Brianna Cahill from Webster, New York, is a graduate student at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute studying marine science and oceanography. Her work focuses on the diet of whitespotted eagle rays using DNA barcoding and stable isotope techniques, as well as ray habitat uses and their ability to inflict damage to common shellfish aquaculture gear.
Eloise Cave of Florida Institute of Technology, is focusing her research on applying sharks’ adaptive immune system genes to discover the potential for local adaptation to environmental conditions.
Laura García Barcia from Florida International University, is researching how mercury accumulates on coastal shark species and its potential toxicity effects on sharks and the people who consume shark-derived products.
Ashley Dawdy, from Florida State University, is studying the movement ecology and behavior of elasmobranchs, with a focus on species that are endangered or vulnerable to overexploitation, including the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish with the goal of identifying critical areas used for mating. Her studies also focus on the movement and habitat use of Atlantic cownose rays in Apalachicola Bay, Florida, to define their ecological role within the ecosystem.
Blake Hamilton, from Florida State University, is researching applied fisheries, leading projects on the community, trophic and movement ecology of coastal elasmobranchs and aiming to describe short and long-term movement patterns of the blacknose shark.
Cecilia Hampton, from New College of Florida, is studying how noise pollution from construction activities affect the habitat usage and behavior of young bull sharks in Manatee River nursery habitats. Hampton uses acoustic telemetry to track the movements of two dozen young bull sharks throughout the river, comparing the data to background noise values gathered from submerged hydrophones near bridges, including one that is undergoing extensive construction.
Jonathan Albert Peake, from the University of South Florida, is researching fish communities in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, identifying patterns of metacommunity structure and relating them to the physical, chemical, and environmental conditions within each community to understand the processes that influence fish species composition and abundance in a dynamic marine environment.
Steven Lombardo of Florida Atlantic Univeristy is researching bonefish habitat use to better inform conservation efforts. Bonefish are the backbone of the recreational catch-and-release flats fisheries in Florida, The Bahamas, and across the Caribbean, providing significant economic impact to remote communities.
2022 Knauss Marine Policy Fellow
Kate Shlepr is a PhD. candidate in the Integrative Biology-Environmental Science program at Florida Atlantic University. Her research investigates the recovery of a federally protected species of wading bird, the Wood Stork, in the context of a major ecosystem restoration project, the Florida Everglades. Over her career, Shlepr hopes to positively influence environmental conservation, making an impact on a range of scales, from her neighborhood, to the nation, to the globe.
Gray Vickery holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from University of South Florida. At the USF Coastal Research Laboratory, his research investigates how seagrass ecosystems in urbanized estuaries can be restored by improving tidal flow in poorly circulated regions. His ultimate career goal is to strengthen environmental legislation and protect the world’s biodiversity.
2021 Skoch Scholars
Camila Rimoldi Ibanez is a senior in the dual enrollment program at Sebring High School and at South Florida State. For her award-winning project, entitled Ultrasonic Planimals! Identifying Genes Associated with Coral Bioacoustics, Rimoldi Ibanez investigated whether a species of coral has genes that are associated with the reception or emission of sound.
2021 FOWA Scholars
Megan Cahill’s work at the Arboretum given her the platform to utilize her studies and communicate her passion for the environment through digital media. Fascinated in Florida’s different ecosystems, Megan creates entertaining and educational content about the phenomenon’s she sees.
Mack White’s research focuses on the ability of snook and other fishes to move important nutrients throughout the Everglades, linking seemingly disconnected ecosystems with one another and having potentially important implications for ecosystem health and function. Mack believes that digital media and journalistic writing have the potential to bridge communication gaps between scientists and the public.
2021 Aylesworth Scholars
Amy Fellgren is a master’s student majoring in Biology at the University of West Florida. Her thesis project focuses on the use of environmental DNA to quantify species richness of marine mammals in three oceanic regions. Through this study, she hopes to learn how to apply new and more efficient methods of analysis, using molecular tools and techniques, to questions surrounding species populations and conservation.
Scott Alford is a Ph.D. student with the University of Florida studying Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. His research focuses on the effects of salinity on estuarine food webs: integrating field, lab, and modeling approaches to predict consequences of altered salinity in the Suwannee River estuary. His ultimate goal is to continue in a coastal research-oriented career in the Gulf of Mexico.
Katherine Harris is a master’s student majoring in Biology at the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses on the impact of the boring sponge (Cliona celata) on oyster reefs in Mosquito Lagoon, Florida. Throughout her research progress, she strives to be involved in community outreach and education to inspire people to take an active role in the management and restoration of crucial oyster reef habitats.
2021 Knauss Marine Policy Fellows
Abigail Engleman completed her Ph.D. in Biological Science at the Florida State University. For her Knauss Fellowship, Abigail will be working at the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee-Majority; Water, Oceans, and Wildlife (Majority).
Matthew Smith is a Ph.D. student in Department of Biology at the Florida International University. For their Knauss Fellowship, Matthew will be working at US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE); Instititue for Water Resources.
2020 Guy Harvey Scholars
Elizabeth Duermit-Moreau is a Ph.D. student studying Fisheries and Aquatic Science at the University of Florida. For her dissertation, she is studying stone crab disease ecology. In particular, she wants to know how fishing pressure and habitat degradation in Florida Bay affect pathogen profiles of stone crabs. She strives to leave a lasting impact on the marine ecological field.
Matthew Schumm is a Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolution at Florida State University. He is excited to study population dynamics, distributions and evolution of marine and aquatic organisms. He is particularly interested in studying the effects of harvest on evolution and demography using quantitative modeling, observations, and experiments.
2020 FOWA Scholarship
Anna Bunyak is an undergraduate at the State College of Florida. Bunyak has participated in showing beef cattle at prospect shows across the state of Florida. Heavily involved in 4-H and the Junior Florida Cattlemen’s Association, she points to her time in the showring, cow pens, and pastures as experiences that developed her interest in communicating about the agriculture industry with the public. She plans to pursue a degree in agriculture education and communication.
Savannah Gardner is an undergraduate at the University of Florida studying agricultural education and communication. Recently, Gardner completed a year-long study with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Florida State University to determine the effects of humans on artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. Currently, she is a communications intern for UF Innovate, a startup incubator within the university. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural education and communication from the University of Florida.
Sergio Gonzalez is a master’s candidate in agronomy at the University of Florida. Gonzales works on habitat and invasive species management in the Everglades. He is also an aviator with experience piloting aircraft in support of research and management agency objectives in south Florida. He recently started an aerial ecotour operation to tell people the story of the Everglades and takes and shares photos using the tagline “Raw nature; unedited photography.”
Elizabeth Walsh is a master’s candidate in fisheries and aquatic sciences at the University of Florida. She is a graduate student researching invasive mosquitofish. Walsh is also a sixth-grade science teacher in the Tampa Bay area and a regular volunteer at the Florida Aquarium where she combines her interests in marine biology with public communication, assisting guests, and discussing the biology and ecology of stingrays.
Nature Coast Biological Station Scholar
Jamila Roth is an interdisciplinary ecology Ph.D. student in the University of Florida/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. For her research, she wants to know whether having several different species of seagrass affects seagrass resilience and its ability to support the food chain. Her goal is to produce research findings that will help environmental agencies conserve and restore seagrass.
NOAA Fisheries/Sea Grant Graduate Fellowship– Population and Ecosystem Dynamics
Nicholas Fisch is pursuing a Ph.D. in Fisheries and Aquatic Science at the University of Florida. His research aims to determine whether there are suitable alternatives to the multinomial likelihood for modeling age and size composition data within fisheries stock assessments. He hopes that a career in fisheries modeling and stock assessment will help lead to more sustainable fisheries and ultimately a more sustainable future.