What's Happening at GCRL

The School of Ocean Science and Technology welcomes new faculty and staff

Mick Hawkins - Mick is originally from Australia, and moved to Mississippi in 2004 with an Australian company that conducts Bathymetric LIDAR surveys. He has an undergraduate degree in Geoinformatics and Surveying from the University of South Australia and a Master degree in Hydrographic Science from The University of Southern Mississippi. Mick will be working on grants USM has received from NOAA to incorporate bathymetric LIDAR survey data into nautical charting applications, as well as other projects within the hydrographic program. When not working, Mick spends his time with his young family.

Chudong Pan
 - Chudong graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2012 with a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography. As a postdoctoral scholar at University of South Florida, he concentrated his research on assimilating glider and High Frequency Radar observations into the Finite Volume Coastal Ocean model. In the last two years, he worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Florida Atlantic University, using high-resolution ocean models to simulate the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current impact on Pulley Ridge, a rare mesophotic, photosynthetic deep coral reef on the Southwest Florida Shelf. Chudong joined DMS this July. He is very excited to work with folks at DMS and on the CONCORDE research project.

Chan-Hoo Jeon  - Chan-Hoo received his Bachelor's degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Master's degree in Coastal Engineering from Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea. He worked for Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company for 4 years as a research engineer in South Korea before being admitted to the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his Ph.D. degree in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering. For his Ph.D., Chan-Hoo developed a multiphase flow solver to simulate debris flow induced phenomena. Chan-Hoo joined Dr. Buijsman's group as a post-doctoral researcher in May 2016. He has been implementing a HYCOM (Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model) to HYCOM two-way nesting using a nesting frame work such as OASIS3-MCT. The two-way nesting is expected to increase the accuracy of the tides in HYCOM significantly, with lower computational cost than the current one-way nesting approach. He will test the two-way nesting for efficient transmission of tidal surface and internal gravity waves in regional and global simulation. He runs HYCOM on the cluster at The University of Southern Mississippi and the supercomputers of the U.S. Navy.

Brooke Jones - Brooke grew up on the Gulf Coast, starting her marine science career in high school by working summer breaks at the former Marine Education Center in Biloxi. She later completed her BS in biological sciences, focusing her undergraduate research on marine mammal immunology. As a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi, she switched from lab-based research to satellite-and model-based interdisciplinary oceanography. For her doctoral research, she received a NASA fellowship to study the biogeochemical impacts and physical drivers of cross-shelf transport of the Mississippi River plume. Now, as a post-doctoral research scientist, Brooke is working in USM’s Ocean Weather Laboratory integrating satellite imagery and ocean circulation model output to investigate anomalous bio-optical and physical signals in the Gulf of Mexico. Her research is aimed at both contributing to our understanding of the Gulf of Mexico marine system and at developing tools for marine managers. 

Zachary Darnell - 
Darnell is a marine invertebrate biologist, with research interests centered on the environmental constraints imposed upon marine and estuarine invertebrate species. Specifically, his research focuses on (1) physiological and behavioral responses to environmental change and environmental stress; (2) environmental effects on life histories, distributions, and population dynamics; and (3) anthropogenic impacts on organism-environment interactions. Darnell earned a B.S. in biological sciences from Vanderbilt University in 2005 and a Ph.D. in ecology from Duke University in 2009. Since 2013, he has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA. He is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Coastal Sciences at the Gulf Coast Research Lab.

Leila Hamdan - Leila is trained as a microbial ecologist with a B.S. from Rowan University of New Jersey, and a M.S. and Ph.D. from George Mason University. She has held appointments as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate, a Research Microbial Ecologist in the Marine Biogeochemistry Section at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and an Assistant Professor of Molecular Microbial Ecology at George Mason University. Leila is an associate editor for the journals Biogeochemistry and Limnology and Oceanography, and has served in leadership roles with international societies including the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation and the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. She has conducted science at sea in coastal waters and in all of the world’s oceans, and has lead several oceanographic expeditions. Her work spans estuarine and marine habitats, and investigates coastal hypoxia, the methane cycle, and biogeography from the microbial perspective. She co-leads a multidisciplinary study of the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Spill on artificial reefs in the northern Gulf. This work harnesses the genetic diversity of microbiomes to monitor the effect of the spill over time on deep-sea ecosystems, and connects microorganisms to whole ecosystem function, a theme that spans her research portfolio. She is excited to enrich that theme through collaboration with experts at GCRL spanning the food web. It is her hope to contribute to solutions driving research for coastal ecosystems, in keeping with the rich history of the lab. The skills she brings draw into focus the microbiome viewpoint on ecosystems to understand and monitor change.

Chris Hayes - Chris is the new assistant professor in marine chemistry at DMS. He has a history of living near the water, growing up in Connecticut on the Long Island Sound, getting a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from McGill University on the St. Lawrence Seaway, pursuing doctoral study at Columbia University on the Hudson River, and most recently becoming a post-doctoral fellow at MIT on the Charles River. His research utilizes naturally occurring radioactive elements, like uranium and thorium, to learn about large-scale features of the ocean, such as how much desert dust is deposited in the sea or how quickly deep currents flow. He is interested in time-series measurements to document chemical change in the ocean, both today and in the geological past. He is also looking for recommendations for good canoeing spots in the area.

Jessica Pilarczyk - Jessica is a climate change oceanographer interested in understanding how coastal systems have been altered by both extreme events (storms, tsunamis) and gradual environmental changes over the Holocene. As a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University and the Earth Observatory of Singapore, Jessica focused on establishing long-term records of tropical cyclones, earthquakes (tsunamis) and sea-level change in locations such as the Philippines, Japan, Sumatra, Chile and the U.S. East Coast. Jessica is very excited to be joining DMS as an assistant professor and making the Gulf of Mexico her new backyard.