Joshua is a member of NOAA's Navigation Response Team (NRT) and Uncrewed Systems Team in Stennis, Mississippi. Here, he operates and maintains a 34-foot survey vessel; a mobile integrated multibeam and side-scan sonar mobile integrated survey team (MIST) kit for missions involving vessels of opportunity in disaster areas; two autonomous surface survey vessels; and one autonomous underwater survey vessel. In coordination with Coast Survey's Regional Navigation Managers, NRTs work around the clock after a storm or maritime emergency to reopen ports and waterways. These teams provide time-sensitive seafloor survey data to U.S. Coast Guard and port officials during an emergency response. NOAA cartographers also use this data to update Coast Survey's navigational products. The teams respond within 24 hours to maritime incidents, such as vessel groundings, sinkings, or cargo loss, that may require underwater searches to mitigate risk to life and property.
I was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and grew up on the coast near Biloxi. The bayous, bays, rivers, and creeks of southern Louisiana and Mississippi became as much my natural environment as the Gulf of Mexico. My insatiable curiosity helped me earn a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science and a Master’s degree in Hydrography from the University of Southern Mississippi. I was also certified as an IHO Category A hydrographer. My current job as a hydrographic surveyor was with NOAA’s Navigation Response Team in Stennis, Mississippi. I also serve with NOAA’s Uncrewed Systems Team, which is at the forefront of new autonomous survey technologies and applications. As a member of an active response team, I use and develop these systems in challenging and complicated scenarios. I am challenged daily with a career that is dynamic, complex, adventurous — with a mission that directly impacts the lives of my community.
I had very supportive parents growing up, and I don't believe I would have survived grad school without my wife's encouragement. Still, the one person who impacted my career most would have to be a University of Southern Mississippi Associate Professor, Dr. Scott Milroy. He was very influential in my interest in marine science and supportive of my career in hydrography. He was my mentor and challenged me to give my best and dig down to the meat of any problem. He was a fountain of knowledge, always gave sound advice, and was a master of critical thinking. Working with Dr. Milroy in the lab on his Pioneering Mars experiment and other research was one of the most rewarding and inspiring experiences. It was a privilege, and I have tried to set a personal standard of critical and professional excellence in order to honor that experience.
In just five years, our team has responded to 17 major storm events. We have seen communities in ruins and the best of humanity doing everything possible to render aid as fast as possible. Every time we open up a waterway for fuel and supply barges or open a port so commerce can bring relief to these people, I feel like we made a difference. I am truly honored to be a part of that mission. Our team is currently surveying Biloxi Bay and its approaches. I am especially enjoying this survey because it is where I grew up, and I have childhood memories of many of these areas. It's rare to work in an area where you did your mile swim in boy scouts or learned to throw a cast net with your father. I’m using amazing technology to chart my home and training for a mission that serves my community and country. It is hard to beat that.