Join us in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, which honors cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans and the heritage of Latin American countries. Check out the profiles below to meet our colleagues across the country and learn how their work helps us to ensure sustainable fisheries, protect marine species, and conserve valuable habitat for future generations.
Zuzy Abdala, Program Analyst
Zuzy Abdala is a Program Analyst based in Silver Spring, Maryland contracting for Earth Resources Technology, Inc. She currently works in the NOAA Restoration Center in the Office of Habitat Conservation, where she served as a Knauss Fellow in 2020. She first joined NOAA Fisheries as an intern for the Office of Science and Technology in 2019.
Zuzy has an undergraduate degree from George Mason University in general biology and a Master's degree in oceanography from Old Dominion University. She worked as an aquatic ecologist technician for the Illinois Natural History Survey near St. Louis, sampling the Mississippi River for sturgeon, paddlefish, and silver carp, among others. She also conducted research off the coast of the West Antarctic Peninsula for 5 weeks on the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer in 2016. In 2017, she was awarded the 3-year National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship.
Andy Davis, Pelagic Observer Program's Safety Coordinator
Andy Davis is the Pelagic Observer Program’s Safety Coordinator at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center. He also serves as the primary liaison with the highly migratory species pelagic longline fishing industry and am in charge of procurement. He studied from elementary through high school in Brazil before attending college in the United States and then graduated from Grossmont College in California with an Associates Degree in General Studies.
Andy attended Florida International University, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and a minor in Chemistry. He also completed a 2-year mentoring program in Environmental Biology of the Caribbean biogeographical region. His Master’s Degree is in Environmental Studies at Green Mountain College in Vermont with a focus on Caribbean Biogeography.
Meet Elena Flores, Graduate Scholar
Elena Flores is a graduate scholar at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center. She is currently conducting shrimp experiments to evaluate a new tag used in shrimp. These visible marks will help monitor shrimp growth over time. She monitors retention rate, and visibility of the tags, as well as shrimp survival.
This monitoring happens mainly in coastal marshes, mangroves, and oyster reefs. Elena works with her lab group to perform other duties such as rehabilitating the wet lab facility, conducting field work, boat maintenance, and helping with other shrimp projects. With a Bachelors in Biology, she is currently working on her Masters degree in Ocean, Coastal, and Earth Sciences at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Elena's thesis research is on coastal conservation investigating eutrophication effects on Black mangrove and soil gas fluxes in eutrophicated coastal blue carbon in South Texas.
Meet Luis Noguerol, Information System Security Officer
Dr. Luis O. Noguerol is a cybersecurity gatekeeper and Judo blackbelt. He grew up in Holguin, Cuba. Today he chairs the cybersecurity operation for the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, where he develops and carries out new standards, policies, and cybersecurity processes. As the "gatekeeper," his main goal is to keep the Center's information secure while enabling staff the ability to securely meet the agency's critical mission and goals.
After 38 years of experience working in cybersecurity and information technology, Luis expertly minimizes cybersecurity "surprises." He has several advanced degrees and holds 101 Information Technology and Cybersecurity certifications, including Masters degrees in Mathematics and Statistics and Telecommunications and Satellites Systems, and a Doctoral degree in Information Technology and Cybersecurity.
Meet Brittany Struck, Natural Resource Management Specialist
Brittany Struck conducts Endangered Species Act consultations for threatened and endangered steelhead in South-Central and Southern California. Her job is to effectively and efficiently conduct Section 7 consultations under the Endangered Species Act for threatened and endangered steelhead in South-Central and Southern California. The Act requires federal agencies to consult with NOAA Fisheries on actions that may affect threatened or endangered species so we can recommend steps to minimize adverse effects to the species and their habitat. Brittany got her BA in Marine Science at the University of San Diego and an MA in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island.
She says the most interesting projects she has worked on are water-diversion projects because you often have to be incredibly strategic, creative, and thoughtful to gain water for endangered Southern California steelhead.
Sara Young, Protected Species Biologist
Sara Young is part of a ten person team in the Office of Protected Resources who issue scientific research permits under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Her area of focus is issuing research permits for pinnipeds—seals and sea lions. Since the age of five, she knew she wanted to be a marine biologist.
While she grew up studying whales, now she knows that seals are the coolest animals. Sara studied at the University of New England and received her Masters of Research in Marine Mammal Science at the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom.