Meet the Explorers
Cassidy D’Aloia, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor – University of New Brunswick
Cassidy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of New Brunswick. Cassidy received her B.A. from Middlebury College in 2010 and a Ph.D. from Boston University in 2015. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Toronto and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She is a marine biologist whose research focuses on the patterns, causes, and consequences of larval dispersal. Cassidy is especially interested in understanding how the biology of organisms interacts with the physical ocean environment to impact connectivity patterns and how empirical connectivity data can inform marine conservation planning efforts. She is also an avid SCUBA diver and has organized scientific diving expeditions to coral reefs in the Caribbean. Now, her lab focuses on coastal fishes and invertebrates in Atlantic Canada.
Graduate Student – Lehigh University
Susan is a first-year master’s student at Lehigh University in the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Her research involves characterizing the degradation rate of marine environmental DNA (eDNA) to determine its viability as a species identification and biodiversity assessment tool. Prior to attending Lehigh University, she completed her B.S. in biochemistry and biology at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.
Graduate Student – Lehigh University
Andrew is currently a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Chestnut Hill College in 2018. Andrew is interested in the population genetics of marine organisms and how these results could contribute to conservation efforts.
Fishery Biologist – NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Andy is a Research Fisheries Biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Panama City, Florida. Andy received a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from Stetson University in 1986 and an M.S. in Marine Science from the University of South Florida in 1993. Andy has worked on mesophotic and deep coral ecosystems since 2001, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico, but also in the U.S. South Atlantic and Caribbean. He was the Team Lead for NOAA’s Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program’s Southeast Regional Program in 2009-2012 and is a member of the planning team for the 2017-2019 efforts. For this project, he will be collecting fishes at multiple banks and other topographic features in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. These collections will provide data to evaluate the genetic relationships among key fish species from different trophic levels at multiple sites across the survey area.
Marine Biologist – CSS Dynamac Contractor for NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
Janessy is a marine biologist with CSS Dynamac working with NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. She received her M.S. in marine biology from the College of Charleston and a B.S. in biology from the University of Florida. Recently, she served as a National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program Science Policy fellow hosted by the NOAA RESTORE Science Program. Her graduate work examined the genetic and morphological diversity of Swiftia exserta. She also examined the toxicity of oil and dispersants to live fragments of S. exserta. Prior to her fellowship, she worked as a lab technician in a U.S. Geological Survey benthic ecology lab where she examined the biodiversity and community structures of sediment infauna in the Gulf of Mexico and Mid-Atlantic Canyons. Her diverse interests include the exploration, management, and conservation of deepwater habitats, octocoral phylogenetics, and the damage assessment and restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Matthew Galaska, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate – Lehigh University
Matt is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Herrera Lab at Lehigh University. He obtained his Ph.D. from Auburn University in Biology and his B.S. from Albion College. His broad research interests are focused in population genetics and phylogeography with an application towards conservation biology. His postdoctoral research is focused on the phylogeography of four species of mesophotic and deep-sea coral species in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.
Undergraduate Student – Lehigh University
Maria is a senior undergraduate student at Lehigh University working towards her B.S. in Biology with a minor in Environmental Science. She interned in the summer of 2017 with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences working to develop a genetic database for the fishes of Bermuda. Currently, she is a member of the Herrera Lab, doing research with corals.
Research Ecologist – NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Stacey is a research ecologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Panama City, Florida. She received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Florida State University in 1999 and a M.S. in Marine Sciences from the University of South Alabama in 2002. Since working with NOAA, she has focused her research efforts on mesophotic and deep coral ecosystems. She is the lead principal investigator for a project examining a network of deepwater marine protected areas in the south Atlantic, looking for changes in habitat and fish populations over time, as well as comparing inside and outside the closed areas to determine if they are effective as a management tool. On this cruise, Stacey will be collecting samples from target fish species in mesophotic habitats in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and banks nearby. These samples will be used to examine the connectivity among coral ecosystems in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.
Santiago Herrera, Ph.D.
Cruise Chief Scientist and Assistant Professor – Lehigh University
Santiago is the Chief Scientist for this cruise and an Assistant Professor at Lehigh University. Santiago received a B.S. in Biology and Microbiology and a M.S. in Biological Sciences from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. He was also a graduate fellow at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History during his master’s work. He earned a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution joint program. Santiago was also a postdoctoral fellow funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research at the University of Toronto. Santiago’s research focuses on the ecological and evolutionary processes that produce global biodiversity patterns in the ocean. He uses interdisciplinary approaches that combine molecular and environmental data with bioinformatic tools to study the past, present, and future of deep-sea and cold-water ecosystems, focusing on species of corals, anemones, fishes, and crustaceans. He has participated in more than 20 oceanographic expeditions, including several via telepresence. You can learn more about Santiago’s research and interests at: http://santiagoherrera.github.io/
Biologist – U.S. Geological Survey
Jennie is a biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Wetland and Aquatic Research Center (USGS-WARC) in Gainesville, Florida. Jennie received her B.S. degree in Marine Biology (2006) and her M.S. degree in Marine Science (2010) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She has participated in over 20 offshore cruises in both the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic and has worked with a variety of remotely operated vehicles and submersibles. Jennie is interested in the use of stable isotopes to elicit trophic relationships and currently works with Dr. Amanda Demopoulos (USGS-WARC) to examine trophic and community structure of marine fauna collected in various habitats, such as wetlands, offshore wrecks, deep-sea corals, chemosynthetic communities, and submarine canyons. During the cruise, Jennie will assist with processing sediment cores, water samples, and tissue samples for stable isotope analyses.
Jill McDermott, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor – Lehigh University
Jill is an Assistant Professor at Lehigh University and a National Academy of Sciences’ Gulf Research Program Early-Career Research Fellow. She earned her B.S. in chemistry from Dartmouth College, her M.S. in Earth Science from the University of New Hampshire, and her Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. Prior to joining Lehigh, Jill was a MAGNET Applied Geochemistry fellow at the University of Toronto, Canada. Her research focuses on the cycling of organic, inorganic, and volatile chemistry in submarine hydrothermal systems. She is also leading efforts to understand the persistence of DNA in coral environments.