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Meet Trika Gerard, Chief of Staff

February 03, 2022

Part of the Faces of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center series, meet Dr. Trika Gerard, Chief of Staff to the Science and Research Director.

Trika in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Trika enjoying the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Photo courtesy of Trika Gerard.
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Trika catching juvenile snapper in Florida Bay.
Trika catching juvenile snapper in Florida Bay. As a larval fish ecologist, the objective is to catch the "smaller" fish! Credit: NOAA Fisheries

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Where did you go to school and in what subject did you get your degree(s)?

I hold a Bachelor’s of Science degree in biology from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia and a Master’s degree and doctorate in Environmental Science from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida.

How did you come to work at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center?

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Trika deploying a drifter buoy for tracking ocean currents.
Trika deploying a drifter buoy for tracking ocean currents in Pillsbury Sound between St. Thomas and St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

I joined the NOAA family in 2002 through the Educational Partnership Program Graduate Sciences Program. I was assigned to the science center upon completing my graduate studies and NOAA-related research project entitled “The Use of Otolith Microchemistry to Monitor and Evaluate the Movement of Coral Reef Fish in Southern Florida Waters”.

In 2007, following my fellowship, I joined the center full time as a marine ecologist. I led research projects in early life history of fish with particular focus on larval distribution and transport, food web dynamics influencing larval dispersal, otolith microstructure analysis, and recruitment connectivity. I also led an effort for processing plankton samples collected in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. In 2017, I was excited to be part of the group awarded the NOAA Administrator’s award for executing the first larval fish survey around Cuba.

What do you do at the science center?

As the Chief of Staff to the science center director, I manage the day-to-day operations and responsibilities of the center’s directorate office. I also manage internal and external information flow to and from the director. This may include requests for data from our headquarters office or correspondence from constituents and Congressional staff. In this capacity, I work behind the scenes to problem solve, dealing with issues before they are brought to the Director. I also serve as a strategic advisor and counsel to the center directorate office and the leadership team.

February is Black History Month. What does that mean to you?

Black History Month to me is an opportunity to shed additional light on the countless achievements of the ancestors, change-makers, and revolutionaries of Black people globally. Black History Month is also a time to be more inclusive. To gain an understanding of what is not recorded in history or ask ourselves “what if?” What if “history” were inclusive of the contributions of all people… every month? When we recognize our past, we are encouraged to evaluate our present, and plan for the future.

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Trika Gerard in Egypt.
Visiting Egypt! Trika at King Tut's tomb at the Valley of the Kings (left) and the pyramids (right). “The pyramids in Giza, Egypt are breathtaking!”. Photo courtesy of Trika Gerard

What do you like most about your position?

We have such talented staff with exceptional skills and expertise. However, often federal service is riddled with bureaucracy and complex processes that create challenges for our staff. It is gratifying to assist in removing or overcoming some of those barriers so our staff can focus on their task and apply their talent.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy shopping and traveling. The pyramids of Egypt and dipping in the Dead Sea in Jordan are my favorite travel experiences. Visiting the Taj Mahal is a close second!

Contact Trika

Last updated by Southeast Fisheries Science Center on February 03, 2022