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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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 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
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 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.
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 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.