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From Hydrothermal Vents to Seafloor Mapping: A Deep Dive into the Ocean with the Ocean Exploration Trust Team

September 10, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Photo Credit: OET/Nautilus Live


Dr. Robert Ballard

President of the Ocean Exploration Trust
Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration, Graduate School of Oceanography URI

Among the most accomplished and well known of the world’s deep-sea explorers, Dr. Robert Ballard is best known for his historic discoveries of hydrothermal vents, the sunken R.M.S. Titanic, the German battleship Bismarck, and numerous other contemporary and ancient shipwrecks around the world. During his long career he has conducted more than 150 deep-sea expeditions using the latest in exploration technology.

Dr. Ballard has been a pioneer in the development of advanced deep submergence and telepresence technology. Although his Ph.D. is in Marine Geology and Geophysics, his scientific interests run the gamut from the volcanic, tectonic, and hydrothermal processes of the mid-ocean ridge to deep-sea archaeology and maritime history. Dr. Ballard also spends a great deal of his time involved in various educational outreach programs. In 2008, Dr. Ballard secured the E/V Nautilus, which has become his flag-ship for exploration, operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust and funded in part by NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration. Nautilus is connected by way of a high bandwidth satellite link to the University of Rhode Island’s Inner Space Center and from there to the world.

He has received prestigious awards from the Explorers Club and the National Geographic Society—the Explorers Medal and the Hubbard Medal, respectively—as well as the Lindbergh Award. In 2003 President George W. Bush presented him with the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal in the Oval Office of the White House. He is currently a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.


University of California, Santa Barbara, B.S. Physical Science, Majors: Chemistry/Geology; Minors: Physics/Math;
University of Hawaii, Graduate School in Oceanography;
University of Southern California, Graduate School in Marine Geology; University of Rhode Island, Graduate School in Oceanography. Ph.D. Marine Geology and Geophysics Ph.D. in Marine Geology and Geophysics the CEO

Allison Fundis

Chief Operating Officer
Ocean Exploration Trust
Allison Fundis is the Chief Operating Officer for the Ocean Exploration Trust where she leads the development and management of the organization’s ocean exploration and outreach activities and teams. She pulls from diverse background in scientific, education, and extensive sea-going experience to engage the science community, students, and the public in telepresence-enabled expeditions aboard the Trust’s exploration vessel Nautilus. Since 2006, she has led or participated in 50+ expeditions utilizing a variety of deep-sea technologies and submersibles in the Eastern, North, and South Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of California, Caribbean Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea.

Before joining the Ocean Exploration Trust in 2013, Allison worked with the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative at the University of Washington. In her role there, she participated in the planning and installation of the US’s largest cabled seafloor observatory in addition to developing resources and programs for students that utilize the observatory’s real-time data. Allison is a former high school chemistry and biology teacher and remains passionate about making authentic opportunities in STEM available to students, educators, and the public through the Ocean Exploration Trust.

Allison holds a MS degree in Marine Geology from the University of Florida and a BA in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic. Her geological studies focused on understanding the controls on eruption dynamics in submarine volcanic systems. In 2019, Allison was recognized as an innovation and technology delegate for the Academy of Achievement and as an IF/THEN ambassador by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a 2020 Fellow National of the Explorers Club and in 2021 was named an Emerging Explorer by the National Geographic Society.

Dr. Nicole Raineault

Chief Scientist & VP, Exploration & Science Operations
Ocean Exploration Trust

Nicole is a marine geologist and ocean mapper who studies seafloor geomorphology. She has been working with the Ocean Exploration Trust since 2010 when she was a navigation intern aboard the vessel E/V Nautilus. After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Delaware in 2012, she started a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, with the purpose of increasing the standard scientific capacity of Nautilus and building a broader shoreside team. She also oversaw the installation and testing of the multibeam sonar and sub-bottom profiling systems. Nicole has been working full-time with the Trust since 2013 and is now the Vice President of Exploration and Science Operations.


Val Zavala 

Val Zavala was anchor and executive producer of “SoCal Connected” until her retirement in 2018. Since joining KCET in 1987 she has won 15 L.A. Emmy awards. She has covered major issues in southern California politics, education, government, demographics, healthcare, environment, economy, and arts and culture. She has been honored for her community service by numerous organizations including the California Chicano News Media Association, and Hispanic Americans for Fairness in Media among others. She was a John S. Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford University in 1993. She received her M.A. in journalism from American University and her B.A. in Latin American Studies from Yale University.


September 10, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


Online Event


(424) 210-4975
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