Keynote Speakers

Dr. Joshu Mountjoy

 Joshu Mountjoy is a Marine Geologist who has spent the majority of his research career studying the dynamic sedimentary systems on New Zealand’s Hikurangi subduction margin. This has broadened from studying the role of active tectonics in submarine canyon formation to forging links into oceanography, ecology and fluid systems. After the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake Joshu was fortunate to lead a team to study the dramatic impact of the earthquake on the Kaikoura Canyon which illustrated an actual example of the processes we study in the geomorphic and geological record, and in the study of benthic ecosystem disturbance. The event far exceeded any expectation of human observations of deep ocean seafloor change, and is likely to be a once in a life time opportunity.

Dr Martina Pierdomenico

Martina Pierdomenico, is a young Researcher at the Institute for the Study of Anthropic Impact and Sustainability in the Marine Environment (CNR-IAS). The bachelor degree in Natural Sciences (2008), master degree in Marine Sciences (2011) and PhD in Earth Sciences (2016), obtained at the University of Rome Sapienza, gave her a broad training on Earth and Life sciences, including a strong focus on environmental issues. Her current research focuses on the study of seafloor habitats, with a specific emphasis on the interplay between geological and sedimentary processes, anthropogenic stressors and biological communities in complex environments such as submarine canyons, volcanic islands, coralligenous build-up and cold-water coral mounds. Her multidisciplinary approach combines a wide range of methodologies (including geo-acoustic data, ROV surveys, sediment samples and oceanographic measurements) to obtain a comprehensive characterization of seafloor environment to provide understanding for the sustainable management and conservation of marine ecosystems located from the continental shelf to the deep-sea areas. Her work has been carried out within the framework of national and international projects, including the MaGIC (Marine Geohazard along Italian Coasts) Project, funded by the Italian Department of Civil Protection, the NOAA Hudson Canyon mapping program (USA), the Italian monitoring program for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Italian flagship project RITMARE for the assessment of marine litter in submarine canyons of southern Italy, where massive concentrations of land-based litter, the highest so far reported for the deep-sea, have been recently discovered. A long ship-based research experience derives from participation to 19 oceanographic cruises (1 as chief scientist) between 2006 and 2018 aboard national and international R/Vs (USA, Spain, Greece) in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, and to several coastal surveys.

Dr. Kostas Kiriakoulakis

Kostas Kiriakoulakis is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University having over 20 years’ experience in the study of organic matter with the use of elemental, molecular and isotopic techniques. He has worked in a range of settings and time scales, ranging from ancient rocks to modern marine sediments and particles, although the bulk of his work is focused in the deep ocean. Kostas has worked closely with physical oceanographers and ecologists to examine the biophysical and biogeochemical processes that affect the supply and nutritional quality of organic matter in the deep sea. He is particularly interested in understanding the role of organic matter in marine carbon cycling and the functioning of vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as cold water corals, that are located in topographically complex habitats, such as seamounts and submarine canyons.

Dr. Nathalie Valette-Silver

Nathalie has been with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for 31 years, starting as the Science Coordinator for the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science in NOAA/NOS.  In 2011, she joined NOAA/OER where she was initially the Undersea Exploration, Research and Technology Science Coordinator until the program was terminated. In that role, she steered and coordinated the science produced by the NURP Centers and coordinated community ocean exploration and undersea research programs. After NURP termination, she became the Program Lead for OER Federal Funding Opportunity, working extensively with academia and other groups interested in deep-ocean exploration. Dr. Valette-Silver earned her degrees in France (Universities of Paris Sorbonne and Montpellier): a PhD in Oceanography (bio-geochemistry/marine geology/ecology), two Master’s Degrees in Oceanography (geology/volcanology/geophysics- and geochemistry/ecology/biology), and a graduate degree in geology/sedimentology. She also graduated from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France where she earned the “Aggregation”, an accreditation in University teaching, and taught at the University of Maryland for seven years. She has a broad scientific background and extensive experience in scuba diving and in seagoing expeditions.


School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Ireland

Website by Aaron Lim 

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