Soon, the reach of the graduates of the University of Maryland's Geographic Sciences Department will be extending to the command bridge of this special research vessel as 2013 graduate Lieutenant Dustin Picard joins the crew in Honolulu, Hawaii.

 For the past two years, Lieutenant Picard has been serving as Marine Operations Coordinator at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in Galveston, TX. Here is what he says about that posting:

“I find that I wear many different hats, which is likely true for most NOAA Corps assignments. My main job responsibilities include operational planning, budget, and management of the Research Vessel Manta. The ship is an 84' NOAA Research Vessel capable of completing a variety of oceanographic projects, including dive operations, survey operations, and Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) exploration.

There are two distinct seasons in my current assignment; the field season, which usually lasts from May into November and an off season which runs from November into May. In the winter, I find myself planning for upcoming field seasons. This includes coordinating the upcoming cruise schedule, overseeing vessel repairs, and writing government contracts, including our annual shipyard and annual crew contract.

 In my spare time I head down to the boat to help the crew with routine maintenance and larger repairs we have planned out. In the summer, I am very operational. We sail about 80-100 days per year, and I am offshore about 30-50% of the projects either as a crew member or as a NOAA Dive Master. The best part of my job is when I have the opportunity to sail as a NOAA researcher, and participate in diving operations as either a NOAA Diver or Dive Master. The Flower Garden Banks is home to one of the most remote coral reef ecosystems in the United States, and because of their distance from shore, the reefs are in excellent health, full of vibrant corals and unique marine life.

I am very fortunate to have landed such an excellent assignment within the NOAA Corps. I look forward to my next assignment, coming very soon, as Operations Officer on the Hi’ialakai as well as the adventures that will come with it!”

All of this would not have been possible for Lieutenant Picard save for his great undergraduate training at the Geographic Sciences Department.

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This is the NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai tied to the service pier on historic Midway Island. Credit: NOAA

Graduate Lieutenant Dustin Picard