Dr. Dawn Wright is chief scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (aka Esri), a world-leading geographic information system (GIS) software, research and development company. As chief scientist, Dr. Wright aids in strengthening the scientific foundation for Esri software and services, while also representing Esri to the national/international scientific community. She maintains an affiliated faculty appointment as Professor of Geography and Oceanography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University where she has been on the faculty since 1995.
Dawn’s research interests include geographic information science; ocean informatics and cyberinfrastructure; benthic terrain and habitat characterization; and the processing and interpretation of high-resolution bathymetry, video, and underwater photographic images. She has authored or co-authored more than 150 articles and six books on marine geographic information systems, hydrothermal activity and tectonics of mid-ocean ridges, and marine data modeling and cyberinfrastructure. Dawn has participated in over 20 oceanographic research expeditions worldwide, including 10 legs of the Ocean Drilling Program, three dives in the deep submergence vehicle Alvin and twice in the Pisces V.
Dawn serves on the Science Advisory Boards of NOAA, COMPASS Science Communication, Inc., and Conservation International, as well as many journal editorial boards. She is an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow and a Geological Society of America (GSA) Fellow, as well as a fellow of Stanford University’s Leopold Leadership Program. In 2007, she was named Oregon Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. Dawn holds an Individual Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Physical Geography and Marine Geology from UC-Santa Barbara, an M.S. in Oceanography from Texas A&M, and a B.S. cum laude in Geology from Wheaton College (Illinois).
Kristina M. Gjerde
Kristina M. Gjerde is Senior High Seas Advisor to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, where she teaches international marine environmental law.
For the past 15+ years, Kristina has been working at the nexus of marine law, science and policy. To that end, Kristina has spearheaded IUCN’s delegation at among others the United Nations, the Convention on Biological Diversity and more recently the International Seabed Authority and the UN Preparatory Committee, which is developing recommendations for a new treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national boundaries. She has co-founded a mix of scientific and civil society collaborative partnerships including the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative, the High Seas Alliance, the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative, the Sargasso Sea Alliance and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. A graduate of the New York University School of Law, Ms. Gjerde received her BA in history (summa cum laude) from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Ms. Gjerde has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications on law of the sea, fisheries, shipping, seabed mining and marine biodiversity conservation issues. Recent publications include: “An ecosystem-based deep-ocean strategy” (Danovaro et al. 2017, Science), “Conserving the Common Heritage of Humankind – Options for the Deep Seabed Mining Regime” (Jaeckel et al, 2017 Marine Policy) and “Protecting Earth’s last conservation frontier: scientific, management and legal priorities for MPAs beyond national boundaries” (Gjerde et al., 2016, Aquatic Conservation).
Torsten Thiele is Founder of Global Ocean Trust, a not-for-profit promoting sustainable governance solutions for the marine space, based on technology, finance and innovation. He consults widely with public, private and civil society organisations including IUCN and regularly speaks on ocean matters at international workshops and conferences. Torsten sits on the science and stakeholder board of the EU SenseOcean project and is a Visiting Fellow at the LSE Institute of Global Affairs where he leads the Blue Finance initiative.
Torsten is an expert in the financing of complex infrastructure projects, with global experience in structuring funding and providing debt and equity solutions. He worked at leading financial institutions in London for over 20 years, both at development banks such as the EBRD and at private sector firms such as JP Morgan and CIT. Till 2013 Torsten was Head of Telecoms Project Finance at Investec Bank plc, financing mobile and fixed line operators, included subsea cables.
Torsten holds graduate degrees in law and economics from Bonn University, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, an MPhil in Conservation Leadership from the University of Cambridge and was a 2014 Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard.
Ms Zdenka Saba Willis, L.L.D is the CEO of Veraison Consulting, focusing on ocean technology and policy. She retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Senior Executive Service in January 2017. She was the founding Director of the United State Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Office, NOAA led, that coordinates a network of people and technology to generate and disseminate continuous data on our coastal waters, Great Lakes, and oceans. From 2006 to 2007 she was the Director of NOAA’s National Oceanographic Data Center. Ms Willis retired with the rank of Captain from the United States Navy. As Meteorology and Oceanography officer, she deployed onboard Navy survey vessels, and had a wide range of duties that includes: Deputy Navigator of the Navy, Deputy to Naval Deputy to NOAA; Director of the National Ice Center; Commanding Officer of Oceanographic Unit One at sea on the USNS HARKNESS, Director of the Strategic Policy Forum (a crisis simulation for Members of Congress, senior Executive branch officials, and military leaders) and as adjunct professor in the Strategic Leadership Department at the National Defense University.
Deirdre Byrne obtained her PhD in physical oceanography from Columbia University in 2000. Her thesis work on the interocean leakage of water from the Indian to the South Atlantic spurred a longstanding interest in the variability of southern hemisphere currents and oceanic systems, which are much less well-constrained and less well-observed than those of the northern hemisphere. In support of these interests, in 2002-2006 she led a major field program to collect the first in situ time series observations of the Agulhas leakage and Benguela and South Atlantic Currents (ASTTEX). A passion for societally relevant work and a realization that climate study requires long and consistent time series, which are not best served by project-driven research, lead her to join NOAA in 2010. At NOAA, Deirdre led projects in the climate-quality reprocessing of AVHRR data, in long-term archival operations and strategies, and in enterprise-level IT planning in support of oceanographic satellite missions and ocean science; among other roles, she served as the NOAA archivist for the Jason series of altimetry missions. In 2015, Deirdre left NOAA to take up a similar role in the South African government within the Oceans and Coasts branch of the Department of Environmental Affairs. In her current post as a senior scientist, she works on the development of operational observing systems, on long-term national-level strategic planning/policy in ocean and coastal monitoring, and on information systems for ocean and coastal observations. She has a strong interested in data policy, in open source software and systems, and in accelerating the transition from research to operations (R2O). Throughout her career, Deirdre has worked with satellite and in situ measurements, believing that the best oceanography comes from utilizing the two in concert, employing techniques that synthesize these data streams. She utilizes model output in her work to complement and extend observations.