Scientists, Researchers, & Life-Long Learners

The growing AOS team consists of 11 full-time scientists, and 4 part-time employees. We have PhD physical oceanographers, acousticians, marine biologists, signal processors, and computer scientists.

Dr. Kevin Heaney


Kevin has spent his scientific career exploring the interaction of the ocean environment and acoustic propagation. Some interesting questions addressed include three-dimensional propagation of low frequency sound across the ocean basin (and its diffracting behind islands and seamounts), modeling the impact of ocean waves on multi-static anti-submarine warfare, calculating how far away we can hear fin whales, and parameterizing the ocean soundscape in the presence of anthropogenic noise.

After receiving his PhD in Applied Ocean Sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Kevin has worked for a variety of companies (SAIC, Lockheed, OASIS) and had the opportunity to be mentored by the great minds of the previous generation (Drs Kuperman, Cox, Baggeroer and Munk).  He has the most fun when he's doing solid science and is able to package that into a system that people (sailors, managers) find useful.  Starting AOS (January 2019) is a major step forward in combining his passions for solving challenging science problems and getting these solutions into the hands of people who will use them.

Dr. Chris Verlinden

Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Dr. Chris Verlinden has extensive military experience, drawing from a 14-year career as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. He has worked with the Office of Naval Research and Naval Research Laboratories extensively on projects ranging from seismic exploration to ocean acoustics and signal processing.

Specifically, Dr. Verlinden is a subject matter expert in the use of large vertical aperture arrays (LVAs), and making environmental inferences using passive and source-of-opportunity acoustic noise. He graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with High Honors with a degree in Marine and Environmental Sciences in 2008, whereupon he was stationed aboard the Coast Guard Icebreaker Polar Sea as the Science Officer for two years. Research missions while serving aboard Polar Sea ranged from methane hydrate research to capturing polar bears. In 2010, Dr. Verlinden transferred to USCGC Sycamore out of Cordova, Alaska where he served as Operations Officer for two years. During this time, Dr. Verlinden served as task force leader for on-scene Coast Guard assets during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and as project officer for oil spill response exercises in support of Operation Arctic Shield, earning five arctic service medals in the process.

Dr. Verlinden earned an M.S. in Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2014 with research focused on passive ocean acoustics and the information content of ocean noise, and completed his Ph.D. in Applied Ocean Sciences at Scripps in 2017, with research focusing on passive acoustic source localization and environmental inversion. In 2014, Dr. Verlinden began teaching at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in the Marine Science section. Dr. Verlinden holds numerous professional certifications including commercial vessel captain’s licenses, FAA sUAS operator licenses, and Geospatial Technology certifications; he worked for both the USCG and OASIS before cofounding AOS in 2019. 

James Murray

Vice President

James holds a M.S, in Physics and has nearly 30 years of experience in ocean-related science and signal processing. James has worked for the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Lockheed Martin, SAIC (now Leidos), and OASIS. His areas of interests are in underwater acoustics, signal processing, data collection, radio propagation, and environmental characteristics of the ocean.

James has extensive underwater acoustic propagation and simulation experience using several models – PE, normal mode, and rays. He has single element as well as array processing experience – time domain, frequency domain, beamforming (CBF and ABF), and MFP.

As an experimentalist, going to sea has taught him that good quality data collection and attention to detail are invaluable. James has also supported sea tests from shore and coordinated the research and data collection so that it is complete and efficient. Over the last few years, James has assisted with the development of NUWC’s Topside, a GUI-based mission planner / situational awareness / data collection program.

James has significant programming capabilities, using C as his primary language, but can also use FORTRAN and MATLAB. Computer platforms include Linux, Mac, and PC.

Alesha Rusk

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Prior to joining AOS, Alesha Rusk has spent the last 15 years of her career managing multi-million-dollar grant portfolios, working with field teams to design, implement, and monitor programs to equip local governments to combat slavery, particularly in South Asia. Through her work, Alesha has seen governments transformed and equipped to better combat slavery and begin taking significant ownership of the fight. Alesha led teams to pioneer innovative methods to measure the prevalence of sex & labor trafficking. Alesha holds a B.A. in International Relations from Wheaton College and an M.A. in International Development from American University.

Dr. Jamie Wilson

Chief of Staff

Jamie has spent his career helping diverse teams work together. Prior to AOS, Jamie was a pastor for 25 years and also spent 9 years as the Regional Leader for Vineyard churches in Southern California.

He holds a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. His research aimed to help organizations address adaptive challenges in their socio-cultural context, and his work focused on how habits and routines generate metaphors and structures of understanding that shape how people view each other and either facilitate or undermine collaboration. He also holds a M.A. in Theology from Fuller and a B.A. in Literature from the University of California San Diego. He is a member and Certified Professional of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Dr. Emanuel Coelho

Chief Scientist

Dr. Emanuel Coelho holds PhD and M.S. degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School and graduated from the Naval Academy of the Portuguese Navy.

Before joining AOS, he had previous appointments at the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation - CMRE (ex. NURC and SACLANTCEN). He was a contractor at the Navy Research Laboratory (NRL) at Stennis Space Center and a research professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and at the University of New Orleans. Dr. Coelho has extensive experience in research and development in the fields of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), and in particular in preparation of Environments and Risk Analysis (REA) using stochastic numerical models, non-linear filtering theory, and control theory with emphasis on dual-use (military and civilian). This experience includes research in cost-effective, re-locatable, discreet and secure robotic network systems for data collection, along with highly portable and interoperable performance assessment and analysis algorithms to deliver awareness information, and indication and warning products. The main application areas of his work have been in underwater acoustics, nearshore and coastal studies, and Naval METOC support.

Dr. Paul Hursky

Senior Scientist

Dr. Paul Hursky earned BS and MS degrees in physics from University of Pennsylvania in 1978 and 1980. Paul worked at Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company 1980-1990 in Burbank, California. In 1990, Paul helped open an office in San Diego for Lockheed, where he also embarked on graduate studies at UCSD, joining the Intelligent Systems, Robotics and Controls group of UCSD's Electrical and Computer Engineering department. Paul's dissertation combined signal processing and wave propagation modeling, and was advised by W. S. Hodgkiss and W. A. Kuperman at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. While at UCSD, Paul joined Science Applications International Corp. in 1999. Paul's group at SAIC, led by Michael Porter, founded a new company, Heat, Light and Sound Research in 2004. Paul left HLS Research in 2017 to found Sonar-synesthetics LLC. Paul joined Applied Ocean Sciences in 2020.

While at Lockheed, Paul worked on advanced processing concepts for S-3/P-3 ASW aircraft, and grew into a group engineer role there, managing a group of 10-20 engineers. At SAIC, Paul shifted his emphasis to more basic research, working on a variety of projects for ONR, including Capturing Uncertainty, Persistent Littoral Undersea Surveillance, Vector Sensor Processing, Model-based Tracking, and Acoustic Communications. At HLS Research, Paul worked on basic research projects for ONR and DARPA, as well as SBIR/STTR projects for the Navy. While at HLS Research, Paul implemented a GPU-based split-step Fourier PE model. Paul also worked with NIWC on embedded processing for autonomous vehicles. At Applied Ocean Sciences, Paul is using compressed sensing to produce better basis sets for updating ocean state to edge platforms with limited communications bandwidth (STTR), exploiting information theory concepts in tomography and geo-acoustic inversion (ONR), and using machine learning to optimize ASW tactics (SBIR).

Paul's research interests include underwater acoustic signal processing, physics-based processing, wave propagation and reverberation modeling, compressive sensing and convex optimization, machine learning, adaptive beamforming, communications processing, marine mammal localization and classification, and GPGPU programming. Paul has decades of experience working on integrating innovative sensors and processing algorithms into sonar processing systems.

Dr. Jennifer Brandon

Senior Scientist (Marine Biology)

Dr. Jennifer Brandon was a double major in Biology and English at Duke University, where she researched stormwater runoff pollution, before getting her PhD in Biological Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2017, focusing on the nascent field of marine microplastics. She is an expert in quantifying and identifying marine microplastics, and has developed multiple novel methods to identify the smallest sizes of microplastics and determine the age of plastics exposed to varying weathering conditions in the environment. She was the first to find temporal trends of microplastic in the sediment record, and the exponential increase of microplastics she recorded from 1945-2009 closely correlates with the exponential increase in worldwide plastics production over that same time period. She also has extensive knowledge in marine ecology, having spent much of her PhD doing lab and fieldwork on the California Current ecosystem, plankton ecology, and how microplastics affect the bottom of our food web in that region.

Jennifer is also highly accomplished in the world of science communication, having given hundreds of interviews and lectures to all types of stakeholders, and recently completed her tenure as the Price Postdoctoral Fellow in science communication at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where, among other duties, she taught graduate and undergraduate courses on communicating science to the public. She has been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, the Guardian, and the LA Times, among others.

Dr. Kerri D. Seger

Senior Scientist (Marine Biology)

Dr. Kerri D. Seger began working in bioacoustics as an undergraduate at The Ohio State University with a combined major of music education, zoology, and ecology. Her research there documented frequency shifts in northern cardinals and American robins across four levels of disturbed habitats in central Ohio.

After two years of teaching music in the US and Haiti, she began her biological oceanography PhD program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD. Dr. Seger's dissertation focused on soundscape parameterization in grey and humpback whale habitats from Alaska to Mexico, density estimation of humpback whales using the sound pressure levels of their songs, and she established a global working group for documenting the social sound repertoires of humpback whales. She continued to a post-doc at the University of New Hampshire using ecological modeling to investigate the acoustic presence of odontocete species along the Arctic Corridor and empirical mode decomposition techniques to develop a new detection and classification set of algorithms.

Before joining AOS, Kerri established a passive acoustic monitoring station on the Pacific coast of Colombia and taught at the Universidad Pontificia Javeriana as a Fulbright Scholar. Dr. Seger brings biology and ecology applications and context to AOS's physical oceanography and underwater acoustics expertise.

Dr. Martha Schönau

Senior Scientist (Physical Oceanography)

Dr. Martha Schönau is a physical oceanographer with experience in-situ and remotely sensed observations, and global and regional models. Her expertise includes large-scale ocean circulation, tropical oceanography, autonomous glider underwater observations, mesoscale and submesoscale ocean variability, and mixing.

Dr. Katie Verlinden

Senior Scientist (Atmospheric Science)

Dr. Katie Verlinden is an atmospheric scientist with expertise in remotely-sensed observations, air-sea interactions, cloud microphysics, and forecast verification. Dr. Verlinden completed her undergraduate education in Environmental Science and Geography at University of Oregon where, as part of the Paleoclimate Lab, she researched the influence of local climate on annual tree-ring growth. During her studies, she jumped at the opportunity to spend a summer in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve completing a study on the wind regime of the Lakina Glacier Valley. These experiences drove her curiosity to earn a M.S. in Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University where her research was the first to use satellite observations to document the three-dimensional distribution of clouds over the southern hemisphere high latitudes. In 2018, Dr. Verlinden earned her PhD in Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science from Oregon State University where her dissertation focused on the radiation, turbulence, and forecasting of marine low clouds. During her research, she worked with NOAA’s Aviation Weather Testbed to test the initial capabilities of the Next Generation Global Prediction System (NGGPS) to forecast cloud properties. Following earning her PhD, Dr. Verlinden stayed on at Oregon State University as a postdoc during which she continued to utilize in situ and remotely-sensed observations as well as model-simulated data to study the energy budget and microphysical processes of boundary layer clouds. Applications of Dr. Verlinden’s research range from improving representations of clouds in models to informing commercial and governmental decision-making.

John Sevick

Senior Technologist

John has a M.S. in Computer Science and over 30 years experience in the development of leading edge, real-time systems and applications in the areas of underwater acoustics, electronic warfare (EW), medical monitoring, and non-destructive testing. He is skilled in algorithm development in Java, C++ and Matlab for signal and image processing, machine learning, parallel (GPU) processing, and target detection, tracking, and classification. As part of his Master’s degree studies in 1992, he conducted ground breaking research using neural networks for specific emitter identification (SEI) for the EW Division of the U.S. Naval Research Lab (D.C.). He then worked at Orincon Corporation and Progeny Systems where he leveraged company acoustic signal processing capabilities and the SBIR program (NIH, NAVSEA) to develop and commercialize an ultrasound system to count and size harmful micro-embolisms (bubbles, plaque, lipids, etc.) released during surgical procedures and after scuba diving. Through the SBIR program he has successfully developed systems and applications for ultrasonic detection of fuel and oil contaminants, in-air acoustic tracking of river boats, speech-in-noise hearing tests, non-invasive measurement of intracranial pressure, and an open-architecture, physiological monitor for improved data collection for combat casualty care.

Tessa Munoz

Staff Technologist

Tessa Munoz graduated from UMASS-Lowell with a B.S. in Mathematics with a focus in Computer Science. Tessa works with our lead scientists assisting with underwater acoustic modeling and signal processing applied to a variety of defense and environmental research, research and development of mathematical models used in acoustic approaches for localization and propagation techniques.

John Boyle

Acoustic Model Development Lead, Staff Scientist

John leads acoustic model development at AOS. He has a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Portland State University where he researched signal processing and acoustic modeling techniques for acoustic vertical line arrays in the deep ocean. At AOS he develops acoustic models designed to be integrated into low-power embedded processing environments and to also access global ocean models, using the highest-resolution data to provide high fidelity ocean acoustic simulation. John consults on projects throughout AOS, working to streamline internal tools and processing chains.