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Development of CISME began in early 2010 by Drs. Alina M. Szmant and Robert F. Whitehead, of the University of North Carolina Wilmington Center for Marine Science, funded by NOAA OER Grant NA09OAR4320073 through the CIOERT (Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research and Technology) based at Harbor Branch-FAU and UNCW Center for Marine Science. Drs. Charlie Mazel and Brian Murphy, of the R&D company Physical Sciences Inc., were instrumental in helping us design, build and test the first version(s) of CISME under a subcontract from UNCW.

Szmant and Whitehead have licensed the technology from UNCW and have since opened CISME Instruments, LLC. We have a set of 6 UNCW-owned instruments available to loan to trained and qualified academic or government researchers for a small maintenance fee, insurance and shipping costs. 






















For more Information, please call or email:

Dr. Alina Szmant at (910) 200-3913 or at

Dr. Robert Whitehead at (910) 232-3481 or at

Dr. Alina Szmant, Ph.D.

Dr. Alina Szmant, Co-founder and CEO of CISME Instruments, LLC, has over five decades of experience in coral reef ecology. She is among the pioneers in the study of the physiology, reproduction and larval biology of Caribbean reef corals. Other areas of expertise include nutrition and skeletogenesis of reef corals, ecological interactions central to coral reef function, and nutrient dynamics of coral reef ecosystems. Her current research is focused on collaborations and commercialization of a new diver-portable diagnostic instrument designed to measure the respiration and other ‘vital signs’ of corals in their natural environment. She remains active in conservation issues regarding coral reefs, particularly with regard to the impact of climate change. She was a member of the Scientific Technical Advisory Committee to the Water Quality Plan for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary from 1994 to 2004, and has participated in numerous regional, national and international workshops organized to consider nutrients and other environmental issues affecting coral reef ecosystems. Before joining UNCW in 1999, Szmant was a Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science from 1983 to 1999, a research faculty at Florida State University and on the staff of the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Nuclear Center.  She is now retired from UNCW and an Adjunct Professor in the Center of Marine Science. She obtained a B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico in 1966, a M.S. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1970, and a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 1980. She was a member of the first all-female team of aquanauts to conduct scientific research in an underwater habitat, during the Tektite II Program in 1970. Outside of work, human over-population and its effect on wilderness and wildlife, and the quality of life of our children and grandchildren are her major concerns.

Dr. Robert F. Whitehead, Ph.D.

Robert Whitehead, co-founder and CTO, is a research specialist at UNCW. He spent 6 years in the management and daily operations of a small family manufacturing business before returning to academics in 2001. His PhD is in Chemical Oceanography, and at UNCW he has developed andoptimized techniques and equipment for measuring seawater chemical parameters. These efforts have culminated in the development of the hardware and software components at the heart of CISME.

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