Panel: Young Professionals Welcome & Career Paths

Young Professionals Welcome & Career Paths Panel

Monday, October 5

The Young Professionals program is geared towards Young Professionals, which is defined as those under 35 or 5 years out of their highest degree. The opening panel will be focused on career paths, with discussion and audience questions on how panelists have come to their current position and field. Panelists are from diverse backgrounds and communities (Non-profit, Entrepreneur, Industry, Government). The second program session will focus on soft skills such as communication, strategy, self-management, team work and leadership.

Session Chair: Brandy Armstrong
The University of Southern Mississippi

Brandy Armstrong is a staff physical oceanographer at The University of Southern Mississippi in the Marine Science Modeling Group and working towards her PhD in the Marine Science program. She specializes in running the Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Wave Sediment Transport (COAWST) modeling system, and is currently working on developing a model to study the impact of freshwater diversions on estuarine systems. Brandy completed a five year combined BS and MS in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina. Prior to starting her position at USM in 2019, Brandy was a research oceanographer with the U.S. Geological Survey Coastal Marine Geology Program in Woods Hole, where she specialized in ocean modeling and instrumentation. Brandy is the Vice President of Professional Activities for the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society 2020-2021, ensuring that Young Professionals and Women in Engineering are an integral part of Society conferences, leadership and planning.

Panelist: Dr. Patricia (Soupy) Dalyander
The Water Institute of the Gulf
LinkedIn Profile 

Soupy Dalyander, Ph.D., is a physical oceanographer at The Water Institute of the Gulf with expertise in sediment transport processes and developing decision support tools to inform coastal management. She has a BS in physics and math from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL; an MS in Geological Oceanography from Oregon State University; and an MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida. Prior to starting with the Institute in May, 2019, Dr. Dalyander was a research oceanographer with the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For her work with USGS, she was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2019 and was part of the Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment team that was awarded the 2016 USFWS Sam D. Hamilton Award for Transformational Conservation Science. Dr. Dalyander is the principal investigator on the Louisiana Barrier Island System Management Program, merging environmental adaptive management, participatory modeling, and supply chain concepts to develop a structured decision making framework that will inform long-term (>50 yrs) barrier island regional sediment management strategies. In addition, she is working on multiple other interdisciplinary projects focused on increasing the resilience of coastal communities and habitats.

Panelist: Dr. E. Brooke Jones
LinkedIn Profile

Panelist: Chris Whitt
LinkedIn Profile

Christopher Whitt (S’95, M’02, SM’15) is a project engineer and project manager at JASCO Applied Sciences in Halifax, NS, Canada. Over the span of his career has been involved with many wide-scale ocean acoustic monitoring projects, particularly those involved with arctic programs, from equipment design and mooring preparation to participating in many arctic cruises.

Christopher is a registered professional engineer (P.Eng.) in Nova Scotia. He completed his undergraduate (B.Eng. 2000) and graduate degrees (M.Eng. 2010) at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL, Canada. Christopher’s early academic training started in digital communications and software engineering and continued to signal processing and broadband beamforming for acoustics. A long-standing interest in acoustics saw application to ocean technology upon joining JASCO in 2007.

With JASCO Christopher has designed and deployed moorings for everything from near shore to deep ocean basins. He has been involved with field deployments of numerous autonomous acoustic dataloggers for scientific programs from the tropics to the arctic, as well as acoustic measurements from cabled observatories and real-time wireless buoys. A common theme through all these projects is automating the analysis of multi-terabyte datasets. Christopher is now a project manager for acoustic projects, and still supervises training of all field staff.

An IEEE member and volunteer for 25 years, he was a VOLT graduate in 2014 and uses his strong IEEE knowledge to empower other volunteers. He is OES AdCom 2018-2021, IEEE Canada (Region 7) Secretary, and has held numerous roles in his region and section.

Panelist: Nikita Shiel-Rolle
YME and Cat Island Conservation Institute
LinkedIn Profile

Nikita Shiel-Rolle’s purpose in life is to spread love for The Ocean. She does this as the owner of Cat Island Mermaid a science communication and conservation wellness company, and as the Founder and CEO of Young Marine Explorers & the Cat Island Conservation Institute an organisation focused on developing climate resilient communities capable of adapting to and withstanding the changing climate, with her focusing being community driven marine conservation.

Nikita has a MSc in Biodiversity Wildlife and Ecosystem Health from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Marine Affairs from the University of Miami. She is a UNESCO partner and member of the UNESCO Caribbean Climate Change Youth Network.

A climate justice activist Nikita is dedicated to driving climate action and social justice especially for those from marginalized and vulnerable communities. A talented speaker, she has shared her passion for ocean conservation and climate adaptation at numerous international meetings, most recently at this year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meeting and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commissions Decade of the Ocean Latinn America and Caribbean regional planning meetings.

Nikita was the 2015 Bahamian Icon Award winner for Youth Development, A former Zoological Society of London EDGE Fellow, and recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. Nikita’s love for being under water can be seen with her proficiency as a PADI Dive Instructor, National Association of Cave Divers Full Cave Diver, and an Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Benthic Assessment Trainer. Nikita lives in Cat Island, a remote island community in The Bahamas that she loves. She lives each day to the fullest, laughing until her stomach hurts, and spending every possible moment connecting people to the ocean.