The OceansMicro Team
STEVE MANDELExecutive Director of OceansMicro
Steve is a long-time participant in scientific research, science education and wildlife conservation. His efforts have covered a wide range of scientific activity including co-authorship of academic papers in the Astrophysics Journal and Sky and Telescope Magazine, founder of the Lions of Gir Foundation dedicated to the conservation of Asiatic lions in India, award winning wildlife photographer (Smithsonian, NYT, books and journals), designer of an underwater, 3D, virtual reality camera system used by Nat Geo and by his Oceans 360 program, to bring compelling virtual reality HD video to students and the public. In addition, he now is Executive Director of OceansMicro.
MORGAN RECTORAssistant Director and Program Manager
Morgan is a dedicated conservationist and photographer with a passion for the ocean and a zest for life. She is involved in a variety of marine conservation and sustainable energy endeavors throughout Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. With a professional background in marine biology research, psychology, communication, and education, she derives her energy from collaborating with others to pursue innovative ways to protect our precious oceans.
LORENA DOMINGUEZClassroom Facilitator
Lorena Dominguez is a marine biology student at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. She has been involved in citizen science projects for over two years and is currently a Teaching Assistant in a NOAA-sponsored class to train volunteers on how to monitor plankton in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
JASMINE RUIZClassroom Facilitator
Jasmine is currently an undergraduate student at UC Santa Cruz studying Environmental Studies/Biology. She is passionate in her goal of bridging the socioeconomic gap in environmentalism by involving historically marginalized communities into the solution-making. She has been studying marine plankton for about a year and a half now and is excited to share her love of plankton with others.
KENDRA NEGRAYClassroom Facilitator
Kendra is a lab technician/lab manager in the Kudela Lab at UC Santa Cruz. She has been involved with phytoplankton monitoring in Monterey Bay for longer than she’d like to admit, but still looks forward to getting on the microscope every week to see what’s in the water. Most of her work involves phyco-toxin analyses, maintaining a suite of water quality sensors at the SC Wharf (including Tina, the microscope-camera robot), and making sure the lab is a functional workspace for everyone.
Our Board of Advisors
Nicole Crane is a faculty member in the Biology Department at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. She is also Executive Director of the One People One Reef Program (onepeopleonereef.org) – focusing on community driven sustainable reef management in pacific islands. She is the instructor for Biology 450, a joint program with NOAA that trains citizen scientists to monitor plankton populations in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Allison Cusick is a polar phytoplankton ecologist pursuing her PhD with Dr. Maria Vernet at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Allison obtains her samples and data through the FjordPhyto citizen science program which she co-founded with her advisor and polar guides, to partner with tour ships in Antarctica. Allison received her Masters in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps, and her BS in Biology at the University of Washington. She has been studying the ocean’s microscopic world for a decade now.
HEIKE SCHMITZ, Ph.D.
Heike works as a Senior Research Scientist at the Jupiter Research Foundation. With backgrounds in Computer Science and Marine Biology, she is involved in multiple projects including the development of an autonomous marine microscope system with the goal to identify and quantify phytoplankton and microplastics in the ocean. Born in Germany, Heike studied Computer Science at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. After moving to the US and a successful career at Google, she returned to college for a B.S. in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz.
Janai is a Naturalist with the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a member of the San Francisco Microscopical Society, and a plankton enthusiast. Her background in Fine Art has helped her create visually interesting images of the local San Francisco Bay plankton. These images are used for science communication and educational programs from 1st grade to college. In her free time, she streams live plankton online. Capturing the charismatic micro fauna one plankton tow at a time.
Lisa Uttal is a marine biologist who works for NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) developing ecosystem based ocean education programs. She started her career at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and conducted deep-sea research at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Lisa developed and implemented MBNMS Plankton Monitoring Program here in California — a long-term temporal and spatial study by community scientists.
In her role as Senior Interpreter at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for over 30 years, Jane worked as the exhibit liaison for both plankton guide stations. She realized that if we can get the public excited about the unseen, microscopic world in the oceans that drive the oceanic food web and provide half the oxygen we breathe we’ve done a good job.
Anna is a phytoplankton ecologist working in Dr. Raphael Kudela’s lab at UCSC. Her love of tiny drifters has led her on phytoplankton adventures in Maine, the Caribbean, Antarctica, Catalina Island, the Gulf of Alaska, and the California coast. She has participated in phytoplankton programming with the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and the development of the Plankton Monitoring Program with the MBNMS. She currently works closely with a phytoplankton imaging robot named Miranda.
JENNY JACOX, Ph.D.
Jenny comes to OceansMicro with a background in harmful algal bloom research. Jenny began her graduate work with Dr. Raphael Kudela at the University of California, Santa Cruz, by assuming ongoing phytoplankton monitoring at Santa Cruz Wharf; her monitoring ‘bloomed’ into a public reporting site and, subsequently, a statewide monitoring and reporting network. After earning her PhD, Jenny worked at the intersection of science-informed-policy and management at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Jenny’s passion for ocean science and its extension is matched by her passion for running.