Advisory Board

Our film festival leadership created this festival so you could enjoy meaningful stories and learn more about our underwater world through film.

Michele Hoffman Trotter has been enthusiastically diving for over thirty years. She combines her background in science, art, and law as a faculty member of Columbia College, School of the Art Institute, and Roosevelt University and is the Creator/Director of the film project Microcosm. Michele's articles and award winning photography have appeared in international publications including Playboy.

Jennifer Idol is a designer, author, and underwater photographer recognized as a PADI® Ambassadiver (2017 and 2018) and a member of the Ocean Artists Society. Her photography and articles have been published in periodicals such as DIVER, SCUBA Diving, and Alert Diver. She earned more than 29 certifications. She began a quest to document American waters in her book An American Immersion and became the first woman to dive in all 50 states.

Lynn Funkhouser is an internationally published photographer, author, lecturer, ocean advocate, adventuress, and leader in dive travel. She specializes in underwater, nature, travel, and environmental images. She has been diving & photographing in the Philippines 2 to 3 months a year, every year, since 1975, diving over 264 islands. Lynn was a consultant on the John G. Shedd Aquarium of Chicago’s spectacular permanent WILD REEF exhibit. Lynn was inducted into the inaugural Women Divers Hall of Fame, 2000. As an environmentalist, Lynn is committed to making a difference on this planet through her images and presentations.

Alex Rose is the Science Editor for Ocean Geographic Magazine, and the Managing Editor for Ocean Geographic Explorers. Alex is also a professional photographer, violinist, Explorers Club Fellow, PADI Divemaster, and lover of all things aquatic. She founded ocean conservation company, Blue Ring, at the beginning of 2017 in an effort to create a new method of ocean conservation accessible to and inclusive of everyone. Her driving goal is to find ways to protect our world’s precious marine habitats through diving, writing, photography, education, and research.

Cheryl Wickstrom grew up in the Chicago suburbs, but relocated to the Treasure Coast of Florida in 2017 for better access to year-round diving. She has been a certified scuba diver since 1995, and a PADI Divemaster since 2005. Cheryl has worked locally to help protect Florida waters, sharks, and other local wildlife. Most recently, she worked with a small group of volunteers and the FWC to create new 'shark smart' shore-based fishing regulations and to protect the Blue Heron Bridge dive site. She is a Manager at Deloitte Consulting, and spends her free time helping others connect with our oceans. As a former educator, she is thrilled to contribute to the conservation community.

Michael Caplan is an independent film director, producer and educator. He has directed and produced documentary and fiction feature films in Chicago for the last 25 years. Caplan is an Associate Professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department at Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches documentary and narrative film production as well as creative producing classes.

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We'd like to thank DocYourWorld, Columbia College Chicago, the Department of Cinema and Television Arts at Columbia College Chicago, the Department of Science and Mathematics at Columbia College Chicago, and Microcosm for helping us create a professional and inspirational event that's accessible to the public.

Without their support, we wouldn't be able to bring you this exclusive dive into our underwater world.