Nikelene Mclean | NOAA

Nikelene Mclean is the 2022 National Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellow supporting the GEO Blue Planet initiative. She currently works in the Satellite Oceanography and Climatology Division of NOAA/NESDIS/STAR. She is actively engaged with several projects in GEO Blue Planet geared towards the integration of Earth Observations data into the decision support frameworks used to address climate adaptation, coastal and marine pollution as well as sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. Originally from the Caribbean islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mclean is a Ph.D. candidate at Morgan State University and has a background in coastal geospatial ecology and remote sensing.

Dr. Emily Smail | NOAA / University of Maryland

Dr. Emily Smail specializes in utilizing science to support informed decision-making and the development of effective ocean, conservation, and development policies. Emily has been serving as the Secretariat Director of the GEO Blue Planet Initiative since 2015 and is a Senior Faculty Specialist at the NOAA-University of Maryland Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites. Prior to working to support GEO, Emily worked in science policy and information science education. She received a B.S. in Biology from the Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Audrey Hasson | GEO Blue Planet / Mercator Ocean International

Audrey Hasson is the EU coordinator for the GEO Blue Planet Initiative, hosted by Mercator Ocean International as part of the EU4OceanObs FPI Action funded by the European Union. She leads the GEO Blue Planet Marine Litter Working Group. She is a trained physical oceanographer specialised in remote sensing of Sea Surface Salinity. She holds a PhD from the University of Toulouse and has worked as a postdoctoral researcher for the American, French and European Space Agencies (NASA, CNES and ESA). She has participated in several research seagoing expeditions and has a particular interest for public outreach.

Dr. David Cabana | GERICS, Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon

Dr David Cabana is an interdisciplinary scientist focused on the multiple dimensions of marine conservation and ocean sustainability. With an extensive background in research and consultancy, his current work focuses on a better understanding of the human dimensions of coastal areas. He is based at the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), an institution of Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, where he works on supporting coastal communities to adapt to climate change. His main interests include the integration of climate services into coastal governance and the promotion of community-driven approaches to address the impacts of climate change on coastal regions.

Dr. Erica Wales | NOAA/NESDIS/STAR

Dr. Erica Wales is the Ocean Remote Sensing Program Manager in the Satellite Oceanography and Climatology Division of NOAA/NESDIS/STAR. She holds a Ph.D. in Marine Studies from the University of Delaware, as well as degrees in marine policy, environmental law and policy, and marine biology. Dr. Wales is interested in working at the nexus of science and policy as well as increasing capacity for ocean stewardship. Her experience has focused on national and international ocean policy, climate change, capacity building for ocean and coastal management, the sustainable development goals, marine protected areas, and areas beyond national jurisdiction.   

Dr. Nashwan Matheen | MSRO

Dr. Nashwan Matheen is a Research Scientist and Coastal Engineer from the Maldives. His background is in coastal engineering with his PhD focusing on the development of prototype coastal erosion Early Warning System to enhance community preparedness during extreme storm events. His research focuses on understanding and modelling hydrodynamic and morphodynamic processes in reef environments, and improving predictions of coastal hazards. His ongoing research has focused on evaluating the impact of the Indian Ocean Dipole on the shorelines of the Maldives. 

Dr. Nashwan Matheen is currently working in two complimentary roles. Firstly as the Research Coordinator for Earth Observation at the Maldives Space Research Organsisation (MSRO) where he and his team carry out research to improve earth observation products available to the Maldives. In his second role as a Coastal Engineer the research output from MSRO is used to develop sustainable erosion mitigation measures, improve beach management strategies, and inform climate adaptation policies for islands in the Maldives.

Dr. Sunwook Hong | OSEAN

Dr. Sunwook (Sunny) Hong is a research scientist and President of Our Sea of East Asia Network (OSEAN) which is a non-profit organization in South Korea, dedicated to research, education, policy development, and international cooperation to protect marine environment from marine litter. OSEAN is a network hub for cooperation of scientists, governments, citizens, and private sectors. She received her BS and MS in Oceanography from Seoul National University and PhD in Ecological Engineering from Pukong National University in South Korea. She began her career in marine debris issue as a researcher at Korea Maritime Institute in 2001 and has served as a country coordinator of International Coastal Cleanup since 2002. She worked for an NGO, Korea Marine Rescue Center and then founded OSEAN in 2009.

Major themes of her work are seeking solutions to marine debris problem in Korea and Asia Pacific region and implementing efficient strategies. She has been a part of designing and implementing Korea Beach (Macro)Litter Monitoring Program for 14 years and National Meso/Microplastic Monitoring in recent years.

She’s been working on (1) understanding pollution state, sources, and abundant items through nationwide beach debris monitoring and citizen science, (2) understanding impacts on wildlife, economy, navigation safety, etc, (3) finding solutions of main contributors on the basis of decision- making process and community participation, (4) planning national and local government policies for prevention at sources, (5) educating and training stakeholders, NGOs, and school teachers, (6) cooperating with Asia Pacific NGOs to solve regional issues, (7) organizing International Coastal Cleanup and promoting for public awareness, and (8) encouraging private sectors to raise recycling of abundant items found on Korean beaches and to develop technical alternatives.

She’s published 25 research papers on marine litter in international and domestic academic journals since 2012 and wrote two books. She’s been editor-in-chief of Marine Litter News (ISSN 2287-8971) which biannually delivers the latest news about NGOs and experts’ activities on marine litter in Asia Pacific region.