Girls in Ocean Science Teen Conferences

Thank you to all our participants in this year’s conferences.
2016 conference information will be available in the fall.

GIOS Middle School Teen Conference: February 14, 2015

GIOS High School Teen Conference: March 21, 2015

These exciting conferences are dedicated to inspiring young women to pursue degrees and careers in the sciences. Sixteen prominent female scientists from around the country will interact with the girls in a series of hands-on workshops aboard our research vessel, Sea Explorer, and in the Ocean Institute’s teaching labs. The conferences, split into two day-long programs, are designed for enthusiastic middle and high school girls who have an interest in science. Girls will explore careers in areas such as oceanography, marine ecology, astronomy, biochemistry, and deep sea and space exploration. Reservations are required; please see below for registration dates.

Time: 8:30am – 4pm
Cost: $20/participant (includes lunch)

Registration dates for both conferences:

Members: November 17, 2014
Non-Members: December 8, 2014

Register online or call (949) 496-2274.

For any other questions about the GIOS conferences, please contact


2016 speaker names will be available in late-2015.

Presenters for the Middle School GIOS Teen Conference- February 14, 2015


Danni Washington

Ocean Advocate/Science Communicator/Co-Founder and CEO of Non-Profit Organization ‘The Big Blue and You’

 Have you ever wanted to combine a talent for the arts and a passion for science? Well that is exactly what Danni Washington has accomplished since 2008 by founding the Miami-based organization: The Big Blue and You. This non-profit she runs with her mother invites local youth to educate the public by creating short documentaries about water conservation. In addition to film-making, students also have the opportunity to participate in events such as creating art from recycled material or celebrating the ocean through music and dance. Danni is always up for adventure and is an avid scuba diver, stand-up paddler, and all-around lover of the outdoors. If you would like to learn more about The Big Blue and You, check out the website


Erika Bergman

Submersible Pilot at ExploreOcean Miami, Florida of National Geographic Young Explorers

 How would you like to be able to explore the depths of the ocean without ever getting wet? Well Erika Bergman, a submersible pilot with ExploreOcean in Miami, Florida, gets to do just that! Her work allows her to pilot a submersible, a small submarine, along the coral reefs of Curacao and Honduras thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean. Cameras mounted to the inside and outside of her submersible allow her to share her diving experience with classrooms and onlookers across the globe. Erika hopes that her research will help translate abstract ocean concepts into something tangible for a global audience. Check out Erika’s most recent adventures at


Trude Hurd

Project Director of Education at The Sea and Sage Audubon Center

Trude Hurd has a passion for all wildlife, but her specialty lies with our fine feathered friends. Born and raised in Southern California, Trude has long been an advocate for the local bird species and shares her wisdom through naturalist programs at the Audubon Center, welcoming nearby elementary schools to participate in scientific programs. Her work not only brings her in contact with countless students, but her interests in birds have also won her the national championship of The Big Sit! (a national bird watching event) twice! Learn more about the local Audubon Center here    


Kristy Forsgren

Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences Department at Cal State Fullerton

Currently, Kristy’s focus is all about fish, fish, and more fish. Her background studies have been in marine biology and she attended Cal State Long Beach for both her Bachelors and Masters degrees. She then ventured up to the University of Washington to get her PhD in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, which brought her to her current research on the endocrine and reproductive systems in fish. When Kristy is not frolicking with fish, she and her 6-year old beagle visit children in the hospital as a certified pet therapy team. Explore more of her research at 


Lisa Levin 

Marine Ecologist and Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The bottom of the ocean is a vastly untouched ecosystem full of mysterious creatures, and perhaps that is what interested Lisa Levin to make that the core focus of her research. At Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Lisa studies benthic ecosystems in the deep sea and shallow water. ‘Benthic’ refers to any bottom surface of a body of water. She and her students have worked with the smallest of microbes to different species of invertebrates and fishes. Her research has taken her throughout the margins of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans using submersibles, ships, and ROVs to conduct her experiments. Investigate more of her exciting research at


Hayley Nuetzel

Teaching Assistant and Laboratory Technician

Growing up in a family of surfers and fishermen, the ocean always felt like home to Hayley. While her decision to pursue a degree in Marine Biology at UCLA was essentially inevitable, her passion for molecular ecology developed throughout her undergraduate career. The ability to answer ecological questions, such as conservation issues and species diversity, in terms of minute differences in genetic structure was absolutely fascinating. Accordingly, Hayley has utilized genetic techniques to understand human impacts in the marine environment. Her research and study at UCLA have allowed her to travel throughout the countries of Indonesia and Australia. 


Amy Tanaka

Environmental Scientist, Office of Sustainability, City of Long Beach

Mixed Media/Eco-Friendly Artist at Mixt Media Arts in Long Beach, CA

Amy Tanaka has an eye for design and she is using her creativity to contribute to designing green projects in the city of Long Beach. The combination of her education in environmental science and art history allow her to use her graphic design in planning garden workshops and “re-use” ideas to the Civic Center Garden. This project educates people on how to use recycled material to grow their own food in “vertical gardens.” When Amy is not working with the city, she and her fiancé run their own design company called Mixt Media Arts, where they specialize in hand-painted signs, creative displays, and up-cycled art and furniture. Discover more about the Long Beach Edible Garden Project at


Melissa Neuman

NOAA Fisheries Abalone Recovery Coordinator

Abalone are more than just beautiful shells, they are single-shelled intertidal snails that are a vital part of the California coastal ecosystem. They are currently facing threats including disease, low population densities, and poaching. Melissa’s education from Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at New Jersey State University has prepared her for her work in recovery of abalone populations through the eradication of poaching, development of protective regulations, and incorporation of cost-effective methods of repopulation. Inspect the Melissa’s work with NOAA at



Presenters for the High School GIOS Teen Conference- March 21, 2015

Wendy Wert

Projects Engineer, Facilities Planning Department, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County

Water is one of our most important resources, especially with the heavily populated city of Los Angeles. Wendy Wert is a Pennsylvania native who serves as an Environmental Engineer with the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, providing vital knowledge for wastewater treatment. California has been in one of its worst droughts, entering its fourth year, and the wastewater treatment facility relies on Wendy to integrate water supply, water reuse, water conservation, and stormwater management into sustainable operations. Find out more about what the County of Los Angeles is doing with water at


Sama Wareh

Community Outreach Coordinator- Environmental Nature Center

Field trips can be one of the most memorable events in grade school, yet some schools don’t have an opportunity to attend one. That is where the Traveling Naturalist program, pioneered by Sama, comes to the rescue! Through her work, she expands on students’ knowledge of scientific concepts and encourages stewardship and appreciation for the environment. Over the past two years, the traveling naturalist program has reached over 4,700 students annually. Not only does Sama have a passion for the natural world, she is also an activist helping refugees of the Syrian revolution. Discover more about the incredible work that Sama is doing at


Jenny Holen

Biology Teacher at Tesoro High School

Jenny Holen is a High School science teacher, but her work takes her far beyond the classroom. She also advises the Save the Sharks Club, cleanSUP club, and Surfrider Club at Tesoro High School. As a teacher, she encourages students to investigate their natural surroundings. Reaching so many students allows her to develop environmental stewardship in her community and creates opportunities for teens to explore careers in the scientific field. Check out the awesome opportunities her students have at


Laura White

PhD Student in Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University

Laura has achieved her Bachelor degree and is working on her PhD at Texas A&M University, but also had the opportunity to complete her Master’s degree at the University of Bradford in the UK. Her latest research interests in ancient ship construction have taken her to the Mediterranean for several different projects. In addition to underwater archaeology, Laura is a firm believer in diving safety and is also a certified Openwater SCUBA instructor and a NAUI First Aid instructor. Dive into Laura’s thrilling explorations at


Nancy Caruso

Founder of Get Inspired! a kelp restoration program

It is not often that you find your life’s calling at age 10, but Nancy Caruso knew at an early age she wanted to be a Marine Biologist. She has a strong belief that scientific discoveries are fueled by human creative thinking and the arts can play a major role in fostering scientific discoveries. Get Inspired! programs are custom designed for individual groups exploring many scientific topics. Nancy also directs the Orange County Ocean Restoration Project aimed to involve citizens in restoring the native kelp forests. In addition to her passion for marine biology, Nancy also has an artistic side that she uses in developing her new program, encouraging adults with autism to express their creativity through art. Investigate some super science and art that Nancy is doing at


Stephanie Benseman

Nearshore Marine Fish Research Program- Cal State Northridge

Stephanie Benseman is quite fond of fish, and she is studying the giant Sea Bass for her Master’s degree at Cal State Northridge. Her research focus is on the abundance and growth estimates of early life history of this fish in order to maintain the fishery population. Her recent scientific accomplishments have won her a 2014 Student Award from the Southern California Academy of Sciences. Fish for fun facts about her research at