Meet members of NOAA's Habitat Conservation Team and get better acquainted with their work. Explore the staff profiles below to learn more about their current projects and what they find meaningful about their role in conserving habitat.
Meet Eric Weissberger, Deepwater Horizon Oyster Restoration Coordinator
Eric joined NOAA in 2017, when he joined the Office of Habitat Conservation. He brings years of expertise as a shellfish biologist to his role as NOAA's oyster restoration coordinator in the Deepwater Horizon restoration program. He helps the five Gulf states and NOAA work together to rebuild oyster reefs in the Gulf of Mexico in the years following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Meet Tauna Rankin, Coral Reef Conservation Program Specialist
Tauna is a Coral Reef Conservation Program Specialist for NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation in Silver Spring, Maryland. Tauna has worked with NOAA since 2010, when she joined the Office of Habitat Conservation as a John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow. She currently represents NOAA Fisheries in the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. The Coral Reef Conservation Program is a partnership among NOAA offices to understand and conserve coral reef ecosystems.
Zuzy Abdala is a Program Analyst in Silver Spring, Maryland, contracting for Earth Resources Technology, Inc. She works to evaluate the impact of the technical assistance that the NOAA Restoration Center provides to its partners.
Laurel Jennings works as a Marine Habitat Resource Specialist with the NOAA Restoration Center. Laurel first started at NOAA in 2005 as a NOAA Corps officer and began working with the NOAA Restoration Center in 2007.
Carlo Canasa is an IT Support Specialist for NOAA's Office of Habitat Conservation. He has worked with NOAA for over 5 years and currently works Habitat’s Operations, Management, and Information division in Silver Spring, MD. Carlo works with the IT team to support and fulfill the critical technological needs across the Office of Habitat on a daily basis.
Meet Polly Hicks, Policy, Planning, and Communications Supervisor
Polly Hicks is the Policy, Planning, and Communications Supervisor for the NOAA Restoration Center, a division of the Office of Habitat Conservation. She has been with NOAA for 15 years. She recently relocated to NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, after spending more than a decade at the Restoration Center’s Office in Seattle, Washington.
Julie Reichert-Nguyen is a natural resources specialist with the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office in Annapolis, Maryland. She focuses on climate issues in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Program. Julie has been with NOAA for just under a year.
Temi Oyewole is a Funds Management Specialist for NOAA's Office of Habitat Conservation. She has worked with NOAA for over 15 years and currently works in the Operations, Management and Information Office in Silver Spring MD. Temi works with the Finance and Budget team to coordinate and track procurement and contractual actions.
Mel Landry, in NOAA’s Restoration Center, leads projects restoring habitat in Louisiana. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted natural resources here, and barrier islands and marsh are disappearing at an alarming rate.
Mel Landry (third from left) joined federal and state trustee partners at an event dedicating the newly restored Queen Bess Island in Louisiana.
Meet Carl Alderson, Mid-Atlantic Restoration Coordinator
Carl Alderson is the Mid-Atlantic Restoration Coordinator for NOAA's Office of Habitat Conservation. He has worked with NOAA for 17 years. He currently serves as the Mid-Atlantic Restoration Coordinator for NOAA's Office of Habitat Conservation at J.J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sandy Hook Highlands, New Jersey. For the past decade, Carl has been restoring habitat for American shad and other migrating fish in the northeastern U.S.
Carl Alderson (left) with Dr. Olaf Jensen of the Rutgers University Dept.of Marine and Coastal Sciences inserting a PIT tag (tracking device) into the abdomen of an American Shad on its migratory spawning route up the Raritan River in NJ.
Meet Jay Lazar, Physical Scientist and Field Program
Jay Lazar is a Physical Scientist and Field Program Coordinator with the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office in the Office of Habitat Conservation in NOAA Fisheries. He has been with NOAA for 6 years and currently works in the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, Annapolis, Maryland. He works to restore sustainable populations and ecologically valuable habitat for the native Eastern oyster in the Chesapeake Bay.
Jay Lazar introduces a NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office summer intern to how to handle and measure a blue crab.
Meet Bart Merrick, Education Coordinator
Bart Merrick has worked with NOAA for nearly 10 years. He is the Education Coordinator for NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office’s Environmental Science Training Center in Oxford, Maryland. He works on oyster restoration and educates others about the importance of Chesapeake Bay habitat.
Bart Merrick prepares a demonstration for an Environmental Science Training Center workshop for educators.
Meet Robin Peuser, Supervisory Program Analyst
Robin Peuser works as a Supervisory Program Analyst in NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Habitat Conservation. She has been with NOAA for 14 years and currently works at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. A big part of her work is helping others understand the value of habitat.
Robin Peuser pauses in front of the NOAA campus in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Meet Eric Hutchins, Habitat Restoration Biologist
Eric Hutchins is a Habitat Restoration Biologist who is passionate about showing people of all ages the importance of the habitat they live in and around.. He has worked on more than 50 dam removal projects during his 22 years in habitat restoration.
Habitat restoration biologist Eric Hutchins shows tiny eels to children.
Meet Andrew Larkin, Senior Program Analyst
Andrew Larkin works as a Senior Program Analyst for the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office. He has worked for NOAA for almost 23 years. His office is located at the NOAA Office of Coast Survey Atlantic Hydrographic Branch building in Norfolk, Virginia. Currently he is leading a stakeholder workgroup to complete implementation of an oyster restoration blueprint for the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach.