Meet the Team – Part I

Jen Cate

Rima Franklin

Amy Giannotti (and Allie!)

Bob Giguere

Betsy Hackley

We are getting down to the wire and will be departing soon! It is time to Meet the Team!! Here is a glimpse of those persons involved in the Bermuda Biodiversity Project, and the key players in the Cambrian Foundation portion of this research project.

Graduate student Jenipher Cate earned a BA in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University. She is currently enrolled at TAMU/Galveston studying subaquatic biospeleology under the direction of Dr. Tom Iliffe. She will be investigating the water quality and flow of cave springs in Bermuda, and this research will be tied to a coral reef study to determine if pollutants are leaching into groundwater in Bermuda. Her hobbies include sailing, caving, backpacking, and theatre.

Rima Franklin, a scientific adviser to the Foundation since 2004, will also be joining us on this expedition. Rima is a microbial ecologist, which means she studies the relationship of microorganisms (especially bacteria) with one another and their surroundings. Microorganisms are present in virtually all of our planet’s environments, and their activities impact the entire biosphere. They are responsible for decomposition and recycling of nutrients, and are important in agriculture, industrial operations, health and medicine, and even in food production! For example, beer, wine, cheese, and pickles all result from the activity of microorganisms. Microbes are the backbone of all ecosystems, but even more so in the zones where light cannot approach and thus plants are not able to grow – as is the case in caves and underground. In addition to Rima’s current interest in cave microbiology (especially the beautiful springs in central Florida), she has worked in several different types of aquatic habitats including groundwater, stream sediments, and salt marshes. In her current job, she works with scientists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to learn better ways of recycling waste on board spacecraft for long-duration space missions. More efficient recycling could be used to generate clean drinking water and help retrieve nutrients that can then be used to grow plants for food – both of these processes that are controlled by beneficial microorganisms. Overall, this will make the astronauts more self-sufficient for a trip to Mars or a colony on the Moon, and would reduce the amount of material they would need to pack in their “picnic basket” when they leave Earth. In January, she will leave that position at NASA to start a new job as an assistant professor of biology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Rima earned her B.A. degree in biology from Bard College, a small liberal arts school in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, and her Ph.D. in environmental science from the University of Virginia. She is a native of Waiteville, WV.

Amy Giannotti is the project director for this expedition and current President of the Cambrian Foundation. She is an aquatic ecologist, with experience in both freshwater and marine environments. Amy earned her M.S. in environmental science at the University of Virginia (1999). Her thesis research evaluated how trophic interactions and biogeochemical mechanisms allow coastal marine ecosystems to control for and recover from eutrophication. After graduate school, Amy became a science teacher, instructing at the high-school level before beginning her work with the Foundation and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. During her first several years with the Foundation, she served as the Educational Director and as the Vice President of Science & Research. In this capacity, she initiated several educational and outreach programs, including a variety of projects related to the preservation of cave and karst systems. She is especially interested in helping students of all ages understand the biodiversity and conservation needs of these habitats. In the past, she has collaborated on projects that examine cave systems in Florida and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and is excited to learn about the caves in Bermuda while on this trip. This expedition includes both research and educational components, which Amy will oversee, with the opportunity for students to become involved in the field experience and gain a hands-on appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of environmental science. Amy is a native of Williamstown, WV and a 1995 graduate of Marietta College, where she earned a B.S. degree in biology and minors in political science and environmental studies. Her current work with FL-DEP examines the survival and spread of invasive plant species in freshwater habitats, and specifically considers the effect of urbanization on native plant restoration efforts. She resides in Winter Park, FL, with her husband, Paul, and two daughters, Allie (age 3) and Maren (4 months).

Award-winning producer Bob Giguere has over 25 years television experience in documentary and current events programming. He has been at the helm of many nationally distributed projects including The National Parent Quiz, Releasing Dolphins, The Rock & Treating Addiction for PBS and Deep Diving for National Geographic Explorer. You can also experience his passion and respect for the environment in some of his work like Nature in Danger, Releasing Dolphins and Wekiva: Legacy or Loss? for PBS and In Search of Xanadu and Conch Cowboys for BBG Productions and The Florida Channel. Educated at the University of Maine, Bob has made Central Florida his home for the past 15 years. He is the founder of bGenesis and co-founder of the non-profit company, Equinox Documentaries. He has taught a variety of documentary courses at the University of Maine, University of Central Florida and Rollins College. Bob is also an avid outdoorsman, kayaker and scuba diver. He has over 23 years of diving experience and holds certifications in advanced open water and cave diving certifications from YMCA, NAUI, NOAA & NSS-CDS. His dive experiences are varied and include dives in the cold depths of the Gulf of Maine, the cave systems of Florida and Mexico and the warm waters of the Caribbean. He has been the principal underwater and topside videographer for a saturation dive mission in Key Largo, Florida for National Geographic, and has dived in the cave systems of the St. Johns for Discovery Channel Online.

Having been introduced to the sport of SCUBA diving by Boston Sea Rover Lee Livingston at the age of 12, Betsy Hackley earned her NAUI Open Water I certification in 1998 and, since that time, has been enthusiastic in learning as much as possible about anything, and everything, relating to the ocean. Betsy continued her dive training by earning her advanced open water, SCUBA Rescue Diver, Nitrox, NAUI Master Diver and, most recently under the direction of Terrence Tysall, NSS-CDS Apprentice Cave Diver certifications. Betsy’s love of the marine environment led her to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy where she is currently a junior majoring in marine safety and environmental protection. As the 2006 Legare R. Hole, III Memorial Scholarship recipient, Betsy had the opportunity to intern with the Cambrian Foundation where she was an active participant in the Central Florida Karst Project, assisting with field sampling and water testing. Once again, Betsy looks forward to further expanding her knowledge of the underwater world by interning with The Cambrian Foundation on the Bermuda Caves expedition.

Team Members

  • Jen Cate
  • Rima Franklin, Ph.D.
  • Amy Giannotti
  • Bob Giguere
  • Anne Glasspool, Ph.D.
  • Betsy Hackley
  • Tom Iliffe, Ph.D.
  • Gil Nolan>
  • Renee Power
  • Karl Shreeves
  • Bernie Szukalski
  • Terrence Tysall
  • Jack Ward

Comments are closed.