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.

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

Dr. Paul M. DiGiacomo is Chief of the Satellite Oceanography and Climatology Division 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 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 GEO AquaWatch coastal and inland water quality initiative, Chair of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellite (CEOS) Coastal Observation & Application Study Team: COAST, Co-Chair 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.

Emily Smail, Ph.D. , University of Maryland, USA – User-Oriented Working Group Leader

Emily Smail is the Executive Director of the GEO Blue Planet Initiative and a Senior Faculty Specialist at the NOAA-University of Maryland Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies. She also serves as the co-chair of the GEO AquaWatch Initiative’s outreach and user Engagement working group and supports outreach and education efforts for the NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch program. Previously, Dr. Smail worked in informal science Education at the Waikiki Aquarium and policy in the United States Senate through the Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program. She received a B.S. in Biology from the Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Southern California where her research focused on water quality and marine biogeochemistry.


Carsten Brockmann, Brockmann Consult, GmbH, Germany – Working Group 1 Co-Chair


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 – Working Group 2 Co-Chair


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 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”.

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

Blake A. Schaeffer is a physical scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency in Durham, NC. His research focus is on the use of satellite remote sensing technology to monitor water quality in coasts, estuaries, and lakes. His interests generally include integrating remote sensing technologies into water quality management frameworks.






Steve Groom Portrait
Steve Groom, Ph.D. Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK – Working Group 4 Co-Chair

Steve Groom has 30 years’ experience in satellite and aircraft remote sensing with interest in exploitation of EO for near-real time and operational environmental monitoring.  Steve is PML Head of Science for Earth Observation Science, Director of the NERC EO Data Acquisition and Analysis Service Plymouth, that undertakes remote sensing data processing for UK environmental scientists, has managed over 50 commissioned research projects as principal investigator currently including H2020 PORTWIMS twinning with U Lisbon, H2020 Danubius-PP a pilot programme developing the European research infrastructure for river-sea systems, and ESA EO for Sustainable Development.  Steve has co-authored about 64 peer-reviewed papers with an h index of 31.


Megan Coffer – USEPA ORISE Fellow- Working Group 4 Co-Chair

Megan Coffer is a 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. 

Bilqis Hoque, Environment and Population Research Centre & Emory University, Bangladesh – Working Group 5 Co-Chair


BIO – Coming soon!








Andrew N. Tyler, University of Stirling, UK – Working Group 5 Co-Chair

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 are partners on the H2020 EOMORES, CoastObs and MONOCLE projects that focus on the remote sensing of inland, transitional and coastal waters. Airborne remote sensing is also being used in an UK EPSRC (EP/I035390/1) funded project to assess the stability of saltmarshes and intertidal sediments in estuaries to climate change, specifically in relation to the adaptation & resilience of the UK energy to climate change. USTIR also lead a UK Royal Society project and an EC EUFAR project on remote sensing of algal blooms in lakes. The team are also leading the UK’s contribution to the new ESFRI initiative DANUBIUS-RI, and are the UK lead within the H2020 DANUBIUS-PP project delivering The International Centre for Advanced Studies on River-Sea Systems, and together with the Plymouth Marine Laboratory will be contributing to the Observation Node for this new pan-European infrastructure. Linked to DANUBIUS-RI, the Stirling Team is also a project partner on the H2020 ENVRI-FAIR, delivering FAIR data for Environmental Research Infrastructures in Europe.

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.

Steve Greb, GEOAquaWatch Advisor (past Director), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Steve Greb was the past Director of GEO AquaWatch (2017-2022) and currently serves in a temporary advisory role as GEO AquaWatch transitions into the new Directorship.  Steve is an associate fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Aquatic Sciences Center and holds a research position within the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the Space Science and Engineering Center at UW. Steve retired from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in 2018 where he worked as an aquatic research scientist for 32 years. His work includes acid rain impacts on aquatic ecosystems, thermal pollution in the urban environment, effects of forestry best management practices on stream water quality, nearshore nutrient dynamics; and hydrologic impacts on changing climate conditions. Over much of his career he has focused on the use of remote sensing to measure water quality from space.