Administrative Team

Julie Hartup

Founder & Executive Director/ Scientist / Board Member

Chase Weir

Media Director

Maria Kottermair

GIS Specialist, Manta Team

Belinda Baird

Operations & Administration

Brad Holland

Media Consultant/Photographer

Donna Calhoun

Development and Operational Coordinator

Jennifer L. Weir

Dive Safety Officer/Instructor & Research

Jenifer Burney

Program Development Director/Webmaster

Board of Directors

Scientific Advisors

Marine Team & Interns

Vince Fabian

Marine Team Ambassador

Leilani Sablan

Marine Team

Tatiana Talavera

Marine Team 

Natasha Hagans

Marine Team

Will Naden

Marine Team

Hannah-Jo Duenas

Marine Team

Katherine Perez

Marine Team

Nyssa Galanto

Marine Team 

Camille Quichocho

Marine Team

Robert Quintanilla

Marine Team 

Elaine Ermitanio

Marine Team 

Skye Patino

Marine Team 

Nikko Galanto

Marine Team

Christen Dimalanta

Marine Team 

Paige Brock

Marine Team 

Hannah Blocksom

Marine Team 

Kalani Reyes

Marine Team 

Laura Caser

Marine Team

Past Board Members & Team Members

Rosanna Barcinas

Mel Blas

Joilene Hasugulayag

Whitney Blanford

Chandra Ledgesog

Dance Aoki

Biographies

Julie Hartup

Julie Hartup

Founder & Director, Executive Scientist & Board Member

Julie obtained her degree in Zoology from Brigham Young University and was a research diver and teaching assistant for their marine biology program held at Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey California. Julie completed several internships at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Water Quality, Visitor Presentations, and Tuna Research Center. After moving to Guam in 2007 with her husband Dr. Jason Hartup and four children. Julie began working on her master’s degree at the University of Guam. Julie came across a new undocumented feeding behavior of the reef manta ray, targeting reef fish spawning aggregations to feed off fish eggs. Julie trained in the Maldives with the international NGO Manta Trust Founder Guy Steven, and later became Manta Trust Project leader for the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marianas Islands. Julie is also a board member and scientist for Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research. Currently, she has expanded her area of study on manta rays throughout Micronesia such as: Northern Marianas, Yap, Outer islands of Yap-Ulithi, Pohnpei, and Marshall Islands. Starting in 2015, Julie Hartup along with follow scientist Jennifer Cruce created Micronesian Conservation Coalition with extensive help and assistance from Whitney Blandford and Carlotta Leon Guerrero, co-founder and Director of Ayuda Foundation.
Belinda Baird

Belinda Baird

Operations & Administration

Belinda grew up in Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada. What’s written on their license plate is “Canada’s Ocean Playground”! She took that literally and figuratively. She loves being in and on the water whether it’s racing in sailboats or exploring under the waves in scuba or snorkel gear. Belinda has had the good fortune of marrying a man who has taken her to live in wonderful places to be able to do this in various waters around the world. With moving around with her husband she has had the opportunities to work with various people and organizations. Always looking for a way to give back in an enjoyable and rewarding atmosphere that is connected to what she believes in and enjoys. Belinda has certainly found that on Guam and with the Micronesian Conservation Coalition.
Donna Calhoun

Donna Calhoun

Developmet and Operational Coordinator

Donna Calhoun is a Human Resource Professional who brings over 25 years of business experience to MCC. Donna is an avid diver who is motivated to save the resources that she passionately supports. She is active in many civic initiatives on Guam and Saipan focused on building a technology infrastructure for both islands. 
Jennifer Weir

Jennifer Weir

Dive Safety Officer/Instructor

Jennifer is currently a senior at the University of Guam majoring in Biology. She
plans on following her mothers’ passion for manta rays and moving onto research
once graduated. Along her administrative duties, she holds the dive safety officer
position (DSO). As a PADI Open Waster Scuba Instructor she ensures all the marine
team is properly trained and all in water activities are safe. Micronesian
Conservation Coalition has allowed for Jennifer to experience different internships
throughout Micronesia. When asked what she’s looking forward to the most this
summer break is returning to the island of Yap, FSM and helping with the Marine
Ecology Class through with the Yap Catholic High School.

Jenifer Burney

Jenifer Burney

Webmaster

I have been passionate about sharks and the ocean since I was a small child. I always knew I would grow up to be a marine biologist, and in 2011 I traveled to Fiji for a Shark Behavior and Conservation field course. There I was able to study and interact with bull sharks and reef sharks in the wild, further solidifying my desire to participate in ocean research. In 2012 I graduated from North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Zoology. I moved to Guam in 2014 after accepting an Aquarist position at Underwater World Guam. There I was able to meet with biologists from all over the globe while advancing my skills in scuba diving and my knowledge of marine biology. I now live in Southern California outside of LA, working at the Aquarium of the Pacific as well as at the Moore Institute for Plastic Pollution Research. In my free time I am an amateur photographer, hiker, diver and avid reader. 

Maria Kottemair

Maria Kottemair

Marine Team

Maria Kottermair is a certified Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Professional and has applied that expertise on Guam for over a decade. She holds a B.S. in Cartography from the Munich University of Applied Sciences and a M.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Guam. 

Lately, Maria has combined her love for GIS and islands by expanding scope to other locales in Micronesia, notably the Outer Islands of Yap. Though Maria loves the ocean and all its creatures, mantas have always fascinated her especially. It was through assisting with Founder Julie Hartup’s graduate field work that a strong partnership was formed. Building on their shared passions and strong mutual commitment to the conservation of our local environments, Maria joins Julie and Micronesian Conservation Coalition as their GIS Specialist.

Deane Jessee-Jones

Deane Jessee-Jones

Board Member

Deane Jessee-Jones moved to Guam in 1991, when she married her college sweetheart, Jay.  Together they have 3 kids and have spent the last two decades enjoying life in Guam and Saipan.  Deane works as an Adjunct Social Science Instructor at the University of Guam and as an Educational Therapist providing testing and consulting services for children with learning weaknesses.   Deane has always loved nature and all the creatures on land and in the water.  It is no surprise that she would want to protect the Micronesian Islands and make sure all islands are as beautiful and flourishing in the future as they are today.

Ashley Castro

Ashley Castro

Board Member

Ashley is an avid diver always jumping into opportunities to explore the ocean. With a B.S. in Biology at the University of Guam, she is determined to pursue future studies in ocean conservation in the local region and hopes to expand her efforts further. Her goal has always been to instill the love of the ocean and awareness into people’s hearts. Having learned about the valuable resources our ocean has economically and aesthetically, she hopes to help the community recognize that we are in the midst of a delicate gem. Though saving the planet seems impossible, she aims to help restore it one step at the time. Ashley continues to work with MCC to reinforce community connections to the true value of what the ocean provides and to preserve cultures and natural resources. As a Marine Team Member and Board Member, she is dedicated and always ready to jump right in. i guinaiya-ku. i minetgot-hu yan i fuetså-ku i tåsi. (my love, my strength, and my power is the ocean)
Sam Mabini

Sam Mabini

Board Member

Dr. Sam Mabini is an avid scuba diver and an advocate for our blue planet and wildlife.  Her career has been in the area of Career and Technical Education and workforce development reform locally and nationally.  She received her Ph.D. in Work and Human Resource Education from the University of Minnesota.  Dr. Mabini was recently the Director for the Guam Department of Labor, and was previously the Provost at the Pacific Islands University, an adjunct Associate Professor with University of Maryland University College, and Associate Dean at Guam Community College.  She was a Senator in the 31st Guam Legislature (2010-2012), working diligently on initiatives in education and workforce development to improve and enhance the livelihood of Guam citizens. Dr. Mabini also serves on the board of the Guam Symphony Society and Guam Association for Career and Technical Education, and co-hosts a Saturday community radio talk show.  She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow working at the University of Alabama.

Karen Gayle

Karen Gayle

Board Member

Born during one of the most destructive typhoons to hit Guam and even named after her, Karen has always loved the power of water. Learning to swim at USO summer camps, joining the swim team as a teenager and then learning to dive at 14, the ocean has always been her playground.  Protecting it is a lifelong mission. 

Karen attended the University of California at Santa Cruz (off Monterey Bay) and majored in Biology.  She returned to Guam right after graduation and started diving again with a new appreciation for warm water! Diving trips to Palau, Saipan and Rota helped develop a renewed love for the underwater world.  Sadly, an eardrum injury has halted all underwater diving but that hasn’t slowed her down. Snorkeling on the surface still allows her to enjoy all that the ocean has to offer.

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.”  – Wyland

Laura Biggs

Laura Biggs

Board Member

In 2003 Dr. Biggs graduated Cum Laude from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY with a B.A. in Biology and Secondary  Education. She then pursued my Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from The University of Utah. During her time at University of Utah, she assisted in developing educational curriculum,  Let’s Do Science, for K-5 classrooms that focused on hypothesis driven chemistry and also published a 35-page workbook to accompany in class efforts. In this role, she brought the curriculum to Guam, managed, and trained a staff of ten to implement the Let’s Do Science education program on Guam reaching over 800 students in the 2008-2009 academic year.  In 2009, she then joined University of Guam with the Sea Grant Program and worked to develop educational programs and expand the program capacity on Guam. In 2013, she executed a year-long (4 session) professional development program for GDOE high school science teachers. In fall 2015, she joined the Biology program at The University of Guam. In this capacity Dr. Biggs teaches Anatomy and Physiology, Human Biology, Pharmacology, Scientific Arguments, Scientific Writing, and other courses as needed. 

Jeff Quitugua

Jeff Quitugua

Board of Directors

Exposed to the island’s natural resources at a very young age, Jeff was inspired to learn more about the biology of Guam.  After pursuing his education at the University of Guam, Jeff was employed with the Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources for a year before becoming a biology teacher at Benavente Middle School and George Washington High School.  He was a public school teacher for 4 years before returning back to being a field biologist.  As much as he loves sharing knowledge, working with the resources is his passion.  Having the opportunity to be a part of the development of the Micronesian Challenge and Conservation Action Plans, and native species recovery plans Jeff brings to the table the experience and the local knowledge of Guam’s natural resources.  His goals in life are to spread awareness for the love of the resources for all to protect, promote, and preserve, and to inspire the new generation of future biologists.  Being active with the Guam Nature’s Alliance and MCC will be a great vehicle to continue his passion and love for the natural resources and his island home… Isla Guåhan! 

 

Dr. Mark Deakos

Dr. Mark Deakos

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Deakos is President, Founder, Treasurer, and Chief Scientist for The Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research (HAMER), a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 corporation that he founded in 2004. Dr. Deakos devotes his time pursuing the mission of HAMER, giving talks to the general public, and contributing his expertise as a marine mammal observer on marine mammal survey cruises. Dr. Deakos now spends much of his time in saltwater as an avid scuba diver, free diver, kayaker, and mariner. His chosen career working in wildlife biology and marine research is an extension of his passion for the natural world and his marvel of the ocean environment. Dr. Deakos obtained his biology degree from the University of Waterloo in Canada where he began pursuing his interest in wildlife biology. At the University of Hawaii, he completed his master’s degree studying humpback whale behavior and continued his graduate work by completing his doctoral degree with a focus on manta ray ecology. Dr. Deakos was the project field coordinator for the University of Hawaii’s Humpback Whale Research Program for seven consecutive years. His experiences have taught him the necessity of understanding our environment in efforts to better protect it from ecological or man-made threats.
Guy Stevens

Guy Stevens

Academic Advisor

Guy has always been fascinated by the natural world, and growing up on a farm in the South West of the UK surrounded by nature provided him with a seemingly limitless supply of weird and wonderful creatures to discover. He always knew he wanted to make a career from studying animals, but it wasn’t until he was given a tropical fish tank at the age of eleven that his passion for the underwater world began. From that moment forward when people asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up, he would say “I want to study fish!” So, true to his word he progressed through school and college with this in mind and in 2002 he graduated from the University of Plymouth with a degree in Marine Biology. University opened his mind to the rest of the world and he was hungry to travel and explore as much of it as he could. Visiting and diving in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia he knew he wanted to work in one of these tropical destinations, so in 2003 when he saw a job advertising for a marine biologist to work in the Maldives he knew it was the job for him. The Maldives is a marine biologist’s paradise and it was in the Maldives that Guy had his first underwater encounter with manta rays. He was enthralled by these amazingly graceful and inquisitive rays and from that moment forward he has been driven by a desire to learn as much about them as possible. In 2005 he founded the Maldivian Manta Ray Project (MMRP) with the aim of helping to conserve this country’s manta population through active research and education. His work with manta rays now takes him to other corners of the world, but the Maldives for him will always be the best place to see and study these amazing animals. Guy is now working towards the completion of his PhD on his manta research at the University of York in the United Kingdom. Guy’s conservation efforts in the Maldives have led to the creation several Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) at key manta aggregation sites, most notably at Hanifaru Bay, where his work was featured in the National Geographic Magazine in July 2009. This amazing location, situated in Baa Atoll, was in 2011 also declared a core protected area within the newly designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve that encompasses the entirety of Baa Atoll. Guy and his conservation efforts have also featured in over a dozen TV documentaries; including a BBC Natural World Special, National Geographic Worldwide & ABC’s “Project Manta”, ITV ‘s “Man to Manta”, Channel 4’s “Big Fish Fight”, 60 minutes Australia and the BBC’s “How Life Works”.
Dr. Steve Linfield

Dr. Steve Linfield

Scientific Advisor

Steve recently completed his PhD from the University of Western Australia studying depth refuge and the impacts of fishing on coral reef fishes. His previous research was conducted in Micronesia using stereo-video techniques for counting and measuring fish. He has recently been appointed as a fisheries researcher at the Palau International Coral Reef Center and will be doing fish surveys around Palau during this mission in order to provide data on the size structure and species composition of fishery targeted species.
Vince Fabian

Vince Fabian

Marine Team Ambassador

Despite growing up on an island, Vince spent most of his early years unfamiliar with the wonders of the ocean. It wasn’t until his senior year of high school, when he enrolled in a marine biology course, that his interest in the field took root. After being exposed to the importance of marine conservation and participating in various immersive experiences such as hiking, snorkeling and community outreach, he soon realized they were activities he wanted to continue doing. In 2017, Vince joined Micronesian Conservation Coalition to further foster his love for environmentalism, science and education as well as surround himself with like-minded individuals.

Since then, Vince has cemented his beliefs in the advancement of public knowledge and action
towards scientific inquiry and conservation. Through the many activities he has partaken in during his college years such as marine research, advocacy and community engagement, he aims to dedicate his efforts in not only pursuing a career in conservation biology but also in developing a more accessible means of acquiring the same education for underprivileged islanders. He has learned to acknowledge the disproportionate exclusion of minority individuals in the conservation conversation and realizes that inclusion of diversity in thought and innovation may very well lead to a more sustainable future for the planet and its people.

Vince has recently graduated from the University of Guam with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology (2020). He is currently working on gaining additional field experience before applying for graduate school to specialize in ecological work within the Pacific Islands. He hopes that his endeavors will hone his skills in producing quality scientific work and plans to eventually return to Guam after receiving his PhD to help shape a more environmentally conscious community as well as provide opportunities for its citizens which are currently difficult for them to attain.

Leilani Sablan

Leilani Sablan

Intern

Leilani graduated with a BS in Biology at UOG in 2019. Since then, she has been working as a biologist researching endangered green sea turtles in one of Guam’s largest nesting sites. 

Leilani spent her undergraduate career pursuing a career in marine science and chasing after experiences that would build her up as a local woman in science. In 2016, she participated in a summer research experience studying the unique feeding behaviors of Guam’s manta ray population. Two years later in 2018, she spent 10 weeks at UH Hilo during the active lava flow researching water quality affects on reefs and the impacts of lava flow on water quality. 

Leilani will be continuing her education at UOG pursuing a MS in Biology with her thesis focused on green sea turtle nesting biology. Her aspiration is to inspire young local students to pursue careers in environmental science. No one knows our island’s environment better than those whose ancestors dwell among it. Leilani believes that building local capacity in science is key to moving forward with conservation efforts of marine resources in Guam

Natasha Hagans

Natasha Hagans

Intern

As a child, Natasha always saw herself growing up to become a famous actress or singer. However, this all changed in her Sophomore year of High School when she watched “The Cove” in her Biology class, a documentary that exploits the mass slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. After watching this film Natasha’s life changed forever. Instead of seeing herself on stage entertaining millions of people, she now sees herself helping animals in need both on land and in the sea. Natasha has been a member of MCC since 2016 and loves sharing her knowledge and love for the ocean with others.

Natasha graduated from the University of Guam in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She is currently working as a Sea Turtle Biologist through Seagrant and is working on her application to veterinary school. Natasha hopes to become a wildlife and exotics veterinarian with a specialty in marine mammals. She hopes to be able to share her love for animals and the ocean while educating others to become involved in marine conservation. 

Christen Dimalanta

Christen Dimalanta

Intern

Despite being surrounded by it for all of her life, Christen only fell in love with the ocean during her sophomore year of college, when she went snorkeling for the first time. After watching a video on the death of coral reefs in Environmental Biology, she decided to become an advocate for marine conservation. She joined Micronesian Conservation Coalition in early 2017 with hopes to find her place among people who shared the same passion for conservation.

She found her place years later – in education. She is currently a full-time instructor at the Academy of Our Lady of Guam. She proposed the inclusion of an Environmental Science course to the school’s curriculum and the reintroduction of Marine Biology. This year, she is teaching both courses. As an educator, she knows that her duty is to ensure that the youth are taught about their power to effect change within their island communities and on a global scale. She is working together with her students to ensure the understanding of local and global issues, and she could not ask for a better profession.

Christen is currently working towards applying for her Master of Advanced Studies in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation with a focus on Environmental Education. She is interested in learning more about environmental justice and pro-environmental behavior so that she can share her knowledge with the generations after her. She hopes to continue to channel her love for education by expanding her knowledge and first-hand experiences through obtaining higher education. Her dream is to see the future generations she works with become catalysts for change.

Camille Quichocho

Camille Quichocho

Intern

When Camille first started college, she thought that she would follow in her parents’ footsteps and pursue a career in accounting or business. The green thumb must skip a generation, though, because she takes after her grandpa in more ways than she thought. Camille grew up following her papa around his backyard where he grew bananas, calamansi, peppers, pineapple, åtes, and so much more. She was raised on the idea that when you give to the land and treat it with respect, it gives back to you. This is when her passion for conservation and sustainability was born. 

Camille has always loved the ocean, but when she began freediving in 2016, it became her personal mission to teach others how to protect and respect the land and water. Inspired by her papa and love for the ocean, Camille went on to earn her BS in Agriculture with a minor in Biology. Now she’s a researcher at the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center at the University of Guam, and she’s learning more about how to create a more sustainable future for Guam. During her free time, you can find her tending to her garden, at the beach, or in the ocean. 

 

Tatiana Talavera

Tatiana Talavera

Marine Team

Although Tatiana has already achieved a certificate in Environmental Technician at the Guam Community College, she has returned to GCC to achieve an associate’s degree in Visual Communications. With her degree, she aims to promote marine conservation for her island and neighboring islands. Her love for the ocean is deeper than the Marianas Trench. Her passion as a fisherwoman has opened her eyes to conservation and sustainable fishing. As much as she loves fishing to feed her family, she also loves saving the livelihood of the beautiful reefs here. Her knowledge of the ocean grows each and every day. Tatiana loves exploring new places above and below the surface. 

Will Naden

Will Naden

Marine Team

William Naden II was raised in the village of Malesso. His father was a captain and always owned a boat that he would take his son fishing on during his free time. William’s dad taught him to treat the ocean with respect and dignity. Eventually, he would follow in his dad’s footsteps and get his captain’s license when he was 16 years old. At the time there were two grounded long-liner vessels on Guam, first in Apra Harbor and another in Coco’s Lagoon. William operated a salvage boat during the removal of both vessels. He would spend many hours on the reef removing fishing line from the coral that would become entangled by the miles of loose fishing gear. With a very limited understanding of the importance of his actions, he later learned the colorful rocks he was attempting to release from the detrimental presence of the fishing line were actually living organisms. This initial discovery coaxed him into diving deeper into the vast worlds of the marine environment. Unfortunately, he discovered that thousands of threats to his island’s reef existed and not enough people were talking about the responsibilities we have as islanders to protect the ecosystems below our ocean’s surface. William was particularly confounded by the state of the reef surrounding his village pier, prompting him, his girlfriend Leilani Sablan, and their large group of environmentally driven friends to start the Merizo Pier Project. Every year since 2017, SCUBA divers and snorkelers have grabbed their gear and helped clean the reef below the pier. 

Today William is in the United States Coast Guard and still driving boats like his father taught him as a young boy.

Robert Quintanilla

Robert Quintanilla

Marine Team

With Cocos Lagoon being his own backyard, it would be impossible for Robert to not love the ocean. Having a family full of peskadots (hunters/fishers), he was introduced to the land and sea at a young age. The sea and land go hand in hand for his lifestyle. Robert is currently in the process of achieving his captain’s license. He spends the majority of his time fishing or hunting in the mountains. Being an avid fisherman, Robert notices the change in the reefs over the years he has dove them. With that being said, he wants to set an example to other fishermen about fishing sustainably. 

Paige Brock

Paige Brock

Marine Team

“The ocean has more than just my heart; it is a piece of soul. As a student, I strive to learn from its wisdom and understand its nature. I enjoy and take pride in being a witness and a part of the movement to help preserve and protect the ocean and the life that lies beneath its waves. It is an honor and a pleasure to share this passion with those whose hearts have also been taken by the ocean.”

Hannah Blocksom

Hannah Blocksom

Intern

Hannah Blocksom is a graduate student at the University of Guam. She is also a PADI Divemaster and freediver. You will often find her in the ocean captivated and observing the behavior of marine animals. She has individual names for some of her favorite sharks and can tell you about their unique personalities. 
She enjoys sharing her adventures in the form of photography and cinematography. Hannah hopes this will inspire some, who are unable to access the ocean, to understand the importance of conservation. 
“The ocean has filled my life with so much happiness and incredible memories. The least I can do in return is to be an advocate for the voiceless. Protect what you love.”
Katherine Perez

Katherine Perez

Intern

Raised on an island, she developed a strong curiosity and love for the environment and its inhabitants. Since she was a little girl, she had a connection with the land. She was always planting at the ranch/home or pulling weeds with her mama. She is not afraid to stick her hands in the soil. It wasn’t until after high school, she fell in love with the ocean. Between freediving and paddling, she connects and learns with the water in different ways. Kat is a student at UOG, majoring in Biology and Agriculture because she could not choose between her love of the land or her love of the sea. After her bachelor’s, she hopes to continue to graduate school or law school. All she knows is that she wants to give back to i tano’ (land), i tasi (sea), yan i taotao (people).

Skye Patino

Skye Patino

Intern

Skye grew up playing in the ocean daily in Hawaii and California. Being at the beach has always brought peace and stability to her life. She is a Navy Veteran, student and a full-time scuba instructor/deckhand on a dive vessel. Working with the MCC is helping to shape her path in marine conservation with hands on training and volunteer work. She aspires to be a marine mammal biologist and lobby to end captive marine mammals for entertainment in
amusement parks.

Kalani Reyes

Kalani Reyes

Intern

Kalani is someone who has been passionate about exploring and protecting the ocean since the 4th grade when she read “Shark Lady: Diary of Eugenie Clark”. Though she did not end up studying sharks, she applied her love for the ocean into her life by becoming a marine monitoring intern, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography Summer Undergraduate Fellow, and undertaking numerous volunteer and paid positions caring for corals, caring for the animals at the Underwater World Aquarium, as well as surveying in both Saipan and Guam for fish at the local fish markets among other things. Kalani has also published work in the Journal Marine Chemistry and is passionate about effective science communication and outreach, which is why she decided to become a part of MCC. Originally from the CNMI, Kalani has recently moved back to Guam to pursue her final classes for her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Guam before applying to graduate school for Marine Sciences to study coral reef microbiology. A passionate environmental and Chamorro culture advocate, you can often find Kalani wherever the action is with these groups on behalf of the ocean, the Marianas, and Pacific Island cultures. In her free time she produces the podcast Deep Pacific, a Pasifika podcast for people from Oceania, in addition to constantly listening to other podcasts, reading, running, and watching the waves. She hopes to contribute her perspective from the CNMI to MCC to help aid in their mission to conserve and protect our coral reefs and Pacific Islands against the threat of climate change through advocacy, outreach, and effective science communication. 

Nyssa Galanto

Nyssa Galanto

Intern

Nyssa is a Guam-based educator and artist. Nyssa’s passion for ocean conservation started when she decided to take up swimming as a sport. The more she swam, the more her love for the ocean grew. Nyssa also loves to hike and has recently started her diving journey exploring the ocean to learn more about marine life. Nyssa graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Guam and taught math and science at George Washington High School for three years. Being an advocate for STEM Education, she was an advisor for several STEM clubs such as GWHS Robotics and Marine Mania. She also assisted in coaching the GWHS Underwater Robotics team. Nyssa loves teaching and working with Guam’s youth and hopes to inspire them to conserve the ocean and its resources. As an artist, Nyssa enjoys painting landscapes and has recently introduced herself to comics and illustration. She aspires to create art that will inspire people to protect the environment. Currently, Nyssa is focusing on applying to graduate school to further her education.

Nikko Galanto

Nikko Galanto

Intern

From a young age, Nikko had always shown a great deal of interest in learning about life around him. The field of science fascinated him growing up, and he understood that the time we spend on this planet and its resources are limited. Determined to follow his passions and make a change, he decided to pursue a career in science. Currently, Nikko is a senior at the University of Guam working towards a B.S. in Biology. He later wishes to become a marine biologist and focus his efforts on research, conservation and sustainability. He believes that science is the key to better understanding our planet and learning how to save it.

Laura Caser

Laura Caser

Intern

Laura is the oldest of six children and is a native to the island of Guam. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Guam, Majoring in Biology and Secondary Education.
From a young age, Laura possessed an affinity for animals, for the island, and for the waters around it.
Throughout her childhood, she dreamed of becoming a Veterinarian. But upon her first time attending the National Park Service’s Reef Rangers summer camp, she fell deeply in love with Marine Biology.
Laura was homeschooled, which allowed her to dedicate more of her time to interning and volunteering. Throughout her middle and Highschool years, she loved learning through conservation and marine biology focused organizations, such as Haggan Watch, Eyes of the Reef, Pacific Historic Parks, and the National Park Service. She was inspired by the beauty and complexity of Guam’s reef ecosystems, and by the passionate and knowledgable scientists whom she volunteered under.

Laura believes that the two biggest threats to the natural environment are ignorance and apathy; and that the best solution to these problems is education. She hopes to continue to help educate the public, (focusing especially on the youth of our communities) she strives to help others grasp the significance of our natural resources and to help others gain a love and appreciation of the natural world.

Elaine Ermitanio

Elaine Ermitanio

Intern

Hannah Jo-Duenas

Hannah Jo-Duenas

Intern

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