Students & Young Professionals

There are many opportunities for students & young professionals to Engage, Develop, and Learn at OCEANS 2018 Charleston. Below are activities and events dedicated to attendees in these demographics. We hope to see you there!

Student Mixer

Monday Oct 22, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., Ballroom Foyer Patio (rain=Ballroom Foyer)

Start OCEANS right by joining us to network with fellow students and more experienced professionals. Mentors, ranging from early career scientists to senior scientists and honorees, will be on hand for introductions, guidance and details on scheduling career and research advice mentorship sessions throughout the week.

OCEANS Mentorship Program

Monday Oct 22, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., and individual meetings throughout the week

There is a lot going on at OCEANS. The OCEANS mentorship program introduces students and young professionals to more experienced attendees who will provide guidance throughout the week. Mentors and mentees will schedule career and research advice mentorship sessions throughout OCEANS, fostering a mentoring relationship. These short meetings allow students and young professionals to ask about graduate school, networking and career pathways.


  • Mentors will be introduced to students at the Monday evening Student Mixer.
  • Meeting space will be available in the exhibit hall.
  • Quick Meetings (part of the Oceans18 app) can be used to schedule meetings.

Career Panel Breakfast

Wednesday Oct 24, 7:30 – 9:00 a.m., Ballroom C2

Limited to 50 participants; pre-register to guarantee your space. 
A panel of individuals diverse in their career stages, employment type, and experiences will share their perspectives and answer questions about career paths and how to advance. Invited panelist Matthew Gilligan has just received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM).


  • Each panelist will discuss their career path, successes and failures that led them to where they are today.
  • Panelists will give short presentations—followed by a question and answer period.

YP Lunch Meeting

Thursday Oct 25, 12:30 – 1:40 p.m., Embassy Suites

BYO lunch and discuss career-building opportunities with the IEEE OES Young Professionals. Young professionals, students and more senior professionals are welcome.

Agenda: Introductions will be followed by an short presentation about the IEEE Young Professionals, IEEE OES YP career building opportunities and discussion.

Women In Engineering PROGRESS Panel Breakfast

Thursday Oct 25, 7:30 – 9:00 a.m., Ballroom C2

Limited to 50 participants; pre-register to guarantee your space.
A panel of women diverse in their nationality, career stages, employment type, and experiences will share their perspectives and answer questions about career paths, how to advance and face challenges women experience in STEM fields. Panelists will give short presentations—followed by a question and answer period.


  • Introduction to the ocean sciences that focuses on teamwork and societal context
  • Topic 1: The speakers present their career and personal pathways.
  • Topic 2: a “day in the life”: exposure to women succeeding in counterstereotypic roles helps break down stereotypes

Introducing the Speakers

Career Panel Speakers

Dr. Fausto Ferreira  obtained his Master Degree in Electrotechnical and Computer Engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal, in 2008 and his Ph.D. in Electronic Engineering, Information Technology, Robotics and Telecommunication from the University of Genoa, Italy, in 2015.

Previously he was in the SPC in OCEANS’13 Bergen and organized a double special session at OCEANS (2015) on “Education and Competitions Initiatives in Marine Robotics” and has worked closely with IEEE OES to collaborate on numerous robotics competitions. He is involved with the IEEE OES Autonomous Maritime Vehicle Student Competition International Coordinating Committee under the Technical Committee for Unmanned Marine Vehicles and Submersibles.

In 2014, he joined NATO STO CMRE, La Spezia, Italy, as a scientist working on sonar mosaicking and the organization of marine and multi-domain robotics competitions. His research interests include underwater computer vision, robotics competitions, educational robotics and marine law.

Dr. Matthew Gilligan’s  first 17 years were uninspired and untroubled by goals or academic achievement. After finally finding a college that would admit him in 1968 (Nasson which went out of business in 1983) in order to disagree with the Vietnam war, he started reading and found a footing in science. He did some (very) independent research at Hartwick College and earned a B.S. degree in Biology there in 1972.  The undergraduate research report quality, good GPA (GRE not so much) and surprisingly effective interview skills earned him admission to a Ph.D. degree program (Biology/Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) at the University of Arizona where he studied El Golfo de California, Mexico fishes for 7 years eventually being conferred the Ph.D. degree in 1980. He was employed at Savannah State College (now University, SSU) from March 1980 to November 2011 and is now Professor Emeritus, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences. His awards include SSU National Alumni Association President’s Award on April 21, 1989 at the dedication of the Marine Biology Building, NOAA Environmental Hero Award April 23, 1996, Board of Regents Distinguished Professor at SSU AY2001-2002, first recipient of the SSU Distinguished Faculty Research/Grantsmanship Award on November 22, 2010 and 2015 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics mentoring on June 26, 2018 in Washington, D.C. He testified on ocean education and social diversity before the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy in Charleston, SC on January 15, 2002 and moderated a panel on the future ocean workforce and social diversity at the Conference on Ocean Literacy in Washington, D.C. in June 2006. He served on the Ocean Research Advisory Panel from July 2004 to June 2007 and is an Emeritus member of the National Association of Marine Laboratories.

Nicole LeBoeuf  has over 20 years of scientific and program management experience, with emphasis on the connections between science and policy. Currently, she is the Acting Assistant Administrator at NOAA’s National Ocean Service. The National Ocean Service (NOS) is the nation’s most comprehensive ocean and coastal agency. Its mission is to provide science-based solutions through collaborative partnerships to address evolving economic, environmental and social pressures on our oceans and coasts. The agency observes, measures, assesses, and manages the nation’s coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes areas; provides critical navigation products and services; and conducts response and restoration activities to protect vital coastal resources.

As Acting Assistant Administrator, Ms. LeBoeuf provides strategic vision for NOS.She serves as the focal point for conveying the value of NOS products and services within NOAA and to the Department of Commerce, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress. Ms. LeBoeuf actively establishes and grows partnerships with other federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and industry.

Ms. LeBoeuf holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in sustainable development and conservation biology from the University of Maryland. She lives with her husband, stepchildren, and hound dog in Kensington, Maryland.

Dr. Suleman Mazhar  earned his PhD from Tokyo University and postdoctorate from Georgetown University. Currently he is working as faculty member at Information Technology University, Lahore, Pakistan. In addition to his teaching duties in the area of machine learning, he conducts research in the area of acoustic monitoring of marine mammals and development of environmental monitoring systems and uses machine learning and data science based approaches on the data generated from such systems. His research interests are in development of technology-based solutions for environmental and development related challenges, especially in a developing world context. In this regard, he has a worked on a number of projects as principle investigator of BiSMiL Lab(Laboratory for Bio-inspired Simulation & Modeling of intelligent Life). He works on conservation of Indus river dolphin and environmental monitoring of dolphin habitat and has previously worked on humpback whales and the bottlenose dolphins.

He is IEEE senior member and a member of Signal Processing Society, Ocean Engineering Society and the Acoustical Society of America. He is alumni of Japanese Monbukagakusho program and US State Alumni (NIH fellow and a Fulbright grantee). He has got an extensive experience in mentoring both undergraduate and graduates students while working as a faculty member at the famous technology universities in Pakistan and during his postdoctoral experience at the University of Tokyo (Japan) and the Georgetown University (DC).

Dr. John Potter has a joint honours Mathematics and Physics Degree from Bristol and a PhD. in Glaciology and Oceanography from Cambridge studying Antarctic ice mass balance, where he spent four consecutive summers. He was awarded the Polar Medal for this work by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988. In 2004-2005 he took a year ‘seabbatical’ with his family to circumnavigate the Indian Ocean by sailboat on a sponsored voyage of research, public outreach and education.  Dr. Potter has 35 years’ experience in marine scientific research, engineering management & technology development with a holistic ‘big picture’ view and environmental focus, the last 20 years’ in senior management and leadership roles, focussing on strategic and business development. He also has 10 years’ experience facilitating, coaching & training personal performance & leadership skills, change-management, team building, relationship management & corporate strategy.
His scientific specialisations are in glaciology, polar oceanography, acoustics, ambient noise, marine mammals, autonomous vehicles, machine intelligence, communications & distributed autonomous sensing networks, ocean advocacy and environmental conservation. Widely respected internationally, with ~170 peer-reviewed publications, ~2200 citations, h- index = 22, i10-index = 56.  Fellow IEEE, International Fellow of the Explorers Club, Associate Editor for the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, Member OES, MTS, Marine Mammal Society, PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, TDI Nitrox and ECC Rebreather Diver, Private Pilot (Gliders and Gyrocopters). It is no longer true that he neither owns nor operates a television.

WIE PROGRESS Panel Speakers

Dr. Ir. Olga Lucia Lopera Tellez, Ph.D. is a Research Associate in the Signal and Image Centre, at the Royal Military Academy of the Ministry of Defence of Belgium. Inspired from a young age by the power of mathematics and its role in solving societal challenges, she earned her B.S. in electrical engineering at the University of Los Andes, Colombia; and received the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees (magna cum laude) in engineering sciences from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
Dr Lopera Tellez has more than 15 years of experience in image processing related to target detection and identification using radar and sonar images for demining applications and unexploded ordnance detection (land and underwater). She currently participates as Belgian representative in two NATO STO research groups and has spent the last 10 years volunteering on humanitarian demining projects in Colombia.

Marinna Martini, PE – Since 1986 Marinna has worked at ocean sites from 3 meters to 3 kilometers;  managed innovative projects such as a bottom lander with a profiling arm; designed the first mooring to survive a turbidity flow in Monterey Canyon; deployed bottom landers on Cape Hatteras, NC and Fire Island, NY in winter; is experienced with a variety of sensors which measure ocean currents, temperature, salinity, turbidity, oxygen and more; works with data logger design, programming, construction, testing, packaging and cabling for underwater deployment; processes and analyzes data in MATLAB and python; and manages shipboard deployment operations and field logistics.

She works at the United States Geological Survey’s Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marine Engineering Systems and her Third Assistant Engineer’s license from the United states Merchant Marine Academy, a Masters degree in ocean engineering and instrumentation from the University of New Hampshire.  She recently earned her Professional Engineering license.

She has been volunteering for the IEEE in various capacities since the turn of the century. She enjoys curling, cycling to work, kayaking, and learning to operate amateur radio.

Dr. Grace Saba is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Center for Ocean Observing Leadership at Rutgers University. She also serves as co-coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Acidification Network (MACAN). She received her B.S in Aquatic Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her Ph.D. in Marine Science from the College of William and Mary.

Saba conducts research to understand the response of marine organisms to changes in their environment, and how those responses feed back into the ecosystem. Specifically, her research focuses on understanding how climate variability and long-term change affect individual organisms, food webs, biogeochemical cycles, and export processes. She employs an integrative, mechanistic approach and has strong laboratory and field components in her research. She also utilizes ocean observing technologies (AUVs, moorings, sensor development) to determine natural environmental variability near organism habitats that provide a framework to better study organism response and design more realistic experiments. She works as local as the shelf waters of the Mid-Atlantic Bight to remote regions in Antarctica.

Dr. Ananya Sen Gupta joined University of Iowa, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as Assistant Professor in 2013. She received her MS (2001) and PhD (2006) from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining University of Iowa she spent five years (2008-2012) in Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as postdoctoral scholar and researcher working in undersea signal processing and petroleum forensics. Dr. Sen Gupta’s research interests lie in the nexus of signal processing, pattern recognition and knowledge discovery, with emphasis on applications to environmental chemistry, underwater acoustics and space plasma physics. She seeks to develop geometric computational techniques that enable sophisticated representation, localization, tracking, and classification of raw instrument signals generated by diverse environmental contaminants, laboratory conditions and natural phenomena. Her algorithms have been applied to shallow water acoustic communications, fingerprinting oil spills, sonar target recognition in high-clutter coastal environments as well as tracking high-energy plasmaspheric events on Earth and Mars.

Dr. Sen Gupta is an Associate Editor of IEEE Access, a guest editor of IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering Special Issue in “Underwater Acoustic Propagation Physics and Signal Processing Techniques for Shallow Water Acoustic Communications” and a Technical Committee chair in IEEE Ocean Engineering Society. She currently leads an interdisciplinary research team of graduate and undergraduate students, several of whom have received multiple student research awards under her mentorship. Her research for her Iowa EPSCoR project was recently featured in the ISGC 2015-2016 STIMULI EPsCOR report distributed to Congress. She has also received a teaching award in 2015 and three mentor awards from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium in 2016 and 2017.

Dr. Milica Stojanovic – (SM’08, F’10) graduated from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, in 1988, and received M.S. (’91) and Ph.D. (’93) degrees in electrical engineering from Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. She was a Principal Scientist at MIT, and in 2008 joined Northeastern University, where she is currently a Professor of electrical and computer engineering. She is also a Guest Investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Her research interests include digital communications theory, statistical signal processing and wireless networks, and their applications to underwater acoustic systems. She is an Associate Editor for the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering and a past Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing and IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology. She also serves on the Advisory Board of IEEE Communication Letters and the Editorial Board of IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, and chairs the IEEE Ocean Engineering Society’s Technical Committee for Underwater Communication, Navigation and Positioning. Milica is the recipient of the 2015 IEEE/OES Distinguished Technical Achievement Award, and is the 2008 IEEE/OES Distinguished Lecturer.

Mentors Available at OCEANS

(in alphabetical order, panelist bios listed above)

  • Dr. Richard Crout is a Supervisory Oceanographer and Head of the Ocean Sciences Branch at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Oceanography Division at Stennis Space Center, MS. His interests include satellite, physical, and coastal oceanography; specifically the application of satellite remote sensed data (visible, infrared, and microwave altimetry data) to ocean phenomena.
    Dr. Crout was an Oceanographer at NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) and was responsible for the quality control of meteorology and oceanography data from NDBC, Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO), and Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) buoys. He also represented NOAA and the US as representative on various JCOMM committees. He volunteered at the United Area Command in New Orleans following the Deepwater Horizon incident.
    Prior to his federal service, Dr. Crout supported Satellite Oceanography programs at NRL and Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command as a defense contractor. He also developed and taught classes in “Data Assimilation” and “Remote Sensing for Hydrographers” at the University of Southern Mississippi. He volunteers with numerous scientific organizations. Dr. Crout earned a BS (1976) from the University of South Carolina and MS (1978) and PhD (1983) degrees from Louisiana State University in Marine Science.
  • Dr. Ferial El-Hawary, received the B.Eng. degree from University of Alexandria, and the M. Sc. from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, in Electrical Engineering; and the Ph.D. in Oceans Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Ferial has significant Contributions to Under-water Signal processing, with Particular Emphasis on Target Tracking and Dynamic Heave Compensation which has lead to hardware implementation. In addition, she sustained research contribution devoted to OCEANS Application with significant impact on Defense, Navigation and Oil & Gas Exploration. Dr. El-Hawary has been a member on the Faculty of Engineering at Dalhousie University, where she established and directed the Modeling & Signal Analysis Laboratory.  She has published widely in IEEE Journals She is Editor-in-Chief of The Ocean Engineering Handbook and served as Associate Editor of IEEE Oceanic Engineering Journal. With more than twenty-five years experience in teaching Electrical and Oceanic Engineering, she has made significant and sustained contributions in promoting and developing continuing education programs. As founder of the Modeling and Signal Analysis Research Laboratory at the Faculty of Engineering of Dalhousie University, and founder of BH Engineering Systems Ltd. which is specializing in technology transfer. As the President, she established professional development courses, linking academic innovations to industrial needs of Engineering practitioners.
  • Dr. Matthew Gilligan (panelist)
  • Dr. Stephanie Kemna is a Software Engineer and Project Manager at Maritime Robotics. She recently obtained a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Southern California (2018), focusing on multi-robot strategies for adaptive informative sampling using autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). While at USC, she interned with ATLAS Elektronik (2014), Amazon Robotics (2015), and the Army Research Laboratory (2016).  She obtained a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Groningen (2008). From 2009 – 2012, she worked at the NATO STO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation on behavior development and mission design for AUVs. She is particularly interested in incorporating real-world constraints into aquatic robotic software development, and bringing autonomous systems to the end user.
  • Dr. Ir. Olga Lucia Lopera Tellez (panelist)
  • Dr. Suleman Mazhar  (panelist)
  • Marinna Martini (panelist)
  • Ellyn Montgomery has studied the oceans for more than 35 years.  She has worked with a variety of oceanographic instrument systems, and been responsible for all aspects of instrument programming, data collection, analysis, archival and distribution for a number of oceanographic research programs.   She joined USGS in 2006 and works on a variety of tasks from data collection, analysis and processing to management of oceanographic time-series observations collected in support of sediment transport research since the 1970s. These observations are served using Open Source software components and Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards to enhance accessibility and interoperability.   Data management topics of interest include THREDDS, ISO 19115-2 metadata, use of web services to distribute data, and geoinformatics.
    Ellyn is also a software developer for Windows and Linux who has written everything from board-level control code to graphical data visualization tools.  Programming languages include Matlab, C, Perl, Python, shell scripting and others.
  • Dr. John Potter (panelist)
  • Dr. Ananya Sen Gupta (panelist)