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Here you will find brief introductions to the members of the SCINI team that will be deploying to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, in October 2008. Other support has been provided by Kamille Hammerstrom, Research Associate.

Dr. Stacy Kim - Principle Investigator
Stacy Kim Stacy and her dogs Jesse and Bruno hiking in Havasu Falls.

Stacy is a Benthic Ecologist; she is interested in seafloor creatures and the community interactions between them.  Working in the marine environment, and especially in deep and polar seas, access has always been a limitation that she struggles with.  The remotely operated vehicle SCINI overcomes this and allows easy access to seas that are ice covered and habitats that are deep.  This season, our scientific goal is to locate and survey unique benthic communities at greater than diving depths – the iceberg-scarred seafloor in the Bay of Sails, the unknown community beneath the Ross Ice Shelf at Heald Island, and the legendary forests of giant volcano sponges near Cape Armitage.

When she’s not in Antarctica, Stacy spends as much of her time as possible out of doors with her two dogs, Jesse and Bruno.

Bob Zook
Bob Zook I've fallen and I can't get up!

"I grew up climbing in the mountains of Colorado. After high school I sought the busiest mountain rescue team in the state, Mountain Rescue Aspen. Several years after settling into Aspen, our team was working hard developing the now-common protocols for flying rescuers and subjects on a cable under a helicopter. One thing that I learned at this early stage in my life was to say yes when asked to join an adventure.

So in 1997 that’s precisely what I did when asked to spend a season working in the communications shop at McMurdo Station.  After four more summers "On the Ice", I felt like I was ready to spend a winter there. So when they asked if I would stay for 8 more months I said yes.  The best months of my life were those dark months of wintering on the ice. Spring came and so did a science group that was driving bulldozers across the west Antarctic ice sheet drilling ice cores. They had lost one of their electronic engineers. They asked for help, I said yes. Two and one half months of living in an 8’x8’x12’ room on skis with 11 other scientists later and it was time for me to end my 16 month stint on the ice. Several more normal seasons on the ice were separated only by around-the-world trips. Then came the McMurdo Station Halloween party of 2002 when I met Stacy. We traveled the world together as our first date. She asked me to come to the ice with her as a diver and I said yes. The stage was set for me to scribble “Will you marry me?” on a small white slate that was mounted on my pressure gauge. At 20 feet under the ice after one of the most beautiful dives of my life, Stacy Kim giggled “yes” through her regulator, and I was the happiest diver that ever dove the southern ocean. Not having any science training made it more difficult to say yes to studying the sea but I said yes and conjured up a tool that would improve our access to the liquid ocean under the ice. The SCINI concept was born and a pre-prototype was tested during the next few trips to the ice.  And then the National Science Foundation said yes to our proposal to build and develop SCINI as a tool that would allow others to say yes to exploring the ice-covered oceans of the world!"

François Cazenave

Francois is an engineer turned oceanographer turned engineer. After completing a Master's degree in Industrial engineering in La Rochelle, France, Francois moved to Santa Cruz to live with his wife Isabelle. Without the necessary work permit, Francois couldn't find a job so he applied to Moss Landing Marine Labs for a Master's degree in marine science. During his 2.5 years at MLML, Francois specialized in Physical Oceanography and studied internal waves in Monterey Bay for his MS thesis. He also kept in touch with engineering by working part time at MBARI helping on several design projects involving autonomous underwater vehicles.

After completing his thesis, Francois joined the SCINI team, attracted by the idea of going to Antarctica and improving his mechanical engineering skills.

In his spare time, Francois likes to surf, cook, take photographs, scuba dive, listen to jazz, hike in the Sierras...

Scott Heeschen

After a 6-month tour of the National Parks and Monuments in the western United States, Scott, at age 2, found himself in Huntsville, Alabama.  It took him 16 more years before he went  off to college, where he studied electrical and computer engineering.  Figuring he had learned enough to make a living at it, he moved to Silicon Valley, where he now lives on a small urban orchard. 

Most of his career was spent designing computer chips with features too small to be seen with the naked eye, so he’s really appreciating the chance to work with SCINI where the software he writes and hardware he designs can move around in the real world.  Probably also in reaction to working on such virtual, abstract devices in his earlier career, Scott has turned increasingly to the outdoors to feel more grounded -  anything from building trails in the Santa Cruz mountains to smelling the sulfur at the top of Mt. Shasta, or hiking from Mexico to Canada with everything he needed strapped to his back.  Scott is looking forward to experiencing another set of outdoor experiences on the roundest continent on the Earth.

Jim O'Sullivan Jim enjoying the clear warm waters of Thailand.

Jim's bond with the ocean was cemented at an early age as he was born on a boat in south Florida and didn't live on land until age 11.  After getting SCUBA-certified at age 12 and getting some exposure to oceanography that summer at Sea Camp, he began exploring the oceans and has been diving every year since.  He continued the summer-camp-for-nerds theme the following summer at the first-ever Robotics camp.  He had no idea that these two interests would converge many years later in the frozen land of Antarctica in the SCINI project.

Also during his teenage years, Jim became obsessed with computers and digital electronics.  By the time he started college, he had designed and built five microprocessor-based systems.  After two miserable years of college, he left for the nerd shangri-la of Silicon Valley, where he spent 12 years as a digital design engineer in companies ranging from behemoths like Sun and Cisco to tiny startups like Divicom and Granite Systems.  He left the corporate world in 2001 to goof off full-time, and spends his time traveling, flying his plane, SCUBA diving, snowboarding, and otherwise enjoying the outdoors.

DJ Osborne
DJ Osborne 

DJ works for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) where he has been a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Pilot for 6 years.  This is always an interesting, challenging and adventurous job that allows him to combine his love of things technical, supporting science, and the ocean.  He is excited to bring his ocean robotics, engineering savvy, and extreme environment application experience to the SCINI Project.

Initially involved with the early proposal writing phase of this project with Dr. Kim, this year he is actually returning to the Antarctic to help with the operation, deployment and testing of SCINI.  DJ has approximately 18 previous months ‘On Ice’ where he provided both marine and terrestrial science support for the Antarctic Research program in McMurdo, Dry Valleys, South Pole, and aboard the Research Vessel Ice Breaker Nathaniel B. Palmer.  DJ graduated from VA Tech with an MS in Mechanical Engineering and has worked for NASA and Lockheed Martin Astronautics.

A love of how things work, building things and taking broken things apart and then making them work again made engineering and the practical application to science a natural path of choice for DJ.   In his spare time DJ enjoys his two dogs, mountain and road biking, endurance racing, snowboarding, surfing, climbing, backpacking and traveling.


Learn more about ROV Piloting in the Monterey Bay

Marco Flagg
Marco Flagg Marco happy to have avoided another Great White Shark attack.

Marco is the SCINI Navigator/Surveyor, and his task is to make sure that we'll always know SCINI's position and that observation data is properly associated with position.

Marco is the chief engineer and CEO at Desert Star Systems, which manufactures the PILOT navigation system used on SCINI. For the 2008 mission, we are also preparing a new higher-performance navigation system that will provide greater accuracy and position-update rates. We will be using this system as a backup to PILOT, and, on-site test results permitting, as the main navigation system to enhance the productivity of the SCINI missions. On a personal level, Marco has long enjoyed diving in remote locations and is looking forward to the adventure of working in Antarctica.

Cameo Slaybaugh

Cameo is a teacher from Norfolk, Virginia.  For the past 15 years she has taught for the Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs (SECEP), a regional public day school for emotionally disturbed children.

Cameo believes that experiential learning is important and exposes her students to as many different experiences as possible.  She and her students have built rockets, hatched butterflies and chickens, built a puppet theater and performed puppet shows, made soapbox derby cars and had races, created a miniature scale model of the Egyptian pyramid, and many other interesting things.

Cameo has had a lot of amazing experiences herself that she shares with her students.  She has dug for mammoth bones in South Dakota and searched the mountains of Mongolia for the elusive Pallas’ cats.  However, the opportunity to be a part of the SCINI team and go to Antarctica will be the most incredible experience she has ever had.

Cameo’s role in the project will be to assist the SCINI team in any way possible.  She will also have duties to perform in her capacity as a PolarTREC teacher.  PolarTREC is a program that is funded by NSF and administered by ARCUS in conjunction with the International Polar Year.  Cameo will document the research of the SCINI team with photos, journal entries, and podcasts. She will be sharing this with students, teachers, and the public as they follow the SCINI team on the Antarctic Undersea ROV link at

This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ANT-0619622 (a href=""> Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.