Meet our team

We’ve built a team of experts to ensure the success of Deep HOPE and its missions.

Our team is a group of committed individuals who believe in expanding our understanding and knowledge of the deep ocean for the betterment of mankind and our planet.

team

Board of Directors

The directors manage Deep HOPE and ensure that the organization fulfills its vital mission every day. As they constantly look to the future, they find ways to support the development of the most cutting-edge technology for exploring the ocean depths.

Dr. Sylvia Earle
Chair

Dr. Sylvia Earle

Dr. Sylvia A. Earle is Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society, Founder of the Sylvia Earle Alliance (S.E.A.) / Mission Blue, Founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc. (DOER), Chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute and former Chief Scientist of NOAA.

Dr. Sylvia A. Earle is Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society, Founder of the Sylvia Earle Alliance (S.E.A.) / Mission Blue, Founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc. (DOER), Chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute and former Chief Scientist of NOAA.

Author of more than 200 publications and leader of more than 100 expeditions with over 7,000 hours underwater, Dr. Earle is a graduate of Florida State University with M.A. and PhD. degrees from Duke University and 27 honorary doctorates. Her research concerns the ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems and development of technology for access to the deep sea. She is the subject of the Emmy® Award Winning Netflix documentary, Mission Blue, and the recipient of more than 100 national and international honors and awards including being named Time Magazine’s first Hero for the Planet, a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, 2014 UNEP Champion of the Earth, Glamour Magazine’s 2014 Woman of the Year, member of the Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark, and winner of the 2009 TED Prize, the Walter Cronkite Award, the 1996 Explorers Club Medal, the Royal Geographic Society 2011 Patron’s Medal, and the National Geographic 2013 Hubbard Medal.

She has led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater including leading the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970, participating in ten saturation dives, most recently in July 2012, and setting a record for solo diving in 1,000 meters depth. Her research concerns marine ecosystems with special reference to exploration, conservation and the development and use of new technologies for access and effective operations in the deep sea and other remote environments.

Her special focus is on developing a global network of marine protected areas, “Hope Spots,” to safeguard the living systems that provide the underpinnings of global processes, from maintaining biodiversity and yielding basic life support services to providing stability and resiliency in response to accelerating climate change.

Michael Aw
CEO/President

Michael Aw

Conservation and preservation of the ocean environment have been the guiding principles of Michael AW’s professional life for over 30 years. As an author, explorer and photographer he has become the recipient of over 65 international awards for his work.

Conservation and preservation of the ocean environment have been the guiding principles of Michael AW’s professional life for over 30 years. As an author, explorer and photographer he has become the recipient of over 65 international awards for his work. Michael’s photographs and essays have been featured in publications such as BBC Wildlife, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, Nature, Ocean Geographic, Asian Geographic, Nature Focus, Times and Discovery among others.

Outdoor Photography named Michael one of the 40 most influential nature photographers on the planet and he has been the principal author of 31 books as well as a contributing author and/or photographer in 11 others. In addition, he has been a principal consultant for dozens of marine projects and has published a variety of instructional diving programs for NAUI. Michael AW is project director for the groundbreaking work Elysium Epic.

This highly ambitious undertaking began in 2011 with a 57-member international team that travelled to the Antarctic retracing the steps of Ernest Shakleton’s famous 1914 trans Antarctic journey in order to document global climate change. In 2015, the saga continued to the Arctic with a 65-member international team of artists, scientists, musicians and explorers including Dr. Sylvia Earle, David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes, Ernie Brooks, Dr. Cabell Davis, Howard Shaw, and Leandro Blanco.

The mission for this project is to promote understanding and awareness of the rapid climate changes our planet is experiencing and to highlight the plight of the species that are most at risk using images, art, music and solid science in order to be better able to influence critical climate policies globally. Look for the release of the film in the near future.

Dan Bennett
Board Member

Dan Bennett

Tom Gruber
Vice President/Treasurer

Tom Gruber

Tom Gruber is a researcher, designer, and entrepreneur, with a focus on technology to augment human intelligence. He was cofounder, CTO and VP Design for Siri, which created the first intelligent assistant for everyone.

Tom Gruber is a researcher, designer, and entrepreneur, with a focus on technology to augment human intelligence. He was cofounder, CTO and VP Design for Siri, which created the first intelligent assistant for everyone. Siri was started in 2008, launched in early 2010, and soon after became part of Apple.

Siri is now intrinsic to the Apple ecosystem, available on every new iPhone, iPad, Watch, Apple TV, and Mac. Siri is used around the world over 2 billion times a day. At Apple, Tom leads Advanced Development to bring AI to the UI for current and future products. Tom has also applied AI to support collective human intelligence.

His research at Stanford in AI, particularly ontology engineering, helped lay the groundwork for semantic information sharing and the Semantic Web. He has created several products and companies that support human collaboration and knowledge sharing. He invented HyperMail, the widely used open-source application that turns email conversations into collective memories on the Web. He was founder and CTO of Intraspect Software, which pioneered the space of Collaborative Knowledge Management — software that helps large communities of professionals contribute to and learn from a collective body of knowledge.

He designed and built RealTravel.com, a popular collective knowledge system where travelers from around the world share their experiences. Tom has been involved in an advisory role with LinkedIn, Internet Archive, SocialText, Mindjet, (Radar Networks), and Powerset (now Microsoft). Tom is passionate about underwater photography and ocean conservation.

Howard Shaw
Board Member

Howard Shaw

Howard Shaw was former Executive Director of the Singapore Environment Council (SEC). Howard graduated from Oxford Brookes University, UK, in 1995, majoring in environmental biology and business administration.

Howard Shaw was former Executive Director of the Singapore Environment Council (SEC). Howard graduated from Oxford Brookes University, UK, in 1995, majoring in environmental biology and business administration. Since returning to Singapore he has become actively involved in driving the environmental movement through the numerous projects of the SEC, green groups, as well as on a personal level.

As one of the representatives of Singapore’s NGO community Howard has contributed towards shaping Singapore’s environmental policies, strategies, as well as action plans. During his formative days at the SEC he was responsible for development and administration of the Singapore Environmental Achievement Award, which is Singapore’s first award scheme to recognise the efforts of local enterprises, which practice proactive environmental management. As well as this he was also in charge of administration of the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme and development of new environmental labelling standards.

Howard represented the NGO community on various national committees and groups including the Singapore Accreditation Council’s Project Team for Environmental Management Systems Accreditation and a Council Committee member for management systems; Focus Group member for the National Preparatory Process leading up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002; US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement’s Environmental Review Committee; Action Plan Committees for the Singapore Green Plan 2012 (Waste Minimisation, Clean Air, Nature Conservation, Clean Water, and International Environmental Relations); Singapore Manufacturers Federation’s Environment Health & Security Committee; PUB’s Water Network; Governing Board of the Singapore Packaging Agreement; Board member of the Singapore Science Centre; Public Hygiene Council.

He is still active as Patron of the Kranji Countryside Association (KCA), and Chairman of Social Creatives, a NPO that promotes art in public areas for to support a range of causes. As of April 2011 Howard joined the Halcyon Group and currently is Head of Environment, Health & Safety for Halcyon Agri Corporation Ltd., which is involved in all stages of the natural rubber supply chain, headquartered in Singapore with key assets in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Alex Rose
Secretary

Alex Rose

Alex Rose holds a B.S. in Biology, a M.S. in Aquatic Biology, and has a wide variety of experience in the biological sciences including but not limited to bioacoustics research, exhibit construction, science writing, teaching, public presentation, and aquatic animal husbandry and breeding.

Alex Rose holds a B.S. in Biology, a M.S. in Aquatic Biology, and has a wide variety of experience in the biological sciences including but not limited to bioacoustics research, exhibit construction, science writing, teaching, public presentation, and aquatic animal husbandry and breeding. Alex is a professional violinist, photographer, Explorers Club Fellow, PADI Divemaster, and lover of all things aquatic.

She is the Science Editor and a principle writer for Ocean Geographic Magazine, the Managing Editor for Ocean Geographic Explorers (OGX) and is a free-lance science writer and editor as well. She is the Project Manager for the OG Elysium Artists for the Arctic expedition, an ongoing project meant to inspire a greater understanding of and appreciation for our polar north while drawing attention to the impacts of climate change.

She will have a leadership role in the upcoming Elysium Coral Triangle expedition in 2018 as well. Alex also composes violin pieces for use in ocean themed films and exhibitions. Her driving goal is to find ways to protect our world’s precious marine habitats through diving, writing, photography, education, and research. She founded Blue Ring at the beginning of 2017 in an effort to create a new method of ocean conservation accessible to and inclusive of everyone who wants to better understand and protect our seas.

Council

The Deep HOPE council is comprised of members who have significant experience. They inform and advise on the future of the organization.

Liz Taylor
CTO

Liz Taylor

Liz Taylor has been involved with DOER Marine from its inception and became President and CEO in 1994. The company designs and builds subsea robotic and manned systems for a variety of applications ranging from deep ocean exploration to critical infrastructure inspection.

Liz Taylor has been involved with DOER Marine from its inception and became President and CEO in 1994. The company designs and builds subsea robotic and manned systems for a variety of applications ranging from deep ocean exploration to critical infrastructure inspection.

Through her work at DOER, she has been involved in numerous projects relating to coastal restoration and public access in the Bay Area including water & waste water management, capture of marine plastics, and the Wild Oyster Project – a program focused on restoring native oysters to the San Francisco Bay to improve water quality and shoreline integrity. as well as further afield. This includes serving on the Deep Water Horizon Study Group at Cal Berkeley, which she continues to collaborate on today.

Taylor was selected as a representative for a US Department of Interior trade mission to Guam, Saipan and the Marianas Islands. In addition, she served as President of the Perry Foundation’s Caribbean Marine Research Center, one the only US undersea research centers to utilize manned submersibles and ROVs together on a year-round basis. She has participated in more than 50 scientific and educational ocean exploration projects including working with the California Academy of Sciences, National Geographic Society, Ocean Conservancy, BBC, Discovery Channel and the Explorer’s Club.

She is a member of the Marine Technology Society, The Association of Diving Contractors and the Explorer’s Club. Liz Taylor has authored a number of technical and natural history articles and papers. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

Lars Jacobsson
Council Member

Lars Jacobsson

Lars Valentin Jacobsson is an entrepreneur who graduated as a marketing and business economist from IHM Business School in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1990. He is the Chairman and CEO of United Sun Systems, Chairman of The Perfect World Foundation, Chairman of Volunteer Travels, and a member of the board of the World Sustainable Development Forum (WSDF)– Nordic.

Lars Valentin Jacobsson is an entrepreneur who graduated as a marketing and business economist from IHM Business School in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1990. He is the Chairman and CEO of United Sun Systems, Chairman of The Perfect World Foundation, Chairman of Volunteer Travels, and a member of the board of the World Sustainable Development Forum (WSDF)– Nordic.

At 16 years old, Lars started to work in the oil harbor of Gothenburg; he established his reputation during the 1990s through his entrepreneurship, where he started several storage, trading, and shipping companies. In 2000, Lars met his wife, Ragnhild “Rags” Jacobsson. Together they made many trips around the world becoming more aware of the tragic situation for animals and nature. These insights inspired Lars to sell his companies and become deeply engaged in a number of animal and nature-related philanthropic endeavours. The most important endeavour for him personally was to be able to pursue his vision of a fossil fuel-free future with a focus on solar energy.

Since 2005, Lars has founded two solar energy technology companies, most recently United Sun Systems. The focus of this company is on creating the world’s first viable solar energy technology, including storage, in order to facilitate the transition away from a carbon-based economy to a green economy. During this time, Lars and Rags became private sponsors/donors for a number of conservation projects around the world; in 2010 the husband and wife team officially founded The Perfect World Foundation, a Scandinavian-based independent non-profit organization. The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson (Fergie), proudly serves as Global Ambassador to this foundation.

The primary mission of The Perfect World Foundation is to support animals and natural areas in crisis and to raise awareness and funding together with other projects around the world in order to create positive action for global conservation initiatives. With the same goal, Volunteer Travels in Scandinavia was bought in 2009 and has grown to encompass over 80 projects in 23 countries. In 2015, Lars was appointed Ambassador of Elephant Family in London, of which Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles are the Presidents. In 2016 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Rajendra K. Pachauri, nominated Lars Jacobsson as a member of the board of WSDF-Nordic.

Rags Jacobsson
Council Member

Rags Jacobsson

Ragnhild Jacobsson (Rags) is the CEO and Co-founder of The Perfect World Foundation, the CEO for Volunteer Travels, the CSR Manager at United Sun Systems, and a proud Ambassador for Elephant Family in London.

Ragnhild Jacobsson (Rags) is the CEO and Co-founder of The Perfect World Foundation, the CEO for Volunteer Travels, the CSR Manager at United Sun Systems, and a proud Ambassador for Elephant Family in London.

Ragnhild was born in Tromsø, a small island in northern Norway and major cultural hub above the Arctic Circle.

Growing up close to the majestic whales, orcas and the Northern Lights made her an environmentalist at an early age. Traveling gave her an opportunity to genuinely appreciate the importance of the diversity of ecosystems across the globe. In fact, the nickname “Rags” was given to her by friends in Botswana who couldn’t pronounce the old Viking name Ragnhild. Rags has achieved many accomplishments in her professional career which began in the 1980s in the music industry.

She then went on to work as Head of Marketing and designer for Munsingwear in Scandinavia after completing her studies at Berghs School of Communications. Rags also formed the company Dog & Dino, a company working with canine accessories distributed through one of Europe’s largest retailers. At this stage she met her husband, Lars Jacobsson, and they started travelling the world together as a team, sharing their passion for conserving the environment. After witnessing firsthand the changes we humans have done to our natural world and the animals dependent upon it, she and her husband decided to become actively involved in creating awareness of the crisis; together they privately funded several conservation projects.

Based on their success with these projects, they decided to create a platform, The Perfect World Foundation, where they could expand their influence and continue to spread awareness about the ongoing situation. Today The Perfect World Foundation has a huge network with conservationists, celebrities and politicians, all working together for the same cause. Every year they award The Conservationist of the Year with TPWF’s prize, The Fragile Rhino. The Fragile Rhino has been awarded to great conservationists such as Mark Shand, Jane Goodall, Richard Leakey and Dr. Sylvia Earle.

Administrators

The Administrative Board handles the day-to-day logistics of Deep HOPE. They carry out the mission and vision of the Directors and Council to ensure the organization’s success.

Riva Kahn Hallock

Riva Kahn Hallock

Riva Kahn Hallock is a mechanical engineer who specializes in underwater systems. She graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Olin College of Engineering, where she was also awarded a Tri-Collegiate Sustainability Certificate for her concentration in sustainable design.

Riva Kahn Hallock is a mechanical engineer who specializes in underwater systems. She graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Olin College of Engineering, where she was also awarded a Tri-Collegiate Sustainability Certificate for her concentration in sustainable design. Riva was introduced to DOER Marine in 2009 after meeting Dr. Sylvia Earle and touring the facility and machine shop in Alameda, CA.

In her work at DOER, Riva has been involved in the design and build of several projects geared towards ocean exploration and conservation. She has worked on and operated several ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles), including the H6000 ROV, owned by the University of Hawaii's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. In addition, she assisted with the build and operation of an ROV commissioned by the University of Illinois, designed to explore the ocean underneath Antarctic ice sheets.

Riva has consulted on the engineering of underwater art installations and several submerged camera systems. Prior to DOER Riva conducted research on hydrofoils, engine fuel efficiency, and autonomous sailboats, worked at the AUV Lab at MIT, and has volunteered with several environmental organizations such as Mission Blue.

Miriam Stein Battles

Miriam Stein Battles

With a degree in environmental and marine conservation policy from Brandeis University, Miriam Stein Battles specializes as a conservation photo editor. Her work on magazines, books and websites for nonprofits such as National Geographic Society, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and Ocean Geographic Society has won multiple awards.

With a degree in environmental and marine conservation policy from Brandeis University, Miriam Stein Battles specializes as a conservation photo editor. Her work on magazines, books and websites for nonprofits such as National Geographic Society, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and Ocean Geographic Society has won multiple awards.

Miriam was a photo researcher on the Smithsonian Sant Ocean Hall and she photo edited the companion book, Smithsonian Ocean. Currently the photo editor for Ocean Geographic Magazine, Miriam also freelances for renowned photographers David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes, Michael Aw, Suzi Eszterhas, Frans Lanting and Daniel J. Cox. Miriam is a founding affiliate to the International League of Conservation Photographers and a board advisor to Sea Save Foundation.

She’s a member of numerous professional associations and an accomplished photographer in her own right. Her photography has been used by National Geographic Children’s Publishing, The Nature Conservancy and is held on collection at the Museum of the City of New York. She started adopting whales at eight years-old and volunteered for Ocean Alliance in college, studying humpback whale behavior. Miriam became PADI certified at the age of fifteen and rescues orphan kittens as a hobby, only because it’s logistically difficult to raise orphan dolphins.