About Our Members

Cultural Research Divers

We have been bringing our Research Diving Programs to schools and other educational venues since 1990. We've been instrumental in many of the positive changes in our community--environmental, economic, and development. We've brought our underwater discoveries to thousands of students throughout New York, in an effort to share knowledge of the oceans, estuaries  and our love for our historic shorelines..


Captain Gene Ritter

Commercial diver and president of  Research Divers. Gene holds a 100 ton USCG Master License, and  has been diving in New York Harbor for over 40 years.  He has discovered many historic underwater sites of New York’s past. Gene is passionate about history as well as diving; he has been featured in prime time newscasts for his underwater discoveries.  He has appeared in numerous articles, the New York Times,  NY Post, Daily News,  in trade magazines, also  net work news such as ABC, NBC, CBS,  NY1,  etc.   Among Gene’s  underwater discoveries are the sunken remnants of Fort Lafayette—a Civil War Fort under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  He discovered over two thousand anti- aircraft live shells possibly lost by the US Navy in 1954. He found a lost submarine built to explore the ill-fated Andrea Doria,  he also discovered the historic Coney Island Dreamland Bell in the waters of Coney Island.  On many occasions, over the years, Gene has brought hundreds of historic artifacts into schools, community events, and other venues.  In 1998, former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden awarded Gene with his first citation award for his Outstanding Contributions to the Preservation of Brooklyn’s History.


Dr. Merryl Kafka

Dr. Kafka received her M.S. Degree in Biology and N.Y. State Certificate of Museum Studies from New York University, and received her Doctorate in Instructional Leadership from St. John’s University.  In her capacity as Curator of Education (and a 30-year career history) at the New York Aquarium, Dr. Kafka has been instrumental in providing marine science programming to community groups, families, students, and teachers throughout the New York City area. She is also one of the co-founders of the Rachel Carson HS of Coastal Studies in Coney Island.

Dr. Kafka is the recipient of many awards; from the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency for “Project Creek”, an environmental partnership award on habitat restoration in C.I., to recently receiving the “Lifelong Devotion to Marine Education Exemplary Service Award” from the New York State Marine Education Association. She is an adjunct Professor for Brooklyn College’s AREAC (Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center) for the College Now program for high school students, co-teaching “Urban Marine Ecology”.

During the summer, Merryl can be found onboard the American Princess whale watching excursions as the their naturalist.


Captain Bob Hayes

Retired NYPD Deputy Inspector and former Commanding Officer of theNYPD SCUBA Team with 50 years experience as a diver and 38 years of Dive boat Experience. He is a PADI Master Instructor and has been a SCUBA instructor for 35 years. He is a former 1st lieutenant, US Army Corps of Engineers, Jan/1966 to Nov/1968. I have extensive training and experience in the use of military explosives. I also possess a USCG masters license for 100 gross tons and 100 miles since 1980. He has  a total of 50 years of diving experience.  Captain Bob currently runs dive charters off his vessel Dive Boat Karen II.


BRYAN J. JUNCOSA, PE, CAPTAINMr. Juncosa has been diving on the east coast for 35 years as both a sport and commercial diver. He has visited many wreck sites on the east coast and throughout the world. Mr. Juncosa is a member of NJ Task Force 1 Urban Search and rescue team as a structural specialist. He has performed many rescue operations at disaster site including the World Trade Center on 9/11 where he received Civil Engineer of the Year.

As a professional engineer/diver and president of Atlantic Engineering, LLC he has inspected thousands of bridges both above and below water throughout the U.S. especially in the New York area. His firm performs underwater inspection of all types of marine structures including bridges, piers, ferry terminals, dams, culverts, repair design, and construction. Mr. Juncosa has a USCG Captains license and operates several boats for commercial purposes in NY and NJ waterways.


Lou Siegel

Lou Siegel is currently an adjunct professor at both Dowling College in the Department of Earth and Marine Sciences and at S.U.N.Y. Farmingdale in the Biology Department.  His teaching load includes such courses as Biology, Physical and Environmental Sciences and Marine Biology. In June of 2003 he retired from 36 years as a teacher and Science Chairperson on the high school level. During this time he was: anearly author and teacher of the New York City Marine Biology curriculum which was offered at the experimental John Dewey High School in Brooklyn; Chairperson of the Department of Science and Oceanography at Beach Channel High School in Queens; and Chairperson of the Science and Technology Department at Oceanside High School on Long Island. At each site Lou not only met students during the school year but also moreoften than not, organized and taught summer ecology and marine science courses. Lou was a founder, past president and active board member in the 30 year old New York State Marine Education Association. He has chaired several of their annual student and teacher conferences and is currently web master of the http://nysmea.orgweb page. Lou edited "Learning in the Estuary," a compilation of lesson plans, in 2002.   Lou has long been involved in pre- and in-service teacher education. Most recently, his course Shipboard Marine Science has been taken by a large cross-section of teachers and environmental educators.  Research projects have included studies of marsh grass, (Spartina alterniflora) and the horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus.) Lou's interests include photography, sailing, and kayaking and he has reportedly been seen fishing for striped bass.B.S. Biology, Hunter College, C.U.N.Y. M.S. Marine Science, C.W. Post, L.I.U. P.D. Educational Administration, C.W. Post, L.I.U.


Beth J.P. Ritter

A  writer, and Resident Artist of Cultural Research Divers. A graduate of Parsons School of Design, she's illustrated many children's educational publications and greeting cards over the years. Her articles, written mostly about personal experiences, convey her unique viewpoints of life. She loves drawing the historic artifacts, with all their details and imperfections". While drawing them, she feels more connected to their histories.  As for drawing the vintage diving equipment? "That's just fun."
She enjoyed many opportunities to impart her love for all living things-- often expressed through art. "My Dad taught me early on that all animals are beautiful; none of them are ugly." These days, she's found a passion for drawing underwater artifacts and vintage diving equipment.


Lane Rosen

Lane Rosen earned his secondary education degrees at Brooklyn College receiving a B.S. in Biology and an M.A. in secondary science education. He has been teaching science for 18 years with the last 14 years at John Dewey High School(NYCDOE) teaching Marine Science. Currently he is the President of the New York State Marine Education Association(NYSMEA) and Director/Founder of the Brooklyn Marine Stem Education Alliance(BMSEA). He is this years recipient of Educator of the Year 2015-2016 Education Update for work in environmental science and the arts.  
Lane is one of the key organizers of several marine education events annually collaborating with many schools and partners. Lane helps lead a coastal cleanup, seining, marine species identification, marine environmental awareness, microscopy, great fish count and local stewardship. Many educators and over 100 students show up repeatedly to the 3 events called International Coastal Cleanup, It's My Estuary Day and City of Water Day.
As a marine science teacher Lane takes his students on several field trips letting the students experience NYC treasures. They go to the American Museum of Natural History, NY Aquarium, Kingsborough Community College, service gardening project, marine careers, estuary trips and oyster monitoring.  His classes participate in raising oysters, horseshoe crabs
and trout besides maintaining a variety of aquariums. His students volunteer as docents and marine biology teaching assistants annually.

Lane Rosen has a passion for marine science and believes since NYC has 570 miles of coastline education should be aligned with local schools. He is dedicated to sharing marine science education to High School students. Through his role in NYSMEA, NYCDOE and BMSEA he is able to provide many opportunities in the marine science field for educators and students.