Meet the students who have contributed to our work!


Sydney Lewis, Hollings Scholar with the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program. Credit: Sydney Lewis

Sydney Lyn Lewis  (she | her)

NOAA Hollings Scholar

University of Hawai`i at Hilo


During the summer of 2022, Sydney Lewis interned with the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program (Program) as a Hollings Scholar. She was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in marine science with a concentration in data science at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo. During her internship, Sydney created an inventory of projects funded by the Program from the time it became operational in 2009. The goal of the inventory is to demonstrate the value of the Program and to serve as a tool to inform future funding decisions. The inventory includes information about project regions, objectives, and costs. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Sydney worked remotely with her mentor, Heather Coleman, for most of her internship. However, for the last two weeks, Sydney had the opportunity to work in person at NOAA’s Silver Spring office. Sydney’s internship experience gave her an introduction to deep-sea research and an opportunity to apply her informatics background to a new project. Following the internship, Sydney continued to complete her undergraduate degree.


Hannah Miller, Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program intern. Credit: Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller (she | her)

NOAA Fisheries, Office of Habitat Conservation Intern

Emory University

During the 2021–2022 academic year, Hannah Miller interned remotely with the Program while pursuing her bachelor's degree in environmental sciences and creative writing at Emory University. Hannah previously worked as a science communications intern with NOAA Ocean Exploration, where she developed an interest in deep-sea corals and sponges. During her internship, Hannah published multiple web articles on new deep-sea coral and sponge findings across the United States and interviewed former student alumni for this website. She also analyzed geospatial data and conducted literature reviews to synthesize information on Program-supported research. Her time with the Program furthered her interests in deep-sea coral and sponge ecology, provided her with hands-on experience in GIS, and strengthened her networking skills. Following her internship, Hannah began working as a marine science instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute and plans to attend graduate school for marine science.


Norm McCarthy (he | him)

NOAA Fisheries, Office of Habitat Conservation Intern

University of Delaware


Norm McCarthy interned with the Program from February 2020 to April 2021 while earning his bachelor’s degree at the University of Delaware. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Norm worked mostly remotely with Program mentors to create a StoryMap relating deep-sea coral lifespans to historical events. Deep-sea corals are some of the oldest known organisms. Norm contextualized the lifespans of these organisms by comparing their growth rate with major events in human civilization from 2240 B.C.E. to present day—a time span of roughly 4,000 years. He gathered information from a variety of sources, including peer-reviewed scientific literature and interviews with subject matter experts, to create the timeline and present deep-sea coral research in an interactive and reader-friendly way. Norm’s experience with the Program inspired his interest in outreach and communication. Following his internship, Norm plans to enter a master’s program in environmental science at Towson University.


Hannah Cooper (she | her)

NOAA Hollings Scholar

North Carolina State University

During the summer of 2020, Hannah Cooper interned with the Program as a Hollings Scholar while she was an undergraduate student at North Carolina State University. Using data from the Program’s national deep-sea coral and sponge database, Hannah worked remotely with her mentors to create data dashboards, which Program staff are working to make publicly available in the future. Managers in every region of the country need Program data and effective visualization tools to inform decisions on marine habitat protection. The dashboards contain visually compelling and interactive maps and figures of deep-sea coral and sponge observations and protected area boundaries. These tools can be used in presentations for regional fishery management councils and other partners and are customized to meet the needs of each of the eight regions. Hannah’s internship gave her hands-on experience working with geospatial data and learning about its intersection with environmental policy. Following her internship, Hannah plans to pursue a career in spatial ecology.



Laura Anthony, master's student who worked with the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program intern. Credit: Laura Anthony

Laura Anthony (she | her)

NOAA Hollings Scholar 

Western Washington University


During the summer of 2019, Laura Anthony interned with the Program as a Hollings Scholar while earning her bachelor’s degree at Western Washington University. Laura worked in Silver Spring, Maryland with her project mentors to examine anthropogenic impacts to deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems. One of her biggest accomplishments was conducting an image and video analysis of human-made debris in the deep sea. Laura also worked with NOAA Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs to study commercial species managed by NOAA Fisheries. She compiled images of debris to help inform ocean conservation policy and educate the public on the importance of designating protected areas for deep-sea coral habitats. Laura has always been passionate about deep-sea corals, and her internship experience helped her further define her interests and career goals. Following her internship, Laura decided to pursue a Ph.D. focused on deep-sea coral reproduction at Florida State University. She has regularly participated in research expeditions where she collects reef-forming corals to assess their reproductive success.

Jason Greenstein, master's student who worked with the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program intern. Credit: Jason Greenstein

Jason Greenstein (he | him)

University of Redlands Master’s Student

In 2019, Jason Greenstein worked with the Program on a project on the geomorphology of deep-sea coral habitats. Geomorphology is the study of earth processes that create geological features. This work was part of his master’s degree studies at the University of Redlands. With GIS software, he combined data from the Program’s national deep-sea coral and sponge database, geomorphic feature data, and information on seafloor slope in eastern U.S. waters to better describe deep-sea biology and geology. Jason presented his work in a poster and oral presentation (slides; PDF, 17 pages) at the 2019 Esri Ocean and Atmospheric GIS Forum. Following his master's program, Jason began working as a GIS analyst. He says his experience working with the Program strongly influenced his career goals—the internship allowed him to explore his interests in marine conservation and develop his skills in GIS, database and project management, programming, and environmental research.

Yanlin Li, master's student who worked with the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program intern. Credit: Yanlin Li

Yanlin Li (he | him)

University of Redlands Master’s Student


University of Redlands master’s student Yanlin Li worked closely with the Program to create a GIS data viewer that merges observations from the Program’s national deep-sea coral and sponge database with several data products developed by the NOAA Ocean Exploration data management team at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. These products include 3D dive tracks and hillshade bathymetry, which uses patterns of light and shadow to create a 3D visualization of the seafloor or other terrain. Yanlin’s project is helping researchers to explore information on corals and sponges located along continental shelves, slopes, canyons, seamounts, and other underwater features. The viewer displays 3D imagery for several dives that were part of the 2015–2017 Pacific Islands Deep Sea Coral Initiative. Yanlin’s methods for creating these scenes are valuable because they can also be expanded to waters that have been explored in other regions of the nation. Because 3D visualization enhances researchers’ ability to recognize hotspots of coral and sponge life on the ocean floor, his approach is useful for identifying seafloor habitats that should be targeted for protections. Following his master’s program, Yanlin began working as a GIS analyst.

Musa Thiong'o, master's student who worked with the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program intern. Credit: Musa Thiong'o

Moses “Musa” Thiong’o (he | him)

University of Redlands Master’s Student

In 2019, Moses “Musa” Thiong’o worked with the Program while pursuing his master’s degree at the University of Redlands. Musa worked with his mentors to create a remotely operated vehicle survey area generator tool with GIS software. For this tool, Musa used a set of remotely operated vehicle dive tracks to group biological observations, such as corals and sponges, and map the coverage recorded during each survey. Musa specifically focused on remotely operated vehicle surveys in Monterey Bay, California, and off Hawaiʻi’s shores. Musa’s final product grouped dive observations and biologically-active areas to depict where coral and sponge surveys have already occurred, and where we may not yet have information on seafloor habitats. This was the first time Musa worked on a project related to deep sea research. His time with the Program allowed him to explore his interests in environmental data and geospatial analysis while learning about the connection between research, policy, and survey needs. Following his master’s program, Musa began working as a GIS analyst.



Kai Sunstone, intern with the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program. Credit: Kai Sunstone

Kai Sunstone (he | him)

NOAA Hollings Scholar (co-mentored by Craig Wollcott, NOAA Legislative Affairs)

Colorado State University


In 2018, Kai interned with the Program as a Hollings Scholar while studying human dimensions in natural resources at Colorado State University. He worked with his mentors to investigate how congressional policy informs regional fishery management council decisions on habitat protection. His project involved careful tracking of legislative policy, attending briefings to help political leaders stay informed of NOAA needs and policies, and learning how regional research teams develop and accomplish their objectives. Kai compiled his findings into a StoryMap that illustrates the intersection of legal affairs and deep-sea coral conservation on the West Coast. This was Kai’s first time working in the field of marine policy. He thoroughly enjoyed his experience at NOAA and stated that his time at the agency made lasting impacts on his career choices. Following his internship, Kai continued pursuing his passion for ocean policy at Lewis & Clark School of Law, with a speciality in ocean and coastal law. Kai also began working as a legal intern at the Environmental Defense Fund.



Danielle Olive, intern with the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program. Credit: Danielle Olive

Danielle Olive (she | her)

NOAA Educational Program Partnership Scholarship Intern

University of the Virgin Islands


Danielle Olive was a Program intern during the summer of 2017. The internship was her first experience with fisheries science and management. She completed a project to define and characterize seafloor protections along the East Coast—in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Caribbean waters. After gathering information from regional fishery management councils, non-governmental organizations, researchers, and both commercial and recreational anglers, Danielle compiled her findings into a StoryMap. Through this project, she improved her understanding and knowledge of current deep-sea coral protections while informing the evaluation of further protections. Following her internship, Danielle completed her bachelor’s degree in biology and began pursuing a master’s degree in marine and environmental sciences at the University of the Virgin Islands. Her graduate work has focused on the life history characteristics of mutton snapper.