Left to right: Top row: ENS Alejandro Amezcua, ENS Thomas Smith, ENS Eben Smith; Top middle row: ENS Nicolas Osborn, ENS John Stephens; Bottom middle row: ENS Nicole Morgan, ENS Jaime Hendrix, ENS Gabriella McGann, ENS Andie Cuiffo, ENS Julia Waldsmith; Bottom row: CDR Keith Golden, LT Calandria DeCastro, LTJG Peter Gleichauf
Ensign Alejandro J. Amezcua
Before joining the NOAA Commissioned Corps, Ensign Amezcua held the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Two and served as a UH-60A/L Blackhawk helicopter pilot and detachment commander for a U.S. Army Special Operations Command element.
Ensign Amezcua enlisted in the United States Navy in 2002. His first operational assignment was in 2003 as an explosive ordnance team member on the EA-6B Prowler’s GRU-EA7 ejection seat with VAQ-129 at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash. He was later assigned to VFA-14 at NAS Lemoore, Calif. in 2005 as an explosive ordnance team leader and instructor on the F/A-18E Super Hornet’s SJU-17 NACES ejection seat. During this time, he also served as a collateral duty inspector and low/high power engine turn operator on the Super Hornet. He deployed in 2007 with VFA-14 as a member of Carrier Air Wing 11 aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz (CVN 68) in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. After transferring to the United States Navy Reserve in 2008 to attend college, Ensign Amezcua was assigned to VR-61 at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash. as an airframe and power plant technician on the C-9B Skytrain II airliner.
He transferred to the Army National Guard in 2009 to pursue flight school and subsequently served at JFTB Los Alamitos, Calif. as a crew chief on the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in A Co. 1-140th AVN. Ensign Amezcua was selected in 2012 to attend Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) and Initial Entry Rotary Wing (IERW) training at Fort Rucker, Ala. He received his warrant as a member of WOCS Class 12-14 in 2012 and earned his aeronautical designation as a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot in 2013. He was then assigned as an aeromedical evacuation pilot and tactical operations officer in C Co. 1-168th AVN where he served until his assignment to USASOC. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, minoring in Helicopter Operations & Safety.
Ensign Amezcua is an FAA Commercial and Instrument rated pilot for Airplane Single Engine Land and Rotorcraft - Helicopter, as well as an Advanced Ground Instructor and sUAS Remote Pilot. He is extremely excited to utilize his aeronautical background in his first assignment as a DHC-6 Twin Otter pilot at NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center in Lakeland, Fla.
Ensign Andie M. Cuiffo
Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Cuiffo worked as an ocean lifeguard and Advanced-EMT for Jones Beach Lifeguard Corps, as well as her local fire department. Prior to working for Jones Beach Lifeguard Corps, she worked as a scientific diver at the Fort Fisher Aquarium in North Carolina.
Ensign Cuiffo graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography and a minor in Studio Art. Throughout her schooling, she had a strong focus in scientific diving, eventually leading her to become a NOAA Advanced Scientific Diver, as well as a technical diver. She has always had a love for the ocean, which led to her interest in becoming a commissioned officer in the NOAA Corps, where she could combine her interests of science and service.
Ensign Jaime M. Hendrix
Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Hendrix served as a boatswain’s mate (BM) in the United States Coast Guard. She was a search and rescue, tactical, and pursuit coxswain at Coast Guard Station Miami Beach. Ensign Hendrix was qualified on two different platforms: the 45’ Response Boat – Medium and the 33’ Special Purpose Craft - Law Enforcement. She was the assistant weapons petty officer and served in the operations department during her time in Miami.
Her first unit in the Coast Guard was on board a 378’ High Endurance Cutter, USCGC MELLON, in Seattle, Wash. where she served as a deck hand and gained several qualifications on board. These qualifications include small boat crewmember, damage control training team member, boatswains mate of the watch and boarding team member.
Ensign Hendrix graduated from the University of California San Diego in 2014 with a degree in Marine Biology and a minor in Environmental Systems. Growing up on the central coast of California, Ensign Hendrix has always had a deep love for the ocean and its inhabitants. Her passion for environmental preservation and service led her to the NOAA Corps.
Ensign Hendrix is currently working on obtaining her master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management.
Ensign Gabriella E. McGann
Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign McGann was an environmental consultant working for Terracon Consultants Inc.
Ensign McGann graduated from Whitman College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Art in Biology-Geology. During her undergraduate career, she was a summer research assistant in the ecology department at the University of California, Irvine and a research assistant in the geology department at Whitman College. Here she developed her interest in being part of an organization with a scientific mission that applies her education in the service of her country.
Ensign McGann looks forward to a career with adventure and discovery as she carries out the mission of the NOAA Corps.
Ensign Nicole B. Morgan
Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Morgan was an aquarium diver for Landry’s aquariums in Houston, Texas where she helped care for all marine life and performed event dives. She has also worked as a dive master for Texas A&M University at Galveston assisting with dive labs for new divers to more advanced scientific divers.
Ensign Morgan graduated from Texas A&M University at Galveston in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and a minor in Diving Technologies and Methods. During her time with Texas A&M University, she also volunteered with NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and was named Volunteer of the year for 2017. She is humbled by her experiences and opportunities and is looking forward to her career as a NOAA Corps Officer.
Ensign Nicolas B. Osborn
Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Osborn worked out of a dive center in the Dominican Republic where he shared his knowledge and passion for the sea and marine life with both tourists and locals. Before moving to the Dominican Republic, Ensign Osborn worked as a kayak tour guide of the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, a marine ecological reserve along the San Diego coast in California.
Ensign Osborn graduated from the University of California San Diego in June 2017 where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a department of UCSD. His college years were supplemented with volunteer time at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center where he worked in the research aquarium and Life Histories Laboratory. During his time volunteering, Ensign Osborn was also able to participate as an assistant scientist in several research cruises with NOAA as well as with the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System. He has been underway as an assistant scientist on R/V Reuben Lasker, R/V Sally Ride, and R/V Gordon Sproul. After graduating, Ensign Osborn volunteered his time in Roatan, Honduras participating in animal behavior and cognition research at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences. He later spent time in the Gili Islands in Indonesia participating in juvenile shark research and reef assessment surveys.
Ensign Osborn holds several certificates from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors including Rescue Diver, Enriched Air Diver, and AWARE Shark Conservation Diver Specialty certificates.
Ensign Eben T. Smith
Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Smith was a marine science technician with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in San Diego, Calif. where he was responsible for carrying out federal oversight of designated waterfront facilities, pollution investigations and foreign flagged commercial vessel examinations. Ensign Smith routinely worked with Port of San Diego stake holders in contingency planning and provided training on Incident Command System (ICS) roles through port partner exercises. He filled various positions during numerous environmental responses and was recognized for his work during California’s Refugio oil spill where over 140,000 gallons of crude oil impacted one of the United States’ most biodiverse ecosystems.
Prior to being a marine science technician, Ensign Smith served aboard the USCG Cutter MAPLE, in Sitka, Alaska as a member of deck force where he stood watch as junior officer of the deck, aids to navigation technician, cutter rescue swimmer, crane operator and other duties. Prior to joining the Coast Guard he taught English in South Korea.
A Portland, Ore. native, Ensign Smith looks forward to the exciting and important work he will do at his first unit as a junior officer aboard the fisheries and research vessel, NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada stationed in Newport, Oregon.
Ensign Smith holds a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership form Argosy University, San Diego and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Oregon State University.
Ensign Thomas A. Smith
Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Smith conducted research in conjunction with the National Weather Service and Department of Transportation to mitigate hazards of sudden dense fog onset in the Interstate 77 corridor in Virginia and North Carolina.
Ensign Smith graduated from Virginia Tech in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology. While attending college, Ensign Smith worked to augment the southwest Virginia and West Virginia mountaintop mesonet, and spent his summer before arriving at BOTC storm chasing in the plains with the Hokie Storm Chase. Ensign Smith was a capstone scholar with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, VA and is a certified Skywarn Spotter. He spent his time at Virginia Tech as an active member of the Blue Ridge Chapter of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association.
Ensign John D. B. Stephens
Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Stephens was a hydrogeologist for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality where he worked as a project manager overseeing environmental remediation of superfund sites in the Registered Environmental Consultant Program. He has also worked in the oil and gas industry as a wellsite geologist and geosteerer in the Marcellus and Utica Shales, and as a geochemistry lab technician in an isotope geochronology lab.
Ensign Stephens graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Geology and a minor in Marine Science. His passion for the earth sciences has led him into research in a variety of topics including the retreat of the Lyell and Maclure glaciers and an analysis of rock fall hazards in Yosemite National Park, carbon storage and shoreline change in coastal marshes, and collaborations with the Water Institute of the Gulf to analyze the effects of the Mississippi River Diversions in southeastern Louisiana.
Ensign Stephens earned his Master of Earth and Environmental Sciences from Tulane University in 2016 with research on sand transport dynamics in the Mekong River Delta. He is HAZWOPER certified and has published research in Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, and in Oceanography.
Ensign Julia M. Waldsmith
Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Waldsmith was a geologist in the oil and gas industry working for the international oilfield service provider, Schlumberger. While employed by Schlumberger she worked as an interpretation geophysicist in the Gulf of Mexico, a geoscience consultant and as a geologist in a multidisciplinary South American asset evaluation team. Before entering into the oil and gas industry, she also worked as an underground gold mine geologist in northern Nevada. As an undergraduate, she interned at the Illinois State Geological Survey mapping glacier deposits from the quaternary period.
Ensign Waldsmith graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Geology and a minor in Italian. She has maintained a love of geoscience ever since her first class and has enjoyed getting to apply her geological skillsets throughout her work experiences and while traveling. Her desire to continue growing as a scientist brought her to NOAA, but her shared belief in NOAA’s mission of Science, Service and Stewardship is what inspired her dedication to the Corps.