GOMMEA is a regional network of educators and scientists, committed to creating connections between science and the community, to better understand the Gulf of Maine.
Our mission is to connect people to the Gulf of Maine through education and experiences.
Our vision is an ocean-literate citizenry who appreciates and cares for a healthy Gulf of Maine.
Board of Directors
as of 11/14/2019
Jen Kennedy – President 2017 – 2020
Deb Debiegun – President Elect 2017 – 2020
Adam Baukus – Past President 2018 – 2021
Sara Ellis – Treasurer 2017 – 2020
Elissa Koskela – Secretary 2017 – 2020
Emma Carey (2019 – 2022)
Mike Doherty (2018 – 2021)
Katie Flavin (2019 – 2021)
Tara Hicks-Johnson (2017 – 2020)
Melissa Luetje (2019 – 2022)
Anneliese (Lili) Pugh (2017 – 2020) – Membership Manager
Ann Reid (2018 – 2021)
Thom Smith (2018 – 2021)
Andrea Southworth (2019 – 2022)
Cassie Stymiest (2018 – 2021) – Newsletter Editor and Web Manager
Sunny Sadana (2019 – 2022)
Julie Taylor (2019 – 2022)
Adam Baukus, Past President
Adam grew up in NH and ME, hooked on fishing from an early age. After experiencing the Isles of Shoals laboratory on Appledore Island through UNH he dove headfirst into marine biology. Working at various marine labs around the country, he landed at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, ME. His current research focuses on marine fisheries, studying the distribution, abundance and behavior of a variety of finfish and shellfish species, such as cod, monkfish, herring and shrimp. The work is interdisciplinary so he collaborates with a diverse group of people and applies what they learn to things like fishing gear design to reduce bycatch, increase the understanding of ecological systems and increased knowledge and opportunities in seafood marketing. When not on a fishing boat for work or pleasure, he is at home tackling his two boys and his St. Bernard.
Emma grew up in the seacoast region of New Hampshire and has always gravitated towards the beach and the wonders of the ocean. She discovered her love for biology in high school and continued to pursue her interest in animals and conservation through college. She graduated with a B.S. in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire and will receive her Master’s Degree in conservation education from Miami University of Ohio in December, 2019. Through her graduate studies, she was lucky enough to travel to Belize, Namibia, and Borneo to learn about local conservation efforts and some of the ways in which community members become stewards for their local wildlife. She started working as a seasonal naturalist at the Seacoast Science Center in 2012 and is now the Program Coordinator. She loves engaging learners in nature, and aims to inspire conservation of our planet through inquiry-based learning.
Deb Debiegun, President Elect
Deb enjoys networking with other marine education professionals throughout the Gulf of Maine region and with the national chapter. Deb’s professional background includes teaching natural sciences, environmental consulting, and physical oceanography. Deb struggled with whether “to become” a research scientist, engineer, or teacher. She happily balances aspects of each. Primarily motivated by sharing her passion for the interconnectedness of nature and what humans can do to better our relationship with the ocean and nature, she currently finds inspiration from the Maine Environmental Educators Association, through teaching science classes at Maine College of Art, and through volunteering with Friends of Casco Bay. Deb’s “other” time is spent backcountry skiing, backyard composting, raising her children, playing with dogs, reading poetry, hiking, biking, sailing, and enjoying bluegrass music.
Mike grew up here in NH, and studied Environmental Biology at Plymouth State University. He has worked as an informal marine educator for about 4 years, and most recently jumped back into his own learning by pursuing a Master of Science in Marine Biology at UNH. As a new researcher and student, Mike is excited to explore all the new education and outreach opportunities he has at UNH. Mike enjoys diving, snorkeling, and swimming. He has been lucky enough to dive in the warm waters off Hawaii, but he prefers our cooler Gulf of Maine!
Sara Ellis, Treasurer
Sara has studied marine biology since 1981, researching a wide variety of animals of including whales, seals, lobsters, and octopus. She enjoys sharing her passion about the ocean with people of all ages and is a seasonal naturalist at the Seacoast Science Center. She is an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Southern Maine teaching biology and marine biology to undergraduate students, covering topics from cells to ecosystems. Sara has written articles on marine mammals, fisheries, oceanography, and biodiversity for magazines, newspapers, and scientific journals. She has served as a judge for From the Bow Seat’s Ocean Awareness Student Contest since its inception in 2011. Her overarching goals are to instill a sense of wonder in others and inspire stewardship of the marine environment.
Katie joined the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Education team in October 2008. She is currently the LabVenture Visit Manager and you will often find her working with middle school students during their LabVenture programs in the Cohen Center for Interactive Learning. She grew up in Long Island, New York and has felt a deep connection to the ocean ever since she can remember. She pursued marine biology at Long Island University and has had many marine ecology and education experiences since then. During college, she took a semester at sea aboard the Schooner Harvey Gamage and learned about trout aquaculture at the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery. She worked seasonally for the NY Department of Environmental Conservation in the shellfish department, where she sampled and tested waters around Long Island. Katie taught hands-on marine science classes and summer camp with Cornell Cooperative Extension and taught at Marine Lab in Key Largo, Florida before settling down in Maine. Now she enjoys working with students from Maine and getting them excited about science. Katie also enjoys gardening, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and camping with her family.
Tara Hicks Johnson
Tara Hicks Johnson moved to New Hampshire from Honolulu with her husband Paul Johnson and their two kids, Keira who is 12, and Ian, 9. Currently at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, she is the Outreach Specialist, responsible for educational and public outreach programs and events such as Seacoast SeaPerch, Ocean Discovery Day, and various camps and school events. Previously, Tara was the Outreach Specialist for the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she organized the biennial Open House event, handled media relations for the school, and ran the Hawaii Ocean Sciences Bowl, the Aloha Bowl. She also worked for the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto (where she was born and raised). Tara’s BSc is in Geophysics from the University of Western Ontario, and her MS is from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Geology and Geophysics where she studied Meteorites.
Jen Kennedy, President
Jen grew up in Rochester, NY, but has always loved the water and being outdoors. From an early age, she had a particular interest in whales. After graduating from Cornell, she moved to New England for a whale research internship. This turned into a position working on a whale watch vessel in New Hampshire as a naturalist. Along the way, she also received her MS from UNH. In 2001, she co-founded Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, where she serves as Executive Director. The organization works to protect marine life in the Gulf of Maine through research, education and inspiring action. Jen loves being involved in GOMMEA and being inspired by people from all over northern New England who are passionate about education, research and conservation. Jen lives in Eliot, ME and enjoys hiking, running, gardening and spending time with her family.
Elissa Koskela, Secretary
After watching an episode of 3-2-1 Contact on PBS, Elissa decided at a young age that she should pursue a career on the water. Growing up in Rhode Island, there were ample opportunities to visit the beach and inspect the rocky shore. This exploration led north for college where Elissa graduated from Maine Maritime Academy with a Marine Science degree. After several years as an outdoor marine educator, she eventually brought this love of the ocean into the classroom. Elissa currently teaches Math and Earth Science to sixth grade students at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, ME. When not with a group of students, Elissa enjoys scouting wild Maine in hiking boots, wearing snowshoes, on skis or floating with a paddle. She is also content on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea.
Melissa has been a high school science teacher at Kennebunk High School since 2002. She is certified in both physical and life science, has a BA in Geology and an MS in Education. She teaches the Gulf of Maine Field Studies class at her high school that she helped develop in partnership with the University of New England, Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, and the Gulf of Maine Institute (GOMI). This 200-level environmental studies class is also taught at UNE and at KHS. Students earn 3 college credits upon completion. This project-based class focuses on the Gulf of Maine bioregion and on local issues related to climate change in the Gulf. She and her class collaborators were awarded with the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment’s Visionary Award in 2019. She has 3 daughters and lives in Freeport along with backyard goats, chickens, and ducks. She and her husband spend their summers boating on Casco Bay and going on geologic adventures along the coast of Maine and Maritime Canada.
Anneliese (Lili) Pugh
Lili Pugh recently left the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center as their K-12 Education Program Coordinator after 6 years of filling this role. She has a Master’s degree in Oceanography from the University of Maine and has many years of experience as an informal educator. She taught several years as a Teacher Naturalist at Massachusetts Audubon Society and has been, and is currently, a swim and ski coach. She completed the Maine Volunteer Master Naturalist program in 2012 and enjoys being outside, especially by the water, whether fresh or salt. She is the mother of two high school students who keep her busy when not working. Lili lives by the Sheepscot River and loves to watch the changing of the tide.
Ann is a longtime GOMMEA member and resident of NH. Ann has poured countless volunteer hours into local groups around Great Bay. Ann was the coordinator for the Great Bay Coast Watch (GBCW), in which volunteers monitored 20 sites in Great Bay Estuary for water quality parameters. Ann also volunteered with the UNH Marine Docent Program. In addition to marine stewardship, Ann is involved in community organizations, enjoys travel, and enjoys time with her children and grandchildren.
Sunny Sadana has spent the last 20 years in New England dedicated to instilling youth with a sense of wonder, connection, and stewardship to the natural world and their local communities. His own youth was filled with many opportunities to connect to our oceans, where much like the ocean currents, he travelled around the seacoasts of various continents. Originally immigrating from the Indian Coast to the Northern Atlantic Coasts, he actually ended up spending most of his early life watching sunsets in the foothills of the Southern California coastline. His travels and good fortune finally brought him to the Gulf of Maine where he threw his anchor and fell in love with its seacoast (and his Mainer wife). While he’s been at port here, Sunny has completed a couple of graduate degrees in Education (M.Ed. Elementary Education, Ed. S. Administration & Supervision) at the University of New Hampshire, worked with/for a variety of local environmental education programs/organizations dedicated to ocean literacy (e.g. UNH Marine Docents, the Gundalow Company, etc.), and can be found teaching Science while leading backpacking trips to 6th graders at Oyster River Middle School, running summer kayak trips at the Seacoast Science Center, or exploring the Gulf of Maine seacoast with his wife, two young children, and black lab.
Thom Smith has been an elementary educator for the last eleven years, and is currently teaching fifth grade in Sutton, New Hampshire. He has an Early Childhood Education degree, and a Masters in Educational Leadership. In 2016, he was awarded the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. During his sabbatical he created a 24-lesson marine science unit on the rocky shore, available at the Seacoast Science Center’s website. In 2018, he was awarded an Ocean Stewardship Award from the New England Aquarium (Honorable Mention). He is thankful for his best friend and wife, Amy, and their eight children. When he’s not teaching, Thom enjoys spending time with family, writing poetry and stories, and enjoying the vacation world we live in here in New England.
Andrea has always enjoyed being outside, connecting with nature, breathing, and feeling great. She’s been in environmental education for many years, both as a curriculum-writer for non-profits and as an instructor to learners of all ages. Her own education background is biology, ornithology, horticulture, and entomology and she graduated from USM’s Extended Teacher Education Program. Currently, Andrea is the Ecology Project Manager for Friends of Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where she restores native plant and wildlife habitats. She also teaches natural science classes at Maine College of Art and Southern Maine Community College. Andrea’s personal interests involve plants and gardens; she loves to hike and study the flora and fauna as she walks. She enjoys cooking and eating fresh food. She especially enjoys her role as “the invasive lady” and finds a lot of pleasure in removing invasive plants! She is very fortunate to have a wonderful family and many friends.
Cassie Stymiest, Newsletter Editor and Web Manager
Cassie Stymiest is the Program Director for the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation and Educational Passages. She works with scientists, students, and fishermen to deploy ocean monitoring systems. Her main focus is student built drifters and miniboats. Both have GPS trackers as they drift and sail across the ocean. Working with students to build them, fishermen to deploy them, and scientists to use the data to validate models, she also helps coordinate the data system so the tracks can be followed in realtime online. She’s Past Chair of the New England Ocean Science Education Collaborative (NEOSEC), and was previously the Program Manager for NERACOOS.
Julie Taylor has been working in the education field, both classroom instruction and interpretive naturalist work, for over fifteen years. Originally from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, she came to Bar Harbor, Maine in 2003 to study at the College of the Atlantic. She earned her B. A. in Human Ecology and her studies intertwined marine sciences and education. Julianne’s senior project examined the potential effects ocean currents have on humpback whale distribution, site fidelity, and residency in the Gulf of Maine. Her study utilized data collected on whale watch vessels and compared three feeding grounds: Mount Desert Rock, Schoodic Ridges, and Jeffreys Ledge. Julie has assisted in marine mammal research and education outreach programs with organizations such as Allied Whale, Blue Ocean Society, and EcoHealth Alliance. In 2010/2011, she worked as a right whale aerial observer off the coast of Georgia and returned to Maine to teach in public schools. Julie worked as education coordinator for the Explore Outdoors! program, which is a collaborative project between three local environmental organizations including Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Downeast Audubon, and Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust. Julie is currently the lead naturalist at the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company, where she has worked as a guide and educator for over 12 years.
Richard Baldwin (2016 – 2019)