Faces of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center Series
Our series to introduce the people who work at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Each month we feature a new "face" from the Center's five laboratories and share with you a bit about who they are, what they do at the Center, and what they enjoy doing in their spare time.
Research Veterinary Medical Officer
I first learned about aquaculture during an aquatic veterinary course I took through Cornell University in Bristol, Rhode Island. My interest in aquaculture grew, as it plays a significant role in meeting global protein demand. I always wanted to work at the population level—individual medicine never quite clicked. I take a “one health” approach to my work, which acknowledges that animal, human, and environmental health are all connected. In order to solve large challenges, we need to consider the interrelatedness of these different areas and cross boundaries to work together. Aquaculture allowed me to span all three of these areas.
Research Fishery Biologist
I have always enjoyed the STEM fields, but what drew me to fisheries science was its applied nature and relevance. It is not just science that is driven by curiosity, but science that is driven by an explicit need and has a direct impact. Fisheries are important as a sustainable food source and as an economic sector supporting coastal communities and people’s livelihoods. I find population dynamics to be a continual challenge and a field where there is never a shortage of opportunities for learning and professional growth. Sometimes it can be overwhelming—there is always so much that you don’t know—but it also keeps it interesting. Within the trenches of population dynamics, I especially enjoy coding and learning new programming languages. I enjoy applying them to current questions, problems, and projects that we have in our branch.
My biggest and most thrilling ongoing project is to map, survey, and characterize deep-sea coral habitats off the U.S. Northeast coast. This involves a lot of fieldwork with other NOAA and academic partners on NOAA’s big white ships and other vessels. We use all kinds of camera and video platforms, like drop cameras, remotely operated vehicles, and autonomous underwater vehicles.
I now lead the EcoMon program, which means I spend a lot of time coordinating with partners from other NOAA programs, government agencies, and universities. We collect data to help manage the ocean’s resources. We use our ship time and partnerships to collect a lot of different kinds of data to improve our understanding of the changes we are seeing in the ecosystem. We can also work with our science and management partners on how those changes impact fish and fishermen.
Working for the center's Ecosystems Dynamics and Assessment Branch allows me to work with a multidisciplinary group of scientists. They assess all components of the marine ecosystem, from physics to primary producers to keystone predators. I also really enjoy working at a world-recognized climate modeling lab. I can work with leading experts to apply state-of-the-art global climate models to regional ecosystem, fisheries, and protected species research here in the Northeast.
My position has grown since joining the branch ten-plus years ago. It affords me the opportunity to engage in a number of different projects and tasks. They range from writing funding proposals to spending time at the docks catching up with vessel owners and captains. I help administer programs for fishery-dependent data collection. I support our observers, at-sea monitors, and portside samplers in the field as they deploy on vessels from Maine to North Carolina.
Academic Programs Coordinator
I am the Academic Programs Coordinator. My priorities are to help organize, plan, manage and develop center-wide student programs. I have been involved with NOAA’s Ernest F. Hollings undergraduate scholarships, Educational Partnership Program undergraduate scholarships, and Experiential Research & Training Opportunities. Locally, I have also been involved with NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for the North Atlantic Region, hosted at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, NOAA Fisheries’ Woods Hole Science Aquarium, and PEP.