Faces of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center Series
A new endeavor to introduce the people who work at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Here we feature a new "face" from the Center and share with you a bit about who they are and what they do at the Center.
I work for the Oceanic and Coastal Fisheries Branch of the Population and Ecosystem Monitoring Division. I am based at the Miami facility, where I have been since 2002. I help run the Cooperative Tagging Center, which is a constituent-based program that has been running since 1954 in various formats. The tagging center makes fish tags available to the fishing public and tournament operators, so that anyone interested in volunteering can help us tag—and sometimes recapture—these fish.
I am part of the team that works on the Gulf of Mexico Integrated Ecosystem Assessment program. I have three interrelated projects:
- Collaborative water quality monitoring in Southwest Florida with commercial fishermen
- Ecosystem impacts of red tides including hypoxia or low dissolved oxygen
- Updating a satellite-based index of red tide for use in fishery stock assessments
I organize the Caribbean strategic planning project, which aims to improve data limitations of the U.S. Caribbean region as they relate to stock assessment and ecosystem-based fisheries management. As a subset of this project, I have been compiling a searchable, annotated inventory of past and ongoing federally funded research efforts in the U.S. Caribbean. This inventory will help classify the currently available data and identify potential data gaps and areas for improvement.
IT Specialist-Data Management Analyst
I am responsible for processing and managing commercial fisheries data from North Carolina to Texas into the Accumulated Landing System. The center maintains this database which contains current and historical commercial landings data. These data are an important input to our stock assessment process and the database is frequently queried for other data requests. I also manage our Vessel Operating System, which is an annual survey of active vessels and state boats that conducted fishing activities in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic areas. I respond to data requests from colleagues within the center, the regional office, and non-government agencies.
Deputy Director for Science and Operations
I am currently the Deputy Director for Science and Operations. I oversee the Operations, Management, and Information Division activities such as facilities, IT, administration, and budgeting, as well as the science programs for the Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Division and the Population and Ecosystem Monitoring Division.
I am a Senior Research Associate for the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies. My work supports the Life History and Biology Branch of the Fisheries Assessment, Technology, Engineering, and Survey Division. My main focus is sectioning and aging fish otoliths, or ear bones. To determine the age of the fish I use a microscope and count annual growth rings in the otolith, similar to counting rings on a tree. Age data is used to help gain a better understanding of fish populations so we can monitor and manage the species we study.
I specialize in network management in the Infrastructure Section of the Operations, Management, and Information Division. Since the 1990s, I have installed and maintained software and network equipment (firewalls, routers, and switches) that have become instrumental in protecting the science center and improving our communications.
I provide general library support and work on special tasks and assignments. Currently I am working on the NOAA Network Strategic Plan, updating library services based on feedback from a recent staff survey. We will be expanding desktop access to digital resources. These services include interlibrary loan support when documents are not accessible online, bibliographic support, and journal subscription expansion. I am the Freedom of Information Act point of contact for the center as well. I support NOAA’s regional and national education and outreach missions and participate in NOAA’s Fisheries Education Council. I am also a NOAA Library Advisory Committee member representing all NOAA Fisheries libraries.
Chief of Staff
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.
Fisheries Education Specialist
I assess spawning for various species of snappers and groupers. This involves taking a thin section of the ovary to identify cell structures, under a microscope, that are indicative of present or past spawning events. Histology helps to determine maturity and assists with population assessments. Over the past 19 years my interests have expanded to include educational research, to understand barriers related to diversifying marine science and NOAA’s scholarship programs. Through my outreach activities, I share with students the amazing research conducted by biologists at NOAA to help with local ocean conservation efforts.
As the communications manager for the science center, I get the opportunity to tell people about the important work that the science center team does. Some days that means working with news media, some days it means creating web content and (shameless plug) writing our newsletter, Sea Notes. I’m always looking for ways to show the value of the center’s science.
I am Senior Research Associate for the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies. I work in the center’s Marine Mammal Molecular Genetics Laboratory as a lab technician. We use various genetics techniques to answer questions about marine mammals in the western north Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. I am responsible for maintaining the samples received from various partners as well as working on multiple research projects. As part of those projects I perform DNA extractions, amplifications, and analysis using different types of molecular markers.
Data Analysis and Assessment Support Branch Chief
I worked for 16 years integrating recreational data from various surveys and data collection programs used for assessments and management in the Southeast. I recently became chief of the new Data Analysis and Assessment Support branch in the Sustainable Fisheries Division. Our branch provides analytical data products used in stock assessments in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic.
Coral Research Scientist
I lead the Coral Research and Assessment Lab (CoRAL) Team at the science center. My role is to seek funding and research opportunities, develop projects, and conduct research that helps us manage, conserve and restore populations of corals. I’m primarily focused on those listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in Florida and throughout the Caribbean.
Aquaculture Social Scientist
I conduct research and provide expertise related to the social dimensions of aquaculture, such as who benefits from aquaculture expansion and how. Specifically, my position focuses on supporting the development of Aquaculture Opportunity Areas and assisting regional teams when considering the potential social impacts of aquaculture siting. I also provide input and social science expertise related to aquaculture projects and permitting in the Southeast region.
Veterinary Medical Officer
I lead and manage scientific and technical issues related to health and disease of marine mammals for the center’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. I help to develop and lead research that supports comprehensive veterinary and ecosystem health management approaches for marine mammals and aquatic animals. In doing so, I conduct mortality investigations on dead stranded marine mammals, kind of like when a medical examiner does an autopsy on humans. This includes leading necropsies and subsequently “reading” tissue samples taken during necropsies using a microscope to identify disease if present. I also conduct visual health assessments on free-swimming cetaceans for body condition and skin lesions.
My research focuses on the biology and ecology of sharks, rays, and bony fish. I collect and analyze data on trophic ecology, habitat use, movement ecology, and life history for many species in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. South Atlantic. A large portion of my research supports the recovery of endangered smalltooth sawfish and I am currently leading research to update age and growth information of the species.
Director of the Population and Ecosystems Monitoring Division
I have recently served in roles as the Beaufort Fisheries Ecosystems Branch Chief and the Mississippi Laboratories Division Director. Following the center’s realignment, I will serve as the Director of the newly-formed Population and Ecosystems Monitoring Division. Our areas of focus include fishery-independent surveys and applied research providing data, analytical products, research, and expertise to support NOAA Fisheries priorities.
Director of the Fisheries, Assessment, Technology, and Engineering Support Division
I am the director of the Fisheries, Assessment, Technology, and Engineering Support Division. I oversee four branches that provide essential services and development of new innovative technologies to support the center’s mission.
Director of the Sustainable Fisheries Division
I serve as the Director of the Sustainable Fisheries Division. I conduct and oversee numerous stock assessments of marine fish in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, including: red snapper, red grouper, yellowedge grouper, vermilion snapper, king mackerel as well as yellowfin, bigeye, and bluefin tunas.
Information System Security Officer
I chair the cybersecurity operation for the center. Part of my job is developing and carrying out new standards, policies, and cybersecurity processes. As the "gatekeeper," my main goal is to keep our information secure while enabling our staff the ability to securely meet the agency's critical mission and goals.
Director of the Fisheries Statistics Division
I lead the Fisheries Statistics Division, which includes all the fisheries dependent data collections, managing and disseminating that data for use in science and management. As well, this includes making advances in the way we collect, manage, and disseminate fisheries dependent information.
I am a NOAA’s Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems scholar. I started working at the science center’s Galveston facility in July 2021. I’m currently conducting shrimp experiments to evaluate a new tag used in shrimp. Our field sites are mainly in coastal marshes, mangroves, and oyster reefs. My lab group and I perform other duties such as rehabilitating the wet lab facility, conducting field work, boat maintenance, and helping with other shrimp projects.
Pelagic Observer Program's Safety Coordinator
I am the Pelagic Observer Program’s Safety Coordinator. I also serve as the primary liaison with the highly migratory species pelagic longline fishing industry and am in charge of procurement.
Marine Mammal and Turtle Division Director
I oversee research operations—from administrative to scientific activities—related to marine mammal and sea turtle research and conservation. This supports NOAA Fisheries’ mission of protecting marine mammals and sea turtles, and helping recover endangered species populations. Temporarily, I also oversee reef fish ecology, coral reef ecology and restoration activities, and habitat/ecosystem science programs.
Operations, Management, and Information Division Director
I manage major support elements that are essential parts of the mission at the science center. That includes overseeing budget and contracting, administrative support, information technology, and facilities. It has been the best work adventure to date and I love what I do!
Research Fishery Biologist
I lead the Shark Stock Assessment Group. With different colleagues throughout my tenure, we have been conducting domestic and international shark stock assessments for the U.S. East Coast since 1998. I also do research on shark population dynamics and quantitative conservation biology as time allows.
Research Fishery Biologist
My research focuses on biological and analytical work relating to population dynamics and life history of sharks. A major portion of my current research, which I have been doing for over the last 10 years, has been directed toward supporting recovery of endangered elasmobranchs—sharks, rays, and skates.
Fisheries Methods and Equipment Specialist
I have a long history with turtle excluder devices in the shrimp fishery. I provide outreach about TEDs to the shrimping community--in English and Vietnamese. I conduct at-sea and dockside courtesy TED inspections, TED building workshops, and inspection training for law enforcement.
Fisheries Methods & Equipment Specialist
I am a gear specialist focusing on turtle excluder devices. I provide training to commercial shrimp fishermen, industry members, and law enforcement in an effort to conserve sea turtles through gear compliance. As a dive team member, I participate in the testing of TED design, efficacy, and determining exclusion rate.
Marine Mammal Scientist
I am a marine mammal researcher who works on a multitude of projects through the Cooperative Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Studies. I serve as a marine mammal observer and data manager during line transect large vessel and aerial surveys. I also manage the data collected and assist with analysis and publishing the results.