As 5 Gyres’ new director I’m keen to be on my first expedition, getting hands on experience trawling and doing what our organization does best; researching runaway plastic pollution. As an environmental journalist I’ve focused on marine conservation, in fact I’ve written about the Coral Triangle—the most biodiverse-rich piece of marine real estate on the planet. As a surfer living in California, I’ve paddled after hundreds of pieces of floating plastic, stuffing them in my wetsuit to recycle. But my story with plastic began as a kid in New Zealand; I thought plastic nurdles (pre-industrial resin pellets) were a natural part of beach ecosystems because there are hundreds of thousands of them on some of our most beautiful stretches of coastline. Plastic pollution feels more than personal and combating it has become something of a mission.
Carolynn received her MA in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island and worked in Coastal Management for seven years in the San Francisco Bay. After her first 5 Gyres Voyage in 2011, a 33-day trip across the Atlantic, she decided to change course and apply her science and organizing background to fight plastic pollution. Carolynn has traveled over 15,000 miles on seven 5 Gyres Expeditions. She’s contemplating a swallow tattoo.
Marina has a BS in Business with a focus in Marketing. Being a food blogger and chef of four years, she worked under acclaimed chefs in Los Angeles and owned her own catering/pop up restaurant concept. Her experience with the food industry's wasteful practices led her to switch career paths to do more outreach about issues concerning our health and environment. She still cooks every day and encourages others to do more with less.
Emily Gee lives in New York City by way of Los Angeles. She's an avid hiker, environmental advocate, strategy nerd, rescue dog lover and foodie. Emily is the Director of Global Programs at Grades of Green, where she oversees the NGO's global environmental programs. Her research on measuring social good/political communications is published in Computers in Human Behavior (2015) and the American Political Science Association Journal (2012). Emily is excited to be part of this expedition to experience ocean field research with other passionate advocates, and incorporate citizen science into programs to mobilize students to take action across the globe!
Emily Stewart is a Program Coordinator Fellow for Grades of Green, an environmental education and advocacy nonprofit. Based in New York City, she works closely with schools to engage students in environmental action and advocacy. A passionate believer in the vitalness of our oceans and in hands-on learning, Emily is excited to develop her understanding of the ecological impact of plastic pollution first-hand, and to bring what she learns back to the classroom.
Julian Mocine-McQueen is an Oakland, California native raised behind the redwood curtain of Humboldt County. He is co-founder and Training Director for the Million Person Project, where his passion for supporting leaders to harness the power of their personal narrative drives his work. Prior to MPP, Julian was Director of Education and Outreach at nationally renowned green economy organization, Green For All. His career is fueled by a strong belief in authentic movements that are powered by people. To this end, he’s engaged thousands of people in the climate movement, by touring with Drake and Wiz Khalifa, and by organizing Green For All’s College Ambassador program. Julian's love the ocean comes from a childhood spent swimming in the pristine rivers of Northern CA. The critical nature of the plastic pollution crisis came into focus on a 2016 trip to the remote island nation of Kiribati. Seeing the beautiful beaches inundated with plastic from far off places was shocking, and inspired Julian to learn more about the problem, and highlight solutions and the role that we can all play in solving it!
My name is Engki Andri Kisnarti. I am a lecturer in the Studies Program of Oceanographic, University of Hang Tuah Surabaya, Indonesia and currently, I am studying at Doctoral Program of Earth Sciences at the Institute of Technology Bandung. I hope the expedition will help me in monitoring where marine litter (macroplastic) is to be processed. In addition, the marine litter (macroplastic) found in a location in the waters of Indonesia, is expected to be predicted where the waste came from.
Kate Willett was a developmental biologist and now works for the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International on replacing the use of animals in testing and research. A few years ago, Kate became obsessed with the ubiquity of plastic, in particular the problem of plastics in the ocean, and has begun a sculpture series based on this and other aspects of global warming. An avid swimmer, snorkeler and diver, Kate has longed to explore the reefs in Indonesia, so this expedition seems a dream come true for many reasons! Kate lives with her wife of 20 years (a grown son long-fledged), wonder dog Storm and two feline family members in Boston, Massachusetts.
Sachi Cunningham is a big wave water photographer, documentary filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Multimedia Journalism at SF State. A recent fallopian tube cancer survivor, she is happy to be crossing this voyage off of her bucket list and hopes that it will forever change her family and community's plastic use. Sachi lives and surfs at Ocean Beach in San Francisco with her husband and five-year old daughter.
Stephanie Luciano is a formally trained designer specializing in branding, presentations, packaging, and sustainability, and an informally trained environmentalist with a passion for conservation. You may or may not know her for her "Take Care of Your Butt" cigarette litter awareness campaign. Through the years, Stephanie has felt a stronger and stronger calling to use her design thinking for the greater good. Now more than ever, she's yearning for an opportunity to get involved first-hand in the trenches. This expedition route specifically speaks to her. Last September Stephanie chose not to visit Bali after seeing saddening images of the plastic pollution crisis, worried it would bring down a birthday trip. Later she regretted dodging the reality of the issue and promised herself, if she were ever to take a trip to Bali, it would be with purpose to contribute to solutions. She persistently spreads awareness of going "strawless" with every drink she orders and is dedicated to not just help clean up but to motivate people and packaging companies to shift their habits.
Zane Kekoa Pardue Schweitzer
Zane Kekoa Pardue Schweitzer is a 15X World Champion and 2X Ultimate Waterman who sees the Expedition as an opportunity to learn more about the part of the environment closest to his heart. “The health of the oceans and reefs have been a big motivating factor for me to continue pushing forward towards my competitive goals,” he says. “The ocean is more than just a pool of water for me, it's my playground, church and place of refuge open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During my travels to some of the most beautiful locations in the world, I’ve noticed something that is consistent: All this damage is coming from the work of the human hand and daily convenience in our lifestyle. There is something wrong here, either with the design flaw of plastic and its lifespan or simply because of people irresponsibly using or disposing of these items. I’m excited to learn more about marine plastics, how they break down to affect all levels of our food chain, and how I can be a positive influence on our ocean and environment from the knowledge and inspiration attained!”
Jack and Julie Moller
Mother-and- son team Jack and Julie Moller live in River Forest, IL, which is eight miles west of Chicago and 9,725 miles from Bali. While traveling, their family became concerned about the problem of plastic pollution that they witnessed in destinations such as Alaska, China and Australia. Julie has worn the “bag monster” costume while organizing Recycling Extravaganzas in their hometown; she serves on the River Forest Sustainability Commission, which she co-founded, as well as the core committee for Oak Park and River Forest’s 10-year sustainability plan. Jack is a high school junior and drone photographer who enjoys water sports in the summer and skiing in the winter.
Dudley and Tania Irwin
Dudley Irwin is an investment advisor who has lived in the mountains for more than 30 years but has always been fascinated by the ocean. “Pollution increases, populations increase, and the oceans pay the price,” he said. A passionate environmentalist, Tania Landauer grew up in New Jersey, where at that time the waters and beaches were receptacles for medical waste, garbage and cast-off munitions from New York and a nearby coastal military base. Both are avid sailors who look forward to melding a love of the sea with a desire to learn first-hand about the impact of plastic pollution.
Robina Riccitiello works as Communications Director for Million Person Project, a company that helps people identify their core values and tell their personal story to connect with audiences. Robina worked as a journalist for many years in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Paris. She is helping UCLA raise $500 million for the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, an effort to cure depression by the end of this century. She is a board member at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and volunteers with NARAL to protect reproductive rights. Robina lives in San Francisco and is the mother of two daughters – a fine arts photographer and a glass blower.