Dr. Shirley Pomponi is Research Professor at Florida Atlantic University-Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the former Executive Director of the Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology (CIOERT). She received her Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Miami. Her research focuses on marine biotechnology and sponge systematics, cell and molecular biology. She is particularly interested in the development of sponge cell models to address questions related to climate change, developmental biology, and the production of chemicals with human health applications. She served on the President’s Panel on Ocean Exploration, was vice chair of the National Academies of Science Committee on Exploration of the Seas, and co-chaired the National Academies study on ocean science priorities for the next decade, "Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences". She is a member of the National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for Geosciences and is currently co-chairing a National Academies study on Biological Collections: Their Past, Present, and Future Contributions and Options for Sustaining Them. Dr. Pomponi has led numerous research expeditions worldwide. Although she spends a lot of her time doing research administration, the best part of her job is conducting fieldwork, especially undersea exploration.