Environmental Science Graduate Students

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Cara Abbott

I have an undergraduate degree in Environmental Biology and teaching degree in General Biology grades 6-12. As an undergrad, I worked as a research assistant on a project studying a federally threatened salamander, Plethodon hubrichti (The Peaks of Otter Salamander). My current research at FAU is looking at the effects of sea level rise and nutrient loading on Juncus roemerianus, the black needlerush. My research will determine whether this plant can act as a salt water intrusion indicator species in the Everglades. Outside of FAU, I teach physical science and anatomy at a home-school co-op and serve as an officer for the South Florida Herpetological Society. In the future, I would like to teach at the college level.
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Daniele Alempijevic

I am from Brooklyn, New York and have been interested in wildlife and tropical forests as long as I can remember. I received my B.S. in Wildlife Sciences at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks of Northern NY in 2014. I am interested in and have worked with a variety of taxa including insects, raptors, amphibians, African ungulates and neotropical felids. During my time at Paul Smith’s I was exposed to the Lukuru Foundation, a conservation initiative using long term surveys in the Congo Basin in order to establish protected areas and to work with indigenous people to reduce bush meat exploitation. I was led to Dr. Detwiler’s Primatology lab and joined the ES program in August 2015. For my thesis I will use an arboreal camera trap survey to study a recently discovered population of the Dryas monkey, a critically endangered and cryptic monkey in the Central Congo Basin.

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Steve Burton

I am originally from Southern California. However, I have spent 14 years living in Hawaii prior to moving to Florida. I’m the marine mammal stranding manager at FAU-HBOI where we respond 24/7 to marine mammal issues in Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin Counties . I received a B.S. in Environmental Studies in 2009 from Hawaii Pacific University located in Honolulu, HI. Dr. Paul Wills is my advisor and I am working on my non-thesis masters degree in Environmental Science.

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Jordan Byrum

I received a BS in Marine Science from North Carolina State University in 2013. I am a MS student in Ed Proffitt’s marine ecology lab at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. My thesis project is examining changes in competition and facilitation among mangrove species in a subtropical and temperate habitat.  

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Gibran Casas

I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Florida Atlantic University in 2014 and I have worked in multiple disciplines including ecology, sociology and psychology related to human-environmental interactions. I am interested in wildlife management and conservation and my current research focuses on the non-native invasive Cuban tree frogs and their impact on native tree frogs in cypress habitats. The goal of this project is to help land managers target Cuban tree frog control in areas where control efforts will provide the greatest benefit to native tree frogs.

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Megan Coffey

I graduated from FAU in 2014 with a BA in Biology and a certification in Environmental Science. My undergraduate activities included treefrog research in Johnathan Dickinson State Park, and a study observing the nesting habits and amount of progeny of three species of wading birds in Wakodahatchee and Green Cay. I am a non-thesis student, and hope to conduct my Directed Independent Study research on a project related to birds, invasive species of plants and animals, interspecies and population dynamics, or the restoration of threatened or endangered species populations in Florida

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Jacob Dombrowski

I received my Bachelors degree in Biological Sciences from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) in 2012. As an undergraduate and post-graduate I have worked on a variety of different projects such as monitoring ampihibian abundance in restored wetlands, evaluating the effectiveness of a biological control on the emerald ash borer, and examining the spatial variability of jackpine regeneration following wildfires. Although my background has been diverse, it was my work in wetlands and fire ecology that led me to Dr. Benscoter’s Plant Ecology lab. I am primarily interested in the fire ecology of the Everglades. For my thesis I am examining the influence that wildfire has on the size and shape of sawgrass ridges within the Everglades, as well as the influence of hydroperiod on fire frequency and intensity.

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Tom Faughnan

Originally from Vermont, I received a B.S. in Natural Resource Ecology and a minor in Forestry from the University of Vermont. I have since worked seasonally across the US and in Panama doing conservation and research focusing on shore birds, sea turtles, bats, and invasive species. My research interests are in threatened species conservation and ecosystem scale restoration. I am currently researching the relationship between hydrology and wading bird prey density in the Everglades.

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Alison Feibel

I am originally from southern Maine and I received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Chicago. Before beginning the program at FAU Harbor Branch, I worked in environmental education and policy in Washington, D.C. At Harbor Branch I am part of Dr. Brian Lapointe’s Harmful Algal Bloom lab. I am studying how the nutrient content and productivity of Sargassum has changed since the late 1980’s. We are hoping to provide some insight into why mass strandings of Sargassum have been occurring throughout the Caribbean in recent years.

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Tristan Froud

I received my B.A. in Environmental Studies from Florida Gulf Coast University where I also gained a strong background and in plant ecology and wetland science. I received the Southwest Florida Watershed Council’s best undergraduate research poster award for my work on groundwater variation in Sanibel Island’s mangrove forests. My interests in plant ecosystem services and abiotic ecology led me to Dr. Benscoter’s lab at FAU where my research focus is on quantification of methane gas movement through the soil, water, plant canopy, and atmospheric continuum of a freshwater marsh

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Sarah Golesh

My second year as a non-thesis student in the Environmental Science Program has allowed me to explore options within public outreach and education. I have the great fortune of interning for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection where I work primarily with Veronica Frehm, the director of education at MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach, FL. I have also continued volunteering with the Marine Mammal Rescue Program, and love being part of Harbor Branch and FAU’s community!

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Daniel Hagood

I received a B.S. in Environmental, Soil and Water Science with a minor in Wildlife Habitat from The University of Arkansas in 2013. I am very passionate about the environmental and biological sciences. I worked as a lab technician for a fish ecologist prior to coming to Florida Atlantic University. Maintaining fish and water quality were two of my main focuses. I also worked in multiple laboratories at the University of Arkansas for several years as an undergraduate. Conservation and restoration ecology are my main research interests. My thesis research is focused on the effects of soil disturbances and fire on the spread of invasive plant species in pine flatwoods.

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Christine Harvey

I received my B.S. from FAU with a major in Geography and a minor in Geology. My research interests are in hydrogeology and and Geographic Information Systems. I’m also interested in how beavers improve the environment.   

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Camille Herteux

I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2015 with a BS in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, and a minor in Environmental Sciences. During my undergraduate I was involved in animal communication research and did extensive field work with Minnesota tree frogs. I also worked on a community ecology project examining aggressive behavior in Plethodontid salamanders. My main research interests are wetland and avian ecology. I came to FAU this fall to work on a project with Dr. Gawlik involving habitat choice in wading birds. I will be performing field work and collecting data at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in Southwest Georgia. For this project, I plan to study the relative importance of factors affecting habitat choice of wading birds in geographically isolated depressional wetlands.

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Sarah Huff

I received my B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Central Florida in 2015. While pursuing my Bachelor’s degree, I was an environmental intern with Florida Power & Light. I assisted with data analysis, compliance and reporting, and environmental permitting. I also conducted undergraduate research on crown conch and eastern oyster interactions in Canaveral National Seashore. My interest in estuarine ecosystems and coastal zone management led me to Dr. Devlin’s lab at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. I am just beginning my Master’s research on mangroves and the isopod Sphaeroma terebrans, which is thought to be the cause of mangrove loss at several restored natural sites in Palm Beach County.

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Ashley Jackson

After receiving a B.S. in wildlife biology from Colorado State University, I worked as a research coordinator, crew leader, and avian field technician, on several projects in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Alaska. As a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University, I am currently studying wading birds in the Everglades. My research is focused on prey selected by small herons (snowy egrets, tricolored herons, and little blue herons) during the nesting season. My long term interests include anthropogenic impacts on wildlife, as well as public outreach.

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Richard Jones

I received my B.S. in Environmental Science from the FAU Honors College, Jupiter, in 2013. My undergraduate thesis research involved the effects of reduction mowing on fire ants at gopher tortoise burrows. While pursuing my Bachelor’s degree I had also interned with the ACTED aquaculture facility at Harbor Branch Oceanographic working with an F.A.O. research grant on the effects of oil and COREXIT on certain plankton species. I have broad interests in the fields of ecology, conservation, agriculture and aquaculture. After receiving my undergraduate degree I worked on small vegetable farms and at ornamental aquaculture facilities for a few years. I am also very into reptiles, amphibians and fish. Currently, I am a thesis student working with Dr. Jon Moore and the DEEPEND research consortium studying deep sea ecology in the Gulf of Mexico. My focus will be on a family of fish called “Barracudini”, I have only recently begun research. I am also involved with a consortium of local researchers studying Diamondback Terrapins in the Indian River Lagoon.

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Janna Kepley

I’m originally from Phoenix, Arizona, and I received my B.S. in Biology and Secondary Education from Florida Atlantic University in 2014, with a certificate in Environmental Science. After graduation I completed a research internship with the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades, and completed a joint paper on the mitigation of sea level rise in Florida, as well as a white paper on coastal infrastructure for the Coast Guard. I’m interested in studying the causes and effects of human interactions with the ecosystem.In Fall 2014, I started working on a Masters in Environmental Science at FAU, under Dr. Tobin Hindle. For my thesis, I am studying the relationship between vegetation community changes over time and variations in water level and quality in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (Water Conservation Area 1). I look forward to working with the biologists on staff there, and contributing to their 2016 Comprehensive Conservation Plan!

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Jenna May

I received my B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida in 2011. During my undergraduate studies, I volunteered in a variety of labs with research spanning from ant-plant mutualisms to avian behavior. After graduating, I worked as a field technician on several projects throughout the US, many involving avian research. My developing interests in wetland systems and avian ecology led me to the Gawlik lab. I am currently conducting my research at Lake Okeechobee where I am studying the reproductive success of wading birds. My research will include an assessment of nesting structure as well as a diet analysis comparing birds nesting in different ecosystem types.

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Stephanie Reed

I’m a California transplant and received my Bachelor of Science from UC Berkeley in 2006 where I completed a research thesis on wastewater ammonium effluent and phytoplankton productivity. I had the good fortune to be hired as an intern with both the State Water Quality Control Board and a sustainable growth NGO where my interests in environmental planning and especially water management began. I have an incorrigible travel bug and took a sharp left after graduation, spending the rest of my 20’s bouncing around the world. I came to FAU to get back to my first love and pursue a Masters in Environmental Sciences (non-thesis), combining my interests in hydrology, planning, and GIS. I was lucky enough to be a research assistant for a project with The Nature Conservancy under Dr. Mitsova, creating a geodatabase of living shorelines for CoastalResilience.org. I am currently a technician with a hydrogeology firm in Jupiter and a TA for Intro to Mapping and GIS.

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Lisa Reger

I’m originally from a suburb of Chicag, IL and I received a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While pursuing my Bachelor’s degree, I worked seasonally at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in their Environmental Health and Safety department. After graduating in 2012, I worked as a field technician in the Chicago area where I mainly worked to combat invasive plant species through the use of herbicide and manual removal. In the fall of 2012, I moved to Portland, Oregon where I worked as a sample control technician in an environmental laboratory and then took a field job in Portland where I worked to control non-native plant species. Through my education and work experience, I became very interested in environmental restoration. This interest has led me to Dr. Brian Benscoter’s lab where my research focuses on post-fire succession and carbon storage in the northern Everglades.

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Carolyn Reiland-Smith

I received a B.S. in Biology and a B.S. Fisheries & Wildlife from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. My interests include  conservation biology, ecology, and invasive species. In August 2015 I entered the Master’s Program in Environmental Science at FAU where my thesis research with Dr. Jon Moore is based on isolated populations of Gopher tortoise and how/if genetic drift occurs within them. Working out of Jupiter, I’m reviewing a PVA conducted on a fairly productive population that experienced additions to its gene pool during rescue of small populations of gopher tortoise threatened by construction in the area.

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Kelsey White

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology from Florida Atlantic University in 2012. I started Environmental Science undergraduate work at FAU in 2013, where I utilized GPS and GIS to locate and map gopher tortoise nests with Dr. Dianne Owen. Since 2014 I have been working on my MS in Environmental Sciences, while continuing to work with Dr. Owen researching the physical characteristics of loggerhead, green, and leatherback sea turtle nests to identify and compare optimal spatial and soil preferences of each species.