June 2020 OES Beacon

New DLs from 2020 to 2023

Malcolm Heron, OES Vice President for Technical Activities

We have three new DLs from 2020 to 2023.

Donna M. Kocak

John R. Potter

Tamaki Ura

Their bios and topics of our excellent DLs follows.  You can see their information on the OES website too.

Donna M. Kocak

L3Harris Technologies, Melbourne, Florida, U.S.A.


  1. Perspectives in Ocean Engineering
  2. Fiber optic cables and systems
  3. Hazard monitoring by electro-optic methods


Donna Kocak has had an outstanding career in defense and scientific projects developing and applying solutions in subsea optics, imaging and robotics.  She graduated with an M.Sc in Computer Science in 1997 from the University of Central Florida; an MBA in 2008 from the University of Florida; and M.Sc in Industrial Engineering in 2011 from the University of Central Florida.    She is currently a Senior Scientist, Advanced Concepts Engineering, and Fellow at the Harris Corporation in Melbourne, Florida, where she has developed novel optical imaging and communication solutions for under-sea defence and scientific projects.   Prior to 2008 Donna Kocak was Founder and President of Green Sky Imaging, LLC (GSI) who developed laser/video photogrammetry software for underwater inspection and survey.  Her earlier career positions were with Naval Training Systems Center, Florida; Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Florida; eMerge Interactive; and the Advanced Technologies Group in Florida.

Her raft of Honors and Awards validate her reputation as a leader in her profession with a clear ability to develop innovation seeding projects and new maritime business.  She has been invited to speak to a wide range of audiences from school groups to defense think-tanks, on topics from undersea optics technologies to over-views of ocean engineering.

She has over 75 publications which follow a development of her interests from technology topics earlier to more recent papers on the state of technology and the future demands in subsea optics.

Honors and Professional Engagements:

L3Harris Technical Fellow, 2020

HARRIS Building a Legacy Award for demonstrating pride and accountability by developing next generation of talent through leadership and mentoring (2018)

Elected President of the Marine Technology Society (MTS), 2017-2018

Invited USA Science & Engineering Nifty Fifty Speaker, 2015-2016

SWE Space Coast Outstanding Woman Engineer Award, 2012

Appointed to FL Tech OE & UCF EECS Industry Advisory Boards, 2011

Delegated Senior Member of IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society, 2010

HARRIS Golden Quill (2009, 2016) and Industry Recognition (2012) Awards

Founded/Appointed Chair of the MTS Ocean Observing Systems Committee (2008 – 2015); & Chair of Underwater Imaging Committee (2004-2008)

Appointed to MTS Journal Editorial Board (2008 – Present); MTSJ Guest Editor of 10 special issues including 4 State of Technology volumes (2008 – 2019)

Member of NDIA, MTS, IEEE/OES, SWE and Upsilon Phi Epsilon Honor Society


John R. Potter

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Trondheim, Norway


  1. The next wave of game-changing heterogeneous nested autonomy
  2. Underwater Acoustics, communication and networking
  3. Ocean noise and marine mammals
  4. Lessons learnt in the open ocean, a blue-water sailing perspective


John Potter has a Joint Honours degree in Mathematics and Physics from Bristol University in the UK and a PhD in Glaciology and Oceanography from the University of Cambridge on research in the Antarctic, for which he was awarded the Polar Medal in 1988.  John has worked on polar oceanography, underwater acoustics, ambient noise (including imaging), marine mammals, communications, IoUT, autonomous vehicles and strategic development.  He has 40 years’ international experience working at the British Antarctic Survey in the UK, NATO in Italy, SIO in California, NUS in Singapore and most recently at NTNU in Norway.  John is a Fellow of the IEEE and MTS, an Associate Editor for the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, IEEE OES Distinguished Lecturer, PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer & an International Fellow of the Explorer’s Club.

John is a ‘big-picture’ visionary academic professional with experience encompassing strategic business development and award-winning research, including a National Defence Technology Prize in 2006 and the NATO Scientific Achievement Award in 2018.  He has a proven track record of establishing research facilities that exemplify standards of excellence, having founded the Acoustic Research Laboratory and co-founded the Tropical Marine Science Institute in Singapore, and is a recognised educational leader with coaching, facilitating and training experience.  He is an effective verbal/written communicator, experienced in managing change, building new opportunities, advocating for universities/organisations and interfacing with multi-national governmental, academic, military, and industrial organisations, as demonstrated by his pioneering leadership to establish the first digital underwater communications standard, ‘JANUS’.  He is extensively internationally published, with over 2,500 citations.  John has also sailed with his family across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, clocking 50,000+ nautical miles of blue-water cruising over a period of 30 years in pursuit of environmental awareness and marine conservation.

Among his achievements are:

  • Pioneering work on the impact of climate change on the Antarctic, for which he was awarded the Polar Medal by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, with his publications from the 80s still being cited today.
  • Leading the project that developed the first Ambient Noise Imaging system (ADONIS), producing passive acoustic video images of silent objects in real time, for which he received an ASA award for best paper.
  • Expedition leader for a 10,000 n.m. circumnavigation of the Indian Ocean by sailboat in support of education, public outreach and marine research, leading to publication of the first measurements of persistent organic pollutants in the Indian Ocean in 30 years.
  • Leading the project that built the first 2-D digital Ambient Noise Imaging array (ROMANIS), resulting in a National Defence Technology Prize.
  • Leading the team that developed the first digital underwater communications standard ‘JANUS’, now adopted by 28 nations and which resulted in the NATO Scientific Achievement Award
  • Conceived and wrote the draft Letter of Intent, now adopted as a formal memorandum, signed in October 2018 by Defence Ministers of 13 NATO nations, to collaborate on Maritime Unmanned Systems.
  • Founder of the Acoustic Research Laboratory (ARL) in Singapore
  • Educational leader and award-winning instructor/trainer with a history of improving instruction methods including use of new technologies and nurturing innovation through experiential learning.

The following selected publications illustrate his diverse experience:

  1. Gordon, J., Gillespie, D., Potter, J.R., Frantzis, A, Simmonds, M.P., Swift, R., et. al. (2003) A review of the effects of seismic surveys on marine mammals. Marine Technology Society Journal, 37, (4), 16-34.  (332 citations)
  2. Chitre, M., Potter, J.R., Ong, S.H., (2006) Underwater Acoustic Signal Processing-Optimal and Near-Optimal Signal Detection in Snapping Shrimp Dominated Ambient Noise. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 31 (2), 497-503. (161 citations)
  3. Potter, J.R., Paren, J.G. (1985) Interaction between ice shelf and ocean in George VI Sound, Oceanology of the Antarctic Continental Shelf 43, 35-58. (108 citations)
  4. Potter, J.R., Mellinger, D.K., Clark, C.W. (1994) Marine mammal call discrimination using artificial neural networks. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 96 (3), 1255-1262. (95 citations)
  5. Petrioli, C., Petroccia, R., Potter, J.R., Spaccini, D. (2015) The SUNSET framework for simulation, emulation and at-sea testing of underwater wireless sensor networks. Ad Hoc Networks, 34, 224-238. (82 citations)
  6. Potter, J.R., Alves, J., Green, D., Zappa, G., Nissen, I., McCoy K. (2014) The JANUS underwater communications standard. Underwater Communications and Networking (80 citations)
  7. Epifanio, C.L., Potter, J.R., Deane, G.B., Readhead, M.L., Buckingham, M.J. (1999) Imaging in the ocean with ambient noise: the ORB experiments. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 106 (6), 3211-3225. (66 citations)
  8. Petrioli, C., Petroccia, R., Potter, J.R. (2011) Performance evaluation of underwater mac protocols: From simulation to at-sea testing. IEE/MTS OCEANS 2011 Spain, 1-10. (56 citations)
  9. Wurl, O., Potter, J.R., Obbard, J.P., Durville, C. (2006) Persistent organic pollutants in the equitorial atmosphere over the open Indian Ocean, Environmental Science and Technology, 40(5) 1454-1461 (53 citations)
  10. Potter, J.R. (1994) Acoustic imaging using ambient noise: Some theory and simulation results. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 95(1) 21-33. (47 citations)


Tamaki Ura

President of Deep-Ocean Ridge Tech Co., Ltd.

Professor Emeritus of University of Tokyo, Japan


  1. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Perspective
  2. Deep Sea Exploration
  3. Underwater Technologies



Tamaki Ura is  Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo, where he is a world  leader in the development of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles.

He has developed various types of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and related application technologies including navigation methods, a new sensing method using a chemical sensor, precise seafloor mapping methods, a precise seabed positioning system with a resolution of a few centimeters, a new sensing system of the thickness of cobalt-rich crust; and more. He has shown, by using these technologies that AUVs are practicable and valuable tools for deep-sea exploration.

Professor Ura has dedicated himself to the activities of international societies by establishing  IEEE/OES Japan Chapter, where he served as its first chair from 1995 to 2000.  He organized the International Symposium on Underwater Technology: UT’98, UT2000, UT’02, UT’07, UT’11, UT’13 in Tokyo and UT’04, UT’19 in Taipei, UT’09 in Wuxi, UT’17 in Busan and UT’15 in Chennai under the IEEE/OES Japan Chapter, and realized the international symposium on OCEANS/Techno-Ocean 2004, Kobe in November 2004. This was the first OCEANS conference held in Asia.

He has contributed on ocean related themes not only for the academic audiences but also for the public. He worked as a Cabinet Councillor for The Headquarters of Ocean Policy of Japanese Government from 2007 to 2018.  He was a Commissioned Judge of the High Marine Accidents Inquiry Agency from 1984 to 2008, and he was the chairman of the Ocean Technology Committee of the Society of Naval Architects of Japan from 1998 to 2000.

After retiring from the University of Tokyo, he has been engaged in R&D of field robots such as beach cleaning robots and tomato collection robots. In addition, he organized a team which investigated the sunken ship, and discovered 27 submarines such as I-47, I-58 of Imperial Japanese Navy and U-boat U-511(Ro-500), and the passenger ship “Taiyo Maru”.

Based on these activities, he has received many awards;

2019: Distinguished service award (Robotics and Mechatronics Division) from the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (Japan)

2016: The Fujisankei Communications Group Award of the 25th Grand Prize for the Global Environment Awards from Fujisankei Communications Group  (Japan)

2013: Technical Achievement award (Robotics and Mechatronics Division) from the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (Japan)

2012: AUV “TUNA SAND” was awarded the 5th Robot Award from METI (Japan)

2010: IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society Distinguished Technical Achievement Award

2007: Nominated as IEEE Fellow, for contributions to autonomous underwater vehicle technologies.

2006:  Distinguished Service Award from IEEE/OES Japan Chapter (Japan)

2000: Award from Agency for Science and Technology (Japan)

1999: Award from the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (Japan)

1998: Award from High Automation Technology Association (Japan)

1995 and 1997: Awards on Invention from the Society of Naval Architects of Japan (Japan)

1982: Houkou Award on the significant contributions to safety of moored ship (Japan)

1979: Award from the Society of Naval Architects of Japan (Japan)