Miami Oceans Debates

2024 — Coral Gables, FL/US

Expert Judge Bios:

Laurent Cherubin

Dr. Chérubin is a physical oceanographer specialized in the understanding of ocean dynamics, which is the study of why the water moves the way it moves. It establishes the connection between forces that act on the ocean, such as gravity, the earth’s rotation, the wind, the moon and the heat from the sun, and the water motions. His research has focused on dynamics of motions associated with instabilities in coastal currents and eddies, using both analytical and numerical models in the quasi-geostrophic, shallow-water formalisms, and in realistic models. This research provides a deep understanding of the environmental forces that affect ocean ecosystems at multiples levels of the trophic chain. Both observational analysis and numerical modeling involving hydrodynamic (the Regional Oceanic Modeling System - ROMS) and biophysical models (Connectivity Modeling System - CMS and Ichthyop) are used to study how environmental drivers shape the oceanic ecosystems.

Zac Cosner

Zac Cosner is a Resilience Programs Manager at the City of Miami, FL, where he supports the city’s efforts in increasing resilience to climate change through mitigation measures. Zac is a UM graduate who has spent multiple years working in environmental policy advocacy and implementation as a resilience programs manager for the City of South Miami, a clean energy advocate for Florida Conservation Voters, and an environmental activist working primarily on water quality and growth management issues in Miami Dade County. Zac has a triple major in Biology, Ecosystem Science and Policy, and History from the University of Miami.

Mia L. D'Orazio

Mia is a recent graduate of Florida International University, where she earned her B.Sc. in Biology and minors in Marine Science and Chemistry. She is a marine ecologist, educator, and conservation advocate, currently working for the local nonprofit Miami Waterkeeper. With her strong foundations in the sustainable management of marine protected areas and ecosystem dynamics of the greater Caribbean, Mia hopes to pursue a doctorate studying the physiology and ecology of marine predators. She is a firm believer in the power of education, plans to shape leaders both inside and outside of conventional classrooms, and is particularly intent on increasing experiential learning opportunities for minority students and communities. Mia's interests include hiking, creative writing, language learning, and eating ice cream after a long day in the field!

Dennis A. Hansell

“Dennis A. Hansell is a professor in the Department of Ocean Sciences at the Rosenstiel School. His research interests are in the biogeochemistry of the major elements (such as carbon and nitrogen), primarily conducted by inferring the biological processing of those elements from their spatial and temporal variations. He teaches courses in ocean biogeochemistry at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and mentors graduate students and postdoctoral scientists toward careers as professional scientists.”

Timothy Kirby
Timothy Kirby is a Resilience Programs Manager with the City of Miami, FL where supports the city’s efforts in increasing resilience to climate change through adaptation measures. He is also a PhD Candidate at Florida International University (FIU), where his dissertation research focuses on how climate change impacts institutional responses and real estate markets in Southeast Florida. Tim’s areas of expertise are global environmental change, natural resource economics, social equity and environmental justice, and financing mechanisms for water infrastructure. He has conducted extensive research on these topics throughout the U.S. through the Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN), and internationally, having conducted water quality research in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil and anthropological research of various religious communities in Kenya. Recently, Tim completed a fellowship with the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), where he co-authored a research paper examining climate gentrification across the East Coast of the United States. Tim holds a M.S. in Geosciences from FIU and a B.A. in Sustainable Development from Columbia University.

Marguerite Koch-Rose

Dr. Koch-Rose is a Professor of Biological Science at Florida Atlantic University – she earned her PhD from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School. Her research focuses on nutrient cycling and primary production in tropical marine ecosystems and stressors that influence tropical seagrass, mangrove and algal communities. She is currently focused on climate change effects, including elevated temperature, salinity and pCO2, termed “ocean acidification”, on marine plant and macroalgal communities. Her research approach is to examine stress responses from the physiological to ecological scale, consider species life history, and focus on ecosystem-level indicators of stress, such as hypoxia and eutrophication. She is also interested in biogeochemical changes that destabilize foundation plant communities and thereby influence the sustainability of marine ecosystems. The majority of her work is in shallow tropical carbonate environments (lagoons and reefs) of South Florida, The Bahamas and wider Caribbean. She typically takes an experimental approach to examine alternative hypotheses in mesocosms and field settings.

Toni Lohroff

Toni is currently Education Manager for the International SeaKeepers Society, connecting educators and students of all ages with unique, hands-on marine conservation education experiences through direct interactions with the yachting community. She got her MSC in Animal Biology from the University of California, Davis (Dec 2022) with work focused in conservation aquaculture and larval fish development, where she was also an NSF NRT Sustainable Oceans Graduate Fellow. She got her BSMAS (May 2020) with majors in Marine Science and Biology and minors in Ecosystem Science & Policy and Mathematics from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science with work focused in sustainable aquaculture and phycology

Brian Earle Mapes

BrianMapes is a UM Atmospheric Sciences professor specializing in convective clouds and storms. Atmospheric convection is the most dynamic process in the Earth system, short of life, and shapes every aspect of weather and climate. We are lucky that clouds make it so visible, everywhere on Earth thanks to satellites for decades now, so big data opportunism is really the overarching theme at the heart of Professor Mapes’ career in this area.

Natalia Tohme

Natalia earned her B.A in International Relations and in Geography at the University of Florida, and recently completed her Masters in Climate and Health at the University of Miami. Her studies focused on water insecurity, climate refugees, and community health policy. As a Miami native, she is passionate about her hometown and advocating for preserving its unique natural environment and its vibrant culture. She is currently working as a liaison for the U.S Department of State and as an Education and Outreach Assistant at Miami Waterkeeper.

Full Invitation Available -->

Topic Statement Available -->

The University of Miami Debate Team and the UM School of Communication invite you to the Miami Oceans Debates, a civic debate style tournament to be held on March 23-24, 2024.


An international ban on ocean iron fertilization ought to be implemented.


The Oceans Debates are an intercollegiate civic debate education program intended to be consistent with the aims of the Civic Debate Consortium.

The debates will be public in style with a goal of attracting media attention and local participation. The format and approach, therefore, is designed to be suitable for a public audience and accessible to student debaters regardless of experience. Persuasive delivery style and appropriate argument selection for non-expert audiences will be rewarded. To this end, we will use the format originated by the Lafayette Debates and adopted by the Social Justice Debates, a hybrid between intercollegiate policy and parliamentary formats, and very accessible for audience debates.

Students will compete in teams of two debaters each. Teams will be assigned to affirm or negate the topic, with each team representing the affirmative in two debates and the negative in two debates.

Each speaker will give one 6-minute speech, be cross examined for 4 minutes, and cross examine an opposing debater for 4 minutes. In addition, one speaker for each team will also give a 6-minute closing rebuttal:

1st Affirmative 6 Minutes

Cross examination by 2nd Negative Speaker, 4 minutes

1st Negative 6 minutes

Cross examination by 1st Affirmative Speaker, 4 minutes

2nd Affirmative 6 minutes

Cross examination by 1st Negative Speaker, 4 minutes

2nd Negative 6 minutes

Cross examination by 2nd Affirmative Speaker, 4 minutes

2 minutes of preparation time

Affirmative Rebuttal 6 minutes

2 minutes of preparation time

Negative Rebuttal 6 minutes

Tentative Schedule

Saturday, March 23, 2024

9:00 Registration, Breakfast, Mandatory Judge and Competitor Briefing

9:30 Round I

11:15 Round II

Lunch (provided by UM)

1:30 Round III

3:30 Round IV

5:30 Quarterfinals

Sunday, March 24, 2024

9:30 Breakfast

10:00 Semifinals

12:00 Finals

1:30 Presentation of Awards


You must provide 2 rounds of judging per team entered.

Community Judging: While the judges supplied by the tournament participants will serve as the judges for the preliminary debates, we plan to recruit content area experts, ocean and environmental educators, activists and professionals, and others interested in the issues of aquaculture and ocean health and/or public advocacy and public speaking to serve as the judges for the semifinal and final rounds.


Fees will be $50 per person (for all debaters, coaches, judges and observers) to defray the cost of awards, rooms, breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, lunch on Saturday, and snacks

If the fees and/or judging requirements create a hardship for you, please communicate with David Steinberg ( about your situation asap. We want you to be able to participate and will work with you.

A credit card portal will be available for payment.


We will not be arranging a block, however, you may secure UM rates at local hotels through the University Travel Site.

You must select “Leisure Hotel Rates” and create a Deem login if you do not have one already (it is free). The rates we saw were cheaper than booking directly with the hotels.

Please make your reservations as soon as possible, this is Miami. For convenience, we recommend these hotels:

AC Hotel Dadeland

Aloft Miami Dadeland

Courtyard Marriott Dadeland

Miami Marriott Dadeland

Four Points by Sheraton Coral Gables

Hampton Inn by Hilton Coconut Grove


A semifinal round and the final round of the 2023 Oceans Debates on the aquaculture topic are available on the UM Debate YouTube page.