OceanX Lab

Our Team

A headshot of Vincent Pieribone

Vincent Pieribone

Co-CEO & Chief Science Officer

Dr. Vincent Pieribone is Vice Chairman of OceanX, an initiative of Dalio Philanthropies. In addition, he is a Professor of Cellular & Molecular Physiology and Neuroscience at the Yale School of Medicine and a Fellow at the John B. Pierce Laboratory. His research is directed at discovering and engineering methods to measure brain activity using a combination of light and proteins found in the ocean. Over the past 15 years, he has conducted ocean research expeditions across the globe. He has started both a pharmaceutical company and a medical diagnostic company. Vincent also serves as a Research Associate for The American Museum of Natural History and on the Scientific Board of Directors of the Mystic Aquarium.

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Mattie Rodrigue

Science Program Director

Mattie Rodrigue is a seasoned ocean science professional with extensive experience with ocean exploration initiatives, marine science research, program development and facilitation. She is the Head of Science Operations at OceanX. Prior to joining the OceanX team, Mattie earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences, with a concentration in conservation and ecology, from Arizona State University. She then earned a Master of Science degree in Marine Biology, and a Master of Science degree in Marine Policy from the University of Maine, while running a multidisciplinary fisheries research program with local fishing communities along the coast of Maine. After completing her graduate degrees, Mattie was selected for the prestigious John D. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, placing her at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reporting to NOAA leadership. Mattie worked on domestic and international ocean, weather, and climate policy initiatives as well as ocean exploration and technology programming for NOAA. When Mattie is not sailing on board OceanXplorer she is living happily in Brooklyn with her plants, all cactus.

A headshot of Jeriyla Kamau-Weng

Jeriyla Kamau-Weng

Research Analyst

Jeriyla Kamau-Weng works on expedition planning and research development for the OceanX team. She is a recent graduate of Northeastern University where she earned her bachelors in marine biology and masters in environmental science and policy. During her time at Northeastern, she founded the Marine and Environmental Science Peer Mentoring Program and was named to the Huntington 100, which honors the 100 most influential students on campus. Jeriyla has explored a variety of subjects in (and out of) marine biology including termite reproductive physiology, oyster reef restoration, eelgrass genetics, and fish aquaculture. Jeriyla has also conducted research at Friday Harbor Laboratories where she studied the ventilation patterns of live spotted ratfish. Her most recent research endeavor involved manipulating zebrafish models to mimic the genetic elements of antarctic fish to help pinpoint the causes of rare cardiovascular and bone diseases in humans. Outside of work, Jeriyla enjoys staying active and advancing her surfing skills

A headshot of Kailani Acosta

Kailani Acosta

Science Program Consultant

Kailani Acosta (she/her) is a sixth-year Ph.D. student at Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, studying biological oceanography and finishing her degree in early 2024. She received her B.S. from Brown University in Environmental Science in 2016. Her research is primarily focused on Phosphorus and Nitrogen in the surface ocean of the Gulf of Mexico and how nutrients change over time and space. She is interested in understanding how nutrients vary and how they influence phytoplankton communities and larger-scale ecosystem nutrient cycles. Her research interests include nutrient cycling, microbial ecology, and ecosystem modeling. She is passionate about increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM.

At Columbia, she created the Seminar Diversity Initiative, an initiative focused on increasing diversity and inclusion in research seminars, and supervised Columbia Climate Conversations, an undergraduate-led climate panel series focused on uplifting the voices of primarily women of color. She served as the elected Student Member-at-Large on the Governing Board of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) 2021 – 2023, and is one of the Early Career Liaisons for the U.S. National Committee for the UN Ocean Decade.

A headshot of Larissa Fruehe

Larissa Fruehe

eDNA Post-Doc

Larissa manages the genomics program onboard the OceanXplorer. Priro to joining the OceanX team, Larissa's research focused on the usage of eDNA to explore ecosystems like coral reefs, seagrass meadows, mangroves, or survey (microbial) community changes in marine habitats. During her Ph.D, she tested the potential of microbes as bioindicators to assess the impacts of aquaculture on coastal ecosystems. Using metabarcoding and bioinformatics, she is interested in finding bioindicators - ranging from marine microbes to megafauna - and new methods to describe changes in sensitive marine habitats.

A headshot of Kate von Krusentiern

Kate von Krusentiern

Mapping Coordinator

Kate is a geospatial and mapping specialist working on a variety of projects relating to ocean exploration and ocean science. As a technician, my role is multifaceted and dynamic. She manages systems to acquire a spectrum of acoustic data, such as Multibeam Echosounders to gather bathymetry data or sub-bottom profiles to understand the different types of the substrate underneath the seafloor. She process and analyze data collected for quality assurance and control, this ensures the data collected can be leveraged for different needs in the marine field. She also tracks subsea vehicles, such as an ROV, using navigation software. This work is very team-oriented and she always get to work with a variety of technicians, engineers, and scientists to make ocean science happen.

A headshot of Valerie Warner

Valerie Warner

Science and IT Officer

A headshot of Carlos Fonseca

Carlos Fonseca

Science and IT Officer

A headshot of Constantin Benedic

Constantin Benedic

Science and IT Officer

An headshot of Erin Heffron

Erin Heffron

Survey Technician

Erin Heffron is an ocean mapping specialist providing sonar data acquistion, subsea navigation, geospatial analysis, and GIS services through her company, Ocean Mapping Services LLC. Her undergraduate studies focused on geology and GIS, and she became immersed in the world of ocean mapping while working for IVS3D and, post-acquisition of IVS3D, QPS, as a Senior Product Specialist focusing on pre-sales technical support, product outreach and technical training for nearly ten years. She was a founding member of the Backscatter Working Group and was part the internal core team tasked with investigating client and community needs during the development of the Qimera software. She left QPS in 2015 to pursue her master’s degree in Earth Sciences, Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping. While completing her master's she began working extensively with the Ocean Exploration Trust, serving as a Mapping Coordinator, Lead Navigator and Expedition Leader aboard the E/V Nautilus on dozens of expeditions. Post-degree she has continued working offshore as well as on shore-based projects ranging from data processing to pre-exploration research and geohazard analysis, for a variety of clients.

A headshot of Amanda Bittinger

Amanda Bittinger

Survey Technician

 A headshot of Rikki Kirchell

Rikki Kirchell

Survey Technician

Rikki Kirchell, University of Plymouth graduate with a BSc in Ocean Exploration. Fifteen years in offshore surveying, from shallow water nearshore surveys to deep water salvage. Interests in autonomous systems and continuous learning.

A headshot of John Meyer

Jason Meyer

Survey Technician

Jason Meyer is currently based out of Washington state, where he happily returns to his wife, daughter, and two dogs after long days at sea. Jason’s academic pursuits stemmed from his love of rock climbing and the ocean which led to a Master’s degree of Geology with a focus on seafloor volcanic processes from the University of South Carolina.Subsequently, 15+ years of inshore hydrographic work experience throughout the U.S. led to an opportunity to join the NOAA ship for exploration, R/V Okeanos Explorer, as a seafloor mapping technician and aboard the E/V Nautilus as a mapping coordinator. It was this experience which renewed Jason’s curiosity of the deep sea and gave him the technical knowledge essential for deep ocean exploration. In 2021, Jason was honored to bring these skills and thirst for discovery to OceanXplorer as a marine technician.

A headshot of Andrew Craig

Andrew Craig

ROV Team Leader

A headshot of Dave Pollock

Dave Pollock

Submersible Operations Team Leader

A headshot of Craig Foy

Craig Foy

Science Systems Technical Coordinator