Bay Campus (B)log: Ocean Scientists for the Ocean State – Voting for Rhode Island with their Feet

There are many pathways that bring college graduates to Rhode Island to enroll in the University of Rhode Island’s world-renowned Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO). And there are just as many pathways leading away after they finish their degree. But a large number, about 20 percent, of GSO graduates choose to stay here, and the Ocean State reaps the benefits. Not only does Rhode Island get their expertise, but these alums contribute directly to the state’s economy. GSO alums have already voted with their feet and many have chosen to stay in Rhode Island. 

GSO Alums Strengthen RI’s Blue Economy by Working in the Private Sector

Quite a number of GSO alums are either hired right out of graduate school by environmental consulting firms or the alums start their own consulting firms. Rhode Island companies have learned the value of a GSO degree. These alums contribute directly to Rhode Island’s blue (marine-related) economy by using their expertise in a wide range of scientific applications, such as ocean floor mapping, oil spill modeling, chemical water quality analyses, environmental impact statements, and better weather forecasting. But whatever the topic, these scientists are contributing their expertise to issues important to Rhode Island: fisheries, health of Narragansett Bay, and quality of life for Rhode Island residents. Below are environmental consulting firms located in Rhode Island (although in some cases their work may be worldwide) and GSO alums working there as of the 2016 GSO Alumni Directory:

RPS Group (formerly ASA): Erin Bohaboy, Lauren Deckers, Paul Hall, Matt Horn, Debbie French McKay, Nate Vinhateiro,

Science Applications International Corp (SAIC): Rebecca Quintal

Leidos (formerly part SAIC): Chris Calabretta, Erin Markham, Greg Tracey

Alliance Environmental Group: Rich Hittinger

Brennan Explorations, LLC: Michael Brennan

ASC Scientific: Craig Amerigian

Maritime Planning Associates: Jennifer Cragan, Peter Egli, Chris Mueller

Accurate Environmental Forecasting, Inc.: Sergey Frolov, Dail Rowe

MarConsul: Thomas Glancy

Consultant – Julian Goulet

GTECH: Andrey Karachintsev, Matthew Remington      

GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc.: Margaret Kilpatrick

Atlantic/Pacific, Inc.: John Kosmark

Beach Tree Computing Systems, LLC: David Luce

Northrup Grumman: Susan Bourassa Panichas      

Marine Acoustics, Inc.: Kathy Vigness Raposa

E&C Environscape: Emily Shumchenia Andrew Staroscik

Environmental Packaging International: Andrea Tomasso

Vector Software, Inc.: Cathleen Turner

GSO Alums Protect RI Environment by Working for State Regulators

A number of GSO alums contribute directly to the quality of life in Rhode Island by working for state agencies that are tasked with protecting the environment:

Department of Environmental Management, Division of Marine Fisheries:

Conor McManus, Jason McNamee

Department of Environmental Management, Office of Water Resources, Shellfish Monitoring Program: Dave Borkman

Department of Health, Air Pollution Lab: Jessica Dombroski    

Department of Transportation: Alison Hamel

Teaching the Next Generation – GSO Alums Teach at Private and Public Schools

Some GSO alums teach at Rhode Island colleges, high schools, and middle schools.  The state is fortunate to have these people sharing their extensive knowledge:

Academia (private)

Roger Williams University: Scott Rutherford, David Taylor

RISD: Bonnie Epstein

The Wheeler School: George Milkowski

 St. Georges School: Scott Stachelhaus, Jessica Poetzsch Stachelhaus

Academia (public)

University of Rhode Island (Kingston campus): Elizabeth Laliberte (Geosciences)

Rhode Island College: Sarah Weinstein

Community College of Rhode Island: Emily Burns, Alison Hamel, William Johnson II, Bruno Soffientino

Middletown High School, Middletown, RI: Richard Sweetman

 Curtis Corner Middle School, Wakefield, RI:  Kristen Elmstrom Klenk (7th grade Science)


GSO Alums Make their Mark Nationally and Locally with Non-Governmental Organizations

Several GSO Alums have climbed the ranks to leadership positions in Rhode Island-based NGOs and some are continuing to advocate in grass roots positions:

The Nature Conservancy: Rich Bell – Conservancy Scientist; Lynn Hale – Leader Global Marine Team

East Coast Shellfish Growers Association (ECSGA): Robert Rheault -Executive Director

Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF): Anna Malek Mercer- Executive Director

RI Museum of Science and Art (RIMOSA): Bonnie Epstein – Board of Directors

Narrow River Preservation Association (NRPA): Catalina Martinez-Board of Directors; Veronica Berounsky-Vice President

GSO Alums at Federal Laboratories

GSO is fortunate to share the Bay Campus with two well-respected Federal Laboratories. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is represented by the Atlantic Ecology Division of EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is represented by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. They are GSO partners in many campus events such as the Open House. An important part of their role is that they bring federal research dollars to Rhode Island, plus the Federal labs provide postdoctoral research positions and full time positions for alums interested in different aspects of oceanography. Here are GSO alums presently working in the two facilities:

EPA: Walter Berry, Sandra Benyi, Barbara Bergen, Robert Burgess, Mark Cantwell, Kay Ho, Darryl Keith, John Kiddon, Jim Latimer, Autumn Oczkowski, Rich Pruell, Hal Walker.

NMFS (NOAA): Mark Berman, Kim Whitman Hyde, Lisa Natanson, Jerry Prezioso, Nancy Kohler, Chris Melrose

GSO Alums Work with Federal Partners

Just across the bridge into Newport there is another Federal facility, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC). Here they develop and test technology to support the needs of the US Navy.  Presently the following GSO alums are Federal employees there: Michael Garr, Andrew Greene, Martin Hyman, Natasha Pinckard, Paul Temple, Stephanie Zamorski

Located at GSO, in the Inner Space Center is NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. This brings in Federal funds for telepresence with the NOAA Ship of Exploration Okeanos, berthed at Quonset. GSO alum Catalina Martinez manages this office. (Catalina and her work were the subject of a previous Bay Campus (B)log.)

The Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of 28 around the country, is actually a partnership between the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and NOAA to encourage and provide examples of good management and stewardship of coastal resources. GSO alum Kenny Raposa is the Research Coordinator.

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, one of 28 such EPA-funded programs, whose mission is to protect, restore, and preserve Narragansett Bay and its bi-state watershed, is charged with periodically compiling the status and trends of Narragansett Bay and its watershed. GSO alum Courtney Schmidt, is the program’s staff scientist

Not Just the GSO Dean, But Alumni

Some alums have left Rhode Island after graduate school, established their scientific reputation elsewhere, and then applied for a position in hopes of returning to Rhode Island. One example of this is our present Dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography, Bruce Corliss. He came from the non-ocean state of Vermont, stayed for two degrees, an M.S. in 1974 and a Ph.D. in 1978, spent many years in other states and at other institutions. When the position of dean was advertised, Bruce applied, and in 2013 became GSO’s seventh dean. But he was not the first alumni of GSO to become Dean, Margaret Leinen was. Margaret received her Ph.D. in 1980, worked for a few years elsewhere, then returned to GSO as Dean. She left to take other positions and is now the Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Vice Chancellor and Dean for Marine Sciences there. Speaking of GSO Deans, another GSO alum, Jim Yoder M.S. 1974, Ph.D. 1979, took on the position as “Acting Dean of GSO” during a transition period. Jim did leave GSO to become Dean of Academic Programs at the Woods Hole Institution for Oceanography but when he retired, he returned to Rhode Island and has an office at GSO. GSO knows the high quality of its graduates and has selected these three as Dean knowing they would be the right people to lead GSO in the never-ending search for research funds AND to promote ocean science in the Ocean State.

GSO Alums Working at GSO                

Some people have come to GSO and never left because they realize GSO is a great place to work and Rhode Island is a great place to live. A good example is GSO Alum and professor Candace Oviatt  (who was the subject of a previous Bay Campus (B)log) Dr. Oviatt came as a student, received her Ph.D. and kept working and is still at GSO today. She’s recognized worldwide as an expert on Narragansett Bay. 

You can see for yourself from the list below that GSO alums are staying here to continue working on cutting edge research, whether it’s as a professor, postdoctoral researcher, or lab technician. They are also using their expertise in various ways in addition to research, such as staffing the research vessel Endeavor, running the summer research program for undergraduates, and directing the telepresence broadcasts coming through the Inner Space Center.

Dave Adelman (Rainer Lohman Lab Field Manager)

Bob Ballard (Professor plus runs Ocean Exploration Trust)

Veronica Berounsky (Research associate, writes Bay Campus (B)log)

Bob Campbell (Marine Research Scientist (MRS))

Dwight Coleman (Inner Space Center (ISC) Director)

Bruce Corliss (GSO Dean)

Marie-Helene Cormier (MRS)

Kathleen Donohue (Professor)

Steve Granger (Marine technician,  EPSCoR grant)

Cliff Heil (Research associate)

David Katz (Research associate)

Roger (Pat) Kelly (Research associate)

Chris Knowlton (Assistant Director, ISC)

Monique LaFrance-Bartley (Marine research assistant)

Lucie Maranda (MRS, Director of SURFO Program)

Gabe Matthias (Ship’s Technician on R/V Endeavor)

Yackar Mazole (Marine lab assistant)

Francoise Morison (Postdoc)

Collen Mouw (Assistant professor)

Candace Oviatt (Professor)

Rob Pockalny (MRS)

Jan Rines (MRS)

Bob Sand (Computer Center Manager)

Victoria Treadway (Research assistant)

GSO Alums at the Forefront of Rhode Island Towns

At least one GSO alum is using her years of expertise from her degree and years of working at the Coastal Resources Center to make a difference in her town. Virginia Lee ran for the Charlestown Town Council and was elected President. So now she shares her expertise on many issues that arise in this coastal town.

GSO Alumni + Rhode Island = a Win!

GSO graduates are well educated, are exposed to many different opportunities, and are well prepared for moving on in their career. But the Rhode Island lifestyle encourages many to stay, improving both the state’s economy and the environment. GSO alums branch out into many areas and careers throughout Rhode Island, using their expertise in diverse ways. This makes the state even more attractive to the next set of graduating students, not to mention people from other areas of the country who are considering moving to the Ocean State. GSO alums are an all-around win for Rhode Island!


November 9, 2018    Volume 1, Number 8.

This blog post was written by Veronica M. Berounsky, GSO Science Correspondent and Coastal Ecologist. She first arrived at GSO in March of 1979 as a research lab tech. In 1990 she obtained her Ph.D., working on nitrification in Narragansett Bay with the late Scott W. Nixon. She continues to be fascinated by the ecology of coastal ecosystems every day. With this blog she hopes to increase your understanding of the activities and people of GSO and the Narragansett Bay Campus. Please email any comments to her at

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