Plenary Speakers

In addition to the contributed oral presentations that attendees will hear throughout the week, the following five speakers have been invited to present their work during the conference.

Alex Cunningham
Department of Physics
University of Strathclyde

Beyond biogeochemistry: monitoring the physical drivers of shelf sea ecosystems using ocean colour radiometry

Alex Cunningham has a BSc in Zoology from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in Applied Physics from the University of Strathclyde.  He held a range of academic appointments at Strathclyde from 1977-2015, where he worked on microbial population dynamics and flow cytometry before founding the Marine Optics and Remote Sensing Group in 1992. The initial aim of the group was to use ocean colour observations to gain insights into phytoplankton bloom dynamics and seasonal patterns of primary productivity, but progress was limited by the poor performance of contemporary chlorophyll retrieval algorithms.  It became obvious, however, that the coloured dissolved organic matter and suspended mineral particles that were interfering with chlorophyll retrievals were also generating strong signals in their own right.  Consequently, most of the recent publications by Alex and his colleagues concern methods for interpreting these signals to provide information on physical processes such as advection, mixing, and water column stratification in shelf seas. 

Stephanie Dutkiewicz

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The ocean colour signal of climate change: a numerical model study

Stephanie is a principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received a BSc (physics) from University of Miami and a PhD (oceanography) from the University of Rhode Island. Her research interests lie at the intersection of the marine ecosystem and the physical, biogeochemical and optical environment. She is involved in developing and using complex numerical models and has recently included explicit radiative transfer and optical characteristics of phytoplankton: hence her increasing interest in ocean optics and ocean colour. The model development is guided by laboratory, field and satellite observations. She uses these models to help understand the structure, biogeography and diversity of phytoplankton communities, often aided additionally by simple theoretical constructs. Additionally she is interested in understanding how phytoplankton communities might change in a warming world. At MIT she is affiliated with the Center for Global Changes Science and the Darwin Project.

Tyler Erickson
Senior Developer Advocate

Monitoring Water on a Global Scale with Google Earth Engine

Dr. Tyler A. Erickson is a Senior Developer Advocate at Google, where his primary focus is on Earth Engine, a cloud-based geospatial analysis platform designed for massive global-scale analysis of environmental data. In this role, Dr. Erickson fosters collaborations with researchers, NGO’s, and governmental organizations seeking to capitalize on Earth Engine’s capabilities for geospatial analyses that involve immense satellite and model-based datasets.  Dr. Erickson leads the development of Earth Engine’s core efforts in water and climate, and guides the evolution of Earth Engine to support these scientific domains.

Prior to joining Google, Dr. Erickson led projects on geospatial analysis, visualization, and the design of geospatial data systems at the Altarum Institute and the Michigan Tech Research Institute. He also served as the Chair of the Technical Committee for AmericaView, a non-profit nationwide partnership of remote sensing scientists who support the use of public domain satellite data through applied research, education, and technology transfer.

Dr. Erickson holds graduate degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering and in Geography from the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of Colorado. His research has focused on water resources, particularly in the cryosphere, and on geostatistics for integrating geospatiotemporal environmental data across observational platforms.

Patricia Matrai
Senior Research Scientist
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Ménage à trois: Work, love, life

Patricia A. Matrai completed her Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1989. She has held research and academic positions at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in the University of Miami (Florida, USA) (1989- 1995) and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (Maine, USA) (1995- present). She has had appointments as Research Professor at the University of New England (1995-2004) and currently at Colby College.

Dr. Matrai has served on numerous national and international boards and committees, including the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project, the Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Project (from its inception), the NASA Earth Sciences Division Advisory sub-committee, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program Science Committee, and the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. She has most recently co-organized three science community-wide scoping exercises (2014-2015): “The Coupled North Atlantic-Arctic System:  Processes and Dynamics” and the “Sweden-US Planning Workshop on joint Arctic Research using the I/B Oden”, both funded by NSF, as well as “Arctic-COLORS = Land-Ocean Interactions in the Arctic: An Integrative Field Campaign to Assess the Impacts of Natural- and Anthropogenic Changes to Coastal Ocean Biology, Biogeochemistry and Biodiversity”, funded by NASA.

Her scientific interests include the biological underpinnings of air-sea exchange; precursors and production of marine primary aerosols; oceanic sulfur cycling; biological production and consumption of organic compounds; physiological ecology of phytoplankton, primary production, and aquatic respiration, with a present emphasis on ocean acidification; with a current focus in the Arctic Ocean system. As an active research scientist, she has personally participated, or has been involved, in 39 cruises from 1979 through 2014, ranging from 1 day to 8 weeks.

Kathryn Moran
President and CEO
Ocean Networks Canada

Building a Smart Ocean and Coasts

Dr. Kathryn (Kate) Moran joined the University of Victoria in September 2011 as a Professor in the Faculty of Earth and Ocean Sciences and as Director of NEPTUNE Canada. In July, 2012, she was promoted to the position of President & CEO, Ocean Networks Canada. Her previous appointment was Professor at the University of Rhode Island with a joint appointment in the Graduate School of Oceanography and the Department of Ocean Engineering. She also served as the Graduate School of Oceanography’s Associate Dean, Research and Administration. From 2009 to 2011, Moran was seconded to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where she served as an Assistant Director and focused on Arctic, polar, ocean, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and climate policy issues. Moran co-led the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program’s Arctic Coring Expedition, which was the first deepwater drilling operation in the Arctic Ocean. This expedition successfully recovered the first paleoclimate record from the Arctic Ocean. She also led one of the first offshore expeditions to investigate the seafloor following the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Previously, Moran was a scientist at Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography where one of her major research focus areas was the Arctic Ocean. She also served as the Director of the international Ocean Drilling Program in Washington DC; managed mission-specific drilling platform operations in the North Atlantic and Arctic; designed and developed oceanographic tools; participated in more than 35 offshore expeditions; and has served as Chair and member of national and international science and engineering advisory committees and panels. Professor Moran is active in public outreach (through public lectures, national panel discussions, and teacher training) on topics related to the Arctic, ocean drilling, and global climate change. Moran has testified on climate change to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. At the University of Rhode Island, Moran spearheaded a research initiative on offshore renewable energy.