Scientific Advisory Council

SeaKeepers Scientific Advisory Council is composed of eminent scientists and ocean advocates who advise staff regarding critical ocean issues.  This learned group is chaired by Dr. Mark Luther, University of South Florida and includes Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue and National Geographic Explorer in Residence, Bill Read, Director of the National Hurricane Center; Dr. Roni Avissar, Dean RSMAS at the University of Miami; Admiral (Ret) Richard West, former Chief Oceanographer of the United States; Fabien Cousteau, Plant-a-Fish; and Dr. James Morris, University of South Carolina, and Kevin Hardy. 

Mark Luther, PhD - Council Head

Dr. Luther received his doctoral degree in Physical Oceanography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982.  Dr. Luther is an Associate Professor and director of the Ocean Monitoring and Prediction Lab in the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, where he co-directs the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System.

Sylvia Earle, PhD

Explorer in Residence – National Geographic Society. Earle, called a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress, and the first "Hero for the Planet," by TIME MAGAZINE is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer with experience as a field research scientist.  

Roni Avissar, PhD

Roni Avissar, PhD, is Dean of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami and Professor of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography. Dean Avissar oversees RSMAS programs that include over $61M total budget last year; 80% extramural (grants and contracts), supporting approximately 95 full-time faculty, 250 research personnel and support staff, 200 graduate students (Ph.D. and M.S.) and almost 300 undergraduates in marine science.

Fabien Cousteau

Fabien Cousteau, third generation explorer, environmental activist and documentary film producer, is a longtime friend of The International SeaKeepers Society. In fact, in 1996 his father, Jean-Michel, was awarded the SeaKeepers Award. As the founder and director of Plant A Fish, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring our water planet and educating youth about the importance of conservation and restoration, Fabien works closely with the society and acts as an advisor and now sits on the Scientific Advisory Council.


Kevin Hardy serves on both Jim Cameron's Deep Challenge and Virgin Oceanic’s Five Dives project as the “Lander Commander,” overseeing the design and construction of the robot landers that provide navigational beacons to guide the submarine to targets on the bottom. The landers will also carry an array of scientific samplers and sensors, plus high definition camera systems and advanced LED lighting systems. Hardy has deployed robot landers from inside the Arctic Circle to the southern oceans and around the world, including Challenger Deep in March 2012. He majored in industrial technology manufacturing at San Diego State University. Between his freshman and sophomore year, in the summer of 1972, Hardy knocked on doors at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, where he has worked as an ocean engineer for nearly 40 years. Hardy was Guest Editor of the January 2010 Marine Technology Society Journal honoring the Golden Anniversary of the U.S. Navy bathyscaphe Trieste’s dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Throughout his time at Scripps he sought out the men who had been involved in the historic Trieste expedition of 1960. As he listened to their stories, he gradually resolved to go to the Mariana Trench himself. "At some point," says Hardy, "it became a consuming goal: 'I'm going. If it's me in a rowboat with my machine, I'm going to the trench.' "

James T. Morris, PhD

Dr. James Morris is the Director of the Belle Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences, Professor of Biological Sciences, Distinguished Professor of Marine Studies at the University of South Carolina, and a AAAS Fellow.  He served as a Program Officer at the National Science Foundation from 2003-2005 and was a visiting professor at Aarhus University, Denmark in 1990.  His academic background includes degrees in environmental sciences, (BA, Univ. Virginia), biology (MA, Yale) and forestry and environmental studies (PhD, Yale).  He held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole before taking a faculty position at the University of South Carolina in 1981.  Morris has authored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications and is regarded as an expert on the effects of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands.  His varied skills include analytical chemistry and numerical modeling.  He has served on numerous committees and panels, including the US National Science Foundation, the Irish National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, and the IndoFlux committee of India.  Dr. Morris has a long history of funding from NSF, USGS and NOAA for research on the effects of sea level change on coastal wetlands.  He also serves on the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis Wetland Carbon Modeling working group.

Bill Read

Bill Read has been the Director of the National Hurricane Center since January, 2008. In this capacity, he is responsible for the operational tropical weather forecasts for the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific Ocean. Additionally, he leads the national effort on hurricane awareness. Significant hurricanes since taking the position include Gustav, Ike and Paloma in 2008 and Jimena in the Eastern Pacific in 2009.  
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