Derek Smith is currently a PhD candidate in the Ecology Department at the University of Washington. During research expeditions to the NWHI in 2009 and 2010, Derek worked with the maritime archaeology team to compile an understanding of the environment surrounding six maritime heritage sites that span over 180 years of maritime heritage in the Monument. In 2010, Derek and his team of ecologists conducted 35 transects that included fish species richness and abundance, rugosity, and benthic community structure. The team also collected five days of continuous oceanographic data, retrieved and deployed data loggers, and collected coral samples for genetic analysis and connectivity research.
Derek completed his masters at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology in December of 2010 and continues his efforts to biogeographically assess shipwreck and sunken aircraft sites. His work will help managers develop a better understanding of the way that these maritime heritage sites are a part of the surrounding ecosystem and assist in the development of long-term monitoring strategies at shipwreck sites based upon quantifiable measurements.