observer for the Alaska crab fishery and thoroughly enjoyed his time on the Bering Sea. Helker’s leisure activities include diving, hiking, gold-prospecting and of course, spending time on the water. ENS Helker is looking forward to years of service with NOAA.

Ensign Kyle Jellison

ENS Jellison grew-up on the inland waters of mid-coast Maine and earned his B.A. in mathematics from Boston University in 2005. His summer employment aboard tour boats fostered his love for the sea and earned him enough sea time to obtain a USCG license in 2003. He currently holds a Master 200gt Near Coastal license. After college, he sailed in the US Virgin Islands, made several deliveries along the east coast and Caribbean, and worked on tugboats, tour boats and a research vessel. He has also written and taught USCG approved courses, prepared small passenger vessels for USCG inspection and given onboard training to new boat owners. ENS Jellison is looking forward to challenging sea going and shore side duties that develop him as a mariner and a leader.
Ensign Alexander Johnston

ENS Johnston joins the NOAA Corps from Kaneohe, Hawaii. He has lived all across the U.S., but calls Northern California home. After graduating from Oberlin College with degrees in Physics and Jazz Drums, he moved to China for several years, where he worked as an English teacher and economics researcher. Upon returning home, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving in California, Afghanistan, and Hawaii. A sampling of ENS Johnston’s interests include: running, swimming, reading, sudoku, Chinese, Korean, experimental music, investing, travel, efficient public transportation, and Hong Kong iced milk tea. ENS Johnston is thrilled to embark on a career of science, service, and adventure with the NOAA Corps.

Ensign Lyndsey Keen

ENS Lyndsey Keen was born in Merced, CA, but she moved various places throughout the U.S. due to her father being an officer in the Air Force, and is most recently from Niceville, FL. She has loved the water and been intrigued by the ocean since a young age. In August 2007, ENS Keen graduated from the University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL, with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. While at UWF, she was the vice president and site leader of Alternative Spring Break, a student-led volunteer organization. She was also an active member of the SCUBA club, Marine Ecology Research Society, and University Honors Program. ENS Keen traveled to Sulawesi, Indonesia, in 2006 to complete the research for her honor’s thesis entitled Effects of Structure on Upper Thermal Limits of Indo-Pacific Damselfish (Dascyllus aruanus, Dascyllus reticulatus, and Abudefduf sordidus). After graduating from college, ENS Keen completed an internship at Richmond National Battlefield Park as a biotechnician intern. Then she was an educator/deckhand on the schooner SoundWaters in Stamford, CT, and taught hands-on environmental education and ecology of Long Island Sound. Her favorite part of every sail was hauling up the trawl net and recording all the species found. ENS Keen’s hobbies and interests include SCUBA diving (PADI Rescue Diver and Nitrox certified), swimming, running, hiking, outdoor activities, and traveling. ENS Keen is excited for the opportunity to serve her country and get involved in science and marine research/exploration through NOAA. She hopes to work aboard a fisheries vessel and is interested in attending NOAA dive school.

Ensign Steven Loy

ENS Loy grew up along the Neuse River in Oriental, North Carolina, where he was exposed to and gained appreciation of recreational boating, commercial fishing, and marine safety operations. In 2002 he left the coast to attend the North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics in Durham. In 2008 he earned a BS in Environmental Science with a minor in Physical Geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here he found much academic enjoyment in all things geospatial, environmental, data intensive, and technical. He also served as a four year varsity letter athlete on the UNC Men's Fencing Team. After college he worked for his alma mater as a GIS Technician, working primarily with storm water systems and other various utilities. ENS Loy is extremely excited about his new career with the NOAA Corps and the bounty of opportunities it presents to better himself and our world. At the time of writing he hopes to serve on one of NOAA's hydrographic vessels for his first sea tour.

Ensign Michael Marino

Originally from Long Island, NY, ENS Marino was exposed to recreational boating early in life. While earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University, he was an active member on the university sailing team where he learned the art of racing and developed a love for sailing on Vanguard 420’s, Hobie Catamarans, and J24 sailboats. In addition, he discovered a great passion for SCUBA diving. Upon graduation in 2005, he was employed as a boiler engineer for an electric power company and later as a civilian engineer for the Marine Corps’s CH-46 helicopter at Air Station Cherry Point, NC. During his time on the North Carolina coast, he logged over 300 dives in the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” SCUBA diving became such a passion for ENS Marino that he desired to improve his skills by obtaining GUE (Global Underwater Explorers) diver certification, which developed his dive technique to meet the higher standards required for technical diving. On a quest for a more adventurous lifestyle on the waves and making a career out of his hobbies, ENS Marino found the NOAA Corps. He plans to support NOAA’s mission by becoming a proficient officer and hopes to join the future ranks of NOAA divers.

Ensign Matthew O’Leary

ENS O’Leary grew up in Stony Brook on Long Island and attended nearby Webb Institute, where he graduated in 2007 with Bachelor of Science degrees in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. While attending college he spent his summers and winters working a variety of jobs in the maritime industry. These jobs included internships at a design firm, a shipyard, and aboard a product carrier. After graduating, ENS O’Leary moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where he worked as a project coordinator at Atlantic Marine, a shipyard catering to both private and Navy vessels. His hobbies include running, reading, and skydiving. ENS O’Leary is looking forward to the adventure and challenge associated with working aboard a NOAA vessel.

Ensign Reni Rydlewicz

ENS Rydlewicz was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin and was raised with the benefits of city lights and country farmlands. Since earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ecology Field Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she has pursued and participated in a variety of field research within terrestrial and aquatic environments ranging from migratory birds,deer,and plants to octopus and fish. It was on the water and dealing with fish that she found her main interest. She began working in Alaska in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, and made her way to the East Coast sailing out of ports from Massachusetts to North Carolina. She has spent over 300 days out at sea as a biologist aboard vessels dealing in the commercial and sport fishing industries for stock management. There she conducted data collection and held supervisory positions through the state(DNR) and federal government programs(contractors for NMFS). Most recently, she has resided on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where she belongs to the American Legion Post 56-Auxiliary. In her free time, ENS Rydlewicz enjoys swimming, fishing,kayaking,hiking, Native American culture,and good music. She thrives in environments with variable duties, schedules, opportunities, and enjoys travel. Consequently ENS Rydlewicz found NOAA CORPS, and its mission,a perfect fit and looks forward to her career as a Commissioned Officer.

Ensign Sara Slaughter

ENS Sara Slaughter was born in Columbia, Missouri and acquired a passion for the ocean through many trips to the coast during her youth. ENS Slaughter graduated with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Geology from the University of Missouri in Columbia. She dove the Great Barrier Reef while studying abroad in college and is an Advanced Open Water diver. Following her graduation, she became a certified Shellfish Observer and worked aboard crab fishing vessels in the Bering Sea for three years. ENS Slaughter complimented this experience by becoming a research technician at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. She sailed on several small boat trips to Chiswell Island, where she collected and analyzed biological and observational data on the Steller Sea Lion Rookery. ENS Slaughter became aware of the NOAA Corps while in Seward and looks forward to a career that combines her love of the ocean, boat handling, and the advancement of scientific research.

Lieutenant Kent Stein

LT Stein was born in Lafayette, Indiana and spent his childhood in Monticello, Indiana with no more nautical experience than summers spent on the beaches of Lake Michigan. After graduating from the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT with a bachelor’s degree in Marine and Environmental Science he spent his Ensign tour as a deck watch officer on board the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter HOLLYHOCK in Port Huron, MI working aids to navigation and conducting ice breaking operations on the Great Lakes. He spent his second tour in Washington, D.C. as an Indications and Warnings officer at Coast Guard Headquarters. Outside of work, LT Stein enjoys piano music, sailing, and SCUBA Diving. He looks forward to a variety of challenging assignments in the NOAA corps allowing him to combine his nautical career with his favorite hobbies.

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