Management Team

Photo of Ghada El-Serafy, Deltares
Ghada El-Serafy, GEO AquaWatch Director, Deltares

Dr.  Ghada El Serafy is the current Director of the GEO AquaWatch  water quality Initiative.  She is an expert on the use of earth observation in data sciences in ecosystem modelling and services. She is actively involved in the strategic research and developments within Deltares. She has a broad experience in the use of remote sensing, the concept of essential variables framework, uncertainty analysis, sensitivity analysis and assimilation related to marine environmental quality and ecosystem health as well as integrated monitoring and assessment methods. She supervises several doctoral degrees and master of Science students. She leads several national and international projects in data assimilation applications in different fields such Hydraulics, Hydrology, Coastal Engineering and Ecology. She leads several national and international projects in the use of remote sensing and setting up data services and participating in others dealing with ecosystem modelling and ecosystem services and the use of Earth Observation.

Carsten Brockmann, Brockmann Consult, GmbH, Germany – User-Oriented Working Group Leader

Dr. Carsten Brockmann is managing director of Brockmann Consult, Germany. He founded his company in 1999 which provides consultancy, information products and software connected to environmental data. Carsten is consulting national and international customers working with Earth Observation data on instrument aspects, processing algorithms and applications. A special focus of his work is on developing and applying EO data for retrieval water quality in coastal and inland waters, radiative transfer in the optical domain, as well as the software and data processing aspects associated with this.


Philipp Saille, Federal Institute of Hydrology (BAFG), Germany – Technical Working Group Leader

Philipp Saille is a Scientific officer at the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (UNESCO) based at the Federal Institute of Hydrology in Koblenz, Germany. Philipp is responsible for coordination of the GEMS/Water Data Centre in support of the UN Environment GEMS/Water Programme. He also leads acquisition of water quality monitoring data from national and collaborating partners of the GEMS/Water Global Monitoring Network. Supporting and consulting GEMS/Water partners in the fields of water quality data management, data exchange and data products is another aspect of his work. He also represents GEMS/Water in international committees and working groups.


Igor Ogashawara, Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Cal/Val Thematic Node Director, Early Career Society Advisor (past co-chair) and Technical Working Group Leader

Igor Ogashawara research uses remote sensing techniques to monitor water quality, especially from inland aquatic systems. He is currently the director of the new GEO Aquawatch Cal/Val Thematic Node based at IGB-Berlin and a postdoctoral researcher at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) working on developing new algorithms and satellite imagery processing data scheme to support the water quality management in Northern German Lakes within the Leibniz Association funded CONNECT Project. Additionally, he is IGB’s leader within the EU H2020 Project “Water scenarios For Copernicus Exploitation” (Water-ForCE) which will develop a Roadmap for Copernicus water services ( He is also a co-editor for the book “Remote Sensing and Bio-optical Modeling for Inland Waters”. In November 2023, Igor won the GEO Emerging Leaders Award a new award from the GEO Secretariat inaugurally bestowed at the GEOWEEK meeting in Capetown, South Africa.

Megan Coffer – GST/NOAA – Technical Working Group Leader and Early Career Society Co-Chair

Megan Coffer is a research scientist at Global Science and Technology, supporting NOAA’s Satellite Oceanography and Climatology Division.  She is also a former postdoctoral ORISE fellow at the U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development in Durham, NC. She received her Ph.D. in Geospatial Analytics from North Carolina State University in May 2021 and also holds a M.S. in Atmospheric Science from North Carolina State University and a B.S. in Mathematics from Meredith College. Her research uses satellite remote sensing technologies to study aquatic ecosystems, including monitoring cyanobacterial blooms in inland lakes and reservoirs using freely available satellite data and mapping seagrass extent along the coast using commercial, high spatial resolution satellite data. Her accomplishments include receiving a US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation scholarship and serving as an expert panelist for POLITICO Live Out of This World: The Future of Satellite Imagery. 

photo of Marie Smith, CSIR
Marie Smith, CSIR – Technical Working Group Leader

Dr. Marié Smith has a PhD in Physical Oceanography from the University of Cape Town, and has been specializing in marine remote sensing for 15 years. She is a senior researcher in the Coastal Systems and Earth Observation Research group at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of South Africa. Her interests lie in optical water type classification and algorithm development, and harnessing satellite earth observation data for coastal marine applications such as harmful algal bloom detection, aquaculture, fisheries and water quality decision support around Africa. She is leading the CSIR contribution within the Horizon 2020 All Atlantic Ocean Sustainable, Profitable and Resilient Aquaculture (ASTRAL) project, supporting technology development and validation at aquaculture operations around the Atlantic. She is the principal investigator of the SANSA/NRF New Earth Observation Frontiers Development of new high resolution water quality observation capabilities for coastal and estuarine systems (EO4WQ) project, and is actively involved in post-graduate student supervision and training across Africa.

Dr. Jianwei Wei, GST and NOAA – Photo and Bio coming soon!

Dr. Mahesh Jampani, IWRI – Photo and Bio coming soon!

Dr. Kate Fickas, ESRI – Photo and Bio coming soon!

Dr. Dhriti Sengupta, PML – Photo and Bio coming soon!

Dr. Subhajit Bandopadhyay, Rashtriya Raksha University (India) – Photo and Bio coming soon!

Dr. Evangelo ‘Vagelis’ Spyrakos, University of Stirling – Photo and Bio coming soon!

Dr. Merrie Beth Neely, GEO AquaWatch Scientific Coordinator

Dr. Neely serves as GEOAquaWatch Secretariat’s Scientific Coordinator employed as a NOAA-affiliate contractor through Global Science and Technology, Inc. working for NOAA’s Satellite Oceanography and Climatology Division.   She is a certified program manager, phytoplankton ecologist, and oceanographer holding advanced degrees from University of Tampa and University of South Florida.  With a background in harmful algal blooms and coastal, estuarine, and riverine water quality monitoring; she brings considerable knowledge of field sampling and laboratory analysis experience; including sensor operation and maintenance, managing big data, biological and nutrient water quality laboratory and observatory management, and interdisciplinary research program leadership.


photo of Paul DiGiacomo
Paul DiGiacomo, Ph.D. National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, USA

Dr. Paul M. DiGiacomo is Principal Scientist in the NOAA/NESDIS Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR). Paul is a biological oceanographer, with expertise in water quality assessments, coastal marine ecosystem dynamics and remote sensing of ocean, coastal, and inland waters. He has a B.S. from Penn State University and a Ph.D. from UCLA, both in Biology, and subsequently was a National Research Council (NRC) Resident Research Associate at JPL.

Paul has been involved with GEO AquaWatch since its inception in 2008.  He is active in a number of inter/national working groups and panels, presently serving as Co-Chair of the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Blue Planet Initiative, Co-Lead of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellite (CEOS) Coastal Observation & Application Study Team: COAST, a funder of the OceanPredict Advisory Board, and Lead for NOAA’s JPSS Ocean Environmental Data Records Team. In 2019, Paul was a recipient of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Individual Excellence Award for his leadership.

Andrew N. Tyler, University of Stirling, UK

Professor Andrew Tyler is Scotland’s HydroNation Chair, the academic Director for Scotland’s International Environment Centre, and Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Stirling, UK. He specialises in environmental monitoring from in-situ to Earth Observation (EO) for the quantitative assessment and impact of environmental pollutants in aquatic and terrestrial environments. He leads the Earth Observation research group at Stirling, which specialises in the use of airborne and satellite data for the assessment and monitoring of ecosystem responses to environmental change with particular specialisations in monitoring of aquatic environments. Andrew led the €3M NERC-funded GloboLakes project ( (NE/J024279/1), which developed an operational satellite-based system for lake monitoring globally. The Stirling Team also lead the NERC INCIS-3IVE project on in-situ radiometry sensors and protocols for satellite validation and were partners on the H2020 EOMORES, CoastObs, MONOCLE,ENVRI-FAIR and DANUBIUS projects that focus on the remote sensing of inland, transitional and coastal waters. UStirling  leads the UK Lakes Project. Andrew has been involved with GEO AquaWatch since its inception in 2008, and previously served on the Management Team and led the Outreach and Education Working Group. 

Blake A. Schaeffer, Ph.D. Environmental Protection Agency, USA

EPA research scientist Blake Schaeffer develops satellite remote sensing technologies to monitor water quality in coastal oceans, estuaries, and lakes. His current work is related to cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms, estuarine seagrass, and surface oil slicks. Blake works in the EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory.  Blake develops satellite technology and methods to derive water quality products especially in coastal, estuarine, and inland waters.  Satellite observations in optically complex and shallow coastal waters have been challenging environments for remote sensing applications. The development of applications which meet end-user needs for water quality monitoring and assessment is his goal. His other research interests include the use of field-based optical instruments and satellite remote sensing data to study ecosystem exposures, dynamics and responses. Blake has been involved with GEO AquaWatch since 2015, serving on the Management Team and co-chairing the Data Working Group.  

Past Members:

Emily Smail, Ph.D. , University of Maryland, USA






Steve Greb,  University of Wisconsin-Madison (GEO AquaWatch Director 2018-22)

Steve Groom Portrait

Steve Groom, Ph.D. Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK