Our Staffs

Aeon Bashir

Founder, Chief Krill

Aeon is a 7 year old young man, who has been passionate about ocean and marine animals since he was 2 years old. He perceives himself being the voice and an avid advocate for ocean and its creatures. His favorites are whales, dolphins, and otters. It all started laying on an ocean themed play-mat as a baby. As a baby, he has always been looking, squealing and babbling at the ocean creatures in the play-mat, especially a stuffed dolphin and octopus (having a conversation?). His interest and thirst in learning more about oceans and marine animals grew along with him.

Living in the Midwest far from the coast, did not stop Aeon from wondering and exploring about oceans. It actually made him more curious - how everything is connected, how oceans impacts people in-land, how much people inland affect marine ecosystems etc., He has been on multiple whale watching tours, beach clean-ups and has attended marine conservation meetings. As his parents, the learning we have been doing along with him about marine ecosystems amazed us and taught us how wonderful the ocean and its creatures are, why oceans are important to life on earth and how critical role we play in its conservation! As Aeon learned about ocean and marine life, he started sharing his learnings with his family, friends and teachers. He also began making presentations at schools about whales, dolphins, sharks, endangered marine species and sustainable seafood.

Menaka Nagarajan

Co-Founder, Executive Director

Menaka oversees the governance of Aeon for Ocean. She is also involved in communication and outreach for Krill2Whale™ program. She has been instrumental in connecting with Marine Biologists, Scientists, various schools and communities on the educational programs.

Growing up by the ocean, though she was once part of the problem without realization, she strongly believes it's time to give back and strives to be a part of the solution by raising awareness to protect them. The knowledge she has gained over the last several years has made her amaze how wonderful ocean and its creatures are, importance of healthy marine ecosystem and the critical role humans play towards its conservation.

She is a computer engineer and has been in various roles in IT industry. She has been volunteering at Save the Water™ managing technology team and in local schools through various educational programs.

Bashir Ahmed

Co-Founder, Director of Operations

Bashir oversees the development and operations of Aeon for Ocean. His business acumen and technical expertise has proven valuable in Aeon for Ocean initiative. He has been the driving force behind upbringing of Aeon for Ocean's organizational entity, forging partnerhip with organizations alike, online presence, etc. He always has been an avid advocate of investing in science and engineering.

Professionally and personally has been involved in various aspects of business development & technology for years and passionate about STEM education. He continues learning about marine life & ecosystem and has been studying about marine habitats and ocean conservation for past several years and believes "it is about knowing and recognizing that we are part of everything, and everything is a part of us - We are One"

Kaitlyn Martinez

Marine Educator

Kaitlyn is an educator at the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City, California. She spends her days teaching students of all ages about the San Francisco Bay and all of its inhabitants. At MSI, Kaitlyn encourages hands-on learning, which often includes handling scientific equipment, touching sharks and bat rays, playing with mud, and exploring the Bay on a 90-foot research vessel named the Robert G. Brownlee. The San Francisco Bay is connected to the Pacific Ocean, which means its conservation is key in protecting our oceans. An Ecology graduate from University of California, Santa Cruz, Kaitlyn is most passionate about the beaches she grew up loving and spent her college career studying. She adores marine mammals of all kinds, but in light of environmental stressors such as climate change and overpopulation, has been focusing more on the big picture. Kaitlyn firmly believes that conservation of all kinds starts in the classroom, first with our students knowing about all the amazing wildlife that exists in this world, so they can be inspired to begin brainstorming ways in which they can protect it.

Priyanka Singhal

Fundraising Lead

"With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you're connected to the sea" - Sylvia Earle
Priyanka is an ex-Banking professional with an experience of reviewing and lending to over 300 business and trust loan applications. She strongly believes in the cause of water conservation and its propagation especially through school children. She has worked on corporate, federal and academic grants in the past as a Fundraising Manager for a US based NGO focused on Water Crisis. She is an MBA in Finance and is currently pursuing MS in Business Analytics from the University of Minnesota.

Ann Johnson

Music Director

Ann Johnson, music director of "The Krills" band is Aeon's piano teacher. With a degree in Music Education from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, she has taught music K-12 and has been a church music director. She is currently directing two Handbell Choirs and a Sunday School children's choir, teaching a preschool music class and giving piano and guitar lessons. With a life long commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle, "Working to lessen pollution is right up my alley!"

Bharkavi Ajaikumar

Social Media Lead

Bharkavi is an information technology professional, who is passionate about conserving nature and learning about oceans and preserving it. She has been promoting and sharing her knowledge and observation on marine life and ocean conservation in social media for years. She believes that the world doesn't exist without water and we have responsibility to save oceans and protect it. She strongly believes in nurturing the younger generation in protecting the marine habitat, importance of water and empower them to take action on issues instead of just learning and talking about it. She has been playing various leadership roles in software industry for past 11 years and holds a bachelor degree in Information Technology.

Alexia Raynal

Grant Writing Lead

Alexia is a social science researcher and educator with extensive experience promoting the development of digital literacies for under-resourced communities across formal and informal learning settings. Her professional career has focused on creating scaffolded educational curricula for classroom use, mentoring youth, and implementing grant-supported education programs and research projects that leverage digital technologies for learning. Alexia grew up near the Samalayuca Desert, where images of an ancient body of water flowing through the now-deserted sand dunes filled her imagination. Such images, combined with Herman Melville's detailed descriptions of cetaceans, continually inspire Alexia to raise awareness of marine life and ocean preservation.

Eva Mateo Martinez

Educational Advisor (Spanish)

Throughout Europe and her hometown of Seville, Eva has always held positions demanding fluency in multiple languages. Currently, Eva teaches Spanish at The Blake School in downtown Minneapolis. Prior to Blake, Eva taught Spanish and French classes at the International School of Minnesota and Twin Cities Academy. She promoted Spanish food and culture at international culinary shows throughout Europe while also leading historical and cultural tours of Seville.

Growing up with both the Mediterranean and Atlantic nearby, Eva has always felt an emotional connection to our splendid bodies of water.

Carlyn Iverson

Scientific Illustrator

For three decades Carlyn has worked as a creative professional bringing art and science together. After graduating from the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences with a Bachelor of Science Degree, Carlyn worked in the Biomedical Graphics Department of the University of Minnesota Hospitals learning skills of the medical illustration profession.

She is working as an Illustrator/Designer for the Climate Program Office of NOAA under the Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Division and also have been working with the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos on ocean conservation. Carlyn has over 20 years of experience in scientific/medical illustration, 3-D illustration and animation, Video, ZBrush modeling, 3-D diorama design and fabrication.

Carlyn has held a wide range of freelance contracts for organizations such as the Minnesota Zoological Gardens creating illustration work for several major new exhibits, illustrations of tropical insects for a traveling exhibit designed by Outhouse Exhibits Design firm, wild orchid models for Maltbie Design firm, and for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources developing over 200 illustrations for the state-wide school curriculum package called MNAqua. This award winning curriculum and art package brings the freshwater ecology of Minnesota directly to the students of the state to increase awareness of water as a valuable and intrinsic resource in Minnesota's environment and it's value to people.

She has also worked with Taser International, Kongsberg Submarines, and institutions such as the National Institute of Health, the University of Vermont, National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. One of her most recent project was designing of exhibits for the Charles Darwin Exhibition Hall in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, which opened in June 2016.