Our Team

Directory

Steven Murawski, PhD

Steven Murawski, PhD

PI

Murawski has over 45 years of experience as a marine scientist and science administrator. He had a 35-year career at NOAA last serving as the Chief Scientist of NMFS where he oversaw a staff of 2,500, a $420 million per year budget, and the operations of 11 research vessels. Since coming to the University of South Florida, Steve has been PI on >$45 million in grants including the Center for Integrative Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE), and the Continental Shelf Characterization, Assessment and Mapping Project (C-SCAMP).

Tim Dixon, PhD

Tim Dixon, PhD

Co-PI

Tim Dixon is Principle Investigator on the SUBGEO project, the NSF-funded program to develop and deploy geodetic spar buoys. Dixon is a Distinguished University Professor in the School of Geosciences, USF, and has 35 years experience in marine and terrestrial geodesy, including satellite radar altimetry, GPS/GNSS, and surface and satellite based radar interferometry. Role in COMIT: Dixon will oversee enhancements to the geodetic spar buoy required for this project, and work with the other investigators to facilitate novel applications, including calibration of multibeam depth sounders, new approaches to precision sea level measurement, and tests of GPS-GNSS systems. This work will result in in calibration of precision depth measurements, assessment of new technologies, and sea level rise measurements.

Alastair Graham, PhD

Alastair Graham, PhD

Co-PI

Graham has 13 years of experience as a marine geophysicist with specialties in seafloor mapping and sub-surface geophysical survey, particularly in polar environments. He has participated in 9 major Antarctic ship-based field expeditions and had hands-on experience in mapping, processing, and interpreting datasets from manned (ROVs) and unmanned (AUVs) vehicles, in deep water and under-ice environments. He is currently a co-PI on the 5-year, $50 million NSF-funded International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), working most recently alongside Swedish collaborators on geological interpretations of geophysical data collected with a state-of-the-art Kongsberg HUGIN AUV.

 

Cheryl Hapke, PhD

Cheryl Hapke, PhD

Co-PI

Hapke is a coastal geologist with over 25 years of experience in studies of coastal geomorphology, coastal change hazards, and application of state-of-the-art mapping techniques, both field and remote-sensing based. She had a 22-year career at the USGS, serving as a senior research geologist overseeing national-scale projects including a $4.2 million dollar effort to conduct extensive multi-year mapping after Hurricane Sandy along the NY coastline. Cheryl served as the director of the USGS St Petersburg Coastal Science Center before coming to USF-CMS. Role in COMIT: As program coordinator for the Florida Coastal Mapping Program (FCMaP), Hapke will coordinate seafloor mapping across multiple mapping groups from numerous State and federal government entities, as well as the private sector and academia, and ensure efforts of FCMaP and COMIT are cross-walked. She will also participate as a co-PI on tasks and activities related to seafloor mapping and coastal vulnerability and hazards.

Chad Lembke, M.M.E.

Chad Lembke, M.M.E.

Co-PI

Mr. Lembke is a Research Faculty member who has been responsible for various mechanical and systems engineering projects for USF-CMS. Since 1998, Lembke has been involved in prototype engineering, fabrication, and utilization of dozens of sensors, instruments, and platforms designed for use in the oceanographic environment, including coastal profiling floats, ROVs, AUVs, buoys, underwater mass spectrometers, and other chemical and biological sensors. More recently his focus has been the utilization of underwater gliders, towed video, and shipboard sonar systems in collaboration with scientists to these technologies in tandem to enhance fisheries stock assessment data collection. 

Mark Luther, PhD

Mark Luther, PhD

Co-PI

Luther has >45 years of experience in marine science and currently directs the Center for Maritime and Port Studies. He has worked with NOAA/NOS and others in real-time ocean observing systems since 1991 and has served as Director of Operations for the Tampa Bay Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System since 1995. Mark was involved in initial planning and implementation of the US Integrated Ocean Observing System. He now works closely with the Tampa Port Authority, the Tampa Bay Pilots, and US Coast Guard on environmental issues affecting and affected by maritime transportation operations and infrastructure. Role in COMIT: Luther will build upon his 30 years of experience with the regional maritime community to guide COMIT efforts in precision navigation. He will interface with Port Tampa Bay leadership, coordinate the upgrades of water level gauges and interact with un-crewed/autonomous vessel system developers. Luther will also guide the application of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning platforms in development of navigational decision support systems.

David Naar, PhD

David Naar, PhD

Co-PI

David Naar has 41 years of experience in seafloor mapping. His work began at UC Santa Barbara in 1979 with side-scan mapping projects, followed by multibeam mapping in 1982. Since then, Naar has used many different acoustic single beam and multibeam sonars at frequencies ranging from 3.5 to 400 kHz. Naar joined the USF-CMS in 1990 where he began using multibeam sonar for many ONR, NOAA, NSF, USGS seafloor mapping investigations, benthic habitat studies, as well as bathymetry verifications for several hyperspectral, optical, and AUV side-scan programs. These activities served as education and training of Marine Science MS and PhD graduate students. David is now the Associate Dean overseeing Academic Programs for USF CMS.

 

Robert Weisberg, PhD

Robert Weisberg, PhD

Co-PI

Weisberg has 44 years of experience combining field operations with modeling to better understand ocean systems. He and his team operate the offshore and estuarine circulation aspects of the COMPS Program. This includes real-time observations from an array of moored buoys and daily, automated nowcast/forecast circulation models for the continental shelf and estuaries of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, plus a very high resolution (20m) model for Tampa Bay. These models have been applied to hurricane storm surge and waves, transport of materials and biota (e.g. red tide tracking), and oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill. His models also include high-resolution bathymetry and coastal geomorphology.

 

Matthew Hommeyer

Matthew Hommeyer

Technical Operations Manager

Since joining the College of Marine Science in 2015, Mr. Hommeyer has been responsible for planning and execution of all marine survey operations on multiple projects in the Gulf of Mexico and the Bahamas funded by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Naval Research, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and private industry partners. His research interests are concentrated around the collection, processing, and visualization of hydrographic data. In his role as COMIT’s Field & Technical Manager, Hommeyer leads the integration of uncrewed systems and other innovative marine survey technologies across multiple projects at the Center. Prior to his academic career, he spent fourteen years in the marine survey and environmental consulting industries, where he supported projects for the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Navy, and several port facilities.

 

Liesl Hotaling

Liesl Hotaling

Multimedia Product Manager

Ms. Hotaling has over 20 years of experience specializing in real time data education and hands-on STEM educational projects supporting environmental observing networks. She holds a B.S. in Marine Science, a M.A.T. in Science Teaching, and a M.S. in Maritime Systems (ocean engineering). She serves as the Vice President for Communication for the Marine Technology Society, and serves as the Project Manager of the Student Enabled Network of Sensors for the Environment using Innovative Technology (SENSE IT). For the COMIT project, she will develop and oversee community outreach content, including the Deep Soundings podcast series and working to engage community stakeholders in the use of COMIT data.

Sherryl Gilbert

Sherryl Gilbert

Program Manager

Ms. Gilbert has over 20 years of experience in large, complex oceanographic research programs. She most recently served as the Associate Director for the Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE), a multi-national consortium of 18 institutions focused on evaluating the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico. Over the past 10 years, Ms. Gilbert has managed C-IMAGE’s research and budget portfolio of $38 million. Before the Deepwater Horizon spill, Ms. Gilbert was the Gulf of Mexico Technical Director for the Alliance for Coastal Technologies, a NOAA-funded partnership of research institutions, resource managers, and private sector companies dedicated to fostering the development and adoption of effective and reliable sensors and platforms.

 

Sarah Grasty

Sarah Grasty

Outreach Manager

Ms. Grasty has 10 years of outreach and informal education experience and most recently held project management and scientific research roles with COMIT’s predecessor, the Continental Shelf Characterization, Assessment and Mapping Project (C-SCAMP). She now manages COMIT’s website/social media, quarterly newsletters, general outreach efforts, and is leading a Trusted Community Bathymetry project in collaboration with the University of New Hampshire/Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping. She is also looking forward to integrating diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) initiatives into the Center’s activities. Ms. Grasty additionally co-leads USF CMS’s Guardians of the Gulf outreach program with colleague, Kristen Kusek (USF CMS Director of Communications). Guardians seeks to provide fun, multisensory marine science and coastal resiliency programming to underserved youth at Boys & Girls Clubs in Pinellas County.

 

Jeff Donovan

Jeff Donovan

Sr. Systems Administrator

Mr. Donovan graduated from the University of Florida in 1985 with a degree in Computer Engineering. He has worked with the Ocean Circulation Lab (led by Dr. Weisberg) for 34 years serving as the system administrator, data manager, database administrator and programmer. He is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the Ocean Circulation Lab. Mr. Donovan will manage all data collected by the lab, both real-time and delayed mode, from acquisition and quality control through archival and dissemination, which will be incorporated into COMIT’s models.
Yonggang Liu, PhD

Yonggang Liu, PhD

Coastal Physical Oceanographer

Dr. Yonggang Liu has 20 years research experience in ocean circulation on the West Florida Shelf, Gulf of Mexico, using both in-situ observations and numerical models. He is interested in applying physical oceanography to marine environmental issues, such as oil spill tracking and red tide predictions. He also develops and applies novel data analysis methods in meteorology and oceanography. For the COMIT project, he will run the suite of nested models and assist Dr. Weisberg with all aspects of the ocean circulation applications.

Dr. Yonggang Liu’s Research Webpage

Dr. Yonggang Liu on Google Scholar

Alex Silverman

Alex Silverman

Electrical & Software Engineer

Mr. Silverman has worked on several projects at USF over the last decade including operating and integrating Webb Slocum underwater gliders, designing remote sensor data collection units, serving as lead software engineer for the C-BASS towed camera, and operating and evaluating a neural network based computer vision systems to assess fisheries stock on the West Florida Shelf. He also has extensive field experience aboard a variety of research vessels deploying, operating debugging and performing field repairs on many different instruments. Mr. Silverman received his Master of Science degree in electrical engineering for which his studies focused on machine vision, pattern recognition, and artificial intelligence. On COMIT, Mr. Silverman will assist in the Center’s database and data storage management, AI development, and provide technical expertise for the UxSs and geodetic operations.

 

Steven Myers, PhD

Steven Myers, PhD

Coastal Physical Oceanographer

Dr. Steven Meyers is the Chief Scientist for the USF Center for Maritime and Port Studies. He is a physicist with extensive experience in coastal oceanography and data analytics. He will investigate the use of COMIT research findings by the maritime industry to improve operational safety and efficiency.

 

Yunfang Sun, PhD

Yunfang Sun, PhD

Research Associate

Dr. Yunfang Sun is a physical oceanographer with over 10 years of experience in studies of computational fluid dynamics and ocean modeling, dynamics of coupled oceanic-atmospheric modeling, estuary and coastal ocean processes, and coupled physical-biological modeling. Dr. Sun is currently responsible for the new high-resolution WFCOM modeling.

 Dr. Sun’s CV

Jason Law

Jason Law

Physical Oceanographer & Mooring Technician

Mr. Law is a physical oceanographer engaged in ocean circulation studies as part of the Ocean Circulation Lab under the direction of Dr. Weisberg. Additionally, Mr. Law has 2 decades of experience in design and deployment of real-time observing systems in the coastal ocean. Primary duties for the COMIT project will be in coordinating physical oceanographic field work.
Jing Chen

Jing Chen

Post-Doc

Mr. Chen’s research focuses on the estuarine and coastal processes. He is using the high-resolution Tampa Bay Coastal Ocean Model (TBCOM), which provides daily automated nowcasts and forecasts, to look how varied environmental factors affect the models under different situations. Applications of Chen’s work include how Tampa Bay responds to hurricane storm surge, how modifications to wastewater treatment effluent may affect Hillsborough Bay, and how biogenic materials such as red tide cells may aggregate along fronts within the Bay. While tracking the 2018 K. brevis red tide, his TBCOM products were used by the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management in their weekly red tide briefings and by Pinellas County to help guide their dead fish clean-up operations.