Meet the Team

We are a small team dedicated to building international ocean science capacity.

Alexis Valauri-Orton

Program Officer, The Ocean Foundation, USA

Alexis joined TOF in 2016 where she managed program initiatives and activities. She currently leads the International Ocean Acidification Initiative (IOAI), and previously developed and managed programs related to social marketing and behavior change. In her capacity as manager of IOAI she leads international training workshops for scientists, policymakers, and seafood sector workers, develops low-cost systems for responding to ocean acidification, and manages a multiyear strategy for enabling countries around the world to address ocean acidification. She currently serves on the International Experts Group on Ocean Acidification.

Prior to joining TOF Alexis worked for the Fish Forever program at Rare, as well as for the ocean acidification programs at Ocean Conservancy and Global Ocean Health. She holds a magna cum laude degree with honors in Biology and Environmental Studies from Davidson College and was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study how ocean acidification might affect marine-dependent communities in Norway, Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, and Peru. She highlighted her research during this fellowship as a plenary speaker at the Inaugural Our Ocean Conference in Washington, DC. She has previously published work on cellular toxicology and curriculum design. Beyond the ocean, Alexis’ other love is music: she plays flute, piano, and sings and regularly attends and performs at concerts around town.

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Brian K. Arbic

Professor, University of Michigan, USA

Brian K. Arbic is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan. He is a physical oceanographer whose research interests include global modeling of tides, internal tides and waves, and the eddying general circulation. He has received funding from the US National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Department of Energy, NOAA, and NASA. His interest in capacity development stems back to his service in Ghana, as a US Peace Corps volunteer secondary math and science teacher. He is co-founder of the Coastal Ocean Environment Summer School in Ghana, an effort aimed at building ocean science capacity in Ghana. The Ghana school has been running for one week every year since 2015 ( Together with collaborators, he aims to expand the Ghana school concept to more countries around the world, in a sort of Peace Corps for the Ocean (

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Courtnie Park

Program Associate, The Ocean Foundation, USA

Courtnie is a Program Associate at The Ocean Foundation. Courtnie’s primary responsibilities include assisting with the management, development, and implementation of The Ocean Foundation’s many initiatives (, grant management and administration, compiling research on various ocean-related topics, organizational knowledge management, and logistics. She earned her BS in biology and BA in geography from The Ohio State University. Growing up on the shores of one of the Great Lakes in the United States, she fell in love with the environment and the conservation of the world’s precious water resources. Since graduating in 2019, she has been working for The Ocean Foundation contributing to its international endeavors and success.

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Edem Mahu

Lecturer, University of Ghana, Ghana

Edem Mahu is a lecturer of Biogeochemistry at the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Ghana. Her research interest spans geochemical cycling of elements within the land-sea interface, marine environmental pollution, ecosystem connection to seafood safety and security, climate change, and ocean health. She is a trustee of the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO), an affiliate member of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), a research fellow of the Royal Society of London, a co-director of the Summer School on the Coastal Ocean environment of Ghana ( and a member of the steering committee for CoastPredict ( She is the Lead Scientist of the BIOTTA (Building CapacIty in Ocean AcidificaTion MoniToring in the Gulf of GuineA) project which is the first coordinated effort to measure ocean acidification in the Gulf of Guinea and other adjoining coasts in Africa. She has in the past received research funding from the Royal Society, POGO, the Organization for women in science for the developing world (OWSD), and the International Foundation for Science.

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Marcia Creary Ford

Marine Scientist, University of the West Indies, Jamaica

Marcia Creary Ford is a marine scientist with over thirty years’ experience working on various aspects of the Jamaican marine and coastal environment, including oceanography, mangrove and wetland ecology, environmental impact assessments, and marine biodiversity. As the Environmental Data Manager in the University of the West Indies-Centre for Marine Sciences (UWI-CMS) she specializes in coral reef monitoring and research on the impacts of climate change (increased sea surface temperature and ocean acidification) on the reef ecosystem. Her current focus, which is supported by The Ocean Foundation, is the establishment of an island-wide ocean acidification monitoring programme in the coastal waters of Jamaica. Marcia is a PhD Candidate at the University of the West Indies (UWI). She also holds an MPhil, in Marine Sciences, a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies, and a BSc (Hons) in Zoology also from the UWI.

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Aileen Tan Shau Hwai

Professor, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia

Prof. Dato’ Dr. Aileen Tan Shau Hwai is a Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Currently, she is the Director of Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (CEMACS) in USM and also the Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific University-Community Engagement Network (APUCEN). She has been elected as the first woman president of the 58-years old UNITAS Malacologica, which is based in Belgium, from 2013-2016.

Her field of expertise is in marine science, specializing in mariculture and conservation of mollusks. She is the first Malaysian woman who has successfully culture the oysters from eggs and sperms through artificial spawning. She is now actively encouraging the rural coastal communities in other states in Malaysia to culture oysters to promote “green aquaculture” as well as to create a sustainable income for the local communities, besides creating a balance between profit and environment protection.

She does not only help to transfer knowledge through supervising and guiding her students in marine science but has also transformed her expertise into sustainable use and translating knowledge to coastal communities, promoting capacity development. Her studies also focus on the biodiversity of marine invertebrates, particularly the responses of mollusks towards an acidic environment.

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Dr. rer. nat. Jorge Rafael Bermudez Monsalve

Professor, Galapagos Marine Research and Exploration, Ecuador

Rafael Bermúdez is a professor at the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, in Guayaquil Ecuador. He is in charge of the Galapagos Marine Research and Exploration Program at the Galapagos GMaRE ( Rafael is interested in the study of the anthropogenic impacts on the diversity and marine ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands, especially ocean acidification and marine pollution. He has a degree in Marine Biology from the University of Concepción, Chile, and obtained his doctorate from the GEOMAR Marine Research Center of the University of Kiel, Germany.

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Gina Bonne

Chargee de mission, Indian Ocean Commission, Mauritius

Gina has 27 years of progressive professional experience in development sectors of which 12 years in a managerial position in the Ministry of Agriculture in Seychelles as assistant Director of the Plant Protection Section and Director of Agricultural Planning. She has 15 years of experience in regional cooperation in the field of agriculture, fisheries, maritime affairs, and the environment (marine and terrestrial ecosystems) to include climate change and disaster risk reduction. Experience in developing and management of multidisciplinary and regional projects and programmes. Experience in facilitating and chairing regional meetings, workshops, and fora. Experience working with funding agencies, mainly the European Union, World Bank, French GEF, French Development Bank, and recently the Green Climate Fund. Experience working in collaboration with UN Agencies and technical partners UNEP and the Nairobi Convention, WMO, IMO, UNISDR, UNDESA, Global mechanism, as well as with African Regional Economic Organisations AUC, COMESA, SADC, IGAD, ECOWAS, and WIOMSA.

She is fluent in English, French, and proficient in Russian

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