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NOAA Corps

BOTC 115

BOTC 115 class members in their service dress blues

Members of NOAA Basic Officer Training Class 115 at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. Back row (left to right): Adam Pfundt, Brian Kennedy, Tanner Sims, David Vejar, Joseph Carrier, Michael Silagi, Jason Wilson, Anthony Imberi. Front row (left to right): Alise Parrish, Kelly Schill, Zachary Cress, Brett Floyd, Amber Payne, Tamera Reul, Brandy Geiger, Linh Nguyen.

December 18, 2009

Ensign Joseph Carrier

ENS Carrier grew up in Northern Colorado and joined the Navy after high school to earn money for college. Since childhood, Joe liked to take things apart and see how they work. Because of this, the Navy sent him through electronics school in Pensacola, FL and then Virginia Beach to learn how to fix avionics such as radio, radar and air navigation computers. He spent the remainder of his time in the Navy, stationed in Sicily, Italy which was the perfect launch pad for backpacking, snowboarding and riding motorcycles throughout Europe. After four years in the Navy, he moved from Italy to southeastern North Carolina to study biology in undergrad and marine science in graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. During college, Joe and his wife, Hillary, were fortunate enough to live and travel aboard a sailboat between Florida and Virginia. After school they moved to Virginia where he taught biology, oceanography, and earth science at Tidewater Community College. When Hillary separated from the Navy, they moved back to North Carolina so that they could be near family in anticipation of their first son, Jack. Joe enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, surfing, sailing, and bird hunting with his yellow lab, Finn. This summer, he had the opportunity to work with NOAA at the Atlantic Hydrographic Branch in Norfolk, VA before going to BOTC. Here he made “H-cells” and developed an interest in the technical aspects and complexities of data collection and compilation. Although it was his first exposure to hydrography, he enjoyed it greatly and hopes to continue his career with NOAA aboard a survey vessel.

Ensign Zachary Cress

ENS Cress grew up in Duncanville, Texas, just outside of Dallas. He earned a BA in biology with a minor in Spanish from Texas A&M University in 2005. During his undergraduate time, he studied mating preferences of pipefish in Sweden. After college, he spent some time working in molecular genetics at the Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. He then returned to Texas to earn an MS in zoology from Texas A&M, where he studied mating preferences of northern swordtail fishes in the beautiful mountain rivers and streams in the state of Hidalgo in central Mexico. While finishing his master’s thesis, he tutored math and science classes at Manor High School, outside of Austin. Before BOTC, ENS Cress had the opportunity to sail aboard the NOAA ships Oscar Dyson and Miller Freeman on fish surveys in Alaska and Washington, as well as a NOAA-chartered fishing vessel in Alaska. In his free time, ENS Cress enjoys traveling, cooking, brewing nationally award-winning beer with his friends, and watching Texas Aggie football. ENS Cress hopes to serve NOAA aboard fisheries vessels.

Ensign Brett Floyd

Brett is originally from Sheblyville, Tennessee, which is located approximately 50 miles south of Nashville. He received his undergraduate degree from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina majoring in geology and minoring in marine biology. While at the College of Charleston, during November 2003, Brett had the opportunity to spend five days aboard the R/V Savannah as part of an oceanographic research class. Onboard the R/V Savannah he participated in the collection of numerous types of samples which were preserved for later use in scientific research projects. Brett’s independent research project for this class involved analyzing phosphorous concentrations within the water column across the continental shelf. During the summer of 2004, Brett also participated in an REU internship through the NSF at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and the Great Lakes WATER Institute. This required numerous trips on Lake Michigan to collect samples for both water quality and biological studies. His research during this internship included determining phosphorous and nitrate concentrations within both the water column and within the Cladophora species of algae. After graduating from the College of Charleston in 2005 Brett worked for Tetra Tech EMI, which is an environmental consulting firm. While working for Tetra Tech, Brett completed numerous Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA’s), participated in emergency responses for EPA, and conducted groundwater and soil sampling at various locations. In the fall of 2007 Brett began working on a graduate degree in geology at the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His thesis research involved examining human impacts to surface water nutrient levels in Lake Wedington. This research involved numerous sampling events conducted at the lake and analyzing the samples for water quality parameters including surface water temperature, pH, ammonia concentration, and nitrite concentrations. Brett has also been a certified SCUBA diver for fourteen years and has had the opportunity to dive in Charleston, SC, Kingsport, Jamaica, and on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Ensign Brandy Geiger

ENS Brandy Geiger is originally from the Chicago suburbs but spent the last several years living, working, and going to school right outside Washington, D.C. She recently completed her graduate studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia where she earned a Masters of Science in geographic and cartographic sciences as well as a graduate certificate in environmental management. While a student at George Mason, ENS Geiger spent a season working as a research assistant on the university’s long-term Gunston Cove Ecological Study, designed to monitor the tidal freshwater Potomac River; this involved conducting aquatic field work and water quality sampling aboard the University research vessel. ENS Geiger has also utilized her knowledge of GIS analysis while working in the private sector. Her professional background includes working on FEMA's digital map modernization projects as well as utilizing GIS products for Acoustics research & Sound Contour Analysis in civilian and military aviation noise studies. Before joining the NOAA Corps she spent the summer working as a GIS technician for the National Park Service in Maryland. She assisted with park specific maps, GIS data organization, fish inventories, and she obtained GPS data for several park upgrade projects. In her free time ENS Geiger enjoys cycling, rock climbing, scuba diving, and traveling. She is enthusiastically looking forward to her first sea assignment with the NOAA Corps and hopes to be selected to work on one of the hydrographic vessels.

Ensign Anthony Imberi

ENS Anthony J. M. Imberi grew up in Minneapolis, Minn. and later in the small town of Sandstone, Minn. Following his life-long love for the sciences, he took the opportunity to attend High Point University in High Point, N.C. on a full-tuition scholarship. He graduated in the spring of 2008, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry with minor in mathematics and physics. As an undergraduate, ENS Imberi spent a summer at the University of Kentucky studying spectroscopy in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program funded by the National Science Foundation. Finding this area of study fascinating, ENS Imberi decided to continue in postgraduate study on the topic. He chose to pursue a doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Virginia, specializing in spectroscopy. After a year at UVA, ENS Imberi realized that he was lacking passion in his studies, and aspired to broaden his horizons through a more exciting career path. He found that the NOAA Corps had much to offer and was just what he was looking for; it allowed him to pursue adventure and learn a host of new skills, all while making use of his degree. ENS Imberi is looking forward to this new adventure and all of the new places and things and he will encounter along the way.

Ensign Brian Kennedy

ENS Brian Kennedy grew up in Athens, Georgia. From there he moved to Charleston, South Carolina where he attended the College of Charleston and received his B.S. in marine biology with a minor in marine geology. ENS Kennedy can remember the day he fell in love with marine science; when he was 7 years old he saw his first manatee on a family vacation. Ever since then marine science has been a passion. During college he had the opportunity to sail on the NOAA ships Nancy Foster and Ronald H. Brown as a member of the scientific parties. During these cruises he decided that the NOAA Corps offered an opportunity to blend two interests—his love for marine science and his desire to work in an operational setting. ENS Kennedy was very active with the College of Charleston Emergency Medical Service where he worked as a volunteer EMT all four years he was at CofC. During his time there he advanced through the ranks and had the pleasure of serving as the director of the unit his senior year. During his spare time ENS Kennedy enjoys doing just about anything outside including SCUBA diving, flying, kayaking and practicing photography. He is honored to be a part this organization and is looking forward to all the new experiences that await him.

Ensign Linh Nguyen

ENS Nguyen grew up outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her interests in the natural sciences lead her to attain a B.S. at Temple University in environmental science with a biology minor. She then interned with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach, VA. Enthusiastic about working in the environmental field, she then became a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer working in the Community Conservation of Important Biodiversity Areas group. After surviving the wilds of the Philippine jungles and islands, she traveled around Southeast Asia and Australia for a few months. Her time serving in the Philippines and hopping around the Pacific has increased her interest in the marine sciences. She then earned a M.S. degree in oceanography, with a concentration in coastal zone management as a Skelly Fellow at Florida Institute of Technology. She worked on portions of the Comprehensive Maritime Management Master Plan for Brevard County, FL. Also, she had a great time working as a GIS intern with awesome coworkers at the City of Vero Beach in Florida. She also taught GIS labs at FL Tech. She was fortunate to work with Dr. Maul assisting in teaching physical oceanography and planning research cruises. Fun for her involves scuba diving, traveling, and some sports, being with friends and family, and trying new and thrilling activities. ENS Nguyen is grateful for her chance to work with dedicated and talented individuals in applying the sciences towards solutions for society’s challenges.

Ensign Alise Parrish

ENS Alise Parrish graduated from Hampton University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in marine and environmental science and an English minor. During her time at Hampton Parrish studied the Chesapeake Bay zooplankton community and monitored local water quality. This included a two-month sailing trip with the MAST program along the Chesapeake Bay tracking the bay’s seasonal hypoxic zone. In addition, ENS Parrish spent three months in Tanzania researching the effects of deforestation on local water quality. Outside of academics, Parrish devoted much of her free time to volunteering in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Upon graduating, ENS Parrish spent three months studying Literature at UCLA, followed by a year-long term as a full time Americorps volunteer with the non-profit City Year Philadelphia. ENS Parrish desires to bring her passions for travel, service, science (and reading, when not on watch or performing collateral duties) to the NOAA corps all while learning invaluable skills and meeting and learning from many diverse people.

Ensign Amber Payne

ENS Amber Payne grew up in Fenton, Michigan while spending summers on the lakes near Mackinaw. Early on ENS Payne developed a strong love for boats, the ocean and creatures in it which led her to Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. She graduated with a BS in marine science, focusing in biology. ENS Payne was also a Boat Captain on the Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team (EC-SAR). EC-SAR is a non-profit, volunteer maritime search and rescue team responding to the needs of Tampa Bay boaters. During the four years serving EC-SAR, ENS Payne was involved in tactical rescues ranging from disabled vessels to vessels taking on water, on fire, overturned or even a boat explosion. Gaining small boat experience ENS Payne looked for the perfect blend of interests with boats and the environment and found the NOAA Corps. She is very excited for the next adventure that being an officer aboard a NOAA vessel will bring.

Ensign Adam Pfundt

ENS Adam C. Pfundt comes to the NOAA Corps from Bellingham, Washington. At the age of 11 he began spending summers in Southeast Alaska aboard his father’s purse seiner, the F/V New Sunrise. This developed a love for working on the water and an interest in the fishing industry. As he grew older ENS Pfundt’s commercial fishing experiences expanded to Puget Sound, Bristol Bay, and the Great Salt Lake. After earning a BS in Fisheries from the University of Washington, ENS Pfundt sailed to the South Pacific as an Ordinary Seaman aboard the R/V Davidson. Upon returning to the Pacific Northwest, ENS Pfundt worked for 10 years as a Fisheries Biologist for the Lummi Indian Tribe. ENS Pfundt looks forward to continuing work in and around the marine environment. He feels honored for the opportunity to pursue fulfilling work, while at the same time finding adventure and serving his country.

Ensign Tamera Reul

ENS Reul was born and raised in Arvada, Colorado. Driven by a desire to serve, she attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in marine operations and technology. At the end of her senior year, she took the USCG licensing exams and earned her Third Mate’s Unlimited License and QMED (Qualified Member of the Engine Department). During her training at the academy, she spent a year aboard commercial vessels which visited ports in California, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and China. She was also extremely involved in the waterfront during her time at the academy where she gained both a love for the water and experience in operating small power boats and sailing vessels. As a midshipman at the academy she learned the value of sound leadership and teamwork through her experiences as the Regimental Waterfront Training Officer and as the coach/founder of the Competitive Rifle Team. Although she enjoyed the maritime aspect of the academy, she always felt like she had missed out on being more involved with her true passion of biology and environmental sciences. Having joined the NOAA Corps, ENS Reul now looks forward to using her knowledge of ship operations while being involved with the scientific community and serving her country as well.

Ensign Kelly Schill

ENS Schill grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she was exposed to the images of the sea and its inhabitants as early as grade school. Kelly’s interest in the marine and terrestrial habitats grew as she studied environmental science and chemistry with an emphasis in marine science at Christopher Newport University in Eastern Virginia. ENS Schill was involved in a number of research projects involving echo sounding of marine mammals and the radio telemetry of Big-Eared bats. She also studied various fish species using gill nets, poles, trawling, and electro-shocking. Other aspects of her research enabled her to get involved with treating rescued wildlife and returning them to their natural habitats. Over the last year, ENS Schill served as an Earth Resources Technologies (ERT) Contract Physical Scientist at the NOAA Atlantic Hydrographic Branch in Norfolk, VA. She updated nautical charts and helped to identify navigational hazards by making them readily available. Kelly’s sea clock started before she joined the NOAA Corps as one of the hydrographic contractors rotating onboard the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, where she assisted in the acquisition and processing of side scan sonar and multibeam data. The experiences Kelly gained while underway advanced her understanding of life at sea and she enjoyed it immensely; so much that she wanted to make a career of it. ENS Schill is honored to be a part of a prestigious research team and to serve others as a NOAA Corps officer. She hopes to serve on a fisheries or oceanographic research vessel.

Ensign Michael Silagi

ENS Michael Sandor Silagi was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Upon graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, Ensign Silagi attended the University of Kansas where he studied East Asian Languages and Culture. During this time, he also studied abroad at Zheng Zhou University, He Nan Province, Peoples Republic of China for one year. Upon completion of his Bachelor of Arts at KU, Ensign Silagi enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as an aircrewman while stationed in Japan. After completing his tour, he returned to the US and completed a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management at the University of Oklahoma. Before joining the NOAA Corps, Ensign Silagi worked as a supervisor for Raytheon at the FAAs’ Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Ensign Silagi is enthusiastic about the great training and exciting job assignments that NOAA Corps has to offer. He looks forward to contributing his skills and abilities to the needs of NOAA Corps missions, and working with the high caliber people of NOAA. “After BOTC, any assignment I receive will be a valuable learning experience, both professionally and personally. Moreover, I’m confident that wherever the needs of NOAA Corps may take me, I’ll be surrounded by intelligent, competent professionals.”

Ensign Tanner Sims

Tanner Sims grew up on a farm in Kismet, Kansas and later, during his high school years, moved to Oklahoma. He attended Oklahoma State University where he was a triple major, studying aerospace and mechanical engineering, and applied physics. He then completed a Masters of Science in aerospace engineering at California Polytechnic in San Luis Obispo. During his studies, Ensign Sims participated in a flight simulation research group, and specialized in flight dynamics and automatic control systems. He was able to work in both the private and public sectors on various aerospace projects, including the Boeing 787, while in school. Ensign Sims is an instrument rated commercial pilot, and has been a volunteer pilot for the Civil Air Patrol. He enjoys hiking, running, scuba diving and anything adventurous. Service to his country and the scientific aspect of NOAA’s mission motivated him to join the Corps. He feels honored to be a part of this service, and looks forward to all the opportunities at sea, on land and in the air. Ensign Sims is eager to serve wherever NOAA sends him and hopes to eventually become part of the aviation program.

Ensign David Vejar

Born and raised in San Diego, California, ENS Vejar began his maritime career in 2000 working as an industrial certified SCUBA diver in Mission Bay. His immediate responsibilities included recreational and commercial hull cleaning, small watercraft operation, search and salvage, and underwater utilization of power drills, hydraulic pressure washers and pneumatic brushing systems. Over the next eight years, ENS Vejar expanded his work into San Diego Bay, Coronado Cays and Chula Vista Harbor. At these locations, he performed specialty work such as mooring installation, propeller removal and installation, watercraft and accessory repair, zinc replacement, and diver supervising and training. Major projects included the Coronado Ferry Dock, San Diego Harbor Police, San Diego City Lifeguard Fire Rescue, the San Diego Naval Training Center, and the management of rental fleets for various local resorts and marinas. In 2008, ENS Vejar purchased a dive agency from a former employer and continued to dive professionally while gaining experience as an independent consultant and proprietor. ENS Vejar graduated with Spring First Honors in May 2009 from the University of San Diego with a B.A. in Marine Science: Earth Systems and a minor in environmental studies. His primary undergraduate research included working with NOAA’s Global Historical Climatology Network to analyze the long-term relationship between the North Atlantic Oscillation and regional temperatures in the North Atlantic. In 2007 and 2008, he participated in oceanographic research trips aboard the Research Vessel Robert Gordon Sproul, where he gained shipboard experience operating the winch, monitoring bridge operations, and deploying and recovering CTDs and multicorers. ENS Vejar is extremely grateful to be a part of the NOAA Corps mission. The opportunity to work hard, serve the United States and contribute to the scientific community brings great honor to his family. ENS Vejar enjoys lobster hunting, reading sci-fi novels, yoga, and bird-watching.

Ensign Jason Wilson

ENS Wilson is an Air Force brat. Born in Oxford, England, he grew up on military bases around the US and UK. His fascination with ships and the water began on the banks of the River Great Ouse and the beaches of the Norfolk Broads, and grew on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. He studied Electrical Engineering, Physics and Computer Science at Middle Georgia College, and graduated with a B.S. in Information Technology from Macon State College. While earning his degree, Jason worked for the US Coast Guard’s Performance Technology Centre, where he assisted in the development of web-based performance solutions. While at the Performance Technology Centre, ENS Wilson was a key player in the development of a portable e-learning solution designed to deliver training to the USCG’s deployed units at minimal cost. The project earned the Coast Guard’s Neils Thomsen Innovation Award in 2008. Outside of work, ENS Wilson is an active member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, where he serves as a Recreational Boating Safety Instructor, Small-Boat Crew-member, Flotilla Staff Officer, and as a Branch Chief in the USCGA National Public Affairs Staff. ENS Wilson spends his spare time pursuing his interests in graphic design, data visualization, technology, knot-work and the Watermen’s Museum boatbuilding program in Yorktown, VA. He is currently considering the pursuit of a Naval Architecture degree. Jason’s lovely wife Caitlin, rambunctious 2 year-old son, Noah, and “daughter”, Cora, a 3 year-old Black Lab currently live in Hayes, Virginia and are looking forward to the periodic change of scenery provided by the NOAA Corps lifestyle. ENS Wilson is honored to be a part of the NOAA Corps and looks forward to a long and productive career.

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