Members of NOAA Corps Basic Officer Training Class 102 at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. Front row (from left to right): ENS Allison Melicharek, ENS Jessica E. Daum, ENS Nicole Rouse, ENS Amanda Francisco, ENS Katherine Peet, ENS Amanda Bittinger, ENS Jessica Futch. Back row: ENS Eric Johnson, ENS Jasper Schaer, ENS Michael Levine, ENS Jeffrey Shoup, ENS Earl (Monty) Spencer, ENS Hector Casanova, ENS Bryan Wagonseller.
Ensign Amanda Bittinger
ENS Amanda Bittinger is from the cold landlocked city of Bradford, Pennsylvania. While working towards her bachelor's degree in biological oceanography at Millersville University, her advisor, Dr. Andrew Muller, mentioned that the NOAA Corps is a great opportunity for a job while meeting people and gaining useful ship experiences. While serving her country thru the acquisition of scientific data, she aspires to go to dive/EMT training. Previous work with the Lancaster County GIS Department has increased her interest in remote sensing and she hopes to receive duties on a hydrographic survey ship, meanwhile fulfilling her desire for travel.
Ensign Hector Casanova
ENS Héctor L. Casanova was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. There he got his B.S. in Geology from the University of Puerto Rico. In 1999, he published one of his sub-graduate research studies on the northern karsts region of Puerto Rico with co-author advisor Prof. Dr. Tom Miller and Wilma B. Alemán (University of PR Mayagüez Campus). The research was presented in the XX Geology Symposium on Caribbean Geology; 2001:A Karsts Odyssey. He joined the NOAA family to expand his horizons in marine geology and remote sensing equipment, before he continues his graduate studies. His hobbies are water sports, especially diving, skydiving and rock climbing. ENS Casanova hopes to join one of the survey ships, like the NOAA Ships Rude, Whiting, or Ronald H. Brown at the completion of BOTC.
Ensign Jessica E. Daum
ENS Jessica E. Daum was born and raised in Sacramento, California. She attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy and graduated with a B.S. in Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management in 2001. After graduating, she worked at Computer Science Corporation, Advanced Marine, in the Expeditionary Warfare Division for six months before accepting her slot in NOAA BOTC. Throughout high school she studied Marine biology and wanted to be a marine biologist, so after four years of studying engineering, she will have the chance to come closer to goal while serving the United States.
Ensign Amanda Francisco
ENS Amanda Francisco is originally from Syracuse, New York. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology from Florida Institute of Technology in May 2001. After graduation, Ensign Francisco began working at Florida Marine Research Institute with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as part of the research staff of fisheries dependent monitoring. ENS Francisco discovered NOAA at a career fair while at school. She decided to join the NOAA Corps for the opportunity to see the world and to gain more experience in marine biology. She enjoys diving, fishing and snowmobiling. She is an alumna and past President of the Delta Sigma chapter of the Gamma Phi Beta International Sorority. Ideally, Ensign Francisco would like to work on one of the NOAA fisheries ships that deal with longlining and coral reef assessment, such as the TOWNSEND CROMWELL. She looks forward to an exciting and rewarding career in the NOAA Corps.
Ensign Jessica Futch
ENS Futch spent four years enlisted in the Navy before attending the University of South Florida. There, she earned a B.S. in Biology while gaining work experience in marine botany at the Florida Marine Research Institute and the Department of Biology at USF. ENS Futch was also a member of the USF Sailing Team and would love to continue sailing for years to come. She has interests in marine biology, meteorology, and aviation, but just hopes to be cruising in warm waters soon.
Ensign Eric Johnson
ENS Johnson joins the 102nd BOTC from College Park, Maryland. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1997 with a degree in Marine Biology. For the last several years he has been diving as a volunteer at the National Aquarium in Baltimore while determining how best to pursue a career that would utilize his skills and interests. When he discovered the Corps while searching the NOAA web page, it was a perfect match. ENS Johnson enjoys scuba diving, swimming, running, cycling, cooking (something he will miss while on his sea tours). He hopes to get further dive training through the NOAA Diving Program and to work on one of the fisheries vessels in Pascagoula.
Ensign Michael Levine
ENS Michael Levine grew up in River Edge, NJ and graduated from Colby College with a BA in biology in 1996. He went on to receive a master's degree in 2000 from the Boston University Marine Program in Woods Hole, MA where he worked closely with the National Marine Fisheries Service studying seal bycatch in gillnets. He was introduced to the NOAA Corps while working on a NMFS right whale aerial survey project and as a member of the scientific crew on two NMFS research cruises. Michael has worked as an English teacher in Japan and loves to travel to exotic countries. Besides travel, his interests are running, skiing, professional sports and cooking. He has always looked to find a job that is adventurous and involves fisheries science, and he is looking forward to fulfilling those desires with a career in the NOAA Corps.
Ensign Alison Melicharek
ENS Allison Melicharek comes from New Jersey where she has spent the majority of her life. She graduated from Eastern College in Pennsylvania where she received a B.S. in Chemistry. Prior to joining NOAA she worked for Lexicon Pharmaceuticals. She has always had a strong love for the outdoors and a concern for taking care of the environment. She enjoys sports and being outside and feels that ultimate frisbee is one of God's better gifts to mankind. She learned of the NOAA Corps while doing research for an Environmental Regulation and Policy class assignment. Ensign Melicharek is looking forward to serving in the NOAA Corps and to the challenges and opportunities that NOAA has to offer.
Ensign Katherine Peet
ENS Peet brings with her a Bachelor's degree in biology and a Master's degree in ecological conservation and management. She studied Loggerhead sea turtle nesting habits in southwest Florida for her Master's Project, and worked as an instructor for the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute in the Florida Keys and an environmental scientist for a consulting company before accepting a commission into the NOAA Corps. Her hobbies include working out, snorkeling/diving, rock climbing, hiking and camping. Ensign Peet hopes to pursue a career that will include the protection of marine megafaunal populations and the management of protected ecosystems in the southeastern United States.
Ensign Nicole Rouse
ENS Nicole Rouse is originally from Alexandria, VA. In 1998, she graduated from James Madison University with a B.S. degree in Biology. She previously studied freshwater copepod development rate and fresh water lake ecology. Other adventures include experience at The National Institutes of Health in Maryland, where she studied thyroid hormone receptor function in frog metamorphosis, and more currently, participated in assay development of nanobiosensors for a privately owned company. Nicole looks forward to an exciting career in the NOAA corps where she hopes to gain Seamanship, ship handling skills, and to learn more about the ocean environment.
Ensign Jasper Schaer
ENS Jasper Schaer comes to the NOAA Corps from the U.S. Geological Survey where he served as a hydrologist in Houston, Texas. He graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.S. in geology with an emphasis on hydrology. Whether it was the endless Texas heat or desires for adventures beyond the desk, Ensign Schaer felt a career with the NOAA Corps could offer new challenges to compliment his professional and educational experiences in the hydrological sciences. While in Texas, Jasper's spare time was spent on taking graduate classes, working on a 1970 VW bus, and working in his pottery studio. Ensign Schaer hopes for an assignment on a hydrography vessel on his first tour with the NOAA Corps.
Ensign Jeffrey Shoup
In the first two weeks of BOTC, a common question to all of the newly commissioned officers is, "How much sea experience do you have?" ENS Jeff Shoup's answer comes in the form of a question. "Do canoes count?" Having grown up in Oak Park, IL, a city just outside of Chicago, Ensign Shoup has had only limited experience with the oceans. His background comes from Miami of Ohio. Here he recieved degrees in Chemistry, Chemistry Education and Physics Education. He has also been a certified EMT. Job experience since then has brought him to many different places. It begins with Alabama where he worked as an Aviation Challenge and Space Camp Counselor at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. He then went on to travel for three years with a company called Up With People. In that time he worked as a stage manager and spent a year driving a semi truck through Western Europe. Ensign Shoup's interests include volleyball, SCUBA diving, traveling, skiing and flying. He is currently excited to get out on the ship and experience a new environment; One in which he is sure to learn and grow. Career goals in NOAA at this time include a successful sea tour and in the future becoming a part of NOAA Aviation.
Ensign Earl (Monty) Spencer
ENS Spencer grew up in Wilmington, NC. He has an A.S. degree in Marine Technology at Cape Fear Community College and a B.A. in Environmental Studies at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He has worked as a field technician at the UNCW-Center for Marine Science and as an Engineer for Blackbeards dive cruises.
Ensign Bryan Wagonseller
ENS Bryan Wagonseller received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics with a concentration in Meteorology from Miami University of Ohio in 1995 and a Master of Science degree in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota in 1996. In addition, he has completed several graduate level courses in computer science as well. Ensign Wagonseller's professional background includes working in the Washington, DC area as a computer specialist in the private sector and as a contractor for the federal government. He has also performed volunteer work for the Earth Science Corps of the U.S. Geological Survey as a map editor. Ensign Wagonseller hopes to be assigned to a hydrographic survey vessel or oceanographic and atmospheric research vessel this spring. After 2 years of sea duty, he hopes to continue working for the NOAA Corps on shore assignment in the Washington, DC area while completing his Master of Science degree in Computer Science.