I love the challenge of answering the question "what do you do?" I'm a marine scientist, educator, adventurer and maker with more than 20 years’ experience designing, developing and implementing continuing education & marine and environmental education courses. I've worked in the U.S. and abroad with experience, in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors, including most aspects of education programming and outreach. My work is a combination of a lot of my passions. Underwater robots, scuba diving, outreach education, grant writing, exploring and citizen science. It may seem like different directions all at the same time, but really they are all pointed in the same direction - using science to explore.
In my day job I'm the Director of the St. Petersburg College STEM Center at Bay Pines, engaging students in contextualized curriculum and in my free time I run PVC ROV, a small business geared toward building and teaching others about underwater robots. I also serve as the Director of the Center for Open Exploration (C4OE) my non-profit providing connections to grant opportunities for citizen science projects and I was just recently honored for this work by NAUI Worldwide for Environmental Enrichment.
I've been able to put my skills to use in varied science teams ranging from being a part of a team of four scientists who facilitated an aquaculture experiment aboard the Space Shuttle Mission STS 95, with Astronaut John Glenn to leading the ROV education component of the Sedna Epic Expedition Team in the Arctic. I've been SCUBA diving since the age of 13 and I am also an AAUS Certified Scientific Diver, and have certifications in Nitrox, Rescue & DrySuit diving.
My life’s passion is helping others understand science, especially through my technical contributions to the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) kits used in student competitions and simple ocean exploration. I jump at every opportunity to teach people how to work in the underwater world—it’s difficult to beat the feeling I get when watching someone’s face light up after I help them turn a plastic coat hanger into an underwater robot!
ROV's have been an important research tool for deep sea exploration. Join Erica in building your very own underwater robot in the beginning of October. Ready, set, build!