Meet the VSI Team Lane McDonald Founding Director of Vermilion Sea Institute Lane has a double master’s degree from UCLA and was a college biology instructor for thirty-eight years specializing in marine biology and human ecology. He has created and taught field programs in Baja California since the early 1970s, and has also taken classes to the Virgin Islands, Tahiti, the Fiji Islands, New Zealand, and tropical Australia. Rafael Galvan Villavicencio Rafael is a holistic wellness practitioner specializing in healthy lifestyle changes and naturopathic treatments. Rafael’s family has lived at Rancho San Gregorio for over a century where he now operates a holistic wellness clinic. He learned the art of healing from his grandmother, a curandera (medicine woman) and again later in formal training. Meghann McDonald Executive Director of Vermilion Sea Institute Meghann is a marine ecologist and educator. She has led place-based field science courses in Mexico, Australia, and throughout the Carribean. She is an avid scientific diver and SCUBA instructor. As the Executive Director of the Vermilion Sea Institute, Meghann strives to build partnerships and cross-cultural connections that aim to protect and enhance the Sea of Cortez ecosystems while expanding programming at the Vermilion Sea Field Station. She holds a Bachelors in Marine and Coastal Ecology from California State University – Monterey Bay a Masters in Biology from Miami University and is a Wilderness First Responder R. Eduardo Galván Aviña Field Experience Engineer Eduardo spent his childhood exploring the urban hillsides around his family’s home in Tijuana and traversing the ridges surrounding his ancestor’s historic rancho (Rancho San Gregorio). He has extensive experience leading groups of college students and citizen scientists in Baja to both Rancho San Gregorio and Vermilion Sea Field Station and takes pride in cultivating soul-filling, adventurous experiences. Eduardo studied architecture and civil engineering and works as a civil engineer when he is not leading groups in Baja. He is undertaking a new entrepreneurial adventure by creating the brand “Born to Baja” (#borntobaja). Education: Civil Engineering: Institute Tecnológico de Tijuana Wilderness First Responder Certification: Wilderness Medical Associates Alejandro Galvan Aviña Ecotourism Specialist A Baja California native, Alex has been immersed in the natural history programs since childhood. For the past seven years, he has worked primarily with international tourists throughout Mexico including Mexico City and Xcaret, Cancun. His pride and joy for all things Mexican are exemplified by his online personality, “Enano Adventures.” As “Enano,” Alex has exclaimed the beauty and accessibility of Mexican culture, artifacts, and experiences to his thousands of followers for the past three years. VSI consistently benefits from Alex’s positivity, insight, artistic prowess, and his persistent search for new and meaningful experiences. Education: Tourism Management, UABC Facultad de Turismo y Mercadotecnia – Wilderness First Responder Certification Brendan McGrath Hospitality Specialist Brendan combines his career in hospitality and a lifetime of outdoor adventures working . He was trained to be a chef at a young age at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park and later attained a degree in Hotel Management from UNLV, concurrently working as a freelance personal assistant and caterer to TV and movie productions as well as touring bands and live events. As a chef, Brendan spent a decade in San Diego developing and executing his menus in both cutting edge and rustic kitchens. Education: AOS in Culinary Arts: Culinary Institute of America, BS in Hospitality Management: UNLV, Wilderness First Responder Certification: Wilderness Medical Associates Katie Dell Community Outreach Coordinator Katie Dell is a middle school science teacher and department chair for Baltimore County Public Schools. She also works with Miami University as a Community Learning Leader so she can spend her summers reconnecting to her favorite place- Baja! Her academic research focuses on racial and gender equity in science and environmental education. She is a certified lifeguard, open water diver and has received extensive training in first aid, CPR, and wilderness first aid. Katie spends her free time outside with family, friends and her pit bull mix, Luna, hiking, kayaking, and taking pictures in the Great Outdoors. Katie is often the author behind our Facebook feed. She leads field courses for VSI and works as our Community Outreach Coordinator. Education: BBS in Biology: Towson University, Master’s in Biology: Miami University Global Field Program, Wilderness First Aid Certification. MJ Munsey Operations Specialist MJ likes to think of herself as a “Fun Facilitator”. In reality, she enhances field experiences by organizing logistics and learning for trip leaders and for the Aventureros programs. MJ joins us from corporate world with an extensive background in sales and customer relations. She is currently pursuing her degree in Learning, Literacy, and Leadership at the University of Arizona. In her free time you can find her diving the reefs, hiking mountains, or cultivating fields of llamas. She’s an avid outdoors(wo)man, baker, gym-goer, and animal enthusiast. If you’re in need of CPR she’s got you covered, as long as you’re on her good side…you can bribe your way there by offering her street tacos, pie, or one-on-one time with a dog. Education: Bachelor’s of Science in Learning, Literacy, and Leadership: University of Arizona; Lifeguard, CPR, First Aid Certifications Angela Yeager Community Development Specialist Hailing from Ohio, Angela has been joining and leading trips to Bahia de los Angeles since 2011. Her passion is connecting others with nature and she leads hundreds of people on forest adventures in Ohio each season. She enjoys traveling and has two young children who now join her on adventures! She loves to make learning fun and hands-on using inquiry and exploration. Angela is trained in Red Cross First Aid/CPR, is a trauma-informed educator and is an Outdoor Skills trained Girl Scout leader. Education: University of Miami: BS in Conservation & Marine Biology, Master’s in Zoology: Miami University Global Field Program, Ohio Teaching License: 7-12 Life Sciences, CPR/First Aid Certified Dillon Chi That Tech Guy I have spent the better part of the last decade volunteering for organizations in social service organizations that engage youth through art, programming, education, and life science. I am currently pursuing a degree in Interaction Design at the ArtCenter College of Design. My minors are in Business and Designmatters. My focus is on utilizing technology to educate and make families healthier, through user experience research and service design. I have always been intrigued by the ability to convey messages through clever design using non-verbal communication. Interaction Design is the discipline that turns this into a science. T’Noya Thompson Environmental Education Specialist Being born and raised in the Bahamas fostered a deep connection to the ocean that inspired a career path at an early age for T’Noya. She began her career at Moody Gardens in the Animal Care Department, where she served several roles including, connecting with communities in various capacities for twelve years. After Moody Gardens, she worked at Galveston Bay Foundation for two and a half years as the Advocacy Programs Manager. She educated and encouraged action to improve the overall health of Galveston Bay, Texas’ largest estuary. T’Noya is now the Environmental Education Specialist at the North American Association for Environmental Education. Here, she works with various partners on eeWORKS, eeBLUE, and developing an evaluation portal with Duke University. Additionally, she serves as a Community Learning Leader for Miami University’s Project Dragonfly’s Global Field Program. She serves as the Board Chair for the Vermilion Sea Institute. She is currently in Class Eight of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders Program. T’Noya is also a member of the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation governing council, Science Partnerships Committee, serves as the Vice-Chair for the Public Participation and Education Committee for the Galveston Bay Estuary Program, and is on the Advisory Council for A Rocha USA. T’Noya holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston and an M.A. in Biology from Miami University through Project Dragonfly’s Global Field Program. She is passionate about wildlife, environmental education, and supporting conservation and equity through community engagement. In her spare time, she enjoys growing in her faith, spending time with her wonderful family, meeting new people, and exploring when traveling.