Meet Our Team

Mike Smith
Mike SmithFounder & Executive Director

Mike Smith received his BS in marine biology from the University of Rhode Island and his MS in education from Walden University. He has loved working in the outdoors as a shark and fish researcher, a kayak guide in the San Juan Islands sharing the water with orcas, a naturalist aboard whale watching vessels, and a Program Director at New England Science & Sailing. He has also worked as an instructor on Tall Ships teaching marine science, snorkeling, and sailing in the waters around Catalina Island. He holds a 100 Ton USCG Masters Captain License, is an ARC lifeguard instructor, and has U.S. Sailing and BCU kayak certifications. Outside of Common Tides, he is a full time K-8 teacher at The Phoenix School, in Salem, MA. His passions are spending time with his family, surfing, exploring the outdoors, and cheering the Seahawks on to win another Super Bowl!

Katie Dyal
Katie DyalFounder & Executive Director

Katie Dyal has been passionate about the world’s water since childhood. Her love and knowledge of aquatic ecosystems increased as she studied, played and eventually gained her Masters in Water and Soil Science. Since then she has helped with local reef conservation efforts in Fiji and helped teach the local children. She also worked as a field instructor teaching children about the Pacific Ocean on Catalina Island as well as an instructor aboard a sailing vessel along the California Channel Islands. She spent time working as a marine instructor in the Florida Keys, and working as dive master as well. Outside of Common Tides, she enjoys the Rocky and Smoky Mountains whenever she can.

Dr. Stephanie Toro
Dr. Stephanie ToroEducation Research Coordinator

Stephanie Toro’s ultimate goal is to help others love teaching and learning about science, as much as she does. With a background in marine science, curriculum, and instruction, she has been able to improve the availability and quality of marine education to students. She has been teaching science for the last 17 years as a formal science teacher in secondary schools, colleges and universities, but also through informal summer programs and consulting with museum programs. In her role as an assistant professor at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá , Colombia, she provides pedagogical support for professors and graduate teaching assistants in the school of science. Her favorite teaching moments are those that allow her to work side by side with students literally getting their feet wet and muddy, as they experience coastal and marine ecosystems first hand.  

Dr. Robert Ellis
Dr. Robert EllisContributing Scientist

Dr. Robert Ellis grew up in Southern California and always knew that he wanted to be a marine biologist. He received his BS from UC Santa Barbara where he first got hooked on marine research by studying coral reef fishes in the US Virgin Islands. After graduating he moved out to Catalina Island where he worked as an instructor teaching marine biology to grades 4-12, then onto a couple years surf-bumming around Santa Cruz and Central America. He then went back to school, attaining his MS in Oceanography (LSU) and his Ph.D. in biology (Florida State). Bob currently studies reef fish life history for the state of Florida and stokes his passion for marine conservation by working with Common Tides and the Clear This Fish Foundation working to eradicate invasive lionfish from Panama.