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NOAA Corps

BOTC 118

BOTC 118 class members in their service dress blues

Members of NOAA Corps Basic Officer Training Class (BOTC) 118 with NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco and NOAA Corps Director Rear Admiral Jonathan Bailey at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. BOTC 118 members inlcude Veronica J. Brieno Rankin, Kelsey E. Jeffers, Jared R. Halonen, Lucas D. Johnson, Kevin G. Doremus, Kasey M. Welch, Whitley J. Gilbert, Michael N. Hirsch, Daniel P. Langis, Chelsea D. Frate, Joshua D. Witmer, Aaron D. Colohan, David B. Keith, John R. Kidd, Junie H. Cassone, Ricardo Rodriguez Perez, Andrew R. Clos, Theresa A. Madsen, Refael W. Klein, and Aras J. Zygas.

November 18, 2011

Ensign Veronica J. Brieno Rankin

Prior to reporting to the NOAA Commissioned Corps for BOTC 118, Ensign Veronica J. Brieno Rankin served as Founder and President of GeoSeq® International, LLC. As the first American recipient of the prestigious Rio Tinto plc/ British Commonwealth/Chevening Tripartite Scholarship, ENS Brieno Rankin earned her Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Mineral Law and Policy from the Centre of Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP), University of Dundee, United Kingdom, graduating with Distinction in 2005. She is a 1999 graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, earning a B.S. in Earth Science, and was subsequently honored in 2006, receiving the "Outstanding Recent Alumnus" award. She completed over 3 years coursework and doctoral research toward her Ph.D. in Geology from Michigan Technological University. ENS Brieno Rankin served as an Invited Expert Reviewer to multiple reports released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Co-Laureate and as a U.S. Department of State-nominated Expert for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Roster of Experts on behalf of the U.S.. ENS Brieno Rankin was a 2009 Research Experience in Carbon Sequestration (RECS) alumnus and 2005 Visiting Acknowledged Research Leader to the CO2CRC and Land and Water Australia of the Australia Commonwealth Government. Her previous work included serving as consultant to New York State to advance carbon dioxide capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies and participating in the technical evaluation of the U.S. Department of Energy proposed application to store high-level radioactive waste in the Yucca Mountain region.

Ensign Junie H. Cassone

ENS Junie H. Cassone graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics with minors in Applied Meteorology, Aeronautical Studies, and Psychology. While attending Embry-Riddle, her passion was aviation, but she acquired an interest in meteorology as well. She received her Private Pilot Certificate in April of 2009. She not only has a passion for aviation, but has had an interest in marine science since she was very young. ENS Cassone also attended the Bridgeport Regional Vocational Aquaculture School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. There she built a 13ft wooden motorboat and had the opportunity to be a teachers assistant and deckhand aboard the research vessel Catherine Moore. ENS Cassone aspires to serve on a fisheries research vessel and eventually join the Corps' aviation program. She is passionate about the NOAA Corps and hopes to have an adventurous career.

Ensign Andrew R. Clos

Ensign Andrew R. Clos joined the NOAA Corps on July 10th, 2011. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Ensign Clos became accustomed to life on the water with his largest influence coming at the age of 13 when he spent three months exploring the Inside Passage by boat between Seattle, WA and Glacier Bay, AK with his father and grandfather. Ensign Clos again gravitated toward a sea-going life during college where he joined the sailing club and participated in many research cruises aboard R/V Thomas G. Thompson and R/V Clifford A. Barnes. ENS Clos completed his Bachelors of Science of Oceanography at the University of Washington in June of 2008. Upon graduation, Ensign Clos pursued a career with NOAA and discovered the field of Hydrography while working for three years at NOAA's Pacific Hydrographic Branch in Seattle, WA. Ensign Clos was fortunate to go to sea often, spending 31 weeks as a surveyor and scientist aboard NOAA Ships Fairweather, Rainier and Pisces. Additionally, Ensign Clos was able to complete over 300 hours of Hydrography-related training and dozens of survey acceptance reviews and cartographic compilations during this initial phase of his NOAA career. Ensign Clos is proud to serve his country and eager to work hard for NOAA.

Ensign Aaron Colohan

ENS Aaron Colohan is currently assigned to NOAA Corps BOTC 118 at Kings Point New York. ENS Colohan was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia and reported for duty with NOAA Corps on 10 July 2011. ENS Colohan served for six years in the US Navy as an AN/SQS-53A active SONAR Technician aboard the USS Vincennes CG-49. During his four years at sea he spent time in San Diego and three years in Yokosuka, Japan. ENS Colohan has spent the last ten years raising a family while working full time and going to school to earn his degrees. ENS Colohan graduated with his Bachelors of Science in Anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008 with a focus in Paleolithic archaeology and cultural anthropology. After earning his degree, ENS Colohan worked as a consultant to an archeological firm in the Richmond area. In June of 2011, ENS Colohan earned his Masters of Environmental Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University just prior to his entry into the NOAA Corps. ENS Colohan hopes to develop a career with NOAA that will combine his knowledge as a SONAR Technician, his archaeological background and his GIS experience into hydrologic exploration and surveying with the NOAA Corps.

Ensign Kevin G. Doremus

Ensign Kevin G. Doremus was born and raised in Chicago, IL and attended high school in Hopkinton, MA. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, biking, soccer, traveling, hiking, and exploring. During his summers, he worked for a local boating business that provides sailing and kayaking camps for kids, boat rentals, lessons, and boat sales. There, he was put in charge of opening a brand new sailing center on the busy Boston Harbor. Ensign Doremus attended the Florida Institute of Technology where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Management. Throughout college, he obtained his commercial multiengine license as well as an instrument rating. ENS Doremus was also the president of the sailing club for two years, and traveled the southeast region on the weekends as a skipper for the club racing team. During his junior year of college, he was offered an opportunity to work as an intern for the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center in Tampa, FL. There, he got to work with an amazing group of civilians and officers assisting them in the day to day operations during the hurricane season. Upon completion of the internship, ENS Doremus knew that the NOAA Corps was the perfect job for him, combing his love of flying, the ocean and science into a lifetime career. After graduating college, Ensign Doremus obtained his flight instructor-instrument rating, and did some flight training in a J-3 Cub. He started work as a Flight Planner for a large corporate jet company, while taking online graduate classes in Coastal Studies with Nova Southeastern University. Ensign Doremus is very excited to have the opportunity to train in the Twin Otter and fly wherever his skills are required. He hopes to one day fly with the Hurricane Hunters in the P-3 or G-IV aircraft.

Ensign Chelsea D. Frate

Ensign Chelsea D. Frate is from Shelton, Connecticut. Prior to joining NOAA Corps, Ensign Frate graduated from State University of New York Maritime College with a Bachelors of Science in Marine Environmental Science and minors in Marine Biology as well as Meteorology and Oceanography. While attending SUNY Maritime Ensign Frate obtained a U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited Tonnage Deck License. While at SUNY Maritime, Ensign Frate was a member of the Regiment of Cadets, completed three Summer Sea Terms aboard the TS Empire State VI, and was on the crew team, as well as the co-founder of the Bicycle club. Ensign Frate enjoys biking and has rode in the five-boro bike tour twice.

Ensign Whitley J Gilbert

Though she is a Maryland native ENS Gilbert received her B.S in Environmental Science from Iowa State University. During her time at Iowa State she was actively involved in the campus' sustainability initiative; helping to increase student participation in sustainability and assisting with the development of a much needed, campus wide, recycling program. ENS Gilbert participated in the Maryland Sea Grant's Research Experience for Undergraduates where she completed research on denitrification in a Chesapeake Bay tributary. ENS Gilbert hopes to be placed on a hydrographic vessel where she would have the opportunity to expand her nautical skills and assist with the mission of the vessel.

Ensign Jared R. Halonen

ENS Halonen was born and raised in Battle Creek, MI. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences and Oceanography in 2008. ENS Halonen continued his academic pursuits at the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment where he completed his Masters of Science in Oceanography in the spring of 2011. His research focused on the effects of historical morphological change on sediment accumulation in Newark Bay, New Jersey. During his undergraduate and graduate studies, ENS Halonen played club waterpolo for both universities. He is a NAUI Master Scuba Diver and is Nitrox certified. ENS Halonen hopes to fully integrate his oceanographic background and operational skills to have a successful career with the NOAA Corps.

Ensign Michael N. Hirsch

Ensign Michael N. Hirsch was born and raised in a small town just miles away from the West Point Military Academy in Hudson Valley, New York. Upon Graduating from high school with his private pilot license and Eagle Scout rank, Michael attended the Florida Institute of Technology. Just before being chosen as an Officer Candidate, Michael earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation Meteorology while working at the college affiliated flight school and acted as president of his aviation fraternity, Alpha Eta Rho. He graduated with not only a degree, but also his commercial multi-engine instrument pilot license, which he looks forward to using as a NOAA Corps Aviator. Michael first learned about the NOAA Corps from a professor during his sophomore year of college, and began to work towards his goal of becoming a NOAA Corps Officer. During the summer between his junior and senior years of college, Michael worked as an intern at the NOAA Flight Operations office at MacDill AFB. During his time spent there, he assisted in the day-to-day operations as well as special hands-on projects to help further advance the NOAA Corps flight program. Once accepted into the NOAA Corps, Michael was then designated as a Direct-to-Aviation Officer Candidate who trained with BOTC 118 in Kings Point, New York, and is currently working at the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center at MacDill AFB. Michael looks forward to flight training, along with the other assignments that will be issued to him while working at NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center. In his spare time, Michael enjoys exercising, playing sports, outdoor activities, advancing his knowledge of aviation and collecting rare coins and stamps.

Ensign Kelsey Jeffers

ENS Kelsey Jeffers joined BOTC 118 from Washington, D.C. where she was working as a laboratory technician for the Vitreous State Laboratory at Catholic University of America aiding in their research to support the safe immobilization of nuclear wastes. ENS Jeffers graduated from Sweet Briar College with a Bachelor's of Science in Environmental Science in 2007. A travel enthusiast, she spent her junior year studying abroad at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Following graduation, ENS Jeffers spent a year in the Florida Keys working as a science instructor at the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute where she taught marine science classes to visiting school groups and led snorkeling tours. It was there that she decided she wanted to pursue a career as a mariner and oceanographer. ENS Jeffers spent the next year as a crew member for the Potomac Riverboat Company in Alexandria, VA before she became the Assistant Aquatic Director and Swim Coach for the Madeira School H.S. in McLean, VA. In 2009, she spent two months as a field ecologist in New Zealand through the Global Volunteer Network's Nature Program. ENS Jeffers was a member of her college varsity swim team and has spent seven summers as the Pool Manager and private swim instructor at Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria, VA. Her other hobbies include running, reading, watching movies, and sailing her family's sunfish in Michigan Lake. ENS Jeffers is a PADI certified diver and hopes to serve aboard an ecosystem or fisheries research vessel. Marine and environmental conservation has been a focus in her life, and she is excited to be working for NOAA.

Ensign Lucas D. Johnson

Ensign Johnson hails from the state of Iowa. The grandson of another Iowa sailor, he graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management. While a midshipman at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, he sailed as part of a ship's crew to every continent of the world, serving on both cargo and military ships. Following graduation, ENS Johnson sailed as a third assistant engineer in the merchant marine and as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, obtaining an unlimited horsepower second assistant engineer's license. He then worked as a business chief for a Coast Guard industrial division before taking time to study theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Prior to joining NOAA, Mr. Johnson served as a substance abuse counselor in his home state. His interest in NOAA was sparked largely by reflection upon his time aboard the USCGC POLAR STAR, where he first encountered the joy of working at sea supporting scientific research. Ensign Johnson hopes to contribute to exploration furthering human understanding of the world through service as a NOAA Corps officer.

Ensign David B. Keith

ENS Keith is honored to be serving his country in uniform in the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. The chain of events leading to ENS Keith being selected for BOTC 118 began in the fall of 2004 when four hurricanes made landfall while he was attending school in Florida at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. These hurricanes motivated him to learn more about the science behind weather and the organizations responsible for tracking and forecasting hurricane intensity and future movement. ENS Keith then attended Northern Illinois University where he obtained his B.S. in Meteorology in May 2008. During his time at NIU ENS Keith had the opportunity to be an Intern Field Meteorologist and Field Meteorologist in Western North Dakota during the summers of 2007 and 2008. In these positions he was responsible for radar operations and coordinating aircraft conducting cloud seeding operations. ENS Keith chose to further his education by accepting a Graduate Research Assistantship at the University of North Dakota to obtain his M.S. in Atmospheric Science. While moving to ND in May 2008, ENS Keith was informed that he had been selected as a primary candidate for BOTC 113. He decided that pursuing a M.S. would best serve the NOAA Corps in the future by improving his scientific abilities. ENS Keith's hard work and persistence paid off and was selected to be a primary candidate to BOTC 118. ENS Keith is motivated for unexpected upcoming challenges because he realizes from his past they are where he has obtained the most valuable experience in life and science that will help him in service to his country's scientific missions.

Ensign John R. Kidd

ENS John R. Kidd reported to the NOAA Officer Training Center on July 10th, 2011 to begin basic training for the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Ensign Kidd graduated from Old Dominion University in August of 2010 with a bachelor's degree in Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Science with a concentration in biology. His capstone course assessed the influence the flux of nitrate and phosphate constitutes in a salt marsh system in Portsmouth, VA. ENS Kidd's past professional experience includes wooden boat building, marina dockhand, and jazz musician. He most recently worked as an intern for Earth Resources Technology at the Atlantic Hydrographic Branch in Norfolk, Virginia compiling hydrographic data and also served as a survey tech aboard the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. ENS Kidd is interested in the NOAA Corps Diving program, desires to serve aboard the west coast hydrographic platforms, and plans on making a career out of serving the Corps.

Ensign Refael W. Klein

ENS Klein was born in Silver Spring, MD. He attended Whitman College and the University of California Davis, earning a BA in Natural Sciences and Mathematics from Whitman and a BSE in Biological Systems Engineering from Davis. Following graduation, he began work for a small environmental consulting firm specializing in California watershed management. While the job was rewarding, he decided to leave, so as to combine his passion for science, adventure and travel under one banner: the NOAA Corps. During his free time, ENS Klein enjoys climbing (Bouldering, Big Walls and Alpine), going on long bike rides and exploring contemporary art. As a newly commissioned officer, he looks forward to finding himself in unexpected places, and serving his country through scientific discovery and exploration.

Ensign Daniel P. Langis

ENS Langis grew up just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, where he spent most of his youth. He graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S in Aerospace Engineering with Honors in May of 2011. During his time there, he worked with the Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory to complete a research project on Motion Coordination of Micro Unmanned Air Vehicles. Among his past jobs, ENS Langis has held an engineering internship at GE Aviation, worked as a cook and server in a restaurant, taught engineering principles to young children, and served as a laborer for a demolition company. His experiences in scouting at an early age instilled him with a passion for adventure and exploration, and he continues to enjoy running, camping, backpacking, climbing and SCUBA diving as a result. ENS Langis hopes that his diverse background can be utilized during his career as a NOAA Corps Officer and looks forward to potentially becoming a NOAA diver and/or aviator in the years to come.

Ensign Theresa A. Madsen

Ensign Madsen joined BOTC 118 from Westerville, OH. She recently graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) with a degree in Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy with an emphasis in Marine and Coastal Ecology. During her academic career she completed her senior thesis using multibeam bathymetry in Persistence and Change of Geomorphology in Near Shore Rippled Scour Depressions and Rocky Habitat on the Continental Shelf of Monterey Bay, California. From this project she won the Sanctuary Currents Symposium for Undergraduate students. In addition, she worked at a land surveying firm as the Global Information Systems (GIS) specialist. She is looking forward to using the skills she learned at CSUMB to assist NOAA in their mission.

Ensign Ricardo Rodriguez Perez

ENS Rodriguez graduated from his Bachelor's Degree in Computer Programming in 1999 in Puerto Rico, shortly after he joined the U.S. Air Force where he served for nearly a decade. During his time in the Air Force, at the time Sergeant Rodriguez, actively served in served Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom flying over combat zones during five different tours earning him five Air Medals, one Aerial Achievement along with several commendation medals among others. ENS Rodriguez completed his Master's Degree in Information Technology Management in 2007 while working in a multi-national environment and assigned to a NATO Air base in Germany; 2009 he married his wife, Aidaliz, shortly after returning to the U.S. for one final stateside assignment before being honorably discharged from the military in 2010. During his active duty time, ENS Rodriguez specialized as an Airborne Computer and Airborne Radar Technician onboard the AWACS and JSTARS platforms; at the line offices he gathered experience as an Information Systems Administrator, Security Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), Standardization and Evaluations NCO, Aviation Operations NCO and Safety NCO among others. After the military, ENS Rodriguez started working as an IT Specialist at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) where he managed over 60 different MS Windows servers and earned a Security+ IT Certification. In July 2011 ENS Rodriguez reported to Kings Point for Basic Officer Training Course (BOTC) and upon completion ENS Rodriguez desires enrich NOAA with the skillset he has acquired over the years including the training from BOTC and is eager to make a difference.

Ensign Kasey Sims

ENS Kasey Sims was born and raised in Washington State, where she was lucky enough to live close to the ocean and the mountains. ENS Sims earned a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science with a concentration in Marine Ecology and a minor in Geography from Western Washington University in 2006. After college, she had an internship in Gladstone, Australia at the Centre for Environmental Management. In 2007, ENS Sims moved to Vancouver, Washington and began working as a Fisheries Biologist at Bonneville Dam for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until leaving for training with the NOAA Corps. ENS Sims and her husband are looking forward to experiencing different areas of the country throughout her career in the NOAA Corps.

Ensign Joshua D. Witmer

Ensign Joshua D. Witmer was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Prior to reporting to the NOAA Corps Training Center on July 10th, 2011, he graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in the spring of 2011 with a bachelor's degree in Surveying Engineering and a minor in Business. During the summer semesters of Penn State's surveying program he was employed in several full-time internships with surveying, land development, and civil engineering firms. During these internships he was able to work on a variety of large projects throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, utilizing his studies and experience as a land surveyor. In addition, he also successfully passed the Fundamentals of Surveying exam during his junior year and received his Surveyor-in-Training Certification from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. It was the hydrographic survey operations, ability to travel, and opportunity for professional growth that finally led him to the NOAA Commissioned Corps.

Ensign Aras J. Zygas

Prior to BOTC 118, ENS Aras J. Zygas had recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Master's degree in Environmental Engineering. His thesis work focused on the simulation and optimization of constructed wetlands for biomass production and non-point source nitrate removal in agricultural watersheds. ENS Zygas also earned a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering from the University of Illinois with a focus on Business Systems Integration and Consulting. An active member in the Lithuanian-American community, ENS Zygas has been involved in folk dancing and scouting for his entire life. He has also served as president of the Baltic Club while attending university. Proud to serve his country, ENS Zygas looks forward to being on the forefront of scientific discovery while serving as an operational specialist for the NOAA Corps.

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