Oceans of Opportunity

meet Michael Lombardi

Michael is a diving contractor and technologist by trade, built upon an education in marine science and more than 20 years of ‘mud diving’ inshore in ‘the Ocean State’. Michael’s ongoing undersea work spans both academic and industry sectors – affording crossed platform approaches to underwater problem solving. His role is often literally ‘beneath the surface’ – undertaking a variety of program management and creative development responsibilities.

His creation of ‘Ocean Opportunity Inc.’, a 501(c)3 not for profit organization, has afforded the vehicle to apply his grassroots model for business and exploration to many projects. One notable success includes the Diving a Dream Project (2004-2007) which was aired on NBC’s Today Show in January 2007.

Michael has held several appointments in institutional diving safety including interim/Diving Safety Officer for NOAA’s Caribbean Marine Research Center (1999-2006), interim Diving Safety Officer (2011-2012) for the University of Rhode Island, and a contract position (2009-2014) as Diving Safety Officer for the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. He is a lifetime member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), the Marine Technology Society (MTS), and the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA).

Michael has stood out as a leader in the community since 1997 as a Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership (HOBY) award recipient, followed with being recognized as one of Rhode Island’s ’40 Under 40′ (2007) by the Providence Business News, and being awarded the 2014 MTS Young Professionals Award. In 2021, he was among the inaugural class to be awarded the distinguished Chartered Marine Technologist (CMarTech) title under royal charter through MTS/IMarEst.

Currently, Michael holds an appointment as Co-Chairperson of the Marine Technology Society’s Diving Committee, and guest edited their 2013 MTS Special Issue on Diving Technology & Techniques. His program development efforts in deep human scientific exploration of the mesophotic realm in the Bahamas have resulted in multiple funding awards through the National Geographic Society‘s Waitt Grants Program. Evolutions of this work remain a priority, with the ‘Bahama Deep’ project providing the experimental test platform for numerous related ventures.

2012 marked the groundbreaking of the ‘Lombardi Undersea Resource Center’ in Rhode Island, to provide a physical home for Michael’s entrepreneurial undersea exploits, with an emphasis on research and development of advanced manned diving systems. This venture has commercialized several niche products. In 2013, Michael was invited by the JF White Contracting Co. to participate in the first training program on the Nuytco Research Ltd. Exosuit Atmospheric Diving System. At LURC, work is underway on portable habitation systems as well as custom rebreather solutions for complex diving operations. Related research & development remains a focal point of work carried at at LURC.

In 2020, Michael pivoted his diving technology expertise to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. In collaboration with Subsalve USA, he supported the development and launch of the Subsalve Oxygen Treatment Hood which was approved for emergency use by the FDA and is in wide use as a non-invasive ventilation solution to help reduce required intubations. The project aims to make an impact in low and middle income communities.

Michael has maintained a consistent and award winning (2nd Place Science/Environment RI Press Association 2008) publication record, including a syndicated Blog, ‘a New Life in the Sea’. His work has been featured on local and national media outlets, including National Geographic, Discovery+, NBC’s Today Show, and numerous others.

Michael persistently focuses on making strides in encouraging a greater public understanding and appreciation of the next cultural, social, and evolutionary steps for our species – improving the human condition and presence to, from, and within the sea.