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ORTA Staff

ORTA Director

Dr. Fiona Horsfall
Director, Office of Research Transition & Application

Dr. Fiona Horsfall is the Director for the Office of Research, Transition, and Application (ORTA) in NOAA’s Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR). In this position, she oversees the development and implementation of policies that guide and manage transition of NOAA research and development.  She also oversees the Quantitative Observing System Assessment Program (QOSAP) and the Technology Partnerships Office (TPO).

Fiona received her BS in Ocean Engineering from Florida Atlantic University and her Ph.D. from the Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, RSMAS, University of Miami. She was a research meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, before moving to NWS Headquarters, where she had several roles in supporting NWS and broader NOAA climate services.  She was the Chief of the NWS Climate Services Branch for 11 years just prior to coming to ORTA.  

Dr. Bryan Cole
Supervisory Physical Scientist, Office of Research Transition & Application

Dr. Bryan Cole joined NOAA in 2018, working in Congressional Affairs. Prior to that he has worked at USGS, also in Congressional Affairs, and in the House of Representatives. He began working with UxSRTO first as the Deputy Director, and then as the Director in 2022, where he led NOAA’s UxS R&D program.

Prior to starting his Federal service, Bryan’s scientific career focused on developing novel methods to study the impacts that man-made chemicals have on the environment. He earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University in Cellular Biology, and did postdoctoral work in environmental toxicology at the University of California, Davis. There, he developed assays to understand the effects that new classes of pollutants have on marine and estuarine animals and populations.

Darrin Moore
Management and Program Analyst, Office of Research Transition & Application

Darrin Moore joined NOAA in 2018 as a contracting specialist and became a contracting officer in 2019 in support of OAR. Prior to his working with NOAA, he was a civilian contracting specialist with the United States Air Force at Tinker Air Force Base. Switching gears from contracting to the program side, Darrin joined UxSRTO in 2023 as Deputy Director.

For 30 years, Darrin owned a small business in his hometown of Norman, OK, but decided to pursue a civil service position in 2016 after graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in Ethics and Religion/Philosophy with a minor in Non-Profit Management and Political Science. He has fully embraced the concept of “One Team” and loves not only learning about the NOAA Missions, but providing any acquisition assistance possible. As recognition for outstanding assistance, Darrin received the 2022 Department of Commerce Gold Medal as a member of the Uncrewed Surface Vehicle Hurricane Research Team. In addition, as a part of the EcoFOCI/NOAA Arctic Research Cruise Team, he won an Administrator’s Award for exceptional effort.

Darrin has led several innovative contracting efforts, including a revamp of support for IT efforts at NSSL and NWAVE, as well as creating a suite of multiple award contracts to provide vessel charter services in Alaska. He will continue providing these creative solutions and relentless support to the exciting ORTA mission.

Darrin now lives in Longmont, CO with his family and enjoys pursuing gravel cycling, hiking, and cooking Texas-style barbecue.

Director's Office: Transition Support

Abigail Arnold (Contractor)
Testbed Proving Ground Committee Coordinator and Transition Support

Abigail Arnold works as the coordinator for the Testbeds and Proving Grounds Coordination Committee (TBPGCC) and in Transition Support in the office of Research, Transition, and Application (ORTA).  She provides assistance in the creation of transition plans, templates, tools, and processes for streamlining services; briefings on all aspects of transition support services; and develops related training content. She also supported the Uncrewed Systems Research Transition Office.

Abigail received her BS in Atmospheric Science and BJ in Journalism from the University of Missouri.  She was a NOAA Hollings scholar and worked as a broadcast meteorologist for more than a decade before joining ORTA in 2022. She also served as the coordinator for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network for Southwestern Missouri.

Katie Geddes (Contractor) 
Program Analyst

Katie is a part-time Program Analyst in the Office of Research, Transition, and Application (ORTA). Katie coordinates the Research Transitions Fireside Chat Seminar Series, supports Transition Support activities, contributes to the coordination of the Testbeds and Proving Grounds Coordination Committee (TBPGCC), and has served as the Interim Executive Secretariat of the NOAA Line Office Transition Managers Committee (LOTMC).

Katie brings a background in international and interagency affairs, having worked in the OAR International Activities (IA) office and subsequently the NESDIS International and Interagency Affairs Division (IIAD) for six years. She facilitated international collaboration and partnerships between NOAA and its national and international counterparts to advance oceanic, atmospheric, and climate observations research around the world, and gained experience representing the US at intergovernmental fora including the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and the UN in New York. Katie holds a Masters in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland focused on marine affairs and international development and a B.S. in Biology from Georgia Tech. Katie is currently a PhD student in Environmental Science and Policy at RSMAS, University of Miami.

Andrew Peck
Physical Scientist

Andrew works as a Physical Scientist within the Office of Research, Transition, and Application (ORTA). He joined the office in September 2021. He provides assistance in transition support tasks, the creation of transition plans, transition related training, GIS projects, outreach events, and other tasks related to the office. He coordinates the ORTA Transition Working Group and the NOAA Science Advisory Board group on Public-Private Partnerships (P3s). He has served as executive secretary for the Readiness Levels Training Task Force and assisted in the creation of the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP).

Andrew began his career at NOAA working with the NWS Climate Services Branch as a Pathways intern from 2019-2021. He graduated from The College of William and Mary in May 2021, double majoring in Geology and Environmental Sciences & Policy. He has extensive research background in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and continues to work on additional GIS projects throughout his career. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Environmental Sciences at Oregon State University.

Kenneth Vierra
Transition Support Specialist

On May 22, 2023 Ken transitioned from a NOAA Affiliate where he worked for approximately 5 years in the Uncrewed Systems Research Transition Office (UxSRTO) and now serves as a Federal Employee in the Office of Research, Transition, and Application (ORTA) as a Program and Management Analyst, Transition Support Specialist. As part of his responsibilities Ken will continue in his role to assist the UxSRTO as time permits.

For over three decades, Ken has functioned both as a Program Manager and Task Leader facilitating field collections for various sponsors and projects. Acting in these roles, his responsibilities have included planning, coordination, direction, and participation in airborne, marine, and land field experiments. Ken’s experience includes designing and executing data collections in support of signal detection problems, environmental measurements, and other program objectives. He participated in and conducted over 400 complex data-gathering exercises in real-world environments including at-sea, land, and air fielding instrumentation on various platforms, which also included analysis of the resulting data. Core competencies include field collections, engineering, hardware integration, logistics, and analysis activities.

He has provided experiment leadership through understanding real world problems in national security and environmental areas providing decisive solutions via technology and innovative sensor systems. He has worked with program scientists and sensor engineers to list fundamental system issues, create “testable” hypotheses, design practical field experiments, and provide analysis that tested hypotheses and helped Program Teams resolve issues and achieve objectives. Ken designed collections, which led to developing guidance to optimize success of objectives under a range of operational environments and fielded various airborne, oceanographic, meteorological, and geophysical ground-truth sensors. As needed and requested; Ken also has arranged collaborative agreements with other organizations (Academics, Vendors, Government Agencies, etc.) to enhance and leverage opportunities for data collects, approvals, and databases.

Ken is a Physical Oceanographer with an extensive Oceanographic and Remote Sensing background. Ken obtained his undergraduate degree (B.S. Earth Science) from the University of Millersville, which is small school near Lancaster Pennsylvania. Directly from there, Ken went on to obtain his M.S. (Marine Studies / Physical Oceanography) degree from the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment campus, located in Lewes, Delaware.

Kelly Webster

Michael Kruk
Deputy Director

ORTA Organization Chart