Science Under Sail Institute for Exploration Inc (dba SUSIE)
PO BOX 3715
SARASOTA FL 34230-3715

The Science under Sail Institute for Exploration (SUSiE) is dedicated to the advancement of coral reef research, the advancement of early career scientists & explorers, and the promotion of globally responsible research conducted under sail.  

CEO/Executive Director Dr. Robin T. Smith
Board Chair Dr. Robin T. Smith
Board Chair Affiliation SUSiE
General Info
Organization DBA
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 2015
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes June 2017
State Registration Exempt May 2016
IRS Letter of Determination
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $162,000.00
Projected Expenses $119,000.00
Impact Statement

Top Accomplishments

  1. Jan 2015 - Re-designed & launched our #1 marketing & sales tool: our new website.
  2. April 2015 - Secured our 501(c)3 non-profit status, now enabling us to pursue private and federal grant funding.
  3. April 2015 - Launched our first online crowdsource funding campaign, providing a means by which accepted students can pro-actively raise funds via crowdsource funding.  To students have collectively raised  their tuitions of over 14k in donor dollars.
  4. July 2015 - Executed our 2nd year of Expeditions in the Bahamas, graduating 27 college undergrad and graduate students from our programs, all of who are now active alumni in our private online mentorship community.
  5. July 2015 - Executed the first ever micro-plastics study done on Caribbean coral reefs with our 2015 Expedition Team in the Exuma Land and Sea Park, Bahamas. This research was awarded a presentation at the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) 2016 Ocean Sciences meeting and will be presented and published by two of our alumni. Importantly, the research helps support the US-nationwide ban on micro-plastics signed into law December 2015.
Top Goals
  1. Board Governance - Acquire a strong Governance Board and formalize our Scientific Advisory Board.
  2. Launch and execute two donor Expeditions to engage our donors closer to our mission.
  3. Execute one 6-8 week student Expedition in the summer of 2017 to provide proof of concept for a semester Expedition. Acquire grants, sponsors and donor dollars to fully fund the Expedition. Bringing aboard 8 fully funded Fellows to conduct substantial and publishable research. 
  4. Strategize and launch a capital campaign for our larger vision, "A Cat for Coral Reefs". SUSiE's goal is to acquire its own research vessel and expand student Expeditions to full semester programs. Both education and research will become based around the vessel, accommodating multinational, multidisciplinary teams of researchers and students.
  5. Acquire a 'digital communications sponsor' to support our biggest strength. Sponsorship would support our Expeditions to go live, open source our data, and procure all marketing & fundraising tools needed to properly execute.  
Needs Statement

In order of importance...­­­­ 

  1. 24k to hire a part-time Virtual Assistant (VA) to join our team and handle the timely digital backend. A new to the industry title, VA is a professional who masters digital platforms.
  2. 24k to hire a part-time Expedition Assistant/Dive Staff to join our team. This position would assist in planning for a successful Expedition throughout the year and shifting to Dive Staff during our summer Expeditions.
  3. In-Kind Expedition supplies or support to purchase. Each Expedition year we are in need of new or updated expedition and scientific equipment. A list can be provided. Items like an inflatable tender, outboard motor, and new surface supplied air systems are needed.
  4. $1.5M to acquire a 60ft+ catamaran as our flagship vessel. We're seeking this in the form of direct donation(s) and/or sponsorship. Chartering a catamaran each year (as we operate now) has many drawbacks and will prevent us from expanding to full semester programs until we acquire and operate our own vessel.


Background Statement

SUSiE is pioneering advanced training and modern mentorship programs for college students on ocean-focused career tracks.  Our unique programs engage SUSiE Fellows into small, collaborative teams; paired with leading scientific experts aboard sailing-based research and education expeditions throughout the Caribbean. SUSiE's long-term vision is to conduct coral reef research worldwide, aboard a sailing vessel equipped to accommodate scientists and 8-10 college students for full semester programs.

Unlike any field studies or expedition-based programs in existence, SUSiE is setting the standards for the new and emerging discipline recognized as Exploration Science. SUSiE's approach is two-fold: 1.) To utilize innovative coral reef research expeditions as a platform for developing the best, next marine scientists. SUSiE inducts a small cohort of college (undergrad & grad) Fellows each summer to participate in off-the-grid advanced training. Top scientists and ocean professionals come aboard to instruct, share expertise and perform research side-by-side with our Fellows; and 2.) Upon completion of the Expedition, Fellows enter into SUSiE's private online mentorship community. The goal of our lifelong modern-mentorship program is to help our Fellows successfully navigate their college-to-career path, and beyond. To achieve the objectives above, SUSiE takes an entrepreneurial approach by partnering with Academic, Corporate, and Government sectors to perform current and cutting-edge science. Ultimately, it's the caliber of research that provides the unique platform for advanced collegiate training in Exploration Science.

The uniqueness of SUSiE's programs is facilitated by Founder, Dr. Robin T. Smith, and Co-Founder, Jerah Coviello. Dr. Smith brings his expertise in coral reef research and his extensive network of professional colleagues. With over 35 years experience as a cruising sailor, he has led numerous scientific research expeditions in remote oceans of the world. Jerah Coviello brings 7 years of digital marketing expertise and 10 years of non-profit management experience in a variety of sectors to the table. Together, both entrepreneurs engage in a motto shared with their students, "think outside, no box required."

Areas Served
Areas Served
Areas Served Comments

Our broad target market is college students (undergrad & grad) worldwide. More precisely, SUSiE Expeditions are likely to attract greatest interest from undergraduate students enrolled in a scientific discipline, and more specifically, marine science. Additionally, SUSiE Expeditions will appeal to students interested in sailing and diving.

Service Categories
Primary Org Type Education
Secondary Org Type Science & Technology
Tertiary Org Type Environment
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President
Statement from the CEO/Executive Director

SUSiE  has been my dream since undergrad, and as of now, a decade in the making. After running my first pilot program in 2006, I became committed to bringing SUSiE to reality. From humble beginnings and a lot of sweat equity along the way, SUSIE is now well poised, and on her way to becoming recognized as a leading coral reef research and advanced training institute. 

I believe that SUSiE Expeditons are one of the most innovative marine science research and education programs available. These programs offer college students the unique opportunity to actively participate in advanced scientific research aboard each expedition. Combined with lectures and instruction from established sailors, scientists, and ocean advocates, students gain experience and training that simply cannot be obtained in an ordinary classroom. Far from ordinary, this year nature provides the classroom as student research teams explore natural habitats, uninhabited islands and pristine coral reefs of the Exuma archipelago in the Bahamas. We welcome students to Exploration Science at it’s best!

I look forward to welcoming you into the SUSiE Society. You care about the ocean. You’re aware that approximately 75% of the world’s coral reefs are currently threatened, and that many have already been lost due to climate change, pollution, and overfishing. You care about the future of students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math. You know that without action and support, the future of coral reefs is threatened, along with the inestimable goods and services they provide. Together, we can make an impact.


SUSiE utilizes scientific expeditions as an innovative training platform for college students pursuing futures in Exploration Science and STEM disciplines. Each summer, we accept between 16-24 advanced college undergrad and grad students to participate in scientific expeditions aboard a research equipped 50' sailing catamaran. Aboard the expeditions, student teams are tasked with the mission to navigate, explore and conduct ongoing research amongst remote coral reef ecosystems, off-the-grid, and under sail.

Budget $180,000
Category Science & Technology, General/Other Science & Technology, General/Other
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served US& International Adults Latin America & the Caribbean
Short Term Success

1.) To date, every student (27 alumni) has earned academic credit through their home institution for completing our program, further validating our curriculum in the eyes of Colleges/Universities worldwide.

2.) To date, every student has provided favorable feedback upon completion of the program, many citing the program as 'transformative' to them.

3.) Several students have, or are currently using research, data or methodologies from our programs in directed independent study projects earning them academic credit at their home institution.

4.) Two students are collaborating to published a peer-reviewed research paper using results from the microplastics experiments they conducted aboard last year's expeditions. They'll also present this research at the ASLO Ocean Sciences meeting this year, the largest ocean sciences meeting worldwide.

5.) Two students are directly utilizing data & research developed aboard the expeditions in proposals seeking Federal research funding.

Long Term Success

The ultimate long-term benefits/changes for both the students and community are far reaching. In an increasingly competitive world of professional science and industry, SUSiE alumni have gained a desirable set of novel skills from participation aboard an expedition. For many of them, the experiences aboard, and the camaraderie amongst the team they've sailed with, will last a lifetime. From our perspective, each student's individual successes will ultimately contribute to benefit of our local, regional and global communities. Each and every one of our alumni, in some shape or form, is driven to become an ambassador for our ocean. As SUSiE helps them along their college-to-career path, the next generation of ocean advocates grows stronger. As a perfect example, in only 2 years of summer expeditions, SUSiE's students have already contributed critical research towards protecting the marine environment from plastic pollution.

Program Success Monitoring

1.) Every student completing our program has gained academic credit for it through his/her college or university.

2.) Exit interviews (written and video) from every alumnus, describing how the program positively changed their lives

3.) Regular check-in with many of our alumni, expressing how the program continues to positively change their lives

4.) Positive feedback from the students' family, professors and mentors.

5.) The ongoing establishment of amazing working relationships with organizations within the countries we conduct research. More specifically, within the Bahamas we've created open arms collaborations with the Elizabeth Harbour Conservation Partnership, Community Conch, Exuma Land and Sea Park, Young Marine Explorers, the Bahamian Division of Marine Resources, The Bahamas National Trust, Little Darby Research Station, Dive Exuma, and the Exuma Yacht Club.

Program Success Examples

As a startup non-profit, we've successfully run two years of programming in a row, despite breaking less than even financially. Our program is highly sought after from students worldwide, as illustrated by our >1k subscription base and >60 students applying to the programs each year. We've grown an extensive scientific network to include some of the foremost coral reef scientists, marine science institutes and universities around the world, who promote our programs to their students. We currently have 27 alumni actively engaging, attending and representing SUSiE at conferences, symposia and events. We also are building our corporate sponsorship base with companies from a variety of ocean industries. 

A specific example illustrating our program success comes from the overwhelmingly positive testimonials from our alumni. Many attribute their college-to-career path decisions to the knowledge, insight and experiences gained aboard their expedition.

CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Dr. Robin T. Smith
CEO Term Start Nov 2013
CEO/Executive Director Email

During grad school at Florida International University where I earned my PhD in Biology, and as a post-doc at UNAM in Puerto Morelos Mexico, I had the fortunate opportunity to lead many scientific expeditions to remote locations throughout the world. Through these experiences, I came to appreciate the importance of experiential learning, and the inherent limitations of scientific training based solely on traditional classroom academia. As a lifetime sailor, I also recognized the enormous team and character-building potential of sailing and exploration as an educational platform. Likewise, when reflecting on my own academic career, I place an inestimable value on the mentors who helped support and guide me along the way. This ultimately fostered a respect and understanding of how critical the right person(s) can be towards helping a student envision and achieve their academic and career goals. Collectively, it is this union of Science, Sailing and Mentorship that form the foundation of SUSiE Expedition's unique programs.

Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Senior Staff
Jerah Lena Coviello Co-Founder, Chief Operating Officer & Mentorship Director
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 0
Part Time Staff 2
Staff Retention Rate % N/A
Professional Development No
Contractors 0
Volunteers 3
Management Reports to Board N/A
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation N/A
Non-Management Formal Evaluation No

We currently collaborate with the University of Delaware, Penn State University, the University of Miami (RSMAS), New College of Sarasota,The Bahamas National Trust, The Elizabeth Harbour Conservation Partnership, and Community Conch.

External Assessments and Accreditations
Risk Management Provisions
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government No
Fundraising Plan Under Development
Communication Plan Under Development
Strategic Plan Under Development
Strategic Plan Years
Strategic Plan Adopted 0
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Continuity of Operations Plan Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Policies and Procedures Under Development
Management Comments by Organization

The Management section appears weak, but that is because we are a new non-profit just receiving our official status April 2015. We look forward to adding onto our Dream Team and growing SUSiE to the capacity of a 1 million + budget a year.

Multi-Media Comments by Organization Our brand is very focused in on media. To get the best understanding of what we do, please visit our website at
Board Chair
Board Chair Dr. Robin T. Smith
Company Affiliation SUSiE
Board Term Nov 2013 to Nov 2016
Board Chair Email
Board Members
Board Members
Jerah Coviello SUSiE Co-Founder & COO
Dr. Robin T. Smith SUSiE Founder and CEO
Dr. Mark Warner University of Deleware
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 3
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 2
Female 1
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 2
Board Orientation No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 1
Board Meeting Attendance % 100
Board Self-Evaluation No
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Board Conflict of Interest Policy Under Development
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 33
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 0
Standing Committees
Scientific Advisory
Advisory Board / Advisory Council
Governance Comments by Organization

We are a newly formed organization (April 2015) who desires a strong Governance Board. We've just started tapping into our community to align with members that want to be a part of our mission. We started our board with ourselves, the Founder & Co-Founder and a Scientific Advisory Board Chair, Dr. Mark Warner from University of Delaware. We are seeking a Board VP, Board Chair, Lawyer, CPA, and Entrepreneurial Business Strategist to join our team.

We are currently putting together our Scientific Advisory Board and developing many relationships and partnerships with researchers and universities. The SA Board will be the most seamless Board to put together as this is where our strengths lie.

We'll also be seeking a Capital Campaign Committee to help us strategize to acquire our own sailing catamaran, "A Cat for Coral Reefs."

We will be forming a Communications Committee that fuels the media, marketing and outreach SUSiE intends to parallel with the science and exploration.

Additionally, we will also be forming a Mentorship Committee whose talents lay in personal development & career growth capacities. 
Governance Comments by Foundation Organization held only 1 board meeting for 2015.
Fiscal Year Projections
Fiscal Year Begins 2015
Fiscal Year Ends 2016
Projected Revenue $162,000.00
Projected Expenses $119,000.00
Organization has Endowment No
Endowment Spending Policy N/A
Capital Campaign
In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Campaign Dates 0 to 0
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
IRS Form 990s
SUSiE 9902014
Audit/Financial Documents
Historical Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201420132012
Program Expense$84,644----
Administration Expense$5,152----
Fundraising Expense$0----
Payments to Affiliates$0----
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.15----
Program Expense/Total Expenses94%----
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%----
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201420132012
Total Assets$13,327----
Current Assets$2,500----
Long-Term Liabilities$0----
Current Liabilities$0----
Total Net Assets$13,327----
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201420132012
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountProgram Service Revenue $100,623----
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $2,500----
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount0 $0----
CEO/Executive Director Compensation $0 - $50,000
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%----
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization We have successfully run two years of Expeditions at break even. We are now looking to raise salaries via donor expeditions. We hope you consider coming aboard and exploring with us!
Financial Comments by Foundation Financial information taken from 990-EZ.  Contributions include foundation and corporate support.
Nonprofit Science Under Sail Institute for Exploration Inc (dba SUSIE)
Address PO BOX 3715
Phone 941 350-0900