Meet the Team

In 2013, Wendy Schmidt sponsored a two-year global competition to drive radical advances in ocean acidification measurement technology. The teams that competed and the innovative thinking they produced were catalytic to the founding of Schmidt Marine in 2015 — the unlimited potential for innovation in ocean technology was clear, as was the glaring lack of funding to propel it forward. Our team was created to fill that gap.

Thanks to our highly collaborative and partner-centered model, we run a small but effective ship that engages with a wide network of consultants, advisors, and specific sector experts to help us evaluate potential projects for funding, and to help funded groups achieve their goals.

Schmidt Marine Technology Partners is a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation.

Mark is the director of Schmidt Marine. He began his career studying deep-ocean carbon cycling and harmful algal blooms at The College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, after receiving a B.S. in biology from Wake Forest University and an M.S. in chemical oceanography from Florida State University. Later, he spent over a decade working as an ocean-focused writer. Mark’s articles and photos have appeared in Nature, Scientific American, Popular Science, The New York Times and numerous other publications. Mark has worked on over a dozen research vessels on expeditions around the world and is a fellow of the Explorers Club.
Mark Schrope


Erika is the chief technologist at Schmidt Marine. She is an oceanographer, explorer, and evangelist of technology for a healthier ocean, with a Ph.D. in oceanography from Johns Hopkins University. Her past research has involved work with submersibles and unmanned vehicles with a focus on the development of novel, nondestructive methods for studying extreme and remote marine environments. Erika has led cruises to study bioluminescent life forms and test underwater technologies for use at the surface and down to the deepest parts of the ocean. She aims to bridge the gap between diverse stakeholders to create sustainable solutions that leverage the technology driven culture of today to empower the next generation.
Erika Montague, Ph.D.

Chief Technologist

Jake works as a program manager for Schmidt Marine, helping to research, analyze, and support potential solutions to complex ocean health problems. Born and raised in San Francisco, Jake graduated from University of California, Davis with a B.A. in international relations with an environmental emphasis, and a minor in English. He takes point on Schmidt Marine’s fisheries work and enjoys getting extremely blunt feedback from fishermen.
Jake Hanft

Program Manager

Grace works as a program associate for Schmidt Marine. Originally from Pennsylvania, Grace holds a B.S. in biology from Cornell University and is a former Fulbright Fellow to South Korea, where she studied the traditional ecological knowledge of Jeju diving women (haenyeo). She completed her Ph.D. in marine ecology at University of California, Davis, where her thesis focused on the community ecology of eelgrass ecosystems. As a member of the Schmidt Marine team, she is excited about supporting a wide diversity of explorers, innovators, and grassroots organizations in their efforts to create a more sustainable future.
Grace Ha, Ph.D.

Program Associate

Cecilia works as the program assistant for Schmidt Marine. Originally from the Bay Area, she graduated from University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in public health and studied policies regarding social and environmental factors affecting public health. Cecilia has experience working in diverse administrative roles and is excited to support the Schmidt Marine team and grantees in their work solving complex marine conservation issues.
Cecilia Tapia

Program Assistant


Don’t see an answer to your question here? Reach out.

What types of projects and organizations does Schmidt Marine support?

We fund the development of novel technologies that solve ocean problems, with a focus on sustainable fisheries, ocean monitoring, and habitat health. We support a wide range of entities, including academic researchers, business startups, nonprofits and cross-entity partnerships.  We are not currently funding projects related to renewable energy, marine plastic pollution, shipping efficiency, aquaculture, oil-spill clean up, or seasteading. We also do not fund basic scientific research.

What is Schmidt Marine’s intellectual property and equity policy?

Schmidt Marine does not make any claim on the intellectual property of the groups it supports. We fund primarily early-stage development of new technologies through grants and do not take any equity stake in exchange for this support. Our primary interest is in making technologies as widely available as possible, so we are also more than open to exploring open source models.

How can I apply for funding?

We generally accept admissions on a rolling basis. To begin the proposal process, we ask that you send us some basic information and a very short initial description of your project at our Proposal Portal. If your proposal is a potential fit for us, we will follow up to request additional information, including a more detailed proposal. We try to keep the process as simple as possible, so we’re happy to review proposals prepared for other purposes. We send proposals out for external review to our advisory panel, and relevant experts.

What percentage of applications ultimately receive support?

We have supported roughly 10% of reviewed projects to date.

How developed does my tech need to be in order to receive funding?

We are happy to consider technologies in any development stage, but are mostly focused on early-stage development and cannot support basic science. . We typically begin supporting projects when they are in the 2-6 range on the Technology Readiness Level scale.

How long do Schmidt Marine grants last?

Generally, we provide 12-month grants. However, when we decide to support a project, we do so with the intention of helping it achieve scale, and we understand this is often a lengthy process. In most cases we continue to provide support on a year-to-year basis for as long as needed if sufficient progress is made in each grant cycle. As a result, a majority of our grantees have received support from Schmidt Marine for 3 years or more.

Want to Partner With Us?

Learn more about our process and submit your own proposal.

Proposals Portal