CITGO and the Ocean Exploration Trust Partnership Brings Science to Life for Students and Educators

Aug 10, 2016 10:00 AM ET

HOUSTON, August 10, 2016 /3BL Media/ – For the third year, CITGO Petroleum Corporation and the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) are providing teachers and students with unique educational opportunities in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Through two separate fellowships within the Nautilus Exploration Program, CITGO and OET are bringing select groups of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educators and students aboard Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus to learn about deep-sea exploration firsthand. 

First, during the earlier months of the summer, the Science Communication Fellowship provided two teachers with an immersive three-week stint on E/V Nautilus. Jon Gain, a biology instructor and STEM coordinator at Saint John Paul II High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Amber Hale, assistant professor of biology at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, studied the ocean floor off the Washington, Oregon and California coastlines. The pair used the Nautilus Live website to interact with their classrooms and communities at home. 

Later, in August, the Nautilus Ambassadors Program will take aboard educators for four days to map the seafloor, shadow scientists and engineers and collect oceanographic data. As with the Science Communication Fellows, the Ambassadors will share their experiences via live interactions with audiences at aquariums and science centers using ship-to-shore communications tools. CITGO will support 40 of these live interactions during this Nautilus Expedition season. 

“The Nautilus Exploration Program gives some of the country’s best and brightest students and teachers hands-on experiences in deep-sea exploration,” said Allison Fundis, vice president of education, outreach and communications for OET. “Support from CITGO not only allows us to provide them with this unique opportunity, it also enables us to share it with a wider audience on land.” 

“Firsthand experiences enhance STEM education and make lessons truly come alive,” said CITGO President and CEO Nelson Martinez. “Our program with OET offers passionate educators and students a once-in-a-lifetime experience on board E/V Nautilus, and it is our hope that this inspires a new generation of scientific experts.”

The OET was founded in 2008 by world renowned oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard, best known for his 1985 discovery of the RMS Titanic shipwreck. CITGO and Dr. Ballard’s OET have worked together on STEM educational projects for the last several years, as part of a partnership built upon a mutual interest in using the natural world to educate up-and-coming scientists. In August 2014, CITGO funded the participation of CITGO ambassadors in the Nautilus Ambassadors Program, which brought educators aboard E/V Nautilus to travel from Belize to Jamaica to learn from members of the Nautilus Corps of Exploration. Last year, E/V Nautilus hosted educators from CITGO operational areas in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois to participate in the Nautilus Expedition Program CITGO STEM Academy, a free, day-long program enabling the teachers to learn about deep-ocean exploration and work with OET and local STEM professionals. 

To follow E/V Nautilus and learn more about the experiences of the Science Communication Fellows and Nautilus Ambassadors, visit

About Ocean Exploration Trust
The Ocean Exploration Trust was founded in 2008 by Dr. Robert Ballard to explore the ocean, seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, and archaeology while pushing the boundaries of STEM education and technological innovation. Our international program is launched from aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, offering live exploration  to participants  on shore and the public via live video, audio, and data feeds. The major 2016 expedition and education sponsors are the NOAA Office of Exploration & Research, the Office of Naval Research, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, the University of Rhode Island, CITGO, and additional private donors. Follow us online at, on Facebook and Instagram at NautilusLive, and on Twitter as @EVNautilus.

CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by CITGO Holding, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information, visit