Faces of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center Series
Here we introduce the people who work at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center.
In this series, we feature a new "face" from the Center and share with you a bit about who they are and what they do here.
Fisheries Method and Equipment Specialist
After working in the commercial fishing industry in the Gulf of Maine and as a fisheries observer in Hawaii, I joined NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center. I now work as a gear technician and NOAA diver for the Gear and Vessel Support Branch. I help maintain, fabricate, and supply gear for the Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s bottom longline and trawl surveys. I help test and develop new designs that are incorporated into commercial fishing gear to help protect sea turtles, marine mammals, and large sharks. I also assist in developing sorting grids that could function as Turtle Excluder Devices.
I do many things in my capacity as an applied anthropologist. The most important is to act as a conduit for information to be passed from local stakeholder groups associated with commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishing sectors to those who sit at the decision-making “table.” I help ensure that local perspectives are considered in the development and acceptance of alternative fishery management policies, while addressing socio-economic impacts. This also works in the other direction as I work to make sure our local stakeholders understand NOAA's mission to protect and appropriately utilize our Nation's most precious resources.
Senior Research Associate II
I am a NOAA affiliate for the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies. I work in the Biology and Life History Branch within the Fisheries Assessment, Technology, and Engineering Support Division. We receive thousands of structures to age every year, mostly consisting of otoliths (inner ear bones of fish) and spines (external bony structure, mostly used for gray triggerfish). We section these structures to age—by counting rings like a tree—under a microscope. We follow the SouthEast Data, Assessment, and Review guidelines and procedures for stock assessments/data submissions. We supply species specific length-at-age data along with other contributing organizations to collectively assess a certain population and/or species. From there, management suggestions are provided to the stock managers and legislators to govern the stock accordingly.
I am the Director of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center. I often tell people that I used to determine how many fish were in the sea and how many we can catch while still leaving enough for the future, but now I just send emails about it. Really, I oversee the operations and research conducted by 350 people, at six main facilities in what is arguably the most complex region of the country. I am responsible for planning, administering, and evaluating a dizzying array of multidisciplinary programs in support of our mission to provide the scientific advice and data needed to effectively manage the living resources of the Southeast Region and the Atlantic high seas.
I am a larval ecologist in the Trawl and Plankton Branch of the Population and Ecosystems Monitoring Division. I have worked with snappers, lobsters, eel larvae, and lionfish. Recently, I led larval oceanographic surveys and focused on highly migratory species such as western Atlantic bluefin tuna. I specialize in larval age and growth dynamics.
I am a research ecologist in the Caribbean Fisheries Branch of the Sustainable Fisheries Division. I primarily work on stock assessment models to provide scientific advice for the management of fishery resources in the U.S. Caribbean. I work on analyzing large datasets and advancing our population modeling workflows’ reproducibility and transparency. To communicate our science, I represent the science center on important outreach activities. For example, I am a member of the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council’s Outreach and Education Advisory Panel. The advisory panel’s objective is to achieve better engagement with the fishing community and general public related to issues of fisheries management. I am also a member of the Caribbean Steering Committee of the Marine Resource Education Program. This program is a nationally recognized training for fishermen, managers, scientists, and other fisheries industry members.
My research aims to explore the patterns of red snapper larval dispersal and recruitment in the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, we aim to explore how larval dispersal driven by the local oceanography, species behavior, and demographics can shape red snapper population structure and dynamics. This knowledge can improve our understanding of population rebuilding rates and potential sustainable exploitation levels, particularly when considering changes in exploitation levels in different management jurisdictions. I will be collaborating to investigate environmental drivers of poor recruitment of the snapper-grouper complex in the South Atlantic.
Gear and Vessel Support Branch Chief
Earlier in my career, as a research scientist, my work primarily focused on reducing bycatch in commercial fisheries. This was generally directed at reducing the capture of protected species. I am the Chief of the Gear and Vessel Support Branch, which focuses on:
- Supporting surveys and research through readiness and operation of our small research vessels the R/V Southern Journey and R/V Caretta and construction of sampling gear and support equipment
- Contributing to agency research and development of fishing gear and fisheries-related components that reduce bycatch and bycatch mortality of incidentally captured fish and protected species
- Providing expert consultations on fishing gear and fisheries techniques as they relate to fisheries bycatch for both domestic and international fisheries
I work with the Integrated Ecosystem Assessment team. Broadly, our goal is to provide fisheries managers with the science and tools that assist in managing coastal ecosystems. For example, we collected oral histories from fishermen affected by red tides. This expanded our understanding of where and when these events occurred. We also learned more about the species affected, habitat impacts, recovery speed of ecosystems, and community resiliency. Learn more about the Oral History Collection.
I am also involved in a collaborative project with HistoryMiami Museum that seeks to preserve the rich history of endangered fishing traditions in the Greater Miami Area. We are collecting oral history interviews to expand our knowledge of the region's fisheries. Also, we want to learn about the role that fishing has had in shaping the region economically and culturally. Learn more about the collaborative project with HistoryMiami Museum.
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.