Left to Right:
Top Row: Ensign Matthew Chonka, Ensign Luke McConville, Ensign Karl Wagner
2nd Row: Ensign Abby Letts, Ensign Tyler Houck
3rd Row: Ensign Anthony Zoller, Ensign Mark Meadows, Ensign Jesse Pierce
4th Row: Ensign Luke Petzy, Ensign Christine Sealing, Ensign Jessica Spruill
5th Row: Ensign Alice Beittel, Ensign Kelly Wooten
Bottom Row: Lt. Cmdr. Larry Thomas, Capt. Michael Levine, Lt. Chris Gallagher
Ensign Matthew Chonka
Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Chonka served in the Navy and Navy reserves as an Electronics Technician first–class and owned a small commercial diving company in central Texas. He was the Senior Enlisted Leader of the Naval SATCOM Adversary Team where they would assist in training the fleet in overcoming connectivity issues with communication satellites. His commercial diving company specialized in underwater training, location and salvage work, where he operated his own small vessel in search and recovery operations on area inland lakes. He was also Captain of the South Hays Fire Department’s Recovery Dive Team where he worked with area agencies to recover evidence, vehicles and remains. He earned two Bachelor of Science degrees from Texas State University, Engineering in Technology-Environmental Systems (2007) and Geography with a minor in Geology (2011). During the latter part of his first degree and through his second, he taught Scuba diving classes at the university. He holds a NAUI instructor diving certification, commercial diving certification, multiple technical diving certifications (including full cave) and has trained in numerous dive equipment courses. Ensign Chonka looks forward to continuing to serve his country in the NOAA Corps.
Ensign Luke McConville
Ensign McConville graduated from Millersville University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Oceanography. He completed a senior research project off of Chesapeake Bay involving the deployment of a 1 km long line looking at species diversity changes over time while simultaneously casting CTD’s to compare species’ diversity and temperature. In 2018 Ensign McConville received a Master of Science in Marine Biology from Northeastern University. He also went on over 100 dives in total between three distinct environments, resulting in him acquiring a Scientific Diver certification from the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. Ensign McConville is excited to serve in the NOAA Corps and further his knowledge of all things science.
Ensign Karl Wagner
Ensign Wagner graduated from State University of New York at Buffalo in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences and Bachelor of Arts in Geography. In 2016 he earned his Master of Science in Geology from Northern Arizona University, where his thesis research focused on young volcanic deposits in the Flagstaff, Arizona area. Before joining the NOAA Corps he worked for three years as a geologist at the Nevada National Security Site, helping to build testbeds for Department of Energy experiments.
Ensign Abby Letts
Ensign Letts graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa Society from Haverford College with a Bachelor of Science in Geology, a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, and an Environmental Studies minor. She completed undergraduate research in Geology, culminating in a thesis that investigated the effectiveness of saltmarshes as carbon sinks and their response to climate perturbations. While at Haverford College, she competed on the women’s varsity soccer team and was a captain for two years. In 2019, she received a Master of Science in Earth Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her masters thesis analyzed trace elements and structural changes in speleothems to reconstruct the precipitation history of central Asia. While in graduate school, she worked as a teaching assistant for two years, instructing labs and discussion sections for a variety of earth science courses. Ensign Letts looks forward to serving in the NOAA Corps to further to her lifelong passion for the environment and her desire to facilitate scientific research and exploration.
Ensign Tyler Houck
Prior to joining the NOAA Corps, Ensign Houck was a Boatswain’s Mate 3 rd class in the United States Coast Guard. He enlisted in 2017 and first served aboard USCGC Northland in Portsmouth, VA. Following this assignment in Virginia, he was stationed at USCG Station Apra Harbor, Guam for 2 years. Ensign Houck graduated in 2015 from Rider University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Science. While in college he became a PADI Rescue Diver and studied giant barrel sponges in Roatan, Honduras. He was also a member of the Rider University Men’s Swimming and Diving Team where his class became the first in school history to win the MAAC Conference championship four years in a row. His passion for science and being in the water inspired him to become a NOAA Corps Officer.
Ensign Anthony Zoller
Prior to joining the NOAA Corps, Ensign Zoller graduated from California State University Maritime Academy with a B.S. in Marine Engineering and an Unlimited 3rd Assistant Engineer license. He worked both on commercial vessels and facilities which ranged from 90-foot research vessels to 500-foot, 17,000 hp vessels. Raised in Napa, California, Ensign Zoller took to the water at a young age. Active in various boating organizations along the North San Francisco Bay, he became fascinated in the waterways and diverse ecosystems that they supported. While at the CSU Maritime Academy and after, he sailed in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Oceans, and eagerly awaits furthering these experiences in service of NOAA and the nation.
Ensign Mark Meadows
Ensign Meadows graduated from Radford University in 2019. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics with a concentration in earth and space, and a minor in mathematics, astronomy, and business administration. During his undergraduate training he traveled to Barrow, AK with a small group of students to conduct research on the sea ice. Ensign Meadows has worked towards developing non-invasive ways to measure the thickness of sea ice using micro resistivity. He had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and present the findings of the group at the American Geophysical Union. It was working with students from different backgrounds to accomplish scientific goals which led him to join the NOAA Corps.
Ensign Jesse Pierce
Prior to becoming a commissioned NOAA Corps officer, Ensign Pierce graduated Magna Cum Laude from State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Environmental Science and a minor in Meteorology and Oceanography in May of 2019. While at SUNY Maritime College, Ensign Pierce obtained his U.S. Coast Guard Third Mate Unlimited Tonnage Deck License. He was a member of the National Leadership Honor Society (ODK), National Collegiate Athlete Honor Society, Varsity Swim Team, Club Water Polo Team, and the Scuba Club. While in school Ensign Pierce had the opportunity to do a 98 day internship on the chemical tanker, Seabulk Challenge, and also completed two summer sea terms on the training ship, Empire State VI.
Ensign Luke Petzy
Ensign Petzy graduated from UMass Amherst in 2011 with a degree in Natural Resource Studies and a double-minor in Fisheries Conservation and Sociology. Following graduation, he spent a year in the U.S. Virgin Islands furthering his interest and knowledge of marine environments while living in the Virgin Islands National Park. In 2013, he became a Fisheries Observer for the National Marine Fisheries Service. During his time as an observer, Ensign Petzy observed 132
commercial fishing trips between Maine and New Jersey and accrued 325 sea-days. In 2015, he became a licensed captain and holds a 100GT Masters Near-Coastal merchant mariner credential. Following two and a half years as an observer, he returned to St. John, VI and utilized his captain’s license by operating dive boats and charter boats in the tourism industry. As a PADI Scuba Instructor, Ensign Petzy certified and trained 465 divers from open water to divemaster, and also worked as a volunteer diver for the Virgin Islands National Park. Prior to joining the NOAA Corps, he worked as a captain and commercial diver for TowBoatUS Boston, providing assistance to disabled vessels throughout the Northeast.
Ensign Christine Sealing
Ensign Sealing grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and graduated from the University of Adelaide, South Australia with a Bachelor of Science Honours First Class in Geology, Geophysics, and Environmental Geoscience. She worked as a research assistant and Project Geologist in outback Australia prior to landing a job at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. She attended masters studies at L’Universite Blaise Pascal in France through the INVOGE program and obtained her Master of Science in Geology from Michigan Technological University, specializing in volcanology and remote sensing. Following her masters degree, Ensign Sealing worked for the Earth Observatory of Singapore monitoring volcanoes in Indonesia and the Philippines. Upon returning to the US, she obtained her private pilot certificate and
enrolled in a PhD program at Drexel University, Philadelphia.
Ensign Sealing enjoys all aspects of the Earth from the land, sea, and air. She is an avid hiker, tall ship sailor, and private pilot and enjoys volunteering with a variety of organizations. She is proud to now be serving with the NOAA Commissioned Corps, using her education and passion in the service of others.
Ensign Jessica Spruill
Ensign Spruill grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering with high honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2015. After college, she worked in Atlanta as an environmental engineer for a consulting firm, CH2M, and supported a variety of water resource and ecosystems management projects. From 2017 to 2018 Ensign Spruill worked in Cambodia for the World Health Organization on national water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives.
Following her time in Cambodia, Ensign Spruill obtained a Master of Science in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Her thesis project involved the use of satellite-based datasets to study the hydrological impact of mega-dams in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ensign Spruill joined the NOAA Corps, because it is a perfect combination of science, service and adventure.
Ensign Alice Beittel
Prior to joining the NOAA Corps, Ensign Beittel graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Management and a minor in Geographic Information Systems. She designed and conducted an independent senior thesis with the Monteverde Institute in Costa Rica studying fish grazing behavior in overfished coral reef ecosystems. While attending UC Davis, she worked for two years as a Research Assistant at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, where she studied beaver dam analogue meadow restoration techniques in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges, analyzed hydrographic and vegetation satellite and drone imagery, and supported the development of state environmental flow frameworks. She served as Chair of the UC Davis student government’s Environmental Policy and Planning Commission and was the varsity coxswain for the UC Davis Women’s Rowing Team. During the summer of 2018, Ensign Beittel lived in rural northern Mongolia as an Ecology Research Assistant for the Mongolian American Aquatic Ecology Research Initiative and
assisted in social-ecological research investigating the impacts of hydropower development on river ecosystems and humans. She is a PADI Open Water SCUBA diver and an outdoor-enthusiast. The hands-on nature of the NOAA Corps fuels her passion for working at the intersection of technology, science, and maritime.
Ensign Kelly Wooten
Ensign Wooten graduated with honors from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in Geology. She participated in the INVOGE program between Michigan Tech and Universite Blaise Pascal in France, and earned a Master’s Degree in both Geology and Remote Sensing, and Volcanology and Geotechnics, respectively. Between undergraduate and graduate school, she worked at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory as a field geologist and a park ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. After graduate school she worked as a GIS analyst for a Navy contractor in Northern Virginia, then worked in Colorado as a park ranger in Jefferson County. She is also a Type II wildland firefighter and a certified SCUBA diver.
Prior to joining the NOAA Corps, Ensign Wooten completed a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems and was working for an environmental consulting firm in Denver, CO. She joined the NOAA Corps to serve her country and to support the mission of NOAA.