For Immediate Release: 4-18-17

Media Contact: Nadine Slimak, 239.339.7914 or

Image Courtesy University of Southern Mississippi
GCOOS Announces New Board 

The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) welcomed new and returning members to its Board of Directors following Board elections in March. GCOOS is the Gulf of Mexico regional component of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and the heart of data collection for the coastal and ocean waters of the Gulf. The organization collects thousands of data points from sensors and ensures they are reliable, timely and accurate before disseminating the information to users ( and is the only comprehensive data collection and dissemination center for coastal and ocean data in the Gulf.
The Board of Directors helps to set GCOOS policy and revises bylaws and other documents. Directors also help guide the organization's business model, approve the budget and, at members' requests, endorse submitted proposals as needed. Board terms are three years and Directors are not paid. Board members are nominated by the Gulf ocean observing community and are chosen by votes cast by GCOOS Members. (Learn more about becoming a GCOOS member.)
"The GCOOS Board plays an important role in bringing together different viewpoints -- from academia, the private sector, education & outreach communities and governmental representatives -- to help set the organization's direction and connect its activities to the needs of stakeholders and the public," said GCOOS Board Chairman William Lingsch. "We'd like to welcome our new and returning members and we also want to thank Pat Roscigno, of the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management, who is rotating off the Board, for his many years of dedicated service to supporting GCOOS and its mission."
New Board Members:
  • Kirsten Larsen (governmental sector representative): Lead Oceanographer for NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information in Mississippi (NCEI-MS) and the Science Advisor for the Coastal Data Development Program. Kirsten is responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas (, Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Watch program as well as the Gulf Harmful Algal Blooms Observing System (HABSOS) ( Larsen has extensive hands-on experience working with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Pascagoula. In the past year she has returned to the Gulf Coast to assume her current position after several years working at NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring. She will bring GCOOS a fine blend of Washington DC insight as well as in-depth Gulf scientific knowledge and love of the area.
  • Dr. Ed Kearns (governmental sector): Director for NOAA's Big Data Project, and acting Chief Data Officer for NOAA, on detail from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) to the NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer. In 1996-1997, Kearns created the National Data Buoy Center's web site and worked to advance ocean observing systems. As a professor at the University of Miami, he worked on satellite sensor characterization and calibration for ocean products from NASA's satellites, and the development of integrated ocean observing and data management systems including SEACOOS/SECOORA. In 2005, he joined the National Park Service to lead coastal ecosystem restoration projects and evaluate "big data" from models and observations to inform Everglades restoration. Kearns also served as the GCOOS data management working group. He moved to Asheville, N.C., and joined NOAA in 2008 to lead work on satellite climate data records, data science, archive and stewardship issues. He also worked in the Office of Management and Budget as the NASA Science program examiner during the 2014 budget season. Recently, Kearns has led the Weather Science Branch within the Center for Weather and Climate in the National Centers for Environmental Information. He is currently leading NOAA's Big Data Project and related Open Data activities.
Returning Board Members:
  • Steve Buschang (governmental sector), Texas General Land Office
  • Dave Driver (private sector), BP America, Inc.
  • Sara Graves (outreach & education sector), University of Alabama Huntsville
  • Nancy Rabalais (academia), Louisiana State University
  • Joe Swaykos (outreach & education sector) NOAA National Data Buoy Center
Current Board Members
  • Terry McPherson, LMI, term expires Fall 2018 (private sector)
  • Jan van Smirren, BMT Group, exp. Fall 2019 (private sector)
  • Ruth Perry, Shell Exploration & Production Company, exp. Fall 2019 (private sector)
  • Alyssa Dausman, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, exp. Fall 2018 (governmental sector)
  • Pat Hogan, Naval Research Laboratory, exp. Fall 2019 (governmental sector)
  • Mike Spranger, University of Florida, exp. Fall 2018 (outreach & education sector)
  • Jean May-Brett, Retired, Louisiana Department of Education, exp. Fall 2019 (outreach & education sector)
  • Gary Jeffress, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, exp. Fall 2018 (academia)
  • Stephan Howden, University of Southern Mississippi, exp. Fall 2019 (academia)