Skip to main content

School of Forest, Fisheries, & Geomatics Sciences

School of Forest, Fisheries, & Geomatics Sciences


Graduate Students - Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Photo Name Degree Seeking Advisor Bio
  Trenton Aguilar Ph.D.  Mike Allen  I research sea turtle and human interactions. I am planning to look into the threat of vessel strikes in Florida gulf coast waters, by doing both field observations and computer modeling. 
  Scott Alford  Ph.D.  Charles Martin I started working on my PhD through the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station in 2019. My research focuses on the effects of salinity on structuring estuarine food webs in the Suwanee River Sound, FL, and other northern Gulf of Mexico estuaries. I am developing modeling and experimental approaches to examine the distribution of fish and crustaceans along the estuarine salinity gradient and determine how variation in species interactions due to changes in salinity shapes these distributions.
  Kelly Alfrey  MFAS Josh Patterson  
Karen Alldridge  MFAS  Ruth Francis-Floyd I grew up in Jupiter, FL and graduated UF with a BS in Soil and Water Science (minors in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences and East/Central European Studies) in 2010. After which I worked for FWC as a creel clerk for a year on the Santa Fe River and then a small company doing environmental assessments and consulting back down in South Florida, before joining the Army and becoming an Apache pilot. Recently I finished a Graduate Certificate in Aquaculture and Fish Health and I am now pursuing my MS in the MFAS program (as well as another Graduate Certificate in Microbiology). Once my service is complete in the Army as a pilot, I will likely continue my education with a DVM or PhD.
Shanae Allen  Ph.D. Will Patterson and Dave Chagaris I am a PhD student under Dr. Will Patterson and Dr. David Chagaris, as well as a Research Scientist for FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission performing stock assessments for Florida’s marine resources. I received my B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and then earned my M.S. in Operations Research/Biomath from North Carolina State University. My goal is to contribute to the field of ecosystem-based fisheries management and to our understanding of system dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico. In particular, I am exploring survey designs of underwater video surveys and methods to infer red-tide induced movement and mortality on reef fishes in the eastern Gulf.
  Chris Anderson  Ph.D. Andrew Carlson I am a PhD student under the advisement of Dr. Andrew Carlson as well as a Project Leader for the Freshwater Fisheries Research group of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I earned my B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and M.S. in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from UF. My PhD research is focused on evaluating current and future thermal habitat suitability of non-native freshwater fish in Florida’s lotic ecosystems. I will also be experimentally assessing population-level impacts of non-native freshwater fishes on native ones. My research will enhance the ability of fisheries managers to predict species-specific range expansions of non-native freshwater fish and the potential impacts to native freshwater fish populations and communities in the context of climate change.
  Alison Atchia  MS Vincent Lecours I am a first-year masters student working on my MS in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. I am currently working in Dr. Lecours’ lab as a Graduate Research Assistant. Our lab is in the marine geomatics department and I am primarily a marine spatial ecologist. I am still in the discovery phase of my thesis process, but as a Mauritian-American I am thinking of using satellite imagery to monitor Mauritius’s coastal ecosystem following the oil spill that occurred this past summer.
  Jordan Bajema  MS Will Patterson I am an MS student based out the Nature Coast Biological Station in Cedar Key. I received my BS from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. In the years following I worked as a fisheries observer in Alaska. After that I worked for various fisheries entities before finding myself working at UF on the “Great Red Snapper Count”. My current research seeks to estimate important nursery areas for the Common Snook’s northward range expansion using otolith isotopes as natural tags.
  Beverly Barnett  Ph.D. Will Patterson   
  Brittany Baugher  MFAS  Shirley Baker I am a distance learning student located in San Clemente, CA. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Florida in 2010. I previously worked as a research assistant for the UF Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences lab from 2008-2011 performing taxonomic zooplankton analysis for a long-term monitoring project. I have been working for government agencies in the environmental compliance realm for the past 10 years. I’m so grateful and excited to be back at UF to guide my career back into marine work.
Photo Name Degree Seeking Advisor Bio
  Kenneth Black  Ph.D. Shirley Baker  
Victor Blanco  MFAS Shirley Baker  In 2016 I started a position as the Taylor County Marine Extension Agent for UF/IFAS Extension and Florida Sea Grant and currently I’m a distance student of the Master of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Education and Communication. As part of my extension work I decided to focus my technical paper towards the development of an extension, outreach and communication plan for the scallop fisheries in Taylor County which is one of the most important economic drivers in our coastal communities.
  Noah Boldt  MS Matthew DiMaggio and Frank Asche I graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Agricultural Operations Management and minors in Management and Sales in Agribusiness, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, and International Studies in Agriculture in May 2019. I began work at the University of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Lab only two weeks after graduation on a project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and I plan on graduating Spring 2021. My work is part of a nation-wide initiative to improve the profitability and create opportunities for growth in the aquaculture industry. Work on the project covers many areas of aquaculture including catfish, East Coast shellfish, hybrid striped bass, tilapia, and tropical fish. I will be focusing on tropical fish, connecting with local farmers in the Tampa Bay area to seek out regulatory inefficiencies in their production processes and provide an economic analysis of farm functions.
  Kimberly Bonvechio  Ph.D. Andrew Carlson I began my PhD program in fall 2021 working on FWC’s freshwater fisheries long-term monitoring program. Specifically, I am interested in evaluating the program from multiple perspectives, identifying ways to maximize its efficiency and effectiveness into the future, and increasing our understanding of drivers influencing freshwater sportfish populations and fish community structure across Florida. This project will allow fisheries managers to track the success of the program in achieving its objectives, focus on areas for improvement, and showcase the relevance of the program for fisheries management, conservation, and public engagement.
  Adam Bretschneider  MFAS Courney Ohs I am a Teacher on Special Assignment for Escambia County School District. I work at the Roy Hyatt Environmental Center in Cantonment, Florida. I love teaching students about Florida’s amazing diversity of life. The environmental center recently completed renovations on our new beach classroom. My interests revolve around proper setup and maintenance of aquaculture systems as well as utilizing these systems to alleviate collection and harvest pressure on native populations.
  Morgan Bronson  MFAS Courtney Ohs I am a marine ornamental aquaculture student. I will be working with the large variety of fish in Dr. Ohs’ lab. I will be trying to find the perfect conditions to rear various fish larvae.
  Billy Buckley  MFAS Mike Allen My name is Billy Buckley. I am a graduate student in the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program. I am participating in the distance learning course for my master’s degree. I am a 7th grade science teacher in Myrtle Beach, SC. I lead my school’s Environmental club where my students participate annually in the local BioBlitz, in annual beach and marsh sweeps, and work to make our coastal area less polluted from waterway restaurants and tourist debris. My original undergrad degree was Marine bio and I am happy to have found my way back into the field. I want to pursue summer research opportunities on the local flora and fauna and plan to be a part of the Teacher at Sea summer program hosted by NOAA.
  Matthew Bunting  MS Quenton Tuckett and Jeff Hill I am a MS student in the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program while working as a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at the Charlotte Harbor Field lab in Port Charlotte, Florida. My thesis research focuses on the emigration of juvenile tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) from remote nurseries in coastal wetland ponds into the open estuary. By utilizing an acoustic telemetry study accompanied with water level loggers, my goal is to better understand the climatic events and water levels that are needed for tarpon to emigrate from these ephemerally connected ponds into the Charlotte Harbor estuary.
  Emily Caffrey  MFAS Roy Yanong I completed my undergrad in Environmental Studies at Salisbury University in Maryland – where I found my love of scuba diving. Since then, I’ve worked in Dive Safety at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island (at which I performed field lionfish mitigation and Sand Tiger shark research) and currently at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I’ve found myself wanting to cross-over into animal health after closely working with the husbandry and veterinary teams at both facilities! I’m stoked to be a part of the online MFAS program at UF to achieve this goal.
  Derek Chamberlain  Ph.D. Will Patterson and Rob Ahrens I am a PhD student conducting research focused on improving age estimates for commercially exploited reef fishes. I use a variety of methods to estimate and validate the ages of two important Florida reef fish, gray triggerfish (Balistes capriscus) and vermillion snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens). I am also investigating the development of a novel method to validate age estimates using protein orientation in eye lenses. Using this information I will study how improved aging accuracy and precision affect modeled stock dynamics and stock status benchmarks.
Photo Name Degree Seeking Advisor Bio
  Lisa Chong  Ph.D Ed Camp I will develop conceptual and quantitative models to assess the potential of artificial reefs as an effective management tool. My first goal is to create a model that will simulate the effects of artificial reefs on a hypothetical recreational fishery.
  Preston Chrisman  MFAS Chuck Chichra I started the pursuit of my online MFAS degree this May and aim to graduate in spring 2022. My research project will likely be centered around an upcoming research project I am set to initiate here in South Carolina for the SC Department of Natural Resources. We have ~20 small public fishing lakes in the State Lakes program and these lakes are routinely becoming “bass crowded” with the ever-declining desire of anglers to harvest largemouth bass. My project will involve heavy largemouth bass removal via electrofishing to ascertain if this can make a positive impact on two of our bass crowded lakes. I plan to look for changes in both the largemouth bass population characteristics but also look for changes in the bluegill population characteristics. If successful, this could serve as a management blueprint for our and other agencies’ bass crowded public fishing lakes.
  Keel Condy  MS Will Patterson My research through the UF Nature Coast Biological Station and with the help of Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Independent Monitoring Program (FIM) will focus on the effects that range expansion of Common Snook due to climate change will have on other sport fishes in the Cedar Key area. I will be using stable isotope and dietary analysis to assess impacts of snook on Red Drum and Spotted Seatrout, two species with established recreational fisheries in the area.
  Chelsea Conley  MS Mike Allen and Charlie Martin I am a M.S. student at the Nature Coast Biological Station (NCBS) in Cedar Key, FL. I am also currently working with Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Independent Monitoring Program while pursuing my degree. My research focuses on the effects of oyster restoration on nekton assemblages in the Suwannee Sound, located outside the mouth of the Suwannee River. I am collecting fish and invertebrate richness and abundance data along Lone Cabbage Reef to compare differences before and after the oyster restoration.
  Sean Cooley  MS Rob Ahrens  
  Bryan Danson  Ph.D Courtney Ohs My research explores the reproductive and growth characteristics of ornamental fish. In association with the Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association (FTFFA), I focused on the family Loricariidae from South America, specifically three species common within the ornamental trade for peoples’ home aquaria. I researched spawning methods and habits and investigated growth and survival of offspring under different culture conditions. The end goal is to help the FTFFA expand their list of species that they produce and reduce collection pressure on wild populations of these fishes.
  Taylor Dluzniewski  MS Mike Allen  
  Lena Donnarumma  MFAS Don Behringer I grew up and live in Middletown, NY, and have always been drawn to the sea. Encouraged by my friends and family to pursue marine biology as a career, I’ve been on an active journey to find my niche. I am very passionate about research, especially related to the health and well-being of aquatic animals. I have a special interest in invertebrates such as the horseshoe crab, and how the changing environment is affecting the animals as well as public health concerns that arise. This summer, I will complete the Graduate Certificate Program in Aquaculture and Fish Health and am now pursuing a Masters in the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program. Right now I work at an environmental water testing laboratory in Newburgh, NY. I have no idea where the journey will lead me, but am excited to learn.
  Brady Donovan  MFAS Jeff Hill I was previously an assistant Fisheries Biologist for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (now VDWR). I conducted and assisted in sampling tidal rivers and freshwater impoundments and reservoirs. I’ve worked with several types of fish species including sport fishes, invasives, endangered fish and anadromous species. Apart from sampling using electrofishing, gill nets and traps nets, I assisted with educational outreach, habitat enhancements and fish passage work. I’m currently pursing my MFAS and Aquaculture and Fish Health certificate with my research focusing on a temporal analysis of largemouth bass and their forage base in a tidal oligohaline system.
  Liz Duermit Moreau  Ph.D. Don Behringer I am interested in disease ecology in fished crustaceans. For my dissertation research I will focus on identifying life history and environmental characteristics of crustaceans that impact their susceptibility to disease-causing pathogens and parasites. I will examine how habitat degradation and fishing pressure in the Florida Keys impact disease in two of Florida’s top fisheries – spiny lobster and stone crab.
Photo Name Degree Seeking Advisor Bio
  Jayne Ecker MFAS Chuck Cichra I am a distance student working with Iowa DNR at a Fisheries Research Station. I help conduct regular fieldwork but am also working on my own project over fish movement through dams. There are two parts to my study, using acoustic transmitters to track large scale movement and using balloon tags to determine percent mortality through the hydro dam and over the spillway.
  Michael Espriella MS Vincent Lecours In my research I use spatial datasets to produce habitat maps and analyze the spatiotemporal dynamics of coastal systems. The focus of my thesis is using imagery collected by unmanned aerial systems to characterize Florida’s intertidal oyster reefs. I am using Object-Based Image Analysis to delineate reefs from surrounding habitats as well as oyster shell from surrounding substrate within an individual reef. Object-Based Image Analysis is a more robust analysis technique than traditional pixel-based methods as it divides images into meaningful objects using spectral and textural characteristics. I will use the information from the Object-Based Image Analysis in a broader seascape ecology context to study which spatial variables may contribute to a reef’s success or failure.
  Nicholas Fisch Ph.D. Robert Ahrens and Ed Camp I am a PhD student in Dr. Ahrens and Dr. Camp’s labs at UF focusing on sustainable fisheries management using stock assessments and management strategy evaluations. I obtained my B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida and my M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University. My current research aims to determine whether there are suitable alternatives to the multinomial likelihood for modeling age and size composition data within fisheries stock assessments.
  Candise Forde MFAS Shirley Baker I am a distance MFAS student based in Sarasota, Florida. I graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a B.S. in Marine Science with minors in Biology and Geology. I currently work as an Environmental Planner with Manatee County. My research will focus on red tide impacts on local bivalve populations within the Sarasota Bay area.
  Sue Forrest MFAS Don Behringer

I am a grad student in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. My interests are focused on microflora and epidemiology of marine organisms, primarily benthic organisms, coral, algae and dinoflagellates. I am interested in the anthropogenic impact on these organisms and their habitats. I also have an interest in aquaculture and how microflora play a role in healthy farming.

My career is in laboratory science and in education. I am currently a high school science teacher and a microbiologist. I love bringing my passion for the earth to young people. I love to sail, kayak, bike, hike, and explore the great outdoors.

  Bethany Gaffey MS Andrew Carlson

Bethany Gaffey is an experienced researcher with a demonstrated history of working in the scientific diving field. She is currently studying Gulf Sturgeon and Climate Change while developing a communications portfolio in the School of Forest, Fisheries, & Geomatics Sciences at the University of Florida.

Skilled in marine research, outdoor guiding, and digital media, Bethany is actively pursuing a career in Science Communication. Her dream job is to connect people with nature in tangible and creative ways beyond publishing scientific papers. She looks forward to using her research experiences over the next two years to create engaging content about Gulf Sturgeon and more, highlighting the conservation efforts of this charismatic and prehistoric species.

  Allison Godfrey MFAS Shirley Baker  
  Pamela Gruver MFAS Mike Allen I’m a student in the Master of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program and my research interests focus on Florida’s trap fisheries for blue crab, stone crab, and lobster. I received my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Florida State University and serve as Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s coordinator for the Derelict Trap Retrieval, Special Activity License, and Administrative Penalty programs. I’m a lifelong Florida resident, advanced open water diver, and can usually be found in or around saltwater. I’m lucky to be able to say that I’ve seen the entire state by boat!
  Hannah Hafey  MFAS Josh Patterson I am a distance MFAS student working under Dr. Josh Patterson. I currently work at the National Ocean Service (NOS, NOAA) as an advisor to the Deputy Assistant Administrator. I previously worked as a Fishery Regulations Specialist and the NOAA Liaison to the Regional Fishery Management Councils. My undergraduate degree focused on coastal ecology, and my previous research included salt marsh, oyster reef, and tropical ecosystem restoration.
  Brittany Hall-Scharf Ph.D. Jeff Hill I’m a Florida native, working at Hernando County’s Florida Sea Grant Agent with the UF/IFAS Extension Office. Within my extension role, I work on many coastal and marine programs to address issues related to fisheries, habitats, water quality, and sustainable economic resource activities. As a new Ph.D. student of Dr. Jeff Hill’s lab, I plan to incorporate telemetry, a controlled-temperature system, and cooperative extension to further investigate how the Common Snook, Centropomus undecimalis, utilizes habitats along Hernando’s coast, and estimate the lower lethal temperature limits of this species. Formerly, I was a fisheries biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and an adjunct professor for the University of Tampa. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Biological Science from Florida State University, a Coastal and Marine Science Resources Certificate from Florida State University, and a Master of Science in Biological Oceanography from the University of Florida.
Photo Name Degree Seeking Advisor Bio
  Joseph Henry  Ph.D. Josh Patterson My work focuses on using sexually propagated staghorn coral for restoration efforts in the Florida Keys. In addition, I work in Terengganu, Malaysia developing techniques to monitor and rehabilitate reefs in remote areas.
  Ryan Henry  MS Kai Lorenzen  
  Rachael Hirsch  MFAS Deb Murie  
hummel  Amelia Hummel  MFAS Ruth Francis-Floyd I am a MFAS online student. For my undergraduate degree in Biology, I attended Iowa State University. I am also a Certified Veterinary Technician and attended St. Petersburg College for my Associates degree in that field. I am currently working at a University in their consortium with zebrafish.
  Sarah Hutchins  MS Matt DiMaggio I am an M.S. student and biological scientist at the UF/IFAS Tropical Aquaculture Lab, where I run live feeds for marine ornamental fish aquaculture. My research focuses on improving culture methods for the copepod species Parvocalanus crassirostris and Oithona colcarva and finding new methods for increasing larval fish feeding efficiencies.
  Robyn Irwin  MFAS Courtney Ohs  
  Marlyn Kallau  Ph.D. Huiping Yang I am a PhD student and currently examining nutrient accumulation in microalgae and its role in mollusk aquaculture; particularly hard clam (Mercenaria mercenaria). I am going to examine total lipid and protein of microalgae and how they contribute to growth and development of hard clam. Before studying microalgae as live feed, I was a fish nutritionist working with artificial feed, especially fishmeal replacement. Feel free to contact me on email or my LinkedIn account if you want to ask about my current or past research.
  William Kehoe  MS David Chagaris and Frank Asche I am pursuing a Master’s in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. My research focuses on modeling the bioeconomic relationships between stone crabs and the people who rely on them. As well as, further modeling aspects of stone crab population dynamics. I earned my bachelor’s degree in marine science from Stockton University in New Jersey. Where I found my passion for advancing the field of fisheries science and management. I am looking forward to working with the University of Florida, state officials, and the stone crab community to apply that passion and make a positive impact.
  Ashley Kidd  MFAS Shirley Baker My research interests involve temperate and tropical aquaculture, kelp forest invertebrate restoration and habitat monitoring. I work on restoration and monitoring of white abalone (Haliotis sorensini) in Southern California and am investigating the potential for sunflower sea star restoration (Pychnopodia helianthoides) in this region for my master’s degree. I am an AAUS scientific rebreather diver, and love planning long dives in the kelp forests! I will talk about all things aquaculture or diving whether you are a beginner and have all the questions or have stuff to teach me!
  Everett Krause  MFAS Shirley Baker  
Photo Name Degree Seeking Advisor Bio
  Shelly Krueger  Ph.D. Josh Patterson I am a PhD student and the Florida Sea Grant agent in Monroe County for the UF/IFAS Extension. My research interests are sponge restoration aquaculture in the Florida Keys and I am in the Dr. Josh Patterson Lab. Prior to coming to the University of Florida, I was a research technician at the University of Georgia Marine Extension Shellfish Research Lab. In 2009, I was a Knauss Fellow and spent one year at NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service assisting staff to implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). I also spent one summer interning at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. BS from Georgia Tech in Science, Technology, and Culture. MS from Savannah State University in Marine Sciences, where I was a NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center Fellow and my thesis focused on Eastern oyster restoration in coastal Georgia.
  Alyssa Lawrence  MFAS Roy Yanong  
  Kyle Leachman  MFAS Ruth Francis-Floyd  
  Justin Lewis  Ph.D.  Will Patterson I am a PhD student in Dr. Will Patterson’s lab where my research is broadly focused on the trophic dynamics of reef fish assemblages and the ecology small demersal fishes (e.g., blennies, gobies, damselfish, etc.). My research thus far provides evidence of direct and indirect effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on reef fish communities in the northern Gulf of Mexico and that many groups, including small demersal fishes, have not recovered to their pre-DWH baselines. This lack of recovery is likely the result of multiple stressors (e.g., DWH, the invasive lionfish (Pterois spp.) and fishing mortality) and concomitant changes in predator-prey dynamics. To evaluate the ecological implications, I am using compound-specific stable isotope analyses to identify patterns of carbon flow and niche partitioning within and among trophic guilds of small demersal fishes.
  Audrey Looby  Ph.D. Charles Martin I am a PhD student in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences under Charlie Martin and Laura K. Reynolds. I am focusing on fish sound production and coastal soundscape ecology. My research interests include seagrass ecosystem soundscapes, the impacts of a living shorelines restoration on the intertidal soundscape, and anthropogenic noise pollution. I am also compiling a comprehensive inventory of all fish species that have been shown to produce sound. I earned my M.S. at the University of Florida, studying the effects of submerged aquatic vegetation restoration on fish habitat use. Prior to that, I worked as a research assistant at the Smithsonian Marine Station on projects in Florida and Belize and conducted research in the kelp forests around Catalina Island.
  Gabrielle Love  MS Ed Camp and Shirley Baker I am a MS student interested in benthic invertebrate ecology. My research focuses on the dynamics of predator-prey interactions on oyster reefs, specifically how factors like variations in salinity and prey density mediate mortality by predation. I am conducting a field experiment to assess differences in oyster mortality and predator abundance along natural gradients in the Suwannee River estuary.
  Dan Luby  MFAS Huiping Yang My name is Dan and I am a mollusk fanatic. From the slimiest slug to the most enchanting octopus, phylum Mollusca has given me unending joy. I have begun an internship with SeaGrant and Treasure Coast Shellfish to help bring Florida’s tide to table revolution to the east coast. We farm Crassostrea virginica in the Indian River Lagoon near the mouth of Sebastian Inlet. Spring 2021 is my final semester.
  Christina Mallica  MS
Certificate: GIS 
Vincent Lecours I am a MS student in Dr. Vince Lecours’ Marine Geomatics Lab. Through my current employment as a Coral Biologist with Florida Fish and Wildlife in St. Petersburg, Florida, my research focuses on the spatial ecology of corals in the Florida Keys. I plan to use FWC’s historical and contemporary photomosaic archive to look at ecological and structural metrics of success for the remaining healthy and natural colonies in the Keys. Using this research, I hope to inform coral restoration decisions.
  Charlotte Marin  Ph.D.
Concentration: Natural Resource Policy & Administration
Kai Lorenzen  
  Logan Masterson  MS Andrew Carlson Logan started his M.S. program in Spring 2022. His research focuses on the interface between management of fisheries and invasive plants (e.g., hydrilla) in the Harris Chain of Lakes, Florida. Logan is studying Grass Carp movement, habitat use, emigration, and post-stocking mortality to develop a population model and identify strategies for balancing biological and chemical approaches for invasive plant management
Photo Name Degree Seeking Advisor Bio
  Katie McCord  MS Courtney Ohs  
  Sandra McCoy  MFAS Chuck Cichra  
  Chris McTurnan  Ph.D. Ed Phlips

Previously, my graduate research with the Phlips Lab consisted of a life history analysis of the algal species Ulva lactuca on the island of Okinawa in Japan. Environmental, normally distributed variables such as solar flux and pH were compared using parametric tests. Typhoon data was also utilized which identified brief interruptions in size and frequency of algal blooms months after the storm actually occurred.

My current research working towards my PhD involve an in-depth study of the inflow and outflow of eutrophic waters within the Okeechobee waterway, more specifically the St. Lucie Canal. There has been limited scientific research on the algal, bacterial, chemical and physical composition of Lake Okeechobee waters after they leave the lake proper and enter the canal. It is suspected that during flushing regimes, the suspension and re-suspension of nutrient laden sediments within the water column prime the St. Lucie estuary for eutrophic events. This research would fill a gap in an otherwise very large, lengthy, and costly environmental problem within the State of Florida.

  Jessica Melkun  MFAS Shirley Baker I am a MFAS distance-learning student based out of Tallahassee, FL. I graduated from FSU with a B.S. in Biological Sciences in 2013 and a J.D. in 2017. I currently serve as environmental law attorney for the Florida House of Representatives where I work on bill and amendment drafting, analysis, and constitutional issues for environmental topics.
  Kyle Miller  MS Andrew Carlson Kyle started his M.S. program in Fall 2022. His research focuses on the ecology and conservation of imperiled Bluenose Shiner in Florida. Kyle is monitoring Bluenose Shiner abundance along with water velocity, depth, substrate, and other habitat factors to develop a range-wide Habitat Suitability Index for Bluenose Shiner.
  Denis Mizell  MFAS Josh Patterson  
  Casey Murray  Ph.D.  Matt DiMaggio

I am a PhD student at the UF Tropical Aquaculture Lab working with Dr. Matt DiMaggio. My research interests include larval fish nutrition, gut enzyme ontogeny, and larval survival under varying environmental conditions. I will work with both freshwater and marine ornamentals to develop species-specific feeding protocols and weaning schedules.

I received my B.A. in Biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2015 where I discovered my passion for ornamental aquaculture during my senior thesis research on the determination of juvenile Banggai cardinalfish habitat preference. I graduated from the University of Miami with a Master of Professional Science degree in 2017 where I studied the factors affecting loggerhead sea turtle hatch success in Everglades National Park. Prior to starting at the Tropical Aquaculture Lab (TAL) in 2019, I worked at Roger Williams University where I helped culture Atlantic lookdowns, glassy sweepers, and smallmouth grunts along with researching alternative protein sources in salmonid feeds.

In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, baking and spending time with my pet duck, Tiny and golden retriever, Obi-Wan.

  Tien Nguyen  MFAS Frank Chapman  
  Jennifer Nix  MFAS Ruth Francis-Floyd  
  Kaitlyn O'Neil  MS  Josh Patterson I am a MS student in Dr. Joshua Patterson’s lab based out of Apollo Beach, Florida and I work as a biologist for FWC at the Stock Enhancement Research Facility, which is also currently moving to Apollo Beach. My research will be focused on reproduction and spawning of red drum fish in captivity. Specifically, I’m hoping to be able to quantify the oocyte stages of red drum fish throughout the regression, regeneration, and spawning phases in captivity and describe any atresia identified. The overall goal is to develop a technique using oocyte biopsies to measure effects of broodstock husbandry that will optimize spawning in captivity for red drum and other sportfish. I have a BS in marine biology from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and five years of experience working with FWC culturing live feeds, larvae, and assisting with research and fish releases. My two small children and husband keep me pretty busy in my spare time. We’ve been creatively finding ways to safely enjoy all that Florida has to offer in the wake of the year that is 2020.
Photo Name Degree Seeking Advisor Bio
  Kate Overly  MS  Will Patterson and Vincent Lecours I am a distance student pursing a thesis-based master’s degree. My research focuses on examining habitat utilization and population demographics of queen snapper (Etelis oculatus) in the US Caribbean. I utilize a variety of methods in my research to: 1) quantify and characterize benthic habitat and species associations, and 2) estimate growth, longevity, and natural mortality using archived and contemporary otoliths. Additionally, I am investigating the use of multiple structures to validate age estimates for this deepwater species. The results of this study will provide critical information on queen snapper life history and habitat associations to improve management and conservation of this fisheries resource.
  Taras Pleskun  MFAS Ed Phlips  
  Allison Potter  MFAS  Matt DiMaggio As a born and raised Marylander, it’s no surprise that I graduated from the University of Maryland where I earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology with a focus in Ecology and Evolution. Now I am enrolled as a graduate student in the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program. My previous research work at the University of Maryland focused on long-term restoration of the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) on historic bars where they had once thrived in the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Currently as an Assistant Dive Safety Officer at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, my research interests have shifted to exploring aquaculture techniques of marine ornamental fishes in order to establish sustainable solutions for marine conservation for the aquaria trade.
  Samantha Rogers  MFAS Ed Phlips  
  Kate Rose  MS  Don Behringer After earning my Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science from the University of Florida I decided to stay on to further research the sustainability of the Florida Stone Crab fishery. My goal is to evaluate the nutritional condition and survival rate of fished stone crabs to further understand how soak times impacts the likelihood of claw regeneration.
  Marilyn Rowell  MFAS  Dan Canfield I am a first year Distance Learning MFAS student based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia. I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and graduated in 2017 with a degree in Urban Environmental Science from Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama. I currently work full time as a Procurement Specialist for the government and coach the senior national swim team for Coastal Virginia Aquatic Club. I have paired with Genesis Water to work on dredging projects along the Chesapeake Bay.
  Jacob Scott  MFAS Deb Murie  
  Kent Semmen  Ph.D.  Dan Canfield I am the Chemist Manager for Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment line of business at Walt Disney World with labs at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I oversee the water chemistry and ecology for all of the larger aquatic animal systems. My current research focus is looking at the water treatment dynamics of oxygen and ozone nanobubble treatment in closed-system aquaria with a focus on the ecological benefits.
  Amanda Sheehy  MFAS  Ruth Francis-Floyd I am a Master’s of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences student with an interest in fisheries research and management. I received my Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of North Alabama in 2011, where I conducted undergraduate research on freshwater snail ecology. In 2016, I completed a UF graduate certificate in Aquaculture and Fish Health. I have been an employee of the University of Florida for over six years and currently work as the program assistant for the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Aquatic Animal Health Program. I also work part-time as the aquarist for Bass Pro Shops Gainesville, where I manage and care for a 12,000 gallon freshwater exhibit of native game fish.
  Dylan Sinnickson  Ph.D.  David Chagaris and Mike Allen My research is focused on analyzing the relationship between freshwater discharge and salinity on estuarine fish communities in the Cedar Key region. This area is influenced significantly by freshwater inputs from the Suwannee River, which has exhibited several extreme low flow events since 2000. Low discharge has likely been due to climatic variability and land use changes and may have considerable impact on estuarine fishes. I am currently constructing a food web model assessing the effect of environmental drivers on the trophic dynamics and fish community structure in this estuary. Species of particular importance will be bay anchovies (Anchoa mitchilli) and striped anchovies (Anchoa hepsetus), as they have been suggested to play significant roles as prey for commercially and recreationally important fish.
Photo Name Degree Seeking Advisor Bio
  Darrenn Sinnott  MFAS  Chuck Cichra  
  Stephen Stang  MS  Mike Allen I am currently a freshwater fisheries biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and will be pursuing my master’s degree under the advising of Dr. Allen while employed by the agency. My research focuses on understanding the impacts that fishing and natural mortality, specifically climate change, may be having on the size structure of gulf strain Striped Bass found in the Florida Panhandle.
  Ricardo Stern  MFAS Frank Chapman  
  Cheyenne Stratton  MS  Lindsey Reisinger My research investigates the role of pathogens in biological invasions and their potential use to control invasive crayfish populations. First, I will identify the pathogens present in native and invasive crayfish species within Wisconsin. Then I will select a few candidate pathogens for laboratory studies to observe the potential effects on behavior and mortality of both native and invasive crayfishes, with hopes of identifying a pathogen that will decrease the survival or competitive ability of the Rusty Crayfish.
  Janelle Strong  MFAS  Dan Canfield I am a distance MFAS student living and working in Tallahassee, Florida. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 2014 with a BS in Environmental Science. I then took a few years off from school to join the Peace Corps as a Rural Aquaculture Promotion Volunteer in Zambia and to begin my career. I am happy to be taking classes again and am excited to learn more and further my career. My interests include limnology, watershed management, and freshwater systems.
  Kristie Surdacki Perez  MS  Shirley Baker I have redirected my career as a Project Manager in service of natural resources. I continue to develop stakeholder, facilitation, and planning competencies but have added a focus on the science and social science related to resources challenges and limitations. My primary interests are aquatic animal health, coastal management and conservation behavior. I will be conducting shellfish filtration studies to better understand downstream impacts of the use of copper algicides. I will also be looking at the human dimensions of this behavior to better understand preferences leading to the use of these products.
  Shelby Thomas  Ph.D.  Josh Patterson

I am a Florida native from Daytona Beach, and happen to be a triple gator having finished my undergraduate (Marine Science & Microbiology), masters (Marine Ecology) , and now finishing PhD in (Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences) here with the University of Florida.

My dissertation research seeks to further investigate assessing and optimizing various restoration techniques involving scallop, seagrass, and coral restoration. I am passionate about preserving our natural ecosystems and creating a foundation for their appreciation. I have worked with over 10 different restoration projects and continue to conduct research in this field. I am fortunate to have been appointed Director of Research for the Ocean Rescue Alliance, this nonprofit further builds on my love for conserving our marine environments, spreading awareness, and creating a foundation that intimately connects people with the ocean.

Through my research and outreach, I aim to assist in conserving, restoring, and better managing our ecosystems. I would like to make a lasting impact conserving our environments while also improving peoples lives around the world.

  Daniel Vilas Gonzalez  Ph.D.  David Chagaris I am a first year PhD Student, my research is focused on spatio-temporal modelling. Specifically, I used a food-web (Ecopath) model from the West Florida Shelf (WFS) to simulate the rebuilding of two stocks which have certain niche overlap. Therefore, this model will be used to check if the optimum sustainable yield can be spatio-temporally achieved for all reef fish simultaneously. Finally, a sensitivity analysis on the estimated parameters inside this spatio-temporal food-web model to address the uncertainty of this WFS model.
  Elizabeth Walsh  MS  Quenton Tuckett and Jeff Hill I am a distance student located outside of Tampa Bay, working on my M.S in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. My research will focus on the infamous freshwater invaders, the mosquitofish. The mosquitofish is highly invasive and very aggressive, causing a decline in small bodied freshwater fishes around the world. Often, mosquitofish are lumped into 1 group in global agencies, despite eastern and western mosquitofish being separate species. My work will focus on comparing these two species in order to understand their invasive processes, as well as to gain a better understanding of their influence on various ecosystems. Outside of UF, I am a 6th grade science teacher in Hillsborough County. 
  Erin Walters  MS  Don Behringer

I enrolled in the Master’s of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program in the Spring of 2019. As a biologist for the state I am fortunate to work on research projects pertaining to blue crab and stone crab which seeded the development of my thesis. The ability to successfully manage our natural resources in an ever changing environment and be able to adapt our research to meet the needs of these changes is such an integral part of current research. In terms of accurately representing the current state of our resources, it is amazing the amount of data and knowledge we lack to support annual reports and assessments which drive regulation. Florida blue crab stock assessments lack pertinent data such as discard mortality rates and the inability to successfully age a blue crab.

The focus of my project aims on filling in some of the unknowns regarding discard mortality within the commercial Florida blue crab fishery through the use of the Reflex Action Mortality Predictor (RAMP) method. The RAMP method is designed to assess reflex actions of crabs to predict the likelihood of mortality from a generated relationship between reflex impairment and mortality. This method has been successful in predicting mortality in other crustacean fisheries and we hope its adaptation to the Florida blue crab is just as effective.

Photo Name Degree Seeking Advisor Bio
  Taylor Wesner  MFAS Shirley Baker  
  Sophie Wilde  MFAS  Ed Phlips I am currently working as a regulatory scientist at SJRWMD in the Central Florida area. I conduct wetland delineations and asses various ecosystems in order to protect the waters of Florida. I am hoping to expand my knowledge as a scientist and venture into coastal ecology and restoration once I earn my degree.
  Stephanie Winn  MS Mike Allen  
  Andrew Wooley  MS  Andrew Carlson Andrew started his M.S. program in Spring 2022. His research focuses on the ecology and conservation of Smalltooth Sawfish in Charlotte Harbor, Florida. Andrew is using acoustic telemetry to assess the duration and timing of sawfish habitat use in the harbor, with emphasis on nursery, refuge, and foraging areas and other high-priority locations. In addition, he is characterizing ontogenetic habitat shifts at size classes that have historically been difficult to monitor (i.e., intermediate-sized fish and the very largest individuals).
  Jayme Ye  MS Huiping Yang  
  Yangqing Zeng  Ph.D. Huiping Yang