Brijonnay Madrigal is pursuing a Ph.D. in Marine Biology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, under the advisement of Dr. Aude Pacini and Dr. Lars Bejder. For her dissertation research, she will be using passive acoustic monitoring techniques, to quantify and characterize the acoustic behavior of Hawaiian resident odontocete species and assess the effects of anthropogenic noise on their acoustic behavior in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Anthropogenic noise continues to significantly impact marine species and marine mammals are particularly vulnerable to noise as they rely on acoustics for echolocation and communication. Species of high risk in Hawai‘i, such as false killer whales, are of particular concern, due to threats from long-line fisheries. Brijonnay's dissertation work will improve our understanding of the impacts of noise on odontocete vocal repertoires and rates, compare two protected areas with varying levels of anthropogenic noise, and ultimately inform management within protected areas in the Hawaiian archipelago.
Brijonnay earned a B.S. in Marine Biology and a B.A. in Communication from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She then attended Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (California State Monterey Bay) where she earned her M.S. in Marine Science and conducted her thesis work on killer whale acoustics. She developed a vocal catalog of killer whale calls from the Chukchi Sea and identified ecotype presence in collaboration with the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center Marine Mammal Lab. During her time at Moss Landing Marine Labs, Brijonnay conducted a field study on Risso's dolphin acoustics in Monterey Bay and served as a researcher on a NOAA Fisheries Ecology Division project to assess rockfish behavioral and acoustic responses to survey vehicle noise in the Channel Islands.
In addition to marine mammal research, Brijonnay is also very passionate about science education and served as the Volunteer Coordinator and educator at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center during graduate school. Inspired by her work at the Sanctuary Exploration Center, she developed an interactive program called "Listen Up!" where she went into classrooms and taught K-12 students about marine mammals and sounds in the ocean. As a Nancy Foster scholar, Brijonnay seeks to build upon the "Listen Up!" program and provide students with the opportunity to learn about the ocean through hands-on experiences. Her goal is to foster an appreciation of the ocean by highlighting the importance of protected areas and emphasizing the need for ocean conservation efforts through marine mammal education.
Sarah Hutchinson is pursuing a Master's degree in Marine Science from Hawai`i Pacific University. Her research focuses on using Wedge-tailed Shearwaters as indicators of ecologically important areas and processes in the waters within and surrounding Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Seabirds are proven ecosystem sentinels, and their movements and behaviors are useful for evaluating changing conditions and the design of Marine Protected Areas. The goals of her research include mapping Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas, areas of high wildlife overlap with fishing vessel use, and potential zones of marine debris aggregation around the Main Hawaiian Islands.
Tamara Russell is pursuing a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. Her research will focus on seabird habitat use within the California Current, specifically understanding how West Coast national marine sanctuaries capture areas that are important for seabird foraging. She is also interested in using long-term datasets to understand how seabird communities have changed over time and in response to shifts in prey availability. Seabirds are important members of the marine ecosystem and can serve as valuable indicators of ecosystem health. Research on seabird habitat use and how this may change in the future is vital to our understanding of whole ecosystem health and food web dynamics, as well as the conservation of resident populations. She is also passionate about outreach, education, and mentorship to encourage underrepresented students to get involved in STEM, and is excited to increase involvement in these activities as a Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar.
Alexandra M. Avila is a Fisheries Ph.D. candidate at Oregon State University's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Her research will examine the effects of oceanographic processes, particularly nearshore currents and upwelling patterns, on the dispersal of larval rockfish (Sebastes spp.) and the effectiveness of marine protected areas along the Oregon and Washington coast, including Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. For this she will determine if larvae contribute to population stock and genetic diversity of the marine reserves and whether there is a detectable spillover effect into the surrounding non-reserve areas; she will also help in the development of oceanography-based larval dispersal models and recommendations for the use of oceanographic data to improve the design and formation of future marine reserves.
Ms. Avila graduated with a B.A. in Biology from Hood College in Maryland, with two minors: Coastal Studies and Environmental Science and Policy. She obtained a M.Sc. in Ecology at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. Her M.Sc. thesis research was on the Genetic Diversity and Conservation of the Misty Grouper (Hyporthodus mytacinus) in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. She worked with the Galapagos National Park, Galapagos Marine Reserve, the Galapagos fishermen and local NGOs to help coordinate efforts for the conservation and proper management of the H. mystacinus.
Because of her great love of everything having to do with aquatic environments, Ms. Avila has worked and carried out research in diverse coastal communities around the United States and Ecuador, including the ocean, rivers and mangroves. Alex also realizes the importance of and is committed to the outreach and education of local coastal communities that depend on the ocean's resources. She seeks to be part of an effort to help conserve fisheries for upcoming generation while maintaining our ocean's ecosystems at healthy levels and educating these future generations in ways to help improve the quality of our ocean and the state of our fisheries. Ms. Avila believes that it is a common misconception that conservationists, scientist and fishermen must forever be embattled over “to fish or not to fish.” Rather, she believes that we have a common goal: to ensure the best practices so that this source of livelihood and cultural heritage does not decline over time, so that our descendants may enjoy and benefit from it too.
Angela R. Szesciorka is a Biological Oceanography Ph.D. candidate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. For her dissertation, she plans to study the vocalization and foraging behavior of fin, blue, and humpback whales using archival kinematic acoustic tags. She will also characterize the received levels of ship noise and study the potential impacts of ship noise on whale behavior. Her research will help improve management strategies for these endangered marine mammals, specifically to reduce the risk of ship strike within the four National Marine Sanctuaries off California.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Duquesne University, Ms. Szesciorka moved to California to combine her love of writing with her love of the ocean. She earned her master’s degree in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in 2015. For her master’s thesis, she partnered with Cascadia Research, and with funding from the Office of Naval Research, they developed a new tag attachment that would allow for longer-term archival tagging studies. She used these tags to study humpback whale dive behavior and behavioral response to close approaches by large commercial vessels. Manuscripts from her research are in review, and the findings have been presented at NMS Advisory Council Meetings and Marine Shipping Working Group meetings.
After earing her master’s degree, Ms. Szesciorka went on to work as a research biologist for Cascadia Research, where she studies grey whale foraging in Puget Sound and the diel movement patterns of blue whales in Southern California. Ms. Szesciorka is passionate about marine mammal ecology and communicating science to broad audiences. She is interested in learning more about the intersection of science, policy, and management and hopes to work for a government agency such as NOAA, to combine rigorous scientific research with conservation.
Carina Fish is a geology doctoral student in the Hill biogeochemistry lab group at UC Davis' Bodega Marine Laboratory. There, she studies deep-sea corals to unlock the stories they hold of modern and past oceanographic change. As she seeks to understand how humans are impacting the ocean (and in particular, the waters below the surface), her dissertation work tracks human-induced changes to the deep-sea by looking at the chemical composition of coral skeletons, their food source, and the water itself. Corals record in their skeletons the environment in which they grew and the food they ate, thus they are excellent recorders of changes to the water they are bathed in and any changes to their food source that lives at the surface. Specifically, Carina seeks to quantify the perturbation of ocean acidification, deoxygenation, and changes in temperature to deep-sea communities in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California.
Carina’s research will help inform the management of new deep-water habitat from the 2015 expansion in Cordell Bank sanctuary. As a Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar, Carina is excited to engage underrepresented students by building their own water profiler to promote the next generation of marine stewards. She will also develop learning modules centered on her research to help illuminate the depths of the ocean and make Cordell Bank, an offshore sanctuary, more accessible.
Prior to the University of California Davis, Carina worked at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in the Hönisch paleoceanography group where she researched the vital effects of foraminifera, specifically the photosynthesis of their algal symbionts. In 2013, Carina received her A.B. from Harvard College. She credits the Langmuir group at Harvard for introducing her to the toolset of geochemistry, and her semester at The Island School for her love of the ocean. A champion of environmental justice, Carina is passionate about science communication and delights in its creativity. Carina admires the environmental justice work of Dr. Robert Bullard, and aspires to have a career like that of Dr. Jane Lubchenco. She thanks her undergraduate thesis advisor Dr. Andrew Knoll and her parents and sister for their continued support. Having previously worked as a dive master, Carina enjoys scuba diving, and when not at sea or in the lab, she can be found dancing lindy hop in Golden Gate Park.
Elise Keister is pursuing a Ph.D. in Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she is advised by Dr. Dustin Kemp. Elise's research interest focuses on the impact warming ocean waters will have on foundational coral species in the tropics, which has become imperative with the increase of global bleaching events. Reef-building corals have endosymbiotic micro-algae, family Symbiodiniaceae, and rely on sugars produced by these algae as their primary energy source. This symbiosis is disrupted under environmental stress, such as temperature increase of only 1-2°C above mean maximum seawater temperatures. Unfortunately, ocean water warmed by climate change has catalyzed the widespread breakdown of coral-algal symbiosis, resulting in large scale bleaching events. Though this breakdown can have lasting ecological consequences, some coral populations may be able to enhance stress tolerance by utilizing resilience mechanisms.
The goal of Elise's dissertation is to determine (1) thermal tolerance mechanisms utilized by nearshore coral populations in the Florida Key National Marine Sanctuary to resist bleaching events and (2) the evolutionary tradeoffs for offshore coral populations in Florida Keys sanctuary that can host thermally tolerant micro-algae. The importance of identifying susceptible coral populations and resilience mechanisms of thermally tolerant coral populations is vital to informing policy and restoration efforts to ensure the persistence of these coral populations into the next century. As a Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar, Elise is excited to continue participating in local impact science, where she engages students, particularly students underrepresented in S.T.E.M. fields, by leading hands-on activities, utilizing the scientific method, so students can understand how climate change is influencing the physiology and ecology of coral reef ecosystems.
While earning a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami, Elise learned about the challenges facing coral reefs and witnessed reef degradation first hand in South Florida and in the Florida Keys. Following graduation, Elise worked as a research associate in the Early Life History Unit at NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center, to aid in the damage assessment effort following the Deep-Water Horizon Oil Spill. Since graduating, her desire to make a positive impact on coral reef ecosystems ultimately led her back to the Florida Keys. Elise obtained hands-on experience as an intern at Mote Marine Lab where she studied physiological responses of Caribbean corals to thermal stress, which led her to meet her advisor. Elise strives to incorporate science communication and local impact science into her research, to help bridge the gap between climate scientists and the public.
Erin Arneson is pursuing a master's degree in Biology at Georgia Southern University under the advisement of Dr. Daniel Gleason. Her research revolves around the impacts of ocean acidification on benthic invertebrates specifically in the temperate live bottom reef system of coastal Georgia. Ocean acidification is the reduction of seawater pH due to absorption of atmospheric CO2. Coastal systems can be subjected to considerably greater CO2 influxes than the rest of the ocean resulting from terrestrial runoff and coastal carbon cycles. A seafloor CO2 sensor at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary off of coastal Georgia has recorded this seasonal CO2 influx resulting in summer pH levels as low as 7.8. The primary branching coral species found at Gray’s Reef is Oculina arbuscula, providing spatial refuge for many invertebrates and larval fishes. So far, the Gleason lab has discovered the hardiness of this coral in experiments to ocean acidification and temperature stress separate. However, the combined stressors negatively impacted calcification rates. Understanding how O. arbuscula will be impacted in an age of anthropogenic change is important for the management and assessment of ecosystem health. Erin will be investigating how, as a facultative symbiont, O. arbuscula responds to low pH with and without symbiotic algae present.
Erin learned about the delicate balance of natural ecosystems at a young age in rural Wisconsin, becoming determined to use her education towards helping research and conservation. She earned her B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife at the University of Minnesota. Erin was involved in undergraduate research and was a presenter/bird handler with The Raptor Center. A field course during undergrad studying humpback whales in Hawai`i, under Dr. Marsha Green of Albright College, left her wanting to explore more opportunities in marine science. Following graduation, Erin interned at Savannah State University assisting in bottlenose dolphin surveys and then at UGA’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Erin worked as a laboratory assistant under both Dr. Marc Frischer and Dr. Jay Brandes, while also composing a review on ocean acidification for the Nature Conservancy. Now, in her master’s program, Erin strives to incorporate not only the national marine sanctuary’s values of conservation and ecosystem resilience, but also increasing sanctuary engagement by education. Encouraged by her family, Erin seeks a career where she can work with the public and fellow marine scientists. She is excited to begin this endeavor with Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary.
Grace Casselberry is pursuing a Ph.D. in Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she is co-advised by Dr. Andy Danlychuk and Dr. Greg Skomal. Her dissertation explores the applications of telemetry techniques to incorporate spatial ecology into fisheries management and conservation. Her research is focused mainly on large coastal shark species. With the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship, she will study predator-prey dynamics between two shark species, bull and great hammerhead sharks, and Atlantic tarpon in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In the Florida Keys, tarpon are the focus of an economically valuable recreational fishery, which is almost exclusively catch and release. However, there are increasing concerns among fishing guides regarding negative tarpon and shark interactions, particularly depredation events, the consumption of the angled fish while it is still on the line. This angling induced mortality is unaccounted for in the management of the tarpon fishery and could have significant long-term effects on tarpon abundance. Grace will use acoustic telemetry to characterize the movements of both tagged sharks and tarpon in the Florida Keys to identify potential drivers behind these predator-prey interactions. She will also design and implement an angler survey to quantify depredation rates. Grace will complement research done in the Florida Keys with her ongoing research in the United States Virgin Islands, using used both satellite and acoustic telemetry to quantify the movements, habitat selection, and residency of lemon, nurse, Caribbean reef, and tiger sharks, in Buck Island Reef National Monument, a marine protected area in St. Croix.
Prior to starting graduate school in 2015, Grace worked as the field technician for two fishery independent population abundance surveys run by the NOAA – NMFS laboratory in Panama City, Florida. As part of the GulfSPAN survey, she conducted sampling of multiple elasmobranch species, focusing on pupping and nursery areas in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The second survey focused on endangered species research as part of the Smalltooth Sawfish Population Abundance Survey, conducted in and around Everglades National Park. She also worked as an intern for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, where she studied white shark movements in three-dimensional space via video footage collected by SharkCam, an autonomous underwater vehicle developed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Grace is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she earned her B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with a minor in Marine Biology in 2013. As a student at UConn, Grace developed her interest in fisheries as an undergraduate researcher with Dr. Eric Schultz, studying the effects of the zebra mussel invasion on early life stage striped bass and river herring in the Hudson River.
Jenna Hartley is a PhD student in the Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Management department at North Carolina State University. As both a social and environmental scientist, Jenna thinks about how people can be both the cause of and the solution to many environmental challenges. As a former classroom science teacher for almost a decade, she is particularly interested in the roles that young people play in creating solutions. Under the advisement of Dr. Kathryn Stevenson, Jenna's research examines the role of students as environmental change-agents in their communities, specifically on the topic of marine debris, or plastic pollution.
Emerging research from Jenna’s lab at NC State supports the idea that education for kids “trickles up” from students to adults via a concept called intergenerational learning. Jenna is working to train dozens of 4th and 5th grade teachers in a marine debris curriculum developed by the Duke University Marine Lab Community Science program. Several thousand students will spend a year learning about marine debris, participating in an international citizen-science trash clean-up, and sharing what they learn with their parents, community members, and local officials through community outreach events. Jenna’s research will measure impacts on students, as well as the adults in the community who have interacted with the project through the students. The hopes and hypotheses are that the program will: 1) help students learn more about marine debris and become interested in STEM; 2) inspire adults and local officials to engage with the science that the students present; and 3) bring together local communities to address marine debris. You can follow along as teachers and students participate in the project under the hashtag #eedebris on Twitter.
Jenna is a fierce advocate for education as a form of empowerment, especially as it pertains to environmental grand challenges. Her passions for learning, teaching, and the environment were cultivated at Beloit College, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Environmental Geology. She went on to obtain an MS in Secondary Science Education from CUNY-Lehman College as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program, and an MS in Environmental Sciences & Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to enrolling at NC State, Jenna worked as a Fellow at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she developed K-16 environmental education materials based on the geospatial decision-making tool, EnviroAtlas. She continues to work at the EPA part-time and demonstrate the EnviroAtlas materials to teachers and students across the country.
In her spare time, Jenna volunteers as the student seat on the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council and enjoys spending time outdoors with her growing family in her hometown of Hillsborough, North Carolina.
Kate Hewett is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Davis, and resident at the Bodega Marine Laboratory. Her research interests revolve around understanding how physics impacts important chemical and biological processes of coastal upwelling systems and adjacent resources. Coastal upwelling supports highly productive ecosystems around the world, e.g. the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, and it is a key feature of the five west coast National Marine Sanctuaries. Upwelling of deep waters poses risks as well as benefits. It provides nutrient-rich waters, which support productivity, but also causes nearshore shoaling of oxygen-poor, acidic waters, which can stress ecosystems. An added layer of complexity is introduced with climate change, as a loss of ocean oxygen content, deoxygenation, has been identified as a primary consequence of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, alongside ocean acidification and rising seawater temperature. Plus, an increase in the extent and severity of hypoxia has been observed in environments that were previously well oxygenated. These changes are observed along the U.S. west coast, with oxygen decline and shoaling of the hypoxic boundary documented in the Pacific Northwest and southern California. However, there has been comparatively limited research on dissolved oxygen content and variability off northern California, in the central California Current System. As a Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar, Kate’s dissertation research will use a combination of field observations and modeling to better understand dissolved oxygen levels and the extent, timing and driving mechanisms of hypoxia off northern California, which includes the Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries.
Raised in Micronesia, Kate’s connection with the ocean developed at a young age and grew into a desire to pursue a Ph.D. and become a coastal oceanographer. She has a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering, both interspersed by industry experience. Kate believes education and communication are important tools to address climate change. This motivates her to distill and share results and knowledge gained with scientists in other fields and the non-scientific public.
Nury Molina will be pursuing a Ph.D. in the Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology department at the University of California, Santa Barbara beginning Fall 2019 where she will be advised by Dr. Deron Burkepile. Her research will explore the role of herbivorous fish in promoting coral reef resilience. Many disturbed coral reefs have shifted from coral to algal-dominated states due to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. In intact reef systems, herbivorous fishes can control the accumulation of algae which facilitates coral recovery. However, the degree to which algal phase shifts are stabilized or reversed is poorly understood, which creates challenges for implementing effective measures in reef management. Nury’s research will elucidate the dynamics of herbivorous fishes and whether their foraging behavior can continue to support coral reef resilience. Nury will complement her research on coral reefs in the American Samoa and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale national marine sanctuaries with reefs in Mo’orea, French Polynesia to compare herbivory pressure in protected and non-protected areas. This information is critical for informing policy and management to make optimal decisions for sustaining healthy coral reefs.
Prior to beginning graduate school, Nury completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she worked in Dr. Peggy Fong’s lab with Shayna Sura examining the preferences of herbivorous fish species for different macroalgal species in Mo’orea. As an undergraduate researcher in The Diversity Project with Dr. Paul Barber, Dr. Peggy Fong, and Dr. Caitlin Fong, Nury studied different methods used to conduct herbivory assays in coral reefs, which developed her interests in coral reef ecology.
Vanessa ZoBell is pursuing a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the Whale Acoustic Lab with Dr. John Hildebrand. For her dissertation, she will be quantifying noise pollution produced from ships in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Ship noise in the ocean significantly contributes to the underwater soundscape and can impact fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals that use sound for navigating, habitat selection, mating, and communication. In response to the concerns of intense maritime shipping on marine organisms, Vanessa will be working with Channel Islands sanctuary staff and the “Blue Whales & Blue Skies” group to investigate how to best reduce ship noise in underwater soundscapes. By measuring the received levels and source levels produced from different types of ships travelling at different speeds, this research will shed light on the variables contributing the most to anthropogenic noise produced from ships. Vanessa hopes to give policy makers a tool for regulating how we can minimize ship noise in national marine sanctuaries.
While receiving her B.S. degree in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology from the University of California, Davis, Vanessa solidified her passion for conservation biology and acoustics by conducting acoustic research with birds, geckos, whales, and pinnipeds. At UC Davis, Vanessa traveled to high schools in the greater Sacramento area to introduce students to volunteering opportunities in conservation biology. Vanessa will continue working with high school students to spread awareness about Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and the complex dynamic of the protected area and intense anthropogenic stressors that it faces. Additionally, she will be partnering with the non-profit organization “California Ocean Alliance” to aid in teaching high school students enrolled in the scientist-in-training summer camp.
When she’s not analyzing spectrograms in the Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab, you can find Vanessa volunteering with The Wildlife Society, hiking, baking, and doing yoga.
Mrs. Fusaro completed her doctorate in Biological Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/ Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. Her research focused on host-symbiont specificity, co-evolution, and population connectivity between the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Central Indian Ridge. Using her research, Mrs. Fusaro wants to forge international relations with the mid-ocean ridge scientific community at integrated study sites and use her training in ecology and evolutionary biology to direct research endeavors across marine disciplines.
Ms. Lang is currently pursuing her doctorate in Marine Biology at the University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California. Ms lang has had an interest in nature conservation since childhood. She would like to become a scientist specializing in marine conservation and to work for NOAA or similar government agency responsible for the management of marine species. Her doctoral research focuses on genetic markers to examine differentiation between eastern and western gray whale populations. She will also focus on the use of molecular markers to examine the role that structure within populations, as influenced by dispersal, mating systems, and relatedness, may play in the population's persistence. The results from her research will be most directly applicable to the conservation of the western gray whale pollution and will also illustrate the importance of considering such structure in the design of management strategies.
Ms. Novak is pursuing her doctorate in Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science – Oceanography at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire. Ms. Novak plans to study the effect of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) on seagrasses. She first became interested in this topic after a visit to Summerland Key, Florida where she found patches of purple-colored Thalassia testudium and Halodule wrightii in both shallow non-turbid waters and intertidal zones. Ms. Novak believes her research with UVR and seagrass will contribute not only to SeagrassNet, but also to the body of science studying global climate change. Ms. Novak has been involved in scientific research in both undergraduate and graduate school. She believes that her research will provide her the foundation needed in the future to obtain a research scientist position in academia or a government agency.
Ms. Van Buren is currently pursuing her doctorate in marine biology from the University of Washington. Ms. Van Buren has conducted research of Megellanic penguins in Argentina and the Falkland Islands. It is this research that has influenced her academic and professional objectives. Ms. Van Buren is interested in reducing the conflicts between human activities and marine ecosystem integrity. Upon graduation, she would like to expand her research to encompass other seabird species and marine systems. Ms. Van Buren will continue pursuing her Ph.D.
Andrea Kealoha is pursuing a Ph.D. in Oceanography at Texas A&M University under the direction of Dr. Katie Shamberger. Her research broadly encompasses carbon cycling in coral reef ecosystems, with a focus on coral reef health in response to ocean acidification (OA). OA refers to the oceanic absorption of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) and the consequent decline in ocean pH. The increase in ocean acidity makes it difficult for corals and other coral reef calcifiers to build the structure that provides the habitat for reef organisms. Since coral reefs are one of the most productive, biologically-diverse ecosystems on Earth, and provide vital resources for hundreds of millions of people, understanding the threats to coral reefs is particularly relevant for assessing the vulnerability of the global community to climate change.
Ms. Kealoha’s dissertation research will be conducted in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. The Flower Garden Banks sanctuary contains one the healthiest reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and provides critical habitat for these fisheries. However, despite the susceptibility of coral reefs to OA, little is known about the CO2 chemistry of waters within Flower Garden Banks sanctuary. Her research will investigate variability in, and connections between, coral reef metabolism and various environmental parameters including temperature, light, nutrients, pH and CO2. She will also participate in the development of a long-term OA monitoring site at the Flower Garden Banks. A comprehensive understanding of the CO2 conditions at the sanctuary will help to assess the sensitivity of this important ecosystem to OA, as well as offer valuable insight into future ecological responses of coral reefs worldwide.
Ms. Kealoha earned her B.S in Global Environmental Sciences at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. During her M.S. at Hawai`i Pacific University, two research cruises to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument inspired her to raise awareness about the importance of protecting national marine sanctuaries. Ms. Kealoha grew up on the island of Maui, where her love for the ocean was fostered through diving, surfing and her cultural connection to the ocean. She strives to conduct research that will lead to the development of effective ocean resource management plans and hopes to inspire ocean stewardship in young minds by sharing her diversity, experiences and passion for oceanography.
Andrea graduated with a BS in biology from Millersville University, PA and a MS in marine biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). Andrea is currently pursuing a PhD at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Before beginning the PhD program in January 2009, she spent 6 years studying open ocean, shelf-edge, and deep-sea coral ecosystems off the southeastern US. During this time she participated in over a dozen offshore cruises and had the opportunity to dive in the Johnson Sea-Link submersible. Andrea has broad interests in deep-sea ecology that include deep-sea coral reefs and associated fishes. Particularly, she is interested in the spatial and temporal distributions and the interconnectedness of deep-sea species, communities, and populations. At Temple, she will be studying the genetic connectivity of deepwater gorgonians, including Callogorgia americana (Family Primnoidae), in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. She hopes to obtain a position in academia or a government agency where she can conduct research, educate students, and work with managers in order to deepen our understanding of and effectively conserve precious habitats.
Anna Robuck is pursuing a Ph.D. in Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography in the Lohmann Lab. Ms. Robuck is broadly interested in water quality, trophic ecology, and environmental chemistry. As a Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar, her dissertation work explores the transport and fate of legacy and emerging persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in coastal and pelagic ecosystems. POPs are man-made compounds added to many consumer products as flame-retardants, preservatives, plasticizers, and fragrances, stain repellents, etc. POPs can escape their intended application and migrate into the environment, where they can cause deleterious effects in organisms large and small.
Ms. Robuck is particularly interested in seabirds as study subjects, due to their inherent identity as ecological indicators and their sensitivity to anthoprogenic stressors like POPs and plastics. Her work in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary specifically seeks to identify the dominant pathways whereby POPs are introduced to the sanctuary environment using both passive and active sampling. Her work also seeks to elucidate the distribution and fate of POPs in the food web supporting a pelagic seabird, the Great Shearwater, Ardenna gravis. By using contaminants as an additional food web tracer to better resolve Shearwater trophic preferences, Ms. Robuck also seeks to improve and refine understanding of seabird foraging within Stellwagen Bank sanctuary.
Ms. Robuck’s research will serve to inform evolving water quality priorities and management in Stellwagen Bank sanctuary, while providing vital missing information about seabird use of the sanctuary food web. Ms. Robuck is particularly interested in contrasting the behavior and fate of legacy contaminants (like polychlorinated biphenyls) to contaminants that have only recently emerged as problematic, such as perfluorinated compounds. She strives to increase awareness about POPs and seabird health through diverse science communication and outreach strategies that leverage her exciting research.
Prior to enrolling at University of Rhode Island, Ms. Robuck earned her Masters degree in the Aquatic Ecology Lab at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her Masters thesis explored the relationship between landscape geospatial characteristics and resulting storm water quality, and subsequent storm water impacts on tidal creek metabolism. While pursuing her Masters, Ms. Robuck worked as an intern at the City of Wilmington, NC and as a research assistant in support of the Lower Cape Fear River Program. She credits these opportunities as vital maturation and learning experiences that served to reinforce how intimately the health of aquatic systems is tied to adjacent human communities and inputs. Ms. Robuck also earned her bachelors at UNC Wilmington, exploring the chemical ecology of invertebrates via an undergraduate honors project. When not in the lab or field, Ms. Robuck spends her free time volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation clinic, diving, surfing, and hanging around with her dog Gypsy.
Ms. Oczkowski is currently pursuing her doctorate in Biological Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island. Ms. Oczkowski is passionate about the research project which she is pursuing. She will focus on examing how the damming of the Nile River and subsequent population boom in the area may be dramatically affecting the nutrient chemistry of the coastal region and possibly controlling the productivity of the offshore fishery. Ms. Oczkowski believes the Nile River story is an important and unexplored key to understanding many of the linkages between large-scale human modifications of hydrologic and terrestrial systems and the coastal environment. Her future goals are to conduct research and teach in the field of coastal ecology at the college/university level.
Caitlin Jensen is pursuing her M.S. in Geographic Information Science at San Francisco State University. Her master's thesis will focus on a GIS analysis of vessel traffic and endangered whale habitat in the Cordell Bank and Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries in California. Caitlin is applying what she has learned from her graduate studies at the DEVELOP National Program at NASA Ames Research Center, where she is leading a student project on modeling a harmful algal bloom (HAB) on the central California coast using NASA Earth observing systems. This project aims to use remotely-sensed MODIS imagery to map the extent of the bloom and identify environmental variables most statistically influential in HAB growth. This research will assist government agencies with mitigating and managing the ecological and economic impacts of HABs. Additionally, Caitlin collaborated on a project with the Oceanic Society involving the identification of critical areas for the vulnerable American crocodile in Turneffe Atoll, Belize. Using GIS methods, Caitlin contributed habitat suitability maps to the Oceanic Society's conservation plan proposal for development restrictions.
Caitlin received her B.S. in Biology from Boston College. Her experience with marine conservation began at the Dolphin and Whale Hospital and Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL. She then participated in a manatee photo-identificaiton internship at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and later decided to continue her work in marine mammal research on the island of Maui in 2009 at Pacific Whale Foundation. Following this, Caitlin accepted a position conducting forest bird surveys throughout Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island in 2010, where she was first introduced to the application of GIS for habitat conservation.
Catherine Benson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and the Environment. Ms. Benson received a Masters of Environmental Science from Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a BA in Biology and Environmental Policy from Colby College. Her dissertation research examines the extent to which hybrid governance arrangements result in improved marine conservation outcomes in Cambodia and the Pacific Islands. Ms. Benson is investigating the role of government, non-government, and corporate actors in supporting marine conservation efforts in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, and American Samoa. Ms. Benson hopes her research will document successful governance arrangements that can be used to design effective marine conservation policy that enhances biodiversity conservation while simultaneously recognizing and respecting Cambodian and Pacific cultural ecologies and political traditions.
Corinne Gibble is pursuing a Ph.D. in Ocean Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) in the laboratory of Raphael Kudela. Ms. Gibble received her Master's degree in Marine Science from San Jose State University's Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and received a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from the University of Vermont, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. She is especially impassioned about wildlife health, foraging ecology, ocean water quality, and anthropogenic effects on marine systems; and finds that a holistic ecosystem analysis is the best approach to solve a wide range of environmental problems. Her academic work has centered around marine mammal foraging ecology and seabird health. She has spent time working for the Whale Center of New England, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and the Central Coast Seabird Health Study in congruence with Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response, California Department of Fish and Game and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Ms. Gibble's doctoral research examines the effects of the cyanobacterium: Microcystis aeruginosa on marine and estuarine birds in central California. Recently toxins associated with the ostensibly freshwater cyanobacterium M. aeruginosa have been detected in the nearshore marine ecosystem of central California. Microcystin toxins produced by M. aeruginosa have caused illness and death in humans, dogs, wildlife and livestock in other areas. Because Central California supports the largest density and biomass of seabirds in the entire California Current System (CCS), and Monterey Bay has a high abundance of birds inhabiting the land-sea interface, toxins in this area may have especially deleterious and wide ranging effects on marine and estuarine birds. Thus far in her PhD dissertation research, Ms. Gibble has investigated the prevalence and persistence of microcystin toxin at the land-sea interface in the Monterey Bay area, as well as, identified potential environmental factors correlated with the abundance of toxin. Currently, Ms. Gibble is examining how this toxin is moving trophically, and assessing a potential indicator organism to be used for monitoring and management practices. Additionally, Ms. Gibble's research will focus on the potential health risks microcystin toxin may be posing to marine and estuarine birds in the Monterey Bay area, by implementing methodology to establish a baseline of health for these species. After the completion of her degree, she expects to continue her career in research, and hopes to obtain a position at a government agency or a non-governmental organization.
Corinne Kane is pursuing a Ph.D. in marine ecology and conservation biology from Washington State University. Her dissertation will examine changes in community structure and function of coral reef fishes and their habitats from shallow (0-30m) to mesophotic (30-100+m) depths. Cori will be working with Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to explore and assess coral reefs in the main and northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Her research aims to investigate the overlap between shallow and deep reef communities and examine the potential of mesophotic reefs to act as refuge space for shallow reef organisms. While shallow reefs are researched extensively, very little is known about the structure or function of coral reefs below 30 meters. It is likely that deeper regions of coral reefs act as reservoirs for species impacted by overfishing or habitat degradation in shallow reefs. This work will aid in providing robust baseline estimates for mesophotic reef ecosystems, as well as determine refuge potential of mesophotic reefs between impacted (main Hawaiian Islands) and pristine (northwestern Hawaiian Islands) coral reef ecosystems, to ultimately enhance marine protected area planning and effectiveness.
Cori received her B.A. and M.S. degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During this time, she gained extensive experience in both kelp forest ecology along Santa Barbara’s coastline and tropical marine ecology through research efforts in Moorea, French Polynesia. Cori’s master’s thesis investigated the habitat preferences and social structure of reef fish species in Moorea. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Cori was employed as a research coordinator for the State of Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources, where she oversaw research and monitoring efforts in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. In her five years as research coordinator, Cori was fortunate to experience many aspects of coral reef management and conservation efforts. This firsthand experience has motivated Cori to target research work that will reduce knowledge gaps and enhance state and federal agencies’ abilities to effectively manage and conserve their valuable coral reef resources.
Dr. Staaf holds a doctorate in biology from Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California. Her dissertation was focused on the reproduction and early life history of the Humboldt squid, Dosidicus gigas--in plain terms, squid sex and babies. While conducting her research, she also pursued her passion for science education through traditional teaching environments as well as through the development of creative outreach approaches. Dr. Staaf believes that children and adults learn best when they are engaged and entertained. She is now a freelance science communicator based in San Jose, California. She had blogged for KQED, written a viral story about squid sperm, and contributed to anthologies of both science fiction and science fact. Her first book, Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods, is an epic nonfiction adventure spanning hundreds of millions of years--from the primordial seas to the calamari on your dinner place.
Deborah L. Howard is currently pursuing her doctorate in Marine Biology at the University of Maryland. She also holds a bachelor's and master's in marine science. Howard decided to pursue her doctorate in marine science because of her passion for working with the marine environment and to impress upon her children the importance of setting goals. Upon graduation, Howard is interested in pursuing the concept of lateral gene transfer within marine microbiological communities, with an emphasis on toxic species. Ms. Howard will continue to pursue the completion of her Ph.D.
Mr. Figueroa is currently pursuing his doctorate in Biological Oceanography at Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon. Mr. Figueroa has been working on his thesis project in the Galapagos and, despite having to overcome many hurdles, completed his field work in August 2005. His research started with a simple idea of wanting to look at the community composition and distribution of zooplankton around the Archipelago. The data acquired in his research will provide insight into oceanographic processes governing Galapagos and will be essential for assessing biological changes due to climatic variations or management policies in the Archipelago. Upon finishing his doctorate, Mr. Figueroa would like to become a researcher and teacher at the university level.
Emily Aiken is pursuing a M.S. degree in Applied Marine and Watershed Science at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Her thesis is developed around a remotely operated vehicle project in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, studying the distribution of demersal fishes relative to deep water corals. Emily aims to contribute to the effort of the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary to characterize and monitor the demersal fish and invertebrate communities of the sanctuary as a means to protect its resources. Her goal is to use advanced technology to connect the public and management with exclusive deep-sea details of the this national marine sanctuary, one of the most diverse and bountiful marine environments in the world.
Emily earned her B.S. in Marine Science from CSUMB. She affirmed her passion for marine conservation and science communication when she joined Dr. James Lindholm's Institute for Applied Marine Ecology team three years ago. Since then, Emily conducts science with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary leading underwater research on invasive fouling organisms and characterizing communities across the continental shelf and slope. She also recently participated in underwater research in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, focusing on the impact of size-class based herbivorous fish removal on coral reefs to determine the efficacy of catch-size limits in maintaining functional herbivore communities. Emily is determined to become a scientist/educator and continue her research with the National Marine Sanctuary System, promoting environmental literacy, public awareness, and stewardship of our coastal and marine resources.
Emily Klein holds a B.Sc. in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and an M.Sc. in Environmental Conservation from the University of New Hampshire. She received a Nancy Foster Scholarship for doctoral research in the Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science (NRESS) program at UNH with Dr. Andrew A. Rosenberg. For this work, Emily explored long-term change in marine ecosystem dynamics and structure using novel nonlinear time series analysis and modeling approaches as well as first-hand accounts from fishermen and marine managers in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She then completed postdoctoral research with Dr. Simon Levin at Princeton University exploring fishermen behavior and how their decisions are impacted by ecosystem conditions, marine management, and existing social ties. Emily is currently on a joint postdoc appointment with the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the Farallon Institute, using ecosystem models to understand climate impacts on the Southern Ocean and provide management advice to the international krill fishery. She is still heavily involved in marine historical ecology, and is currently serving as co-chair for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Working Group on the History of Fish and Fisheries, and sits on the Executive Board of the international Oceans Past Initiative.
Emily is also deeply concerned about diversity in marine science and STEM fields more broadly. She served multiple years on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and the President’s Commission on Inclusive Excellence at UNH. She has also helped start the Women in Science Partnership (WISP) at Princeton University, as well as Diversity Hour within the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department there.
Dr. Erik Cordes is an Associate Professor of Biology at Temple University. Erik received his M.S. from Moss Landing Marine Labs, was a Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar during his Ph.D. work at Penn State University, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University. He has worked on the ecology of the deep sea for over 20 years, spending over a year at sea on over 25 research cruises and making over 35 dives in the manned submersibles Alvin and Johnson Sea-Link. The research in his lab is centered around the ability of organisms to shape their environment and increase habitat heterogeneity, but has increasingly become focused on the ability for humans to impact these processes in the deep sea.
Ms. LaBrecque is currently pursuing her doctorate in marine biology from Duke University. After spending years on research vessels observing the patchy nature of the oceans, she became interested in determining what biological and physical factors influence species distributions. Using spatial habitat modeling, Ms. LaBrecque plans to study the biological and physical influences of frontal zones on the distribution of upper trophic level predators at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Her research will lead to the development of successful marine management plans and add to the growing body of knowledge on adaptive MPA management. Her goal is to obtain a research position at either an academic institution or a government agency where she can continue to produce science which will contribute to the successful management and conservation of our precious marine resources.
Dr. Muller received her undergraduate degree in 2003, her Master of Science degree in 2007, and her Ph.D. in 2011 from Florida Institute of Technology. She has worked for the US Geological Survey, the National Park Service, taught High School Science in Brevard Public Schools and helped co-create a research-based after school program for high school students in the Florida Keys and US Virgin Islands. Dr. Muller received the prestigious Mote Marine Laboratory Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2012 to 2014 and is now a Staff Scientist and the Coral Health and Disease Program Manager at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL. She also serves as a courtesy professor at USF Sarasota/Manatee and is the Science Lead for the Sarasota chapter of Scubanauts International. Dr. Muller’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Park Service, NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, the Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and through philanthropy. She received the prestigious Young Scientist of the Year Award from the International Society for Reef Studies in 2015; only one recipient is recognized worldwide each year.
Greg Zychowski earned a Master's degree in Environmental Toxicology at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), Texas Tech University, in 2011. His research focused on loggerhead sea turtle fibroblast cell line characterization and preliminary toxicity testing with benzo[a]pyrene, a pervasive polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon toxicant. Loggerhead sea turtles are currently of threatened status, and the threat of chemical pollution could be better understood through this research. The in vitro approaches used in these kinds of studies are minimally invasive, address environmentally relevant concerns, and acknowledge the innate value of a fascinating species. The work will provide future research with a solid reference for the development and maintenance of a cell line on which little information is currently available. Greg currently works for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in Austin, Texas.
Ms. Heather Bolton is pursuing an M.S. in applied marine science at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Working at CSUMB's Institute for Applied Marine Ecology (IfAME), her master's thesis will characterize the deep sub-tidal communities inside and outside of newly designated marine protected areas (MPAs) along the north central coast of California. Ms. Bolton has participated in several research cruises along California's coast using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to collect video and still imagery of different seafloor habitats and the fishes and invertebrates associated with them. In addition to providing science data to support management decisions, this research provides exceptional opportunities to engage audiences beyond the scientific community. Training from CSUMB/IfAME, with a focus on science communication and management-driven science will allow her to better interpret the research of scientists and engage public audiences in ocean conservation. Previously, Ms. Bolton completed her B.S. degree in Marine Biology at the University of California Los Angeles, and worked in the education department at the Long Beach Aquarium. She also worked in marketing and as a marketing manager for five years, honing communication skills, producing engaging websites and professional marketing collateral. After completion of her thesis, she expects to continue work on applied marine conservation issues as a scientific advisor, writer or outreach coordinator to bridge the gap between scientific and public communities. Ms. Bolton promotes science communications through volunteer work at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and participation in local and regional scientific symposiums. She is especially interested in fish-habitat associations, marine pollution, invertebrates and diving in the greater Monterey Bay area.
Jan Vicente is pursuing a Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Russell Hill of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. His dissertation is focused on the impact that ocean acidification has on the ability of sponges to build their skeleton. He will be monitoring expression of silicatein and collagen genes of sponges under simulated ocean acidification conditions. In addition, he will study the bacterial communities associated with the sponges to determine if they can serve as biological indicators of environmental stressors, such as ocean acidification and climate change. On Caribbean reefs, sponges now rival reef-building corals in terms of abundance and biomass. In some reefs sponges can account for up to 80% of total reef biomass. Although sponges are believed to withstand the impacts of ocean acidification since most do not rely on a calcifying skeleton, there is a lack of research on the impact of acidification on sponge gene expression and sponge growth. Jan will be conducting his research on the Black Ball Sponge and the Red Vase Sponge, both common residents of the coral reefs of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Jan received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras in 2007, where he gained experience in natural product chemistry and chemotaxonomy of sponges. Inspired by the microbial world of sponges, he went on to complete a M.S. in Marine Science with a minor in Marine Policy from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2010. He then gained valuable experience as a sponge course participant of the 2010 NSF-AToL: Taxonomy, Systematics, and Ecology of Caribbean Sponge. In addition to his current research, Jan helps conduct sponge community surveys throughout the Caribbean on board NSF-funded UNOLS research cruises with Dr. Joseph Pawlik and his laboratory team. Jan would ultimately like to teach at an academic serving institution and continue conducting research on marine sponges.
Jennifer E. Magnussen is currently pursuing her doctorate in Marine Biology from Nova Southeastern University. Magnussen has always had a strong interest in marine biology, particularly the deteriorating state of our ocean's biological resources. It is this concern that has compelled Magnussen to dedicate her efforts toward objectives to overcoming obstacles that reduce the effectiveness of fisheries management. Magnussen is interested in publishing research on the development and use of genetic markers and novel methods for forensic identification of shark species, and apply these tools to survey the extent of the Asian shark fin-trade for better conservation and management planning. After graduation, Ms. Magnussen plans to continue research with the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Southeastern university.
Ms. McCabe is currently pursuing her doctorate in Marine Biology/Marine Convervation at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. She is specifically interested in studying coral reef conservation. Her interest in corals comes naturally through family associations and activities in which she participated over her young life. Ms. McCabe's research will center around the coral-zooxanthellae symbiosis with emphasis on the physiological mechanisms for photoprotection in certain clades of zooxanthellae. The hypothesis is that the corals that harbor zooxanthellae with photoprotective capabilities may be more resistant to bleaching. Her ultimate goal is to be a program director of a conservation organization or government agency that focuses on coral reef conservation and education. She believes that there is a great need for society to understand the value of nature and its importance to their lives.
Ms. Miselis completed her doctorate in Oceanography at the College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, Virginia. Ms. Miselis is intertested in better understanding coastal geologic processes and the role societies play in altering the coastal environment. Coastal populations are controlled by the dynamic forces that shape the shoreline, but also modify their surroundings. Her research addresses both aspects of this interaction through the investigation of the influence of framework geology on shoreline behavior and coastal hydrology. Her research has both scientific and societal implications, and embodies many of NOAA's interdisciplinary research priorities, and will support a career in governmental research or academia. Ms. Miserlis hopes to promote international scientific and policy exchange upon graduation. She is also interested in mentoring women who are interested in pursuing a career in the geosciences.
Jennifer Whiteis received a M.S. degree in Oceanography from Cornell University. She started her academic career at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington where she studied Earth Sciences and she then transferred to Cornell University where she graduated with a B.S. degree in Geology. As an undergraduate, she was awarded a NASA Space Grant Fellowship to carry out a project using remote sensing techniques to study physical ocean parameters that impact coral disease in the Caribbean Sea. This experience motivated Whiteis to continue studies with a more detailed, in-depth research project using a combination of multiple satellite sensors and in situ data to examine the impact of global climate change on Caribbean corals. Her graduate thesis focused on Caribbean Coral Reef Studies. After graduation, Ms. Whiteis will pursue a Ph.D. in Paleo Climate.
Jessica Hale is pursuing a Ph.D. in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. Her thesis work examines the population dynamics and foraging ecology of a reintroduced keystone predator, the northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni). Northern sea otters were extirpated from Washington State in the early 1900s as a result of the fur trade, and after the reintroduction of northern sea otters to Washington in 1969 the sea otter population and range have continued to grow. Jessica uses population modeling to explain current and predict future population and range expansion. Jessica’s thesis also examines patterns in sea otter diet since their reintroduction. Jessica conducts her research in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in Washington State, where northern sea otters have historically been an important keystone predator in the nearshore marine ecosystem. Jessica has broad interests in marine ecology and conservation, predator-prey interactions, and marine invertebrates. Jessica received her B.S. from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, where she was involved in research on pinto abalone restoration in Washington State and the effects of invasive bullfrogs on aquatic macroinvertebrates in ponds in Arizona. Jessica is eager to apply her knowledge of marine invertebrates and predator-prey interactions to studying northern sea otters and their diets.
Jessica Dutton completed her doctorate in Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009. Her focus was on how environmental conditions influence the physiology and distributions of coastal marine invertebrates. After completing her degree, Jessica moved into marine policy to work more closely at the intersection of science and society. She held positions as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow with NOAA Fisheries, and a Mirzayan Fellow with the National Academy of Sciences. Currently she is the Special Projects Director with the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Southern California, where she helps develop research programs and education partnerships to promote interdisciplinary science, marine policy and environmental solutions.
Ms. Joyner completed her doctorate in Ecology at the University of Georgia and bachelor's degree in Biology with a certificate in Living Marine Resource Ecology at Florida State University. She began her research experiences as an intern and diving assistant in Curacao, working with marine sponges and their resistance and resilience to disturbance. This fieldwork sparked interest in coral reef disease research. For her dissertation research, she focused on the sewage contamination of the reef environment, investigating how enteric bacteria from contamination (e.g., Serratia marcescens) are found within the symbiotic microbial communities of sponges and corals. Currently, she is continuing to explore environmental microbial communities but now in an urban setting. Her postdoctoral position with the City University of New York Brooklyn College is focused on facilitating research experiences in undergraduate classrooms. In addition to managing the undergraduate research program, she continues to pursue research on coastal marine ecosystems and the impact of coastal development.
Jessica Lopez grew up in Santa Fe, NM, where she developed a fascination with the big, faraway, foreign thing called the ocean. She obtained a B.S. in Marine Biology with a minor in Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). While at UCSC Jessica worked with the marine mammal physiology project at Long Marine Lab, where she worked closely with bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, and Southern sea otters and became interested in marine mammal conservation. After graduating, Jessica moved to Hawaii where she worked for NOAA's Hawaiian monk seal research program. She spent five summer field seasons in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands studying the Hawaiian monk seal in an effort to understand the threats to this highly endangered species. Jessica attended Hawaii Pacific University from 2009 to 2012 where she completed her M.S. thesis "Persistent organic pollutants in the Hawaiian monk seal from the main Hawaiian Islands: looming threat or benign concern?" The main Hawaiian Islands is the only area in which the Hawaiian monk seal population is not in decline. However it is also an area with the potential for a high amount of environmental contamination, which could have a direct impact on the reproductive potential and immune response of this endangered seal. Jessica found that although organic pollutants were found in the blood and blubber of seals, they were not at levels of high concern. Jessica currently is continuing to work as the Field Research Supervisor for NOAA's Hawaiian monk seal research program and plans to continue her career in conservation research with an emphasis on endangered species.
Joshua Stewart is pursuing a Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He is interested in improving the conservation outlook for threatened marine species—especially highly mobile marine vertebrates—through local management and spatial protection, such as the National Marine Sanctuary System. Joshua's dissertation research is focused on the spatial ecology and population connectivity of oceanic manta rays, a species threatened globally by targeted fisheries, bycatch and accidental entanglement in discarded fishing gear. He is helping to improve management strategies for populations of oceanic mantas by taking into account the species' movements, home ranges and habitat use identified by his research. Joshua uses a combination of methods including satellite telemetry, stable isotope analysis, and genetics to build a complete picture of spatial ecology and population structure across a range of spatial and temporal scales. He is also interested in using quantitative techniques to improve the management of threatened species, and his current work is focused on developing models that can incorporate multiple data types to better estimate the trends of oceanic manta populations that are impacted by fisheries. Joshua is looking forward to working with the National Marine Sanctuary System to study the movements and connectivity of manta rays and other threatened, large marine vertebrates that reside within the sanctuary system.
Mr. Stewart received his bachelor's degree in marine biology from Indiana University. During his undergraduate studies he had the opportunity to work on a wide range of field projects, from studying coral recruitment on 17th century shipwrecks to larval fish behavior and survival. His undergraduate honors thesis explored methods for improving monitoring of marine resources to better determine the effects of management action. After completing his undergraduate degree, Mr. Stewart spent a year as a Rolex Scholar, working with conservation professionals in diverse fields from conservation photography and communication to endangered species research. During this year he began his work on manta rays and went on to be a founding member of The Manta Trust, a non-profit that has improved the conservation status of manta and mobula rays around the globe through international, national and local management successes. Joshua has always been passionate about communication, and he uses print media, public lectures, photography, and video as tools to communicate important conservation concepts to a broad audience.
Julia Burrows is pursuing a Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment. Before beginning her doctoral studies, Julia earned a M.S. in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Florida. Her research interests include the ecology, behavior, and conservation of apex marine predators, such as marine mammals. She is interested in understanding how oceanographic and environmental variability influence the distribution of mid-trophic level prey species, and ultimately how these factors influence the abundance, distribution, and movements of top predators. For her dissertation research, Julia will document the effects of prey type, patch size, and density on the fine scale foraging behavior of large whales in both space and time. She hopes to gain insight into the role apex predators play in marine ecosystems so we can make informed management decisions on how to best conserve and protect our marine resources. Julia's ultimate goal is to earn a position in academia or with a government agency, such as NOAA, where she can impact management and conservation strategies through her research and work closely with students to help educate and inspire future generations of marine biologists.
Dr. Kathy Morrow's research has focused on coral reef ecosystems for over a decade, with multi-disciplinary collaborations across the U.S. and Australia. She was awarded her PhD in Dec 2011 (Auburn University, AL USA) and moved to Townsville, QLD Australia in January 2012 to begin an ARC funded Super Science postdoctoral fellowship within the Healthy and Resilient GBR program at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). Kathy's present research focus is to develop methods to aid in the sequencing of microbial metagenomes from environmentally complex samples such as corals. Metagenomics allows one to examine the metabolic potential of the entire coral holobiont, as a puzzle of interconnected parts. But without the microbial fraction this examination is not as meaningful. Dr. Morrow also studies the microbial assemblages associated with corals living inside and outside of volcanic CO2 seeps off the coast of Papua New Guinea, where corals are exposed to low pH/ high CO2 conditions representative of future climate scenarios. Prior to working at AIMS, Kathy studied the physical and chemical effect of macroalgae on coral-associated microbial communities in the Caribbean during her PhD. Through this work she collaborated with researchers at NOAA in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Smithsonian Marine Station, and MOTE Marine Laboratory to conduct field experiments in the Florida Keys, Belize, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Kathy also completed a Master's degree in 2006 from California State University at Northridge, which was conducted along Santa Catalina Island, CA and primarily focused on the study of kelp forest community ecology and biomechanics. She hopes to continue her research into the structure and function of coral-microbial communities and their interactions with environmental pressures that may influence ecosystem function.
Katie Wrubel lives in Seattle, Washington and works as the Ocean Policy Analyst for the Makah Tribal Council Office of Marine Affairs where she identifies and navigates policies and authorities of interest to the Makah Tribe in their Treaty Rights at Risk initiative. Katie completed her M.S. in Environmental Science at Washington State University Vancouver. Her thesis research looked at fish populations and their associations with biogenic structures (e.g., deep-sea corals and sponges) and physical habitat features (boulders, cobbles, etc.) within Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary using archived remotely operated vehicle (ROV) video.
Katie's fascination with deep-sea research started while she was an undergraduate at California State University Monterey Bay, where she graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy and a minor in Mathematics. As an undergraduate, she participated in an ongoing research partnership between the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in their site characterization efforts and marine protected area monitoring activities, which included multiple towed camera sled and ROV cruises. Part of the focus of Katie's undergraduate assistantship was in creating an interactive website utilizing video collected within the Monterey Bay sanctuary (the Shelf Characterization and Image Display: http://sep.csumb.edu/ifame/scid/).
For her undergraduate thesis, Katie analyzed video at three spatial scales for sessile epifaunal distributions to compare the dissemination of information for multiple audiences (science, policy, and public) and validate real-time sampling methodology used by the Sanctuary. This research resulted in Katie pursuing her Master's degree to investigate rockfish (genus Sebastes) associations with physical and biogenic habitats from video observations, where she found distinct species assemblages associated with habitats consistent with other studies along the west coast and that deep-sea corals are used by rockfish in low-relief habitats. Katie recently completed a Washington Sea Grant Marc Hershman Marine Policy Fellowship at The Nature Conservancy of Washington where she fostered partnerships with the four coastal treaty tribes (Makah, Hoh, Quileute, and Quinault Indian Nation) to aid in building capacity to develop their individual tribal marine spatial plans, worked with non-tribal coastal constituents' on Washington State's marine spatial planning process, and conducted policy research on the federal and state authorities on the ocean. Katie will be continuing much of this work in her new position with the Makah Tribe. Katie is especially interested in continuing to work on marine conservation issues through strong partnerships, innovative solutions and applied policy research.
Kelly Jones will enter the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington to pursue a Master's degree in Environmental Health. Her graduate research will focus on advancing technologies for detection of enteric pathogens associated with non-point source pollution (NPS) in marine environments, with an added emphasis on improving risk assessment strategies by evaluating new viability approaches for these organisms. As a researcher at NOAA's Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston, South Carolina, she helped local and international colleagues develop detection methods for harmful algae and marine biotoxins, thus laying the foundation for her current interests in molecular detection methodology and coastal health management. She hopes the tools developed during her graduate work will supplement the limitations of the NPS monitoring protocols currently in practice, and will ultimately improve coastal waters for the public, as well as for species within vulnerable marine environments.
Kelly Kearney earned her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2012. Her thesis research focused on the development of end-to-end ecosystem modeling techniques, linking physical dynamics, biogeochemical cycling, and energy flow between lower and upper trophic level marine species. She continues to pursue this topic in her current position as a postdoctoral associate at the cooperative institute between the University of Miami RSMAS and NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Recent projects have included looking into the potential effects of Everglades restoration and climate change on the Florida Bay ecosystem, and modeling the potential increases in both primary production and fish biomass as a result of volcanic iron fertilization in the subarctic Pacific.
Kelly Gleason Keogh currently lives in Santa Barbara, California and is the Academic Personnel Manager for the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara. As the Academic Personnel Manager, Kelly is the primary point of contact for academic personnel issues at the Bren School. She manages new faculty recruitments, academic personnel merit and promotion cases, and she serves as a resource for case preparation and evaluation. Kelly supports faculty executive, academic personnel and diversity committees, and assists with planning and facilitation of faculty meetings and retreats. Kelly is a Santa Barbara native and returned in 2019 following a 15-year career with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in Honolulu, Hawaii. While in Honolulu, Kelly was the maritime archaeologist and the Maritime Heritage Coordinator for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and World Heritage Site. Following an undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame, Kelly pursued a master's in Nautical Archaeology at St. Andrews University in Scotland and a Doctorate in Coastal Resources Management at East Carolina University in North Carolina. As a mixed gas technical diver and closed circuit rebreather diver, she participated in exploratory research expeditions to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in search of new fish species and mesophotic reef habitat characterization. Her responsibilities as a maritime archaeologist for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) included leading the exploration, interpretation and protection of maritime heritage resources in the NWHI. She is a passionate traveler, ocean swimmer and sports enthusiast. In her free time, she enjoys sharing her love for the coastal environment and exploring the outdoors with her family.
Kim Tenggardjaja earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. Her dissertation focused on genetic connectivity of reef fishes throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago, and during her time as a Nancy Foster Scholar, she had the honor of participating in two NOAA research cruises through the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Following graduate school, Kim accepted a California Sea Grant State Fellowship with the State Water Resources Control Board, where she transitioned into working as an Environmental Scientist. For several years, she worked on mitigation for once-through cooling power plants and permitting of seawater desalination facilities. Currently, Kim is the first-ever Biodiversity Coordinator for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, where her primary focus is supporting implementation of the California Biodiversity Initiative.
Dr. Kurt Bretsch received his doctorate in Marine Science in August 2005 from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. During his doctoral research, Kurt created and successfully used a sampling technique that demonstrates clear, fine-scale patterns to the tidal migrations of fishes, shrimps, and crabs in intertidal creeks. He also conducted a series of experiments investigating the effects of biological factors on migration patterns of intertidal creek organisms.
Kurt is now a Lecturer in Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences where he teaches courses such as Ichthyology, Marine Conservation, Oceanography, Long Island Marine Habitats, and Coastal Cultural Experience. He also directs the Semester by the Sea program, an immersive experience in marine science and maritime studies for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students.
Ku'ulei Rodgers received her Ph.D in May 2005 in Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii. She was born and raised on the island of O'ahu, the main island in the Hawaiian chain. She has always been employed in the marine field, spending several years working as an ocean recreation specialist teaching drownproofing to public school children and as a marine mammal trainer at an oceanarium. Her education career in marine biology began at Windward Community College where she quickly developed a strong background in marine science. She continued her education by earning her masters degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she narrowed her focus to coral reef research. As a Ph.D student, her work focused on coral reef research, specifically working to identify bioindicators that may serve as an early warning of coral reef decline. Since graduation, she has taken a position as a full time faculty member (Assistant Researcher) at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. She also continues in full time research on the impact of human activity on Coral Reef ecosystems.
Dr. Lauren Garske earned her Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology (with a minor in Chemistry) from the University of California at Santa Cruz in March 2000, where she was driven by interests in marine ecology and coastal water quality. In the years that followed, she gained practical experience by working on a variety of research endeavors including: mercury contamination in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, comparative habitat use by juvenile flatfish in the Monterey Bay, scallop recruitment patterns in the Sea of Cortez, ecological monitoring of reef communities in the Galapagos Islands, and anthropogenic impacts on nearshore habitats around Santa Catalina Island. She has co-authored several publications in marine conservation and was directly involved with the IUCN 2007 Red-Listing of 15 algae species from Galapagos. Returning to her passion for coastal water quality and armed with a breadth of experience, Lauren earned her doctorate in Ecology at the University of California at Davis in December 2013. For her dissertation, she developed an interdisciplinary 'zone of impact' (ZOI) approach for coastal marine pollution, which uses nearshore oceanographic data to predict the risk of exposure to river-borne runoff in adjacent ecosystems. She extended her interest in flow and impact to that of scientific knowledge in decision-making during her Sanctuaries research collaboration where she interviewed and surveyed hundreds of Sanctuary Advisory Council and Staff members from throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System. The collaboration experience so strongly influenced Lauren's interest in the science-policy interface that she now plans to continue her career where she can actively facilitate the integration of scientific knowledge with management and policy processes.
Laurie Ann Sorabella received a M.S. degree in Marine Biology at the College of William and Mary. Her thesis, entitled Oyster Reef Restoration in Virginia Broodstock Addition and Nutrient Exchange has two objectives. The first objective was to compare the performance of two oyster stocks after deployment onto sanctuary reefs to establish which stock was most desirable for use as broodstock in reef restoration. The second objective was to characterize the water quality changes associated with a developed oyster reef and to estimate the potential for oyster reefs to create a more habitable environment for seagrasses on a local scale. Since graduation, Ms. Sorabella has been employed as the Oyster Restoration Coordinator by the Fisheries Department at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
Lindsay Marks Orsini earned her B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her Ph.D. from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at University of California, Santa Barbara. During her Nancy Foster Scholarship, Lindsay worked in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and studied the distribution, biology, and ecology of Sargassum horneri, an invasive seaweed in southern California. After graduate school, as a California Sea Grant Fellow, Lindsay worked as a Resource Protection Specialist with NOAA’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship with NOAA Fisheries working on the restoration of endangered white abalone before joining the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as an Environmental Scientist managing invertebrate fisheries (Lindsay.Orsini@wildlife.ca.gov).
Lisa Michele Wall received her M.S. degree in Biology in June 2004 from University of Central Florida. Upon completion of her Master's, Wall plans to pursue her doctorate in conservation biology, focusing on marine ecology in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida. Wall's fascination with the marine environment began as a young girl living near the Indian River Lagoon system. Wall is a full-time high school science teacher and tries to relate her passion for the marine environment to her biology, chemistry, physics, and fundamentals of scientific research classes.
Mariah Meek is currently a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow at Cornell University, working with Drs. Cliff Kraft and Matt Hare at Cornell and Nat Gillespie at the US Forest Service. She is also a Research Associate with the University of California, Davis, working with the Genomic Variation Lab. She completed her PhD in Ecology at the University of California, Davis in 2010. Dr. Meek is an aquatic ecologist and conservation geneticist interested in the evolutionary and ecological processes that generate and maintain diversity within and among fish populations, with an emphasis on studying these processes in the field and applying them to problems in conservation and management. Her primary research goals are in four areas: 1) understanding how genetic diversity controls trait diversity and how this scales to population dynamics and persistence; 2) identifying the molecular processes that underlie evolutionary responses to anthropogenic change; 3) investigating population structure and patterns of selection; and 4) developing tools to aid conservation efforts. For more information about her research program, please visit mariahmeek.wordpress.com.
Melinda Conners is a doctoral candidate in the Ocean Sciences department at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC). Prior to attending UCSC, Melinda graduated in 2003 with her B.S. in Biology from UC San Diego and since then has gained extensive experience in the field working on a diverse collection of research projects. She was first introduced to the complicated and intriguing lives of seabirds while working as an intern at southeast Farallon Island in 2006, and it was here that she saw how seabirds can be used as indicator species to monitor ecosystem health. Ms. Conners is interested in how marine species respond behaviorally to changing and dynamic environments. Her research at UCSC is part of a long-term tracking study of Laysan and black-footed albatrosses conducted at the French Frigate Shoals in the Papahanaumokuakea National Monument since 2002. She will be using satellite and GPS telemetry movement data to look at the behavioral (habitat utilization and range shifts, foraging activity), physiological (corticosterone hormone level, mass change) and dietary (prey composition) response of breeding Laysan and black- footed albatrosses to different ocean conditions across years, including a year of a strong El-Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event in 2010. Melinda is interested in using the responses of albatrosses to current patterns of natural climate variability (e.g. ENSO events) to gauge the potential adaptability of these species to changing ocean conditions induced by global warming and climactic forcing.
Michael Fox is pursuing a Ph.D. in marine biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His dissertation will examine how nutrient pollution affects the dominant processes structuring competitive interactions between reef-building corals and macroalgae. Mike will be working within the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on Maui, HI, the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument, and the Line Islands. His research aims to connect wastewater effluent to declines in live coral cover on Maui and to determine if the processes structuring coral-algal competition are consistent across a gradient of degraded to near-pristine reef systems. This project will provide a holistic perspective and key missing information about how coral reefs become algal dominated in the presence of local human impacts, helping to improve critical management strategies in Hawaii and beyond.
Mike received his B.A. from the University of San Diego and his M.S. at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories where he studied recovery from disturbance in giant kelp. Prior to beginning his Master's program Mike spent a year in the US Virgin Islands where he studied the impact of terrestrial development on coral reefs. Mike has spent the past 3 years working with the Center for Ocean Solutions where he developed a passion for conducting and communicating policy-relevant science. Having been fortunate enough to work in many diverse ecosystems ranging from the Antarctic to the sub-arctic, Mike is eager to return to the coral reef systems that inspired his career as a marine scientist.
Michelle Meadows earned a B.S. from the University of Florida (UF) in 2008 in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, and minored in Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences. Michelle is primarily interested in conserving and managing sport fish and associated habitats. She grew up in the Florida Keys (Islamorada) where her daily interactions with the marine environment sparked her interest in conservation and management. Ms. Meadows is pursuing a M.S. in Marine Biology at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) in Melbourne, FL. Michelle's current research focuses on the spawning of snapper species (Lutjanidae) along the Florida's east-central and northeast coast, with comparisons to spawning in southern populations. She plans to delineate current and historical spawning areas for further research and sustainable fishery management decisions in the region by surveying local commercial and recreational anglers and through existing databases and literature. Michelle anticipates continuing her research efforts on snappers and spawning after she completes her M.S. degree. Ms. Meadows believes successful conservation and management of our ocean's fishes depend on the integration of adaptive management practices, stakeholder collaboration, educational outreach, and proper scientific research. She hopes to eventually establish an on-going monitoring program between universities and local anglers to monitor local snapper spawning activity.
Nissa Kreidler is pursuing a M.S. in Natural Resources and Fisheries from Humboldt State University. Her master's thesis will model biological community assemblages of deep-sea coral reef habitats in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. This work will identify environmental factors that may impact these assemblages and contribute to the management and protection of these deep sea habitats.
Nissa has focused her work on marine and coastal conservation, from seagrass beds of the Philippines to salt marshes of the San Francisco Bay. She earned her B.S. from University of California, Santa Cruz where she worked in island conservation in California and the Philippines. She researched climate change impacts on the rainforests of China before being drawn to salt marsh restoration in the San Francisco Bay. Her academic and career path has been driven by her love of the natural world and her passion for the communication and application of scientific research.
Dr. Nyssa Silbiger completed her B.S. in Biology at Florida State University, her M.S. in Marine Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her PhD in Zoology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. During her tenure as a Nancy Foster Scholar she worked in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and other sites throughout the Hawaiian Islands to characterize accretion and erosion on coral reefs and examine how these processes are modulated by climate change in the context of both natural variability and simulated future conditions. Nyssa also had the opportunity to collaborate with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary office during her program collaboration as a Foster Scholar. During her post-doc at the University of California, Irvine she researched rocky intertidal ecosystems in national marine sanctuaries along the U.S. West Coast. Nyssa is currently faculty in Marine Biology at California State University, Northridge (nyssasilbiger.com).
Pamela's passion for the conservation of oceanic, particularly Procellariiform, birds was first sparked as an undergraduate, while studying-abroad in Adelaide, South Australia. After graduating from the University of Puget Sound, her interest was further nurtured through her field-work experiences on Isla Isabel (Mexico), the Juan Fernandez archipelago (Chile) and Southeast Farallon Island (USA), where she learned the importance of community-based and multi-national conservation of seabird habitats on land and at sea. As a Nancy Foster Scholar, Pamela completed a Master of Science in Marine Science at Hawai'i Pacific University, where she modeled the non-breeding season habitat use of Black-footed Albatross in the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries using vessel survey data. In her research collaboration, she worked with Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary to describe the relative overlap of Albatross with longline and trawl fishing in the California sanctuary region.
After graduating, she contributed to the development of educational materials promoting ocean literacy through the perspective of an Albatross and spent a year at the National Oceanographic Data Center in Silver Spring, MD, through the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.
Currently, Pamela is pursuing a PhD in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - University of Tasmania Quantitative Marine Science Program, in the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Tasmania, Australia. Her project involves projecting the distribution of Taiwanese and Japanese deep-freezing pelagic longline fleets in the southern Indian Ocean under climate change, and the subsequent overlap and impacts on albatross populations through incidental bycatch.
Pamela feels that the opportunities and experiences provided by the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program played a pivotal role in shaping her understanding of how science and management interact, as well as influenced her career path.
Rachel Lynelle Horlings completed her M.A. degree with a focus in maritime archaeology from Florida State University and completed her PhD in Anthropology at Syracuse University. Ms. Horlings had a fascination with archaeology since her childhood and was especially interested in investigating the many facets of historic maritime trade in West Africa. She was involved in a shipwreck research project off the coast of Ghana when in March 2013 she passed away during a tragic accident. She had hopes that through her research she would bring a multidisciplinary, multifaceted approach to maritime archaeological and anthropological investigations in West Africa. Rachel was a wife, daughter, sister, friend and co-worker, loved by many.
Ms. Neuenhoff is pursuing her M.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University. She is investigating population parameters of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) stranded along coastal Texas by fitting growth curves to length-at-age data. Currently, growth models are fit to cetacean length-at-age data with little regard to basic model assumptions or life history strategies that may influence growth. Ms. Neuenhoff will address these issues by incorporating growth-modeling methodologies used among terrestrial mammalian taxa in an effort to improve population parameter estimation. This will ultimately produce a growth curve suitable for direct demographic comparisons among multiple regions and will contribute to our overall understanding of bottlenose dolphin population dynamics. Upon completion of her M.S. degree program, Ms. Neuenhoff plans to pursue a PhD in Fisheries Management or Quantitative Ecology.
Dr. Rebecca Asch earned her Ph.D. in biological oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in 2013. During her Nancy Foster scholarship, Rebecca's research examined how climate change and climate variability affect the phenology of phytoplankton and fishes in the California Current. Phenology refers to the study of seasonal, biological cycles and how they are influenced by weather and climate. Increased temperature associated with climate change has led to the earlier onset of spring conditions in many ecosystems. However, the sensitivity of species to changes in seasonality is highly variable, with different species adjusting their phenology at different rates in response to climate change. This can potentially lead to mismatches between seasonal events that previously occurred synchronously. For example, fishes often time their reproduction to coincide with the seasonal peak in plankton abundance. In years when fishes spawn early or late relative to plankton blooms, larval fishes may experience increased mortality and slower growth. This can lead to decreased recruitment and fisheries catch in subsequent years. Upon graduating from SIO, Rebecca was a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University focused on studying how climate change affects seasonal mismatches between plankton productivity and fish spawning using NOAA's GFDL Earth System Model (ESM). Ms. Asch is currently an assistant professor at East Carolina University.
Rebecca Holyoke is the Deputy Director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), our nation’s system of underwater parks. In this capacity, she provides leadership and oversight of the office’s human resources, budget formulation, strategic planning and administrative efforts.
Dr. Holyoke began her career with ONMS in 2009 as a John A. Knauss marine policy fellow. She has served as national advisory council coordinator, ensuring the effective management, operation, and engagement of 15 advisory councils. Dr. Holyoke has also served as ONMS’ strategic planning coordinator and provided extensive technical assistance for budget formulation, planning, program strategies, and human resources management.
Prior to her career with ONMS, Dr. Holyoke conducted research on chemical speciation in hydrothermal vents, salt lakes, and freshwater iron seeps; studied the influence of eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginia) biodeposits on sediment nutrient dynamics in the Chesapeake Bay; and worked as a wetlands biologist and environmental consultant. She earned a B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry from Brescia University and a Ph.D. in environmental chemistry from the University of Maryland, Marine-Estuarine Environmental Science Program. Dr. Holyoke conducted her postdoctoral research at the University of Delaware, College of Marine and Earth Studies in Lewes, Delaware.
Richard Coleman is pursing his doctorate in Zoology in the laboratory of Dr. Brian Bowen at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. His dissertation research is investigating the connectivity of fish species whose distributions occur between the Main Hawaiian Islands and the protected waters of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Many fish are highly dispersive with little or no genetics breaks throughout their entire distribution. In contrast, some species have reduced connectivity with discrete populations across their distribution making them susceptible to fishing pressures and local disturbances. Reseeding a depleted population of a commercially valuable species can take multiple generations or populations may never fully recover. Therefore understanding species connectivity is crucial to accurately inform long-term sustainable fishing regimes and ensure that stocks are properly managed. To this aim, Richard will be utlizing recent advances in next generation sequencing coupled with bioinformatics to conduct genome-wide scans to evaluate fine scale connectivity between these regions. The results of his research will identify critical areas that may be under threat. By comparing trends among several species, he intends to inform an ecosystem-based management approach that will maximize protection policies for multiple species and identify an appropriate scale to manage harvests.
Mr. Coleman recieved his B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology and Limnology at San Francisco State University. While enrolled, he was awarded an NSF-funded fellowship and conducted research at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies where he looked at connectivity in an intertidal brooding sea star and investigated how limited dispersal shaped gene flow. In addition to his dissertation goals, Mr. Coleman is involved in research looking at hybridization and the distribution of fish communities across shallow and mesophotic depths. His academic pursuits have lead him to travel to many remote locations around the globe and, with the use of closed-circuit rebreathers, have provided him an opportunity to conduct research in unexplored depths.
Samara Haver is pursuing a Ph.D. at Oregon State University. She studies marine soundscape ecology and her dissertation research will compare long-term changes in underwater ambient sound by utilizing a network of hydrophones, the NOAA Ocean Noise Reference Station Network. Utilizing acoustic time-series data collected across twelve sites, including four national marine sanctuaries (Olympic Coast, Cordell Bank, Channel Islands and Stellwagen Bank), Samara will document baseline levels and multi-year trends in ocean ambient sound in U.S. waters. She intends to reveal how natural and anthropogenic contributors to ocean ambient sound vary by location and time, and her goal is to inform management of anthropogenic noise in sensitive marine animal habitats.
Ms. Haver completed her undergraduate degree at Colorado College, during which she spent a semester conducting field-based marine science research in Woods Hole, MA and aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, a 134-ft sailboat. Inspired by her time at sea, Samara returned to Woods Hole after graduation to join the Passive Acoustics Lab at the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Following that, Samara joined the Wildlife Science department at Oregon State University, where she completed her Master's degree in 2017. She is excited to be continuing her graduate work as a Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar, and to work closely with national marine sanctuaries across the country to understand how anthropogenic activity affects marine soundscapes. She hopes her work will help promote a future of sustainable human interactions with marine ecosystems.
Sarah Kienle is pursuing a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is broadly interested in the ecology, behavior, and conservation of marine mammals. Marine mammals are sentinels of ecosystem change and can provide critical information on foraging hotspots, changes to food web structures, abundance and distribution of prey resources, and habitat alterations. Sarah's thesis project will examine the foraging ecology and habitat use of male northern elephant seals from multiple breeding colonies along the species range. Northern elephant seals are important and abundant marine predators in coastal and mesopelagic ecosystems in the North Pacific Ocean. Northern elephant seals undergo one of the longest foraging trips of any marine mammal, traveling from breeding colonies along the coast of North America and Mexico to foraging habitats in the North Pacific Transition Zone, California current, and Gulf of Alaska. Male northern elephant seals forage more coastally than female seals and overlap with several national marine sanctuaries, including the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, Olympic Coast, and Cordell Bank sanctuaries. Because male northern elephant seals forage in continental shelf ecosystems, they are more vulnerable to anthropogenic factors and climate change, which make them more useful as ecosystem sentinels.
Ms. Kienle's project will allow her to examine behavioral variability in this species, and she hopes that this research will provide insights into how individuals, particularly males, will be differentially affected by climate change across the species range. The results of this project will likely identify crucial foraging hotspots for adult males and characterize oceanographic features that drive foraging intensity. As ocean ecosystems continue to change dramatically, these results will be timely in their potential to predict the impact of changing abiotic factors on the foraging ecology of male northern elephant seals—information that is vital for the management and protection of the species.
Ms. Kienle earned her B.S. in biology and history from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. As an undergraduate she gained a variety of research experiences, from studying bacterial mats in caves in New Mexico to looking at marine herbivore-plant interactions in South Carolina. These early research opportunities cemented her love of science and research. After receiving her B.S., she taught middle school and high school biology for three years in south Texas as part of Teach For America. During this time Sarah discovered her passion for teaching science and sharing her love of the ocean, but she missed conducting research and being an active member of the scientific community. She then returned to academia and earned her M.S. degree in biology from San Diego State University. Her M.S. thesis was an investigation of the foraging strategies and evolution of feeding behaviors in living and extinct phocids (seals). Sarah's ultimate career goal is to become a professor of biology, which will allow her to combine her dual passions for research and teaching.
Dr. Lester received her PhD from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the
University of California Santa Barbara in 2007. Her dissertation focused on role of dispersal
ability in determining geographic range size for marine taxa and large-scale patterns of
reproductive output in intertidal invertebrates. Following her PhD, she was the Project Manager
for the California Current Ecosystem-Based Management initiative, a collaborative effort between
the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS) and U.C. Santa Cruz to synthesize,
advance and communicate the natural and social science needed for more comprehensive
ecosystem-based management along the U.S. west coast.
From 2009-2015, Sarah served as the Research and Program Director of the Sustainable Fisheries Group at U.C. Santa Barbara, conducting research focused on sustainable fisheries and marine conservation, supporting science communications and working with on-the-ground partners to connect science and research to the implementation of conservation and sustainable fisheries projects. Starting in 2016, Sarah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Florida State University. Her current research takes an interdisciplinary approach and focuses on marine protected areas, applying trade-off analysis to marine resource management and spatial planning, fisheries assessment and management and offshore aquaculture development.
Shannon Lyday completed a Master's degree in Marine Science from Hawaii Pacific University in 2013. Her thesis as a Nancy Foster scholar, "Shearwaters as Ecosystem Indicators: Connecting Predators in the California Current" created a multivariate index using seabird and environmental data to predict commercial fish catch in the California Current. Her research collaboration was with the NOAA Biogeography Branch in Silver Spring, working on seabird predictive modeling for marine spatial planning.
Previously, Shannon worked for eight years as the Ecosystem Monitoring Programs Manager at the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, the non-profit partner of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Shannon coordinated Beach Watch, a coastal citizen-science monitoring program, and conducted at-sea research documenting distribution and abundance trends of seabirds and marine mammals relative to changes in ocean conditions. Shannon is now the Resource Protection Specialist for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. She develops and implements policy and science activities to inform resource management decisions. She also coordinates the site’s Sanctuary Advisory Council.
Sherri Eldridge obtained a Ph.D. in Marine Sciences from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her dissertation work explored somatosensory (body sensation) of whales. Environmental signals provide marine mammals with critical information for navigation, migration, locating prey, communicating, and finding mates. Sherri's work explored how whale skin contributes to the reception of these stimuli for tactile touch, pressure (such as dive depth), temperature, and vibrational signals. Using small skin samples from biopsy or strandings, Sherri studied the tissue in the Cognitive Neurobiology Laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine, where she applied special stains to mark sensory axons and receptors. Microscopic images of the sensory structures (nerves) in whale skin were then reconstructed into 3D images. Findings were compared with similar studies on terrestrial mammals. Research results show how whale skin has evolved unique structures for signal reception in the marine realm.
Sherri received a B.S. in Biology and minor in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Maine. Her capstone project launched the quest to know how a whale feels currents, tactile contact, dive pressures, temperatures, and waves on the surface of the sea. Understanding the body sensation system of whales may help us design ships and fishing gear that are more discernable to marine mammals, without increasing ocean noise. Through on-going research collaborations with Stellwagen Bank and Humpback Whale national marine sanctuaries, Sherri's goals were to expand the field of sensory biology on marine mammals, contribute to the national marine sanctuary missions of protecting endangered species, and strengthening global ocean literacy through personal mentoring, teaching, and media. However, it is with great sadness that Dr. Sherri Eldridge passed away on September 13, 2020.
After Stacey Trevathan-Tackett completed her B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from Coastal Carolina University in 2003, she pursued a master's in Biology from the University of North Florida as a Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar. At UNF, she worked on better understanding the cellular defense responses of Thalassia testudinum, turtle grass, when infected with pathogenic slime mold Labyrinthula sp. Specifically, she look into the physiological responses of the host (e.g., photobiology, hypersensitive responses, respiration), as well as explored potential anti-labyrinthulid secondary metabolite defense mechanisms. Since 2012 she has been working to complete her PhD at the University of Technology Sydney in the Climate Change Cluster. Her thesis centers around the idea of 'refractory carbon' and how it is involved in permanent carbon sequestration in seagrass meadows, a blue carbon habitat. Her goal is to provide information on how microbial ecology, plant and sediment chemistry and environmental conditions influence carbon cycling in seagrass meadows—from live plants to detritus through decomposition to soil organic carbon. Stacey's hopes to continue in taking multidisciplinary approaches to answering questions in coastal marine biology.
Stefan Claesson received his Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in 2008. Stefan's Ph.D. research focused on development of public policy for conservation of maritime cultural heritage. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts to Swedish immigrants, and raised in Cape Neddick, Maine, he has always had a strong connection to the sea and an interest in maritime history and archaeology. Stefan was a Research Scientist in marine historical ecology for the Ocean Process Analysis Laboratory at UNH until 2010. From 2010 to 2013 he worked as a Forensic Archaeologist with the U.S. Department of Defense, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Honolulu, HI. He currently works as a Project Manager with SEARCH, Inc., a cultural resources consulting firm based in Portsmouth, NH.
Tammy Silva is pursuing a Ph.D. in Marine Science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Tammy received a M.S. in Marine Biology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a B.S. in Biology from Stonehill College. After completing her M.S., Tammy gained valuable field experience working as a staff member with the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance and as a naturalist on whale watching vessels. Tammy has broad interests in marine mammal ecology and conservation including sensory systems, molecular ecology and how human activity influences marine mammal health and behavior. Her thesis research will involve using passive acoustic monitoring to examine the spatial and temporal distribution of odontocetes (toothed whales) within the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS). By characterizing how top predators like odontocetes use the SBNMS, Tammy hopes to increase our understanding of an ecosystem that is critical for both marine species and for humans and to also reduce anthropogenic impacts on marine species. After completing her PhD, Tammy hopes to continue researching marine mammals and to promote conservation of all marine resources.
Winnie Wing Yee Lau received her PhD in Oceanography from the University of Washington, studying the interactions between bacteria and phytoplankton in nutrient cycling. After receiving her Ph.D., Winnie received an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Science and Technology Policy Fellowship and served as an AAAS Diplomacy Fellow in the State Department working on international science collaboration and international marine policies. Winnie is currently the Program Manager for the Marine Ecosystem Services (MARES) Program at the non-profit organization Forest Trends, working at the intersection of marine science, social science, and economics for the conservation of our marine ecosystems.