ProjectCONVERGETeamsProject CONVERGE is made possible by the collaborations of multiple teams of people working together to conduct, communicate, and teach the science of the research mission. Below are some of the team members.

Science Team

joshkohutDr. Josh Kohut (Lead Principal Investigator), Associate Professor, Rutgers University

Josh grew up in Monmouth County New Jersey spending every moment he could on the water. His interest in racing sailboats at all levels instantly connected him to the interaction of the atmosphere with the ocean. As a high school student he connected most with physics and learned about the possibility of pursuing a career that aims to better understand the physics of the ocean and atmosphere, a physical oceanographer. He earned a B.S. in physics at the College of Charleston in South Carolina in 1997 and a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from Rutgers University in 2002. He is now a professor of oceanography at Rutgers University. His research interest includes processes that define the physical ocean that structures marine ecosystems (for example, temperature, salinity, and ocean currents). He utilizes ocean observing technologies that include satellites, high-frequency radar, and underwater gliding robots. Continuous ocean observations capture both episodic events like hurricanes and long-term climatic trends, enabling new looks at the physics of our largely unexplored ocean. His projects range from local processes impacting storm intensity, beach water quality, and fisheries habitat off the coast of New Jersey to regional scale questions related changing marine systems in Antarctica.

MattOliverDr. Matt Oliver (Principal Investigator), Associate Professor, University of Delaware

Matt’s interest in marine science started as a kid fishing on the piers of Southern California. He decided to focus on biological sciences after an excellent experience in Mr. Feddes’ 10th grade Biology class at Valley Christian High School. Matt could not afford attendance at a four-year university, so he enrolled at Cerritos College to study Natural Science. To pay for college, he played football, and eventually earned a scholarship to complete his Bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Systematic Biology at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. (Some things can only be learned while bleeding on an athletic field.) Matt continued at Cal Poly in a Biology Master’s program, and started his Ph.D. studies in Oceanography at Rutgers University in 2001. In January 2008, he started as a faculty member in the Oceanography program at the University of Delaware. His research interests include marine biogeography and ecology, climate change, ocean optics, remote sensing, species distribution models and ocean observing.

Kim BernardDr. Kim Bernard (Principal Investigator), Assistant Professor, Oregon State University

Kim was born and raised in South Africa where she spent as much time as she could outdoors, exploring her natural environment. She was exposed to science at an early age when her father, a professor of zoology, would take her on his regular bat-collecting trips, on wilderness hikes, and to the local beach where they would search the rock pools for invertebrate treasures. By the age of 13, a fascination with Antarctica developed into a determination to get good enough grades in math to get into university so that she could pursue her dream career in polar marine science. Kim received a Bachelor of Science Honors degree in zoology in 2000 from Rhodes University, South Africa, and stayed there to earn her PhD in Marine Biology in 2007, working on zooplankton of the sub-Antarctic. After a 2-year postdoctoral research position at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Kim is now a member of faculty in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. Her research focuses on zooplankton community and food web ecology. She is most interested in the factors that drive zooplankton distribution patterns and community structure and how these, in turn, influence higher and lower trophic levels of the pelagic food web.

peter_winsor-240Dr. Peter Winsor (Principal Investigator), Associate Professor, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Peter is originally from Sweden, where he received his Bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and Oceanography and his Ph.D. in Oceanography. In 2002, he came to the United States to do research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts. During his time at WHOI, he used modeling, fieldwork, and observational technology (like CODAR) to understand more about the physics of the Arctic. Peter continues to use these techniques in the Arctic at his current position at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and is excited to expand his research focus to the Antarctic region.

MeganCiminoMegan Cimino, Graduate Student, University of Deleware

Megan earned a B.S. in Marine Biology at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo and is now a Oceanography Ph.D candidate at the University of Delaware. Megan is interested in the impacts of climate change on ecosystem function and trophic interactions. Megan’s current research uses ecological models to examine changes in the suitability of penguin breeding habitats in Antarctica and she is evaluating penguin foraging strategies in relation to oceanographic properties. For the CONVERGE project, Megan will be producing near real-time maps of penguin foraging locations, and assisting with glider deployments, data analysis, and fieldwork.

Shenandoah_for bio2Shenandoah Raycroft, Field Technician, SEA Education Asssociation

Shenandoah is a recent graduate from the College of William and Mary where she earned her B.S. in Geology. Spurred on by a childhood filled with time along the Atlantic seaboard and an infatuation with tall ships, she completed a semester program with the Sea Education Association (SEA) studying the impacts of climate change on the central Pacific. Following graduation, she returned to SEA as a professional crew member aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans. She will be joining the CONVERGE project as a field technician with Dr. Kim Bernard.

Dr. Bill Fraser



Teachers and students from grades 6-9 are participating in Project CONVERGE from the following New Jersey and New York schools:

Science Communication Team

ChrisLinder Chris Linder, Science Photographer

Chris Linder ( is a professional photographer, filmmaker, and lecturer. Chris holds a Master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. His education and training as an oceanographer give him a special insight into photographing science. For over a decade, Chris has focused on communicating the stories of scientists working in the Arctic and Antarctic. He has documented dozens of scientific expeditions and has spent nearly two years of his life exploring the polar regions.

Chris’s images have appeared in museums, books, calendars, and international magazines, including Smithsonian, Canadian Geographic, Nature’s Best, Outdoor Photographer, and Wired.  A solo exhibition of his photographs, titled “Exploring the Arctic Seafloor,” was displayed at the Field Museum in Chicago and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He is the author of the hardcover book Science on Ice: Four Polar Expeditions (University of Chicago Press, 2011) ( He has been recognized with awards from the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards, and International Conservation Photography Awards competitions. Chris is a Senior Fellow in the International League of Conservation Photographers.

powell_by_linderHugh Powell, Science Writer

Hugh Powell is a science editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology ( He has a master’s degree in organismal and evolutionary biology from the University of Montana and completed the graduate science writing program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has studied birds and done fieldwork in Montana, Idaho, Hawaii, the eastern United States, Panama, Costa Rica, Iceland, Australia, Peru, and Antarctica.

Hugh regularly writes for Living Bird, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s magazine, where he has contributed recent stories on the conservation of Atlantic puffins, Laysan albatrosses, southern cassowaries, and Hawaiian crows, among other species. His writing has also appeared in Oceanus magazine, Slate, and Smithsonian online, where he wrote about food science. He contributed the chapter on Adelie penguins to Chris Linder’s book Science on Ice. This will be his third trip to Antarctica but his first to the Antarctic peninsula; past trips included the previous Ross Sea Connection project led by Dr. Josh Kohut.

Kate Florio, Project Coordinator, Liberty Science CenterKateFlorio

Kate grew up in Ohio, approximately 520 miles from the nearest ocean. Childhood trips to aquariums and the beaches of Delaware led her to major in marine biology and earth sciences at Boston University.  She received her B.A. in Earth Sciences from Boston University in 2004, and went on to an M.S. in Oceanography from Rutgers University. During a harrowing yet invigorating experience explaining M.S. and Ph.D. students’ research to six year-olds at Rutgers’ Bring Your Kids to Work Day, she discovered a love of turning complex science into engaging and relatable experiences for all audiences.  She now works with audiences of 1 to 300, ages 0 and up, educating and entertaining with all disciplines of science as a Senior STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Educator at Liberty Science Center.


Katie Gardner, Liberty Science Center

Katie Gardner, Teacher Programs Developer at Liberty Science Center is a geologist, and oceanographer. She is passionate about Earth, gaining interest in sharing that enthusiasm as an NSF GK-12 graduate fellow. She holds a B.S. in geology from Florida State University, attended the University of South Florida, for master’s work in oceanography, and holds a M.Ed. from Lesley University in STEM education. Katie has taught thousands of students and dozens of teachers across all disciplines of science in a variety of different formats. She develops exciting lessons and presentations for many different audiences. She co-taught COSIA, a science communications course at Rutgers University focused on providing science students with the skills to share their science with general audiences. She has also provided professional development in communication techniques and educational pedagogy to informal educators. She is currently involved in engineering and computer science education, as well as sharing techniques for integrating technology and data usage into classrooms.


Kristin Hunter-Thomson, Outreach Coordinator, Rutgers University

Kristin grew up splitting her time between the San Francisco, CA and Boston, MA areas, but always spending as much time near the ocean as possible. She received her B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Williams College, her M.A.T. from Lewis and Clark College, and her M.S. in Marine Science from San Jose State University. Her current research interests are how to create high quality STEM educational materials for students and teachers that bring current ocean science into the classroom. Through her work, Kristin fosters conversations and collaborations between teachers and ocean scientists, while also providing science rich lesson plans for the use in classrooms. In doing so, she works to make ocean science accessible to teachers and thus to students, which broadens the communities understanding of ocean science and the incredible ecosystem of the ocean.

Dr. Carrie Ferraro, Rutgers UniversityCarrieFerraro

Carrie earned her Ph.D. in Oceanography from Rutgers University. Her graduate research focused on microbial ecology. More specifically, she studied how environmental conditions relate to the types of active bacteria found at a location. She continues to work at Rutgers within the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences as a program coordinator for the Education and Outreach group.


SageLichtenwalnerSage Lichtenwalner, Data Visualization Specialist, Rutgers University

Sage Lichtenwalner is a Research Programmer at the Rutgers University Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences.  Sage works with both the Coastal Ocean Observation Lab and the Education & Outreach group, transitioning research data from coastal observatories into operational products for use by K-16 students, teachers and the general public.  Using a variety of data management, visualization and interactive web technologies, Sage has been involved with the design and development of dozens of web applications over the past 10 years, and is currently the Lead Developer for the Ocean Observatories Initiative’s new educational web portal, which aims to increase the usage and usability of ocean data in undergraduate courses.  Sage received his Bachelors degree in Physics from Rutgers College, and actively follows developments in the fields of physical oceanography, data visualization, online education and science communication, which he tweets to @visualocean.

Evaluation Team

mcdonnellJanice McDonnell, Science Engineering & Technology Agent, Associate Professor, Rutgers University

Her research interests include exploring how people learn and how to achieve “high quality” collaborations among scientists and educators. She particularly interested in how these collaborations can result in improved audience outcomes/impacts. She also is interested in how can we engage K-12 science teachers to integrate ocean sciences topics and effective science pedagogy (including skills, application and follow up) in their courses. Her work with the COOL Classroom involves exploring how can we bring technology and the real-time data they collect into classrooms in a meaningful and effective manner and how can technological tools such as Ocean Observing Systems, and more generally, sensors be utilized or designed that promote inquiry based instruction. Finally, she enjoys learning about and applying effective practices for assessing program/product impact (front end, formative, and summative levels) into instructional design.