June 2020 OES Beacon

Member Highlights (June 2020)

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Marinna Martini transfers from USGS to NOAA National Marine Fisheries

Marinna Martini

Figure 1: Profiling bottom lander being tested in 2011, the protruding arm moves sensors through the bottom boundary layer, image credit U.S. Geological Survey.

If you had asked me 6 months ago what I would be doing a year from now I would have said – retiring.  After 30 years of service to the USGS (United States Geological Survey, Department of Interior), I was enticed by the opportunity to give more time to IEEE, amateur radio, community service, learn about astronomy (and sleep in after a night of observing), travel to more competitive curling,  take long trips away with Al to New Zealand, across country and see national parks, and so on.  Maybe I would consult with my new Professional Engineering license.  That was the plan.

My career at USGS began with building data loggers, getting to use the latest cool technology, designing moorings and managing projects, and peaked with the systems design and project management of a profiling bottom lander (Fig. 1) that streamed data back over the internet through the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s coastal observatory [1].  Work then evolved to managing a small team, grappling with bureaucracy, and processing data.  The science evolved to come ashore: mapping beaches and the surf zone, where GIS skills are key and newly minted geoscience postdocs design the instrumentation.  As much as I enjoyed new skills that came with the evolution (python, mapping with RTK-GPS), I missed making physical things and working directly with electronics.  I missed big ships.  I figured at least some of those things I could do in retirement with ham radio, and still do public service.

Enter COVID-19.  No curling, no star parties, no travel for an unknown period of time.  Amateur radio, at least, is a distanced activity.

Fortunate to be in government service, I remained employed and my USGS office was sent home to work.  Finally, an advantage to being an introverted geek.  My USGS team was in hiring mode (and still is), and so I was monitoring USAjobs.gov for postings in the Cape Cod area.  NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in the Department of Commerce) was looking for an electronics engineer for the kind of work Dr. Foote and I started in 2010 [2-3], and was interrupted by the  urgent matter of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  I was intrigued, so I applied . . . and I was hired.

The new job is with the Ecosystems Surveys Branch at the Fisheries Service’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, e.g., NMFS in Woods Hole, MA.  I have received a warm welcome from my new NOAA colleagues.  While I am seated in the “ESB”, my skills will be available to the entire Center; an opportunity to serve a more diverse group of scientists and their equipment.  I am replacing Joe Godlewski, also an IEEE member, so my immediate concern will be to learn everything I can about Fisheries work, continue to support and upgrade things Joe built such as the EchoCal (https://github.com/jmgodlewski/EchoCAL) and the “Survey Sensor Package” that is used on dredges.  I may also help with Habcam, (https://habcam.whoi.edu/).  Something to note about EchoCal:  the acoustic target calibration technique [4] the system is designed for was developed and refined by some of our own OES members, Drs. Foote and de Moustier to name two.

Another influence was the OCEANS Plenary Presentation: “Offshore aquaculture needs YOU!” by Lisa Vollbrecht, Research Manager, Kampachi Farms, LLC (Kailua Kona, Hawaii).  It is available online (https://seattle19.oceansconference.org/plenary-offshore-aquaculture-needs-you/).

That is what I know for now, one week into my new job.  To all my IEEE colleagues, stay well and best of luck in all your endeavors.

Figure 1: Profiling bottom lander being tested in 2011, the protruding arm moves sensors through the bottom boundary layer, image credit U.S. Geological Survey.

  1. Boss, E., et al. (2018). “Advantages and Limitations to the Use of Optical Measurements to Study Sediment Properties.” Applied Sciences 8(12): 2692.
  2. Foote, K. G. and M. A. Martini (2010). Standard-target calibration of an acoustic backscatter system. OCEANS 2010.
  3. Martini, M. A. and K. G. Foote (2010). Measurements of echo stability of an acoustic backscatter system. OCEANS 2010
  4. Demer, D. A., et al. (2015) “Calibration of Acoustic Instruments, ICES Cooperative Research Report No. 326.”