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Class biographies

Richard Archer

Ensign ArcherENS Archer has had a long awareness and association with the NOAA mission. His first exposure to the NOAA Corps was as a high-school student intern within the NOAA Space Weather Laboratories in Boulder, Colorado. ENS Archer graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.S. in Biology Pre-Med and a B.A. in Spanish Literature. He then worked for the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) as Marine Science Technician, Chief Medical Officer (NREMT-P) of the Marine Division. ENS Archer attended graduate school at the University of Southern California (USC), studying biogeochemistry in global climate change and astrobiology. Before commission for the U.S. NOAA Corps, ENS Archer served a year as visiting scientist within the NESDIS Paleoclimate Program, examining isotopic biomarkers for possible non-Redfield phytoplankton dynamics in the LGM ocean. He looks forward to his first sea-time sets of challenges and opportunities, he would like to work in the Office of Ocean Exploration.

Stephen Barry

Ensign BarryENS Stephen Barry is from the small Northeast Georgian town of Clarkesville. In 1997, he attended the Georgia Institute of Technology for one year and then spent the following year at Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia. ENS Barry graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in May of 2002, with a B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences. While at UNCA, ENS Barry served as president of the UNCA chapter of the American Meteorology Society for one year and as its secretary for another. He also held the position of meteorology lab assistant for two years as well as serving as a tutor for students in introductory meteorology courses. ENS Barry currently holds membership in the national chapter of the American Meteorological Society and the Omicron Delta Kappa society. He is very pleased to be in the NOAA Corps and is looking forward to the challenges as well as the adventures it will bring to his life.

Mark Blankenship

Ensign BlankenshipMark hails from Sherman, WV and is the youngest of seven. After high school he enlisted in the US Navy for five years reaching the rank of Machinist Mate 3rd Class. After the Navy he attended West Virginia University at Parkersburg where he received an Associates degree in Business Administration. While attending West Virginia University he enlisted for four years with the West Virginia Army National Guard. He served as a heavy wheel mechanic with the 3664th Maintenance Company out of Point Pleasant WV. During the same four years he also graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Geology from Marietta College located in Marietta, Ohio. During his education at Marietta he interned with the US Fish and Wildlife Service at their Ohio River Island Refuge. In his free time, Mark likes to travel, having been around the world with the military, and he hopes to further this interest with NOAA. He also likes to hike, bike, and spend time on the water. He hopes to further his career in all the available paths afforded by the NOAA Corps for many years to come.

Andrew Halbach

ENS HalbachENS Andrew Halbach was born and raised in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. He recently graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in Marine Science from Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. While attending school Andrew assisted in a project that involved implanting identification tags into sharks caught in Winyah Bay, South Carolina. He was also a member of the school's SCUBA club, many honor fraternities, and played hockey for the Myrtle Beach Extreme adult roller hockey league. Andrew's hobbies include reading, playing golf, and cheering for his two favorite teams (the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Wild). He looks forward to being able to live and work in many new places while serving in the NOAA Corps.

Sarah Jones

Ensign JonesEnsign Jones, originally from Seattle, grew up in landlocked Derby, KS. Experiencing the intensity of spring thunderstorms in the Midwest caused her to develop an overwhelming fascination with weather at a young age. Ensign Jones volunteered for three summers at the National Weather Service office in Wichita, KS while attending Kansas State University, and then transferred to the University of Oklahoma to pursue a degree in meteorology and a minor in math. While attending OU she was selected as the first student ever to hold an internship at the Storm Prediction Center. Ensign Jones graduated with distinction in July 2003 and accepted a commission with the NOAA Corps with hopes of traveling the world and deepening her understanding of the atmosphere and ocean. In her spare time Ensign Jones enjoys going to concerts, traveling, SCUBA diving, swimming, amateur photography, and of course, watching the Weather Channel.

Colin Little

Ensign LittleENS Colin Little, originally from Worcester, MA, could only be described as a “fishy” person. Every aspect of working with fishes appeals to him – from sorting freshly trawled specimens on the deck of NOAA Ship Albatross IV to sequencing their DNA. ENS Little got his B.S. in Biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2001, and completed his M.S. (in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology) there in 2004. His studies at UMass took him to such diverse locales as Dauphin Island, AL, where he helped to skeletonize a great diversity of fishes over the course of four summers. He also joined the Field Museum of Natural History during the summer of 2003 on a trip to Wyoming to help collect fossil fishes from the Eocene. ENS Little is greatly looking forward to his first sea assignment, and hopes to be on a fisheries vessel on the East Coast. He is excited about a rewarding career in the NOAA Corps, and likes the idea of combining service and science with NOAA.

Fionna Matheson

Ensign MathesonEnsign Matheson graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1998 with a B.S. in Biology. She grew up on Florida’s Gulf coast, and first cultivated her interest in marine science in the estuaries around Tampa Bay. She has experience in science education through work with the New England Aquarium, as well as Duke University’s TIP Program. She has also worked on cephalopod research at the Marine Biomedical Institute, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. For the past five years, ENS Matheson has served as an appointee in the administrations of two successive Virginia governors. Her interests lie at the intersection of science, education, exploration, and effective management. She is excited by the breadth of experience the NOAA Corps offers, the opportunity to explore the ocean frontier, and looks forward to a fulfilling career.

Patrick Murphy

Ensign MurphyENS Patrick Murphy was raised in Virginia Beach, VA. Taking advantage of his coastal location and tourist surroundings he worked summers at the beach. Some of the varied jobs included selling tickets at a go-kart track, operating a mini golf course, bell hopping at a resort, building skateboards at a surf shop, and his personal favorite, renting umbrellas on the beach. He attended UNC Wilmington where he graduated in 2000 with a B.S. in Physics. The next fall he began graduate studies in Astronomy at San Francisco State University. While teaching undergraduate labs was rewarding, he soon realized that any future plans or career must involve the ocean. He transferred to Old Dominion University and received a M.S. in Oceanography in 2003. While at ODU, ENS Murphy worked as a researcher at the Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography studying turbulence in Saanich Inlet, B.C. He later began teaching undergraduate labs and most recently worked as a researcher at the Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology comparing sediment distribution models to larval distribution in the Chesapeake Bay. During his graduate studies, Patrick participated in many cruises including sea grass trawls for larval fish, Chesapeake Bay mouth transects, and a GLOBEC cruise in the Gulf of Alaska and Prince William Sound. In his spare time he enjoys fishing, reading, athletics, and listening to live music.

Nathan Priester

Ensign PriesterEnsign Nathan Priester is from the City of Wichita Falls in northern Texas. He graduated from Baylor University in 1996 with a BA degree in Sociology and Environmental Studies. While attending Baylor University, he was a member of the Baylor Sailing Team and actively competed in collegiate sailing. Ensign Priester also attended Maine Maritime Academy in 1998 and graduated with an Associate of Science degree entitled Small Vessel Operations. While taking courses at Maine Maritime Academy, he resided as the Assistant Sailing Team Coach and Offshore Sailing Team Helmsman/Coordinator. Ensign Priester holds a 200-Ton Mate License and his interests include sailboat racing and various other maritime related endeavors.

Timothy Salisbury

Ensign SalisburyEnsign Timothy Salisbury was born in Bethesda, Maryland. He began attending Simon’s Rock of Bard College at 16 years old and graduated with his B.S. in Physical Science from Salisbury State University at 19 years old. He worked for the Defense Mapping Agency as a GS-11 Geodesist. His second career was in Telemedicine, where Mr. Salisbury worked as a project officer and lead instructor for the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) at Fort Detrick. With the project he traveled to various bases around the world implementing prototype medical equipment. His travels include Haiti, Kuwait, Germany, Macedonia, Honduras, four months in Bosnia and a year in Kosovo. Upon returning form Kosovo, he went back to school where he performed in several plays and earned an A.A. degree in Dance. When not traveling, Mr. Salisbury teaches self-defense with D.C. IMPACT and he is the proud father of Ashley William.

Nicola Samuelson

Ensign SamuelsonEnsign Nicola Samuelson is originally from California but grew up on a 43ft boat sailing in the South Pacific. She earned a Bachelor of Sciences in Ocean Engineering in 2001 and a Masters of Sciences in Ocean Engineering in 2003, both from Florida Tech. During her last year of undergrad and graduate studies she worked as a teacher assistant on the Florida Tech research vessel and as research assistant on projects including oceanographic and meteorological data collection analysis, underwater reef transect surveys, beach erosion-accretion calculations and factors, and monitoring experimental coastal structures such as the Rapid Installed Breakwater (RIB) for the Army Corps of Engineers. In her spare time Nicky enjoys traveling, sailing, diving, surfing and pretty much everything that involves being in or on the water. She first learned about NOAA from the nautical charts and was attracted by NOAA Corps diversity and opportunities in many fields.

Benjamin Sniffen

Ensign SniffenENS Benjamin Sniffen grew up in Maine spending his summers on the ocean, eventually finding work as crew and divemaster for a local charter operation. Following high school, ENS Sniffen spent a year working and boating through Australia, Baja Mexico and finally settled in St. Petersburg FL, where he enrolled at Eckerd College. In 1999, graduating with a BS in Biology and a minor in Chemistry, ENS Sniffen returned to boat-work by taking a job with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fisheries Independent Monitoring program. While with the FWCC ENS Sniffen completed the requirements for a USCG 50 ton Masters license, continuing on to use it over the next few years on various fishing vessels in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and the New England coast. In a short departure from work on the water, ENS Sniffen spent the last year and a half as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist in a Tampa Bay Physical Therapy Clinic. With the desire to return to maritime operations, ENS Sniffen applied to the NOAA Corps, searching for a career that offered the opportunity to become a leader in marine research.

Jonathan Taylor

Ensign TaylorJonathan Taylor is from the small town of Godley, Texas. He left high school after his sophomore year to go to Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas with the Texas Academy for Leadership Through the Humanities program. He spent two years there partly under a civil engineering scholarship. After graduating from high school, he went to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu, Hawaii to study marine biology. There he had the opportunity to work aboard the University's research vessel Kaholo and work with the Bishop Museum’s Invertebrate Zoology Lab. He also got his PADI open water certification. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and served with the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard). While there he served with the Commander-In-Chief’s Guard and with the U.S. Army Caisson Platoon. After 4 years, he got out to further pursue his career. He worked last summer and fall as a North Pacific Ground fisheries Observer in Alaska. His hobbies include fishing, biking, martial arts, and SCUBA diving.

William Wells

Ensign WellsENS William Wells comes from Pelham, North Carolina. He is a May 2003 graduate from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a BS in Atmospheric Sciences with concentration in weather forecasting. He discovered the NOAA Corps by way of his fellow BOTC 105 classmate, ENS Stephen Barry, after being told that he had applied earlier. Unable to get into other weather related jobs or the National Weather Service, he consulted his former high school Navy JROTC instructors, who provided the info he needed to get into the NOAA Corps. ENS Wells is looking forward to his opportunity to explore the world outside of his small town life, and embark on a wonderful journey and career.

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Last Updated: April 23, 2008 2:47 PM