Board of Directors
Marine Team & Interns
Past Board Members & Team Members
Founder & Director, Executive Scientist & Board Member
Operations & Administration
Developmet and Operational Coordinator
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.
Project Development Director/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 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 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.
At 5 years-old, Ashley’s parents would ask what she would want to be when she grows up and she would reply, “A marine biologist.” At a young age, she has always been absorbed and captivated by the beauty of the ocean and the life within. Believe it or not, she fell in love with dolphins since the time she had a conversation with one that was more of back and forth squeaking when she was a toddler at a sea life park in New York. Working to protect the ocean and its animals is a job she would love to have throughout her whole life. She had a blast in being a part of Guardians of the Reef in high school in where she would go to different schools teaching elementary students about how coral reefs are fun to learn about and how they can protect them. She is currently attending UOG and is very excited to immerse herself into the island community by teaching others about the importance of protecting reefs and instilling the love of the ocean in their hearts. Her ocean-minded persona drives her to educate people of all ages about the ocean and influence them to dive on board to support our island’s ocean conservation efforts. She recognizes that people love watching her videos of diving and uses that as an opportunity to talk about her passion. During her free time you can catch her diving, snorkeling or surfing. Ashley hopes to pursue a career in marine biology and is excited to gain new experiences with the MCC family.
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.
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.
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. Steve Linfield
Marine Team Ambassador
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 in front of millions of people singing or acting, she now sees herself surrounded by the great variety of species that inhabit our oceans.
Natasha is currently majoring in Biology at the University of Guam in hopes to become a veterinarian specializing in aquatic animals. She hopes to be able to share her love for animals and the ocean while educating others to become involved in marine conservation.
Christen used to squirm at any mention of Biology. She even went so far so as to say that it was the subject she wanted to avoid for the rest of her life. But this all changed when she watched a video on the death of coral reefs. She realized that it wouldn’t be long before all of earth’s reefs were pronounced dead, and that only humans had the power to prevent this from happening.
Christen is now majoring in Biology at the University of Guam in hopes to become a marine biologist specializing in reef conservation, taking a completely different turn from her previous views. She is also an avid writer, and she uses her passion for words to help spread awareness on the importance of marine conservation. When she is not out in the ocean, she is out writing away on the beauty it holds.
Camille is an Agriculture major and Biology minor at the University of Guam with the goal of becoming a sustainable agriculturist or environmental scientist. Switching to Agriculture from a Business major was inspired by her love for Guam, CHamoru culture, the ocean, and two very challenging semesters of Economics. There will never be a moment that she does not want to learn something new about the island she grew up on, so she is excited to be taking the reigns alongside the MCC team to do research on the species that inhabit the waters of Micronesia.
Tatiana is an undergrad at GCC certifying to become an Environmental Technician. Her love for the ocean is deeper than the Mariana’s Trench. She cannot part from the ocean for more than a week.
Her passion as a spearfisher woman has opened her eyes much more to conservation. As much as she loves fishing to put food on the table, she also loves saving the livelihood of beautiful reefs and the marine life there. Her knowledge of the ocean and the marine life grow each and every day. Tatiana loves exploring new places above and below the surface. During her free time, she goes spearfishing, free-diving, hunting, and much more!
With a lagoon being his backyard, it would be impossible for Robert to not love the ocean. Being introduced to fishing and hunting, he fell in love with both the sea and the land. Being from the village of Merizo in Guam, fishing and hunting runs through his veins. It’s a way of life for him. He spends majority of his time in the water or in the jungle. He is currently working on getting his captain’s license. Robert wants to learn more about conservation and how to protect the reefs around the island. He looks forward to exploring the reefs in Yap and learning more about the culture
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).