Here be Dragons 2018: Speakers

Jon Tadiello

Names in italics are National Geographic Explorers.


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Morning Plenary Speakers

Joi Ito has been recognized for his work as an activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and advocate of emergent democracy, privacy, and internet freedom. As director of the MIT Media Lab, and a Professor of the Practice in Media Arts and Sciences, he is currently exploring how radical new approaches to science and technology can transform society in substantial and positive ways.

Alex Moen is vice president of National Geographic’s Explorers Program. He leads a team focused on identifying, developing and promoting inspirational scientists, conservationists who are raising awareness around important topics and issues and engaging a broad audience to care and act.

Robert Ballard is the President of the Ocean Exploration Trust and Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration, University of Rhode Island. He is best known for his discoveries of hydrothermal vents, R.M.S. Titanic, and numerous shipwrecks around the world. Ballard has conducted more than 150 expeditions using the latest technologies for science and education. 



At the Edge of the Map A: Exploration and Discovery

Kenny Broad is the  Director of the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, University of Miami. He  is an environmental anthropologist who has participated in extreme scientific and filmmaking expeditions on every continent to gather information and samples that shed light on little known environmental and cultural subjects ranging from risk perception to venomous snakes. 

Beverly Goodman is Asst. Professor of Marine Geosciences at the University of Haifa. She blends skills from archaeology, geology, and anthropology to explore the complex ways nature and humans interact on coastlines. Goodman's work concentrates on the causes and effects of ancient environmental events like tsunamis and floods to better understand what risks are present today. 

Kakani Katija is Principal Engineer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. She develops underwater technologies to better observe biological and physical processes in the ocean. Katija's research efforts have contributed to our understanding of biologically induced mixing of the oceans, the ecology of gelatinous invertebrates in deep-sea environments, and bio-inspired design. 

Adam Soule is Chief Scientist for Deep Submergence at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He uses deep sea vehicles to study magma generation, storage, and eruption in submarine volcanic systems. Soule seeks to understand the links between magmatism, tectonism, and hydrothermal circulation and their contributions to the geology, biology, and chemistry of the ocean basins. 



At the Edge of the Map B: Our Thriving Ocean

Diva Amon is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellow at the Natural History Museum, London, UK. A Trinidadian marine biologist, she studies the weird and wonderful animals living the deep sea and how our actions are impacting them. Amon has participated in deep-sea expeditions around the world and has an extensive science communication and outreach record.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, and founder of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice. Johnson works at the nexus of science, policy, and communication and is a passionate advocate for coastal communities and ocean zoning. She envisions a healthy ocean that supports food security, economies, and cultures.

John Mandelman is the Vice President and Chief Scientist of the Anderson Cabot Center at the New England Aquarium. His research focuses on the ecology and conservation of marine fishes, to better understand and mitigate the lethal and sublethal effects of human-induced disturbances on vulnerable and/or socioeconomically important species, particularly in the Gulf of Maine. 

Jeff Marlow is a geobiologist at Harvard University, where he researches methane-eating microbes in the deep sea. He is a science writer who has written for publications including Wired Magazine and the New York Times, and the founder of the Ad Astra Academy, an educational organization that uses exploration to spark a passion for learning among marginalized students.



Deep Data A: Analysis and Sharing

Katy Croff Bell '00 is the Founder and Lead of the MIT Media Lab Open Ocean initiative. She is a deep sea explorer with a background in ocean engineering, maritime archaeology, and geological oceanography, and has led dozens of expeditions around the world. Bell is passionate about making the ocean more accessible and familiar to  everyone around the world. 

Alan Turchik is the Product Development Manager for the Exploration Technology Lab at the National Geographic Society. He is in charge of scaling systems that the team has created, such as the Dropcam, a deep ocean benthic exploration tool. He spent his first six years with the team as a mechanical engineer, designing, testing, and deploying sensor systems all over the world.

Ben Woodward is Co-Founder of CVision AI. He designs, implements, and tests signal and image processing algorithms for tracking and discrimination using multiple sensor system inputs. Woodward researches large scale computing as it pertains to real time or near real time signal processing algorithms, including deep learning, computer vision, and multi-sensor fusion.

Grace Calvert Young ‘14 is an aquanaut and PhD Candidate at University of Oxford. She is developing technologies to help better understand, explore, and manage the ocean. Her recent work uses computer vision and machine learning to create and analyze 3D models of coral reefs. A former ballerina, she's also active in the arts community. 



Deep Data B: Platforms and Sensors

Alan Leonardi is the Director of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, the only federal program dedicated to systematic telepresence-enabled exploration of the world ocean.. A meteorologist and oceanographer, Leonardi is responsible for providing direction to NOAA and the U.S. Department of Commerce on ocean exploration, research, and technology development.

Anna Michel ’98, SM’02, PhD’07 is an Associate Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She is an ocean engineer whose research focuses on the development, application, and use of optical-based sensors for environmental chemical measurements. 

Brennan Phillips is a Professor of Ocean Engineering at the University of Rhode Island. As an engineer and deep sea biologist, his research is focused on applying novel technologies to answer questions about hydrothermal vent plumes, bioluminescence, and mid-water biology.

Antonella Wilby is a PhD student studying Computer Science at the University of California, San Diego. Her research interests are in field and exploration robotics, particularly navigation for autonomous multi-robot systems in underwater environments for applications in ecology, conservation, and ocean exploration.



All Hands on Deck A: Sea Stories

Corey Jaskolski SM’02 is the Founder of Hydro Technologies, a company that engineers wireless sensors that can be used to help prevent subsea oil and gas leaks. He is an engineer, specializing in creating technologies for some of the most challenging environments on Earth. Jaskolski is currently developing new imaging solutions to capture imagery that lets us all see the world in new ways. 

Susan Poulton is the Chief Digital Officer of The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia where she currently oversees all digital content, including the integration of advanced technologies including virtual and augmented reality into the exhibition space. Her passion is inspiring and awakening curiosity in any audience and moving them to action through digital experiences and storytelling.

Brian Skerry is a photojournalist specializing in marine wildlife and underwater environments. Since 1998 he has been a contract photographer for National Geographic Magazine and is currently at work on his 28th story. Skerry has spent more than 10,000 hours underwater over the past 40 years.

Kaitlin Yarnall is Vice President of Media Innovation at the National Geographic Society, where she works to identify key partnerships, grantmaking, and fellowship opportunities with creative talent. She is an expert on storytelling, data visualization, mapping, and visual narratives, and she is passionate about increasing diversity within  journalism, photography, and data visualization.



All Hands on Deck B: Democratizing the Ocean

Annie Brett is a lawyer and PhD candidate at the University of Miami. She is a bluewater sailor who has captained ships to some of the remotest areas of the globe. She currently researches the litigation of exploration, seeking to understand the areas where law, science, and exploration intersect.  

Asha de Vos is a Sri Lankan ocean educator, pioneer of blue whale research within the Northern Indian Ocean, and the Founder of Oceanswell.  Her life’s work is to change the current marine conservation model, protect the unique population of Indian Ocean blue whales, and inspire the next generation of ocean heroes from all corners of the globe.

Shah Selbe is an engineer and conservation technologist who works with communities, NGOs, and developing countries to identify and deploy technologies that can help with their greatest conservation challenges. As the Founder of Conversify, he uses open source technology to empower local communities to bring innovative tools into how we change our planet’s’ future.

Gregg Treinish is the Founder and Executive Director of Adventure Scientists, an organization that equips partners with data collected from the outdoors that are crucial to unlocking solutions to the world's environmental challenges. By leveraging the skills of the outdoor adventure community they are able to gather difficult-to-obtain data at any scale, in any environment. 



Afternoon Plenary

Tim Delaney spent 34 years at Walt Disney Imagineering, including 19 years as Vice President of Design, leading teams that designed and constructed attractions worldwide. He was the Creative Director and Producer of EPCOT Center’s Living Seas Pavilion, a one of a kind attraction dedicated to exploration, discoveries and immersion into the future of the world’s oceans.

Sara Drakeley ‘12 is currently a software engineer for Engineers Gate, a private trading firm using statistical strategies to grow investment capital. Previously, as a technical director at Walt Disney Animation Studios, she developed algorithms and pipelines for procedural geometry (trees, ice, fur, and water) for films like MoanaFrozenBig Hero SixZootopia, and Wreck-It Ralph 2

Dan Novy is a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, where he works to decrease the alienation fostered by traditional passive media consumption; increase social interaction through transparent, interconnected and fluid media; and create enriched, active, and inspired immediate experiences. He is an Emmy- and Visual Effects Society Award winning VFX Technical Supervisor.




V. Michael Bove directs the MIT Media Lab Object-Based Media research group,  which explores the future of electronic visual communication and expression, and how the distribution of computational intelligence throughout video and audio communication systems can make a richer connection between the people at the ends of the systems.

Peter Girguis is a Professor of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. His interdisciplinary research resides at the crossroads of microbial ecology, physiology, and biogeochemistry. In addition, develops new technologies to study deep sea animals and microbes. Most recently, he is teaching a class at Harvard University on Sea Monsters.

Andrew Lippman directs the MIT Media Lab Viral Communications research group, which examines scalable, real-time, distributed systems that are robust and participatory. This approach to communications, human social interactions, and broadcasting can re-engage the population in science, news, social issues, and political participation.




Devora Najjar is a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab focusing on ethically-minded bioengineering projects. Currently working on mammalian daisy drive systems, she has a strong interest in the implications for biotechnology policy, biosecurity, and public discussions. Najjar also enjoys finding new ways to explore biodiversity within the deep ocean and outer space.

Dava Newman SM'89, SM’89, PhD'92, is the Apollo Professor of Astronautics at MIT and former NASA Deputy Administrator. Her research expertise is in aerospace biomedical engineering, investigating human performance in varying gravity environments. Since returning to the institute, Newman has turned her attention to curating environmental data to regenerate the Earth across oceans, air, and near space.

Joe Paradiso directs the MIT Media Lab Responsive Environments research group, which explores which explores how sensor networks augment and mediate human experience, interaction and perception. His current research includes embedded sensing systems and networks, wearable and body sensor networks, human-computer interfaces, and interactive music/media. 

Brooke Runnette is Chief Program Officer of Emerson Elemental.

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