2021 NOAA Science Seminar Series

URI’s Inner Space Center was pleased to support this seminar series. An archive of the six, OECI-themed, NOAA Science Seminar broadcasts is available below. For the full 2021 OECI seminar schedule, with details on presentations, please visit:

To learn more about the NOAA Science Seminar Series, which is open to the public, please send an email including the word “subscribe” to

NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI) Webinar Series

The Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI) is a NOAA-funded institute aimed at accelerating the pace of ocean exploration through the development of novel technology, engaging the public and training the next generation of ocean explorers, and conducting ambitious, sea-going expeditions to expand our knowledge of the U.S. EEZ. The six-part, NOAA Science Seminar Series introduced the OECI partners, their current achievements, and their upcoming plans to push forward to the next stage of ocean exploration within the 53% of the U.S. EEZ that remains unmapped.

Introduction to the NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute – Exploring the US’ Blue Frontier

This one-hour webinar about the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI) was recorded on Aug. 11th at 3 p.m. EDT, with OECI Director Dr. Adam Soule and NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute Manager Dr. Aurora Elmore. Opening remarks and insights were provided by NOAA acting Chief Scientist Craig McLean, Ocean Exploration Trust President Dr. Bob Ballard and NOAA Ocean Exploration acting Director Dr. Genene Fisher.

August 11, 2021

  • Craig McLean (NOAA Research)
  • Bob Ballard (Ocean Exploration Trust)
  • Genene Fisher (NOAA Ocean Exploration)
  • Adam Soule (OECI; University of Rhode Island)
  • Aurora Elmore (NOAA Ocean Exploration)

NOAA OECI: Seek and Discover – Shipwrecks of the Past inspiring Ocean Explorers of the Future

This one-hour webinar looked at ocean exploration achievements and plans of one of the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI) members: The University of Southern Mississippi (USM). It focused on a cruise aboard the RV Point Sur to explore the Gulf of Mexico near southwest Florida. The research team described how technology is used to map the seabed and search for the SS Norlindo (the first vessel lost in the Gulf of Mexico during WWII). The discussion then moved to what the research team could learn from the shipwreck using ROV exploration. Finally, all featured guests discussed the interactive nature of research through the eyes of the intern on the research team. This seminar took place on Sep. 1 at 3 p.m. EDT, and was hosted by NOAA OECI Manager Dr. Aurora Elmore, with USM’s Rae Quadara. They introduced USM scientists (Dr. Leila Hamdan and Dr. Leo Macelloni) and partners (Darrielle Williams and Dr. Ramble Ankumah from Tuskegee University). This was the second seminar in the six-part series.

September 1, 2021

  • Jessie Kastler (University of Southern Mississippi)
  • Leila Hamdan (University of Southern Mississippi)
  • Leonardo Macelloni (University of Southern Mississippi)
  • Rachel (Rae) Quadara (University of Southern Mississippi)
  • Darrielle Williams (Tuskegee University)

With our powers combined… Innovative multi-vehicle CONOPs (live from aboard E/V Nautilus)

This one hour seminar took place on Thursday, September 29, 2021, with scientists and engineers from the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and discussed exciting multi-vehicle technology and concept of operations tests aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus. Presented by team members live at sea off the coast of Southern California, this event featured OECI Associate Director, Jason Fahy, WHOI National Deep Submergence Facility Director, Andy Bowen, WHOI Senior Scientist Dr. Dana Yoerger, and OET Director of Education and Outreach Megan Cook. Early results were shared from this operation testing mission. This was the third seminar in the six-part OECI series.

September 29, 2021

  • Megan Cook (Ocean Exploration Trust)
  • Jason Fahy (Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute)
  • Andy Bowen (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
  • Casey Machado (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Mapping and Exploring the Ocean with the Next Generation of Uncrewed Surface Vessels

The fourth seminar of the series, “NOAA OECI: Mapping and Exploring the Ocean with the Next Generation of Uncrewed Surface Vessels”, was streamed live, at 3pm ET on October 20, 2021. It provided an overview of UNH’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping’s role in supporting the collective OECI goal of establishing a new paradigm for ocean exploration that will allow a suite of autonomous systems to extend the exploration footprint and capability of a manned vessel by conducting multiple, simultaneous, coordinated, mapping, exploration and characterization programs thus greatly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our exploration efforts. UNH’s efforts focus on the use of autonomous or uncrewed surface vessels that can become “force multipliers” for the deployment of mapping and other sensors, or can serve as both a mapping platform and communications hub, tracking and relaying information to and from submerged platforms (the AUVs and ROVs of OECI partners WHOI, USM and OET) the “mother ship” (e.g. OET’s NAUTILUS) and to shore and beyond (using URI’s Inner Space Center).

October 20, 2021

  • Larry Mayer (University of New Hampshire)
  • Val Schmidt (University of New Hampshire)

NOAA OECI: AUV Orpheus – Enabling new exploration and new questions in the deep ocean and beyond

The ocean’s hadal zone accounts for only about 2% of the global seafloor, but more than 40% of the ocean’s depth range. The new Orpheus class of autonomous underwater vehicles developed at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) offers to greatly reduce the complexity and risk of accessing hadal depth by combining time-tested deep-sea technology with advanced location-tracking software created by NASA to enable sophisticated exploration and study of the deep ocean. During this seminar, WHOI deep-sea biologist Tim Shank and mechanical engineer Casey Machado reviewed the objectives and results of a spring 2021 tech demo expedition funded by the OECI aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer to test two Orpheus vehicles, including one on its first open-ocean dives.

November 17, 2021

  • Tim Shank (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
  • Casey Machado (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

URI OECI Seminar: Exploring Volcanoes Under the Sea

The United State’s exclusive economic zone in the Central Pacific is dotted with hundreds of volcanic seamounts that are home to important ecosystems and valuable mineral resources. This finale seminar streamed live from the Ocean Exploration Trust’s E/V Nautilus as it made the first exploration of the Chautauqua Seamounts to uncover their secrets. Participants heard from experts about how, why, and where we explore volcanoes under the sea.

December 15, 2021

  • Paula Bontempi (University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography)
  • Adam Soule (OECI; University of Rhode Island)
  • Dwight Coleman (Inner Space Center, University of Rhode Island)
  • Coralie Rodriguez (University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography)
  • Katherine Kelley (University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography)