Current and Past Early-Career Research Fellows|
Our Early-Career Research Fellows take risks on research ideas not yet tested, pursue unique collaborations, and build a network of colleagues who share their interest in improving offshore energy system safety and the well-being of coastal communities and ecosystems.
Jump to read about Early-Career Research Fellows from:
| ||Srijan Aggarwal |
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Dr. Aggarwal is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He completed a Bachelor’s in civil engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi and an M.S. and Ph.D. in civil engineering with a focus in environmental engineering at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He spent two-and-a-half years as a post-doctoral scholar in a joint appointment at the BioTechnology Institute and the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Dr. Aggarwal specializes in the field of environmental biotechnology. He has specific interest in bacterial biofilms in environmental systems, expanding to biofilms at oil-water interface and resultant impacts on oil biodegradation in the marine environment. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award for his work on biofilms in drinking water.
| ||Lauren Clay |
Dr. Clay is an assistant professor in the Health Services Administration Department at D’Youville College, an Affiliated Professor at the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware, and an Affiliated Professor in the College of Global Public Health at New York University. She has worked on studies of household and family recovery from Hurricane Katrina; the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; Superstorm Sandy; the 2013 tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma; and Hurricane Harvey. She has also conducted international research on health and economic development as a Fulbright Fellow in Bangladesh. She has her M.P.H. from Drexel University and Ph.D. in disaster Science and management from University of Delaware. Dr. Clay utilizes social epidemiologic methods and interdisciplinary collaboration as tools for developing a deeper understanding of individual and ecological factors that influence how natural and environmental hazards affect family and community health and well-being. Currently, she is studying the post-disaster food environment and food insecurity.
| ||Adrienne Simoes Correa |
Dr. Correa became an assistant professor in BioSciences at Rice University after five years of experience as a non-tenure track faculty member at the same institution. Her postdoctoral and doctoral research focused on the diversity of marine microorganisms and their roles in host and coastal ecosystem health. She received a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution, and a M.A. in conservation biology, from Columbia University. Her B.S. in biology is from the University of Michigan. For nearly three years, Dr. Correa has helped advise management of coral reefs in the northwest Gulf of Mexico through her seat on the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. Dr. Correa’s work monitors how marine microbial communities shift when human activities alter temperature, nutrient availability, and other conditions in coastal ecosystems. She is currently characterizing the impacts of viruses on coral reefs and is expanding these efforts into mangrove, salt marsh, and seagrass ecosystems.
| ||Sarah Davies |
Dr. Davies is an assistant professor of Biology at Boston University, where she studies the ecophysiology and genomics of reef building corals. Although she has conducted research on corals reefs around the world, she has always maintained an active research program at the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Davies earned her M.S. in biology from the University of Calgary and her Ph.D. in ecology, evolution, and behavior from The University of Texas at Austin. During her M.S. and Ph.D. work, she was supported by fellowships with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the National Science Foundation. She also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she became a Simons Foundation Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation. Research in the Davies lab focuses on the potential roles of acclimation, adaptation, and dispersal in an organism’s response to rapid climate change.
| ||Nicole Errett |
University of Washington
Dr. Errett is a lecturer in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Washington. Her research interests and expertise are in the use of public policy to enhance health outcomes during and after disaster. Dr. Errett co-founded and co-directs the University of Washington ColLABorative on Extreme Event Resilience (CEER), a network of public health researchers, practitioners, and community scientists who collaborate to address real world challenges that impact communities’ resilience to disasters and the acute impacts of climate change. Dr. Errett holds a Ph.D. in health and public policy, an M.S.P.H. in health policy, and a B.A. in public health studies from the Johns Hopkins University. She completed post-doctoral training in coastal community resilience at the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning. Dr. Errett is also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections Scholar.
| ||Ipsita Gupta |
Louisiana State University
Dr. Gupta is an assistant professor in the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Louisiana State University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina, M.Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology, and B.S. from the University of Calcutta. Dr. Gupta conducts research on multi-scale, multi-physics problems related to reservoir characterization, reservoir modeling and simulation, wellbore integrity, enhanced oil recovery, and reservoir management. Her current research is on integrated reservoir-wellbore multiphase flow and transport modeling, and numerical modeling of rock/fluid interaction across different spatial and temporal scales. Dr. Gupta’s industry experience spans strategic research, technology development, and technical services, as well as large capital project maturation in the Gulf of Mexico. Besides research, Dr. Gupta enjoys teaching and uses her industry experience to mentor students on the real-life applications of petroleum engineering.
| ||Pedram Hassanzadeh |
Dr. Hassanzadeh is an assistant professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Rice University. Before joining Rice, he was at Harvard University as a Ziff Environmental Fellow with the Center for the Environment and a Research Associate with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Dr. Hassanzadeh received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and M.A. in Mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Hassanzadeh’s research is aimed at providing reliable scientific information with quantified uncertainties about the historical and future extreme events. Using fundamentals of atmospheric dynamics and hierarchies of idealized-to-comprehensive climate models, mathematical/statistical modeling, and advanced machine learning techniques, Dr. Hassanzadeh works on improving the understanding of extreme weather events and their dynamics, predictability, and response to climate change. His Environmental Fluid Dynamics Group at Rice studies fundamentals of geophysical/environmental turbulence and dynamics of large-scale atmospheric circulation and extreme weather events.
| ||Marccus Hendricks |
University of Maryland
Dr. Hendricks is an assistant professor in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and a Faculty Research Affiliate with the Clark School of Engineering’s Center for Disaster Resilience at the University of Maryland. He holds a Ph.D. in urban and regional science and a Master of Public Health, both from Texas A&M University. Dr. Hendricks‘ primary research interests include stormwater infrastructure resilience, social vulnerability to disaster, environmental justice, sustainable development, and participatory action. He utilizes a combined Social Vulnerability to Disaster and Environmental Justice framework to explore the provision of green space, adequate sewer, community facilities, public works, and stormwater services by municipalities to marginalized neighborhoods, which can modify environmental outcomes and experiences related to infrastructure. Dr. Hendricks is a Founding Fellow of the William Averette Anderson Fund, the first national interdisciplinary organization working to increase the number of underrepresented persons of color in the field of disaster research, practice, and pedagogy.
| ||Betty Sao-Hou Lai |
Dr. Lai is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology at Boston College. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Miami and completed her clinical internship at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Lai’s research focuses on how children and families respond to disasters and other traumatic stressors. Her work also examines how advanced statistical modeling strategies may be applied to better understand how to minimize the effects of disasters on children’s functioning. She is the Principal Investigator on a project examining school recovery after disasters and a project to better understand how and why children differ in their distress responses following acute traumatic events. Dr. Lai was named a National Scholar for the Academy on Violence and Abuse and a Next Generation of Hazard and Disasters Researchers Fellow. Dr. Lai’s work has been recognized with Early Career Awards from the American Psychological Association.
| ||Vincent Lecours |
University of Florida
Dr. Lecours is an assistant professor of Marine Remote Sensing & Geospatial Analysis at the University of Florida. He completed a B.S. in applied geomatics from the Université de Sherbrooke and received his Ph.D. in geography from Memorial University, where he studied the methods associated with the mapping of deep-water habitats. He worked with spatial data collected with a remotely operated vehicle between 650 and 10,000 feet deep in previously unexplored areas of the ocean. Dr. Lecours conducts cross-disciplinary research using geospatial technologies and spatial sciences. His research program bridges the spatial sciences with the marine sciences by studying ways to improve marine habitat mapping methods through a better integration of spatial concepts, such as spatial scale, autocorrelation, and spatial data quality, in the habitat mapping workflow. It is aimed at developing best practices in the application of geomatics-based marine habitat mapping to ecological and management questions.
| ||Mark Losego |
Dr. Losego is an assistant professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). He received his B.S. from Penn State University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from North Carolina State University, all in materials science and engineering. Prior to joining the Georgia Tech faculty, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois and research faculty at NC State. At Georgia Tech, Dr. Losego runs a highly interdisciplinary research team that focuses on the science of vapor phase processing applied to unconventional materials sets for environmental protection, renewable energy, and national security technologies. Research spans from fundamental studies of surface chemistry and processing kinetics to the development of novel deposition equipment and manufacturing methods. He is also the faculty founder of The Materials Innovation and Learning Laboratory, an open-access make-and-measure space devoted to peer-to-peer, experiential education within the materials science discipline.
| ||Talea Mayo |
University of Central Florida
Dr. Mayo is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering at the University of Central Florida. She earned her B.S. in mathematics from Grambling State University, and she earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in computational sciences, engineering, and mathematics from The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Mayo’s research interests are interdisciplinary, but focus on numerical modeling of the coastal ocean. She develops mathematical tools to assess the risk of hurricane storm surges and to improve the hydrodynamic models required to do so, helping coastal communities strengthen their resilience to these hazards. Her research has the potential to greatly improve storm surge modeling for long term planning and emergency management.
| ||Jill McDermott |
Dr. McDermott is a geochemist and an assistant professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at Lehigh University. She earned her B.A. in chemistry from Dartmouth College, an M.S. in geochemical systems from the University of New Hampshire, and a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. Dr. McDermott received the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Award, given for the best Ph.D. thesis within MIT's Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate, and is a National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow. She investigates the aqueous and volatile geochemistry and biogeochemistry of seafloor hydrothermal vents and ancient terrestrial fracture waters tapped by deep mines. The multidisciplinary approach Dr. McDermott uses in her work carries over into her teaching and mentoring, where she engages students with fundamental and applied science in the classroom and in individual research projects in her lab.
| ||Alejandra Ortiz |
North Carolina State University
Dr. Ortiz is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at North Carolina State University. She earned her B.A. in geosciences at Wellesley College with a double major in classical civilizations, and she completed an M.S. in civil and environmental engineering and a Ph.D. in marine geology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. Dr. Ortiz’s research is focused on coastal geomorphology and understanding the evolution of coasts under rising sea levels. She uses numerical models, satellite imagery, fieldwork, and a flume to study the evolution of coastal systems and predict their resiliency over the next century. Recent projects have looked at the impact of pond expansion on the Mississippi Delta coast resulting in large-scale land loss and the role of vegetation in delta resiliency with rising seas.
| ||Christopher Patrick |
Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi
Dr. Patrick is an assistant professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, a research associate at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and the Director of MarineGEO Texas, a node in the Smithsonian Marine Global Earth Observatory. He received his B.S. in behavior, evolution, ecology, & systematics from the University of Maryland and his Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Notre Dame. He also performed post-doctoral research on Chesapeake Bay seagrass ecology at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and worked with the EPA Office of Water during his AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship. His research program bridges freshwater and estuarine ecosystems to understand how anthropogenic stressors interact with natural environmental variation to drive spatio-temporal patterns in aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. This work both advances fundamental ecological theory and has direct applications in coastal ecosystem management and biomonitoring.
| ||Kevin Smiley |
University at Buffalo
Dr. Smiley is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University at Buffalo. He is also a core faculty member of the university’s Research and Education in Energy, Environment, and Water (RENEW) Institute. He received his B.A. in history and sociology from Western Kentucky University, an M.A. in sociology from the University of Memphis, and a Ph.D. in sociology from Rice University. Dr. Smiley’s research is at the intersection of environmental and urban issues, with foci including natural hazards, public space, and industrial air pollution. In particular, his research analyzes the social characteristics of human populations that are made more vulnerable because of land cover changes from vegetated landscapes to developed ones, as well as the characteristics of those who benefit from newly developed land. He is one of the authors, along with Michael Oluf Emerson, of Market Cities, People Cities.
| ||Xingyong Song |
Texas A&M University
Dr. Song is an assistant professor in the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota. His research interests include drilling automation systems for more efficient and safe oil and gas production, mechatronic system design and dynamics control, and renewable energy systems enabled by advanced control technologies. Prior to appointment at Texas A&M University, he had industrial working experience at the General Motors Research Center and at the Halliburton Energy Service Company Innovation Center. While at Halliburton, he actively piloted control solutions to address advanced automation needs in the oil and gas industry, including drilling automation, well logging, and drilling fluid management and control. His novel control solution for the new Halliburton sonic logging tool won him the Halliburton Innovation of the Year Award.
| ||Beth Stauffer |
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Dr. Stauffer is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Prior to joining the UL Lafayette faculty, she was an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a Lamont-Doherty Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Dr. Stauffer’s research focuses on understanding how dynamic physical environments and variable grazing interactions contribute to changing phytoplankton communities in coastal waters, and what those effects mean for estuarine and marine food webs. She is a Fellow with the Louisiana Sea Grant Discovery, Integration and Application Program (LaDIA), a member of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) Advisory Council, and the founder and organizer of the Science on the Bayou informal science communication series. Dr. Stauffer earned her B.S. with a double major in marine science and biology at University of Miami and her Ph.D. in marine environmental biology at the University of Southern California.
| ||Courtney Thompson |
Texas A&M University
Dr. Thompson is an assistant professor at Texas A&M University in the Department of Geography. Dr. Thompson received her Ph.D. in geography from the University of Idaho. She also holds an M.S. in geography from the University of Idaho and a B.S. in geography from New Mexico State University. Her research in human-environment interactions examines relationships between social systems and natural hazard impacts using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, including GIS, interviews, survey analysis, and spatial statistics. Specifically, she employs vulnerability and resilience assessment methodologies that empower local decision-makers to create and strategically implement resilience-enhancing mitigation and adaptation strategies. Her research also focuses on quantifying how the vulnerability and resilience of coastal communities interact with the social structuration of society, multi-scalar factors, and risk perceptions.
| ||Hannah Vander Zanden |
University of Florida
Dr. Vander Zanden is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at the University of Florida. She holds a B.A. from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Florida. She also held postdoctoral appointments at the University of Utah and U.S. Geological Survey. The goal of Dr. Vander Zanden’s research is to address critical knowledge gaps about where sea turtles are most abundant in the Gulf of Mexico. Much of her research program relies on the use of intrinsic markers called stable isotopes, which are naturally occurring forms of elements that are integrated from the environment through an organism’s diet. By identifying where sea turtles forage via samples collected at the nesting beach, population hotspots can be identified and paired with information about threat severity and target restoration activities.
[Back to top]
| ||Christoph Aeppli |
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Dr. Aeppli is an environmental chemist and a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. Dr. Aeppli has studied oil weathering at natural oil seeps, in Arctic conditions, and after major oil spills, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He received his master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Bern, Switzerland, and his doctorate in environmental chemistry from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Postdoctoral fellowships took him to Stockholm University, where he investigated the dynamics of halogenated compounds, and to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he studied biodegradation and photooxidation of petroleum hydrocarbons. Dr. Aeppli’s research is helping to understand the formation, fate, and effects of oil transformation products. This knowledge will lead to an improved assessment of the impacts that oil spills have on humans and the environment.
| ||Laura Bakkensen |
University of Arizona
Dr. Bakkensen is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Government and Public Policy, where she uses applied microeconomic and econometric techniques to analyze the economics of natural disasters, identifying current hazard risks and evidence of adaptation to damages and fatalities across the globe. Dr. Bakkensen received her Ph.D. in environmental and natural resource economics from Yale University. She also holds an M.Phil. in environmental and natural resource economics from Yale University, an M.S. in environment and development from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.A. in economics from Whitman College. As an economist, Dr. Bakkensen researches individual responses, overall community resilience, and policy responses in the face of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Her research informs policy on public insurance and regulation, pre- and post-disaster aid, severe weather warnings, and public adaptation projects.
| ||Paul Harnik |
Franklin and Marshall College
Dr. Harnik is an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Franklin and Marshall College. He received his B.A. in geology from Oberlin College and his Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago. Dr. Harnik’s doctoral and postdoctoral research focused on understanding extinction risk in the oceans through analyses of the marine fossil record. At Franklin and Marshall, his research has focused increasingly on the links between modern, historical, and ancient marine systems with the goal of advancing our understanding of the biological consequences of current and future anthropogenic environmental change. Most recently, Dr. Harnik and his students have been working in the northern Gulf of Mexico comparing live populations of mollusks with the remains of historical populations preserved on the seafloor to establish pre-industrial baselines for these communities and assess the effects of human activities on coastal ecosystems.
| ||YeongAe Heo |
Case Western Reserve University
Dr. Heo is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. She received her Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Davis. She has expertise in modeling and simulation of probabilistic risk-based system-level performance for complex structures subjected to dynamic loads. Dr. Heo worked at the Offshore Technology R&D Center of Samsung Heavy Industries, where she examined diverse multi-hazard problems for offshore oil and gas process systems exposed to severe weather and operation conditions. She holds three patents for offshore structural systems and was the recipient of the 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Norman Medal. Dr. Heo’s research focuses on minimizing risks in on- and offshore oil and gas systems. As an engineer, she uses a variety of tools, including modeling and simulations, to investigate multi-hazard risks for the complex energy infrastructure systems that are subject to constantly changing stresses.
| ||Michael Martínez-Colón |
Florida A&M University
Dr. Martínez-Colón is an assistant professor in the School of the Environment at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, a Courtesy Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at the University of South Florida, and adjunct faculty at the Savannah River Field Station. He received his Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of South Florida and a B.S. and M.S. in geology from the University of Puerto Rico. His research expertise is in coastal ecosystems, specifically coastal and marine ecology and biogeochemistry. His research portfolio examines aspects of environmental micropaleontology, geochemistry, and pollutants in conjunction with bioindicators in short- and long-term monitoring efforts. Dr. Martínez-Colón takes a novel approach to studying anthropogenic stressors such as chemical pollutants and microplastics, focusing on a type of single-celled organisms called foraminifera, which have calcium carbonate skeletons and tend to live in sediments.
| ||Ali Mostafavi |
Texas A&M University
Dr. Mostafavi is an assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. in civil engineering at Purdue University. He also holds a Master of Science in industrial administration from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University. Dr. Mostafavi supervises the Infrastructure System-of-Systems Research Group. He also works closely with community partners, such as the Southeast Florida Climate Compact, to extend the broader impacts of his research. Dr. Mostafavi takes a “system of systems” approach to studying chronic and acute stressors facing coastal communities all over the world. He bridges the boundaries between complex systems science, network theory, and civil infrastructure systems in a way that he hopes will foster resilient, smart, and connected communities. His work creates complex system models of coastal communities that contribute to actionable science that is necessary for adaptation planning.
| ||David Murphy |
University of South Florida
Dr. Murphy is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida. He completed a double B.S. in mechanical and biomedical engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, an M.Phil. in biological science from Cambridge University, and an M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Georgia Tech. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Murphy is an expert in fluid mechanics whose research has biological, ecological, and environmental applications. For example, he has worked on crude oil spill dispersion in marine environments and potential human health effects of exposure to oily marine aerosols. Through a variety of methods, including advanced flow visualization and measurement techniques, he has also investigated zooplankton swimming, insect flight, and prosthetic heart valves.
| ||Ashley Ross |
Texas A&M University, Galveston
Dr. Ross is an assistant professor in the Department of Marine Sciences and a faculty fellow with the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores at Texas A&M University at Galveston. She holds an M.A. in political science from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. in political science from Texas A&M University. Dr. Ross studies the vulnerability of coastal communities to natural disasters and other hazards and how to make them more resilient. As a political scientist, she approaches these challenges from a public administration and policy perspective. She then uses this information to inform policies with the goal of enhancing community resilience. Her research examining coastal hazards has produced the book Local Disaster Resilience: Administrative and Political Perspectives. Dr. Ross was a 2014 National Science Foundation Next Generation of Hazard and Disasters Researchers Program fellow. Her work on Gulf Coast disaster resilience has also been supported by the Department of Homeland Security.
| ||Wanyun Shao |
Auburn University at Montgomery
Dr. Shao is an assistant professor of Geography and GIS at Auburn University at Montgomery where her primary research interests are the interaction between nature and society. She received her B.S. in geography from Jilin University (China) and M.P. in planning from the University of Wyoming. While pursuing her Ph.D in geography at Louisiana State University, Shao was a research assistant for the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program, which is funded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. After receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Shao worked as a Coastal Resources Scientist at the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority in Louisiana. Dr. Shao studies the interactions between nature and society. Her research encompasses the human dimensions of climate change, environmental risk perceptions, community resilience to environmental hazards, environmental policies and planning, and impacts of climate change on public health. The interdisciplinary nature of her research leads her to work across traditional disciplinary lines.
| ||J. Cameron Thrash |
Louisiana State University
Dr. Thrash is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University. He received a B.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. He received his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied microbial physiology. His graduate work included perchlorate bioremediation and isolation of novel perchlorate reducing microorganisms. He also studied anaerobic oxidation of iron and uranium. He was awarded a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at Oregon State University, where he focused on the evolution and genomics of SAR11, the most abundant marine bacteria. Dr. Thrash’s research focuses on the function of microbes in the different interconnected aquatic systems within the Gulf of Mexico, including the coasts, estuaries, the shelf region, and the Mississippi River. He aims to predict which microbes contribute to the vital ecosystem services of nutrient and carbon processing to generate strategic options for pollutant remediation.
[Back to top]
| ||Jordon Beckler |
Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Dr. Beckler is an assistant research professor in the Geochemistry and Geochemical Sensing Lab at the Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, Florida. He completed a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography with a minor in inorganic chemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Beckler is currently working to understand the role of sediment-derived iron in serving as a nutrient source to Florida red tides and in enhancing the degradation of hydrocarbons; improve efforts to understand harmful algae bloom formation by developing optical techniques and autonomous measurement platforms; and develop in situ chromatographic techniques for remote detection of harmful algae bloom toxins. His work focuses on developing autonomous instrumentation to measure previously unidentified introductions of iron to coastal waters and will contribute to improved understanding of the influences on Gulf algal blooms.
| ||Ann Cook |
The Ohio State University
Dr. Cook is an assistant professor in the School of Earth Sciences at The Ohio State University. She received her B.S. in geology from the University of Tulsa and her Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics from Columbia University. Dr. Cook’s research is focused on natural gas hydrates, an ice-like form of methane gas and solid water that forms in marine sediments. She uses analytical data like geophysical well logs, seismic data, and sediment cores along with mathematical models to investigate these natural gas hydrates. Since she arrived at Ohio State, Dr. Cook’s research has been funded primarily through several grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, including an $81 million project focused on drilling and recovering natural gas hydrate in sand reservoirs from the Gulf of Mexico.
| ||Brad Erisman |
University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Erisman is an assistant professor of fisheries ecology at the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute. He received his B.S. in aquatic biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, his M.S. degree in biology from California State University Northridge, and his Ph.D. in marine biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. After earning his doctorate, he remained at Scripps as a postdoctoral scholar and assistant research scientist for several years, during which time he co-founded the Gulf of California Marine Program. He currently leads several projects related to fishes and fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, California, the Indo-Pacific, and Mexico. Dr. Erisman’s research focuses on understanding interconnections among fish spawning aggregations (FSAs), ecosystems, fisheries, and climate. FSAs are productivity hotspots critical to marine food webs and ecosystem function. They also support the most productive and important commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries.
| ||Diego Figueroa |
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Dr. Figueroa is an assistant professor in the School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He received his B.S. in marine biology from the University of Alaska Southeast and his M.S. and Ph.D. in biological oceanography from Oregon State University. Dr. Figueroa’s work focuses on establishing a baseline of oceanographic and biological characteristics of the near-shore region of the South Texas Gulf Coast, one of the least-studied areas in the entire Gulf of Mexico, to serve as a foundation for long-term oceanographic monitoring. His research focuses on how oceanographic processes, anthropogenic effects, and climate change impact the biodiversity and connectivity of marine habitats. Dr. Figueroa works with zooplankton in coastal and open ocean environments and with corals in the deep sea. Dr. Figueroa uses multivariate tools for community analyses and a wide range of molecular methods to answer ecological and evolutionary questions.
| ||Huilin Gao |
Texas A&M University
Dr. Gao is an assistant professor in civil engineering at Texas A&M University. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in atmospheric sciences from Peking University, and her Ph.D. degree in water resources engineering from Princeton University. Dr. Gao’s research interests are interdisciplinary, and are focused on several areas indispensable to protecting water and environmental resources—particularly those related to coastal ecosystem sustainability. Her expertise is centered on understanding the impacts of a changing environment on freshwater inflows and the effects of inflows on coastal ecosystems. Dr. Gao uses a combination of in situ observations, state-of-the-art remote sensing, and high-performance modeling approaches to investigate interactions between phytoplankton and oil in the marine ecosystem to provide a better understanding of the role phytoplankton play in altering oil compounds, which phytoplankton functional types are most affected by oil spills, and which functional types are most likely to aid oil decomposition.
| ||Michelle Meyer |
Louisiana State University
Dr. Meyer is an assistant professor of sociology at Louisiana State University. She completed her Ph.D. in sociology at Colorado State University and received a B.A. in sociology from Murray State University. Her research interests include environmental sociology and community sustainability, disaster resilience and mitigation, climate change displacement, environmental justice, and the interplay between environmental conditions and social vulnerability. She has worked on various projects, including analyzing organizational networks in long-term recovery; comparing disaster recovery following technological and natural disasters; assessing the inclusion of disability in emergency management planning; and analyzing social capital and collective efficacy for individual and community resilience; among others. Using her research findings, Dr. Meyer has helped community organizations understand demographics that contribute to vulnerability and then prepare disaster recovery plans. With increasing disaster frequency, everyday practices and relationships are crucial to supporting community resilience.
| ||Jennifer Pazour |
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Dr. Pazour is an assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She holds three degrees in industrial engineering: a B.S. from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas. She is an active member of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, and she serves on the board of directors for the Warehousing Education and Research Council. Dr. Pazour’s research explores how to make decisions in logistics and resource-sharing systems. She develops mathematical models and solution algorithms of complex systems as a way of understanding and quantifying trade-offs with operational and design decisions.
| ||Kerri Pratt |
University of Michigan
Dr. Pratt is currently the Seyhan N. Ege Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan, where she also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences. She received her B.S. degree in chemistry from Penn State University, followed by her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Pratt’s environmental chemistry research laboratory studies atmospheric composition, clouds, and precipitation to understand key processes in air quality and climate change, particularly across the Alaska outer continental shelf. Her lab also examines air pollution contributions of oil extraction activities at coastal Prudhoe Bay, the third largest oilfield in North America. Recently, Dr. Pratt developed an innovative course featuring original Arctic snow chemistry research to introduce first- and second-year college students to scientific research to improve STEM retention.
| ||Adam Skarke |
Mississippi State University
Dr. Skarke is an assistant professor of Geology in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University. He earned a B.A. in geology from Colgate University as well as an M.S. and Ph.D. in geology from the University of Delaware. Dr. Skarke conducts research focused on understanding the fundamental physical relationships between fluid dynamics, sediment transport processes, morphological expression, and the stratigraphic record in marine environments that span the continental margin from coastal waters to the deep sea. His technical approach is field-based and focused on the analysis of geological, geophysical, and oceanographic data collected with innovative environmental observing sensors and platforms. Results of Dr. Skarke’s research may help scientists and environmental managers better understand and mitigate processes detrimental to the health and resilience of marine ecosystems, commercial fisheries, and coastal property and infrastructure.
| ||Jill Trepanier |
Louisiana State University
Dr. Trepanier is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University. She received her bachelor's degree in geography from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and her master's and Ph.D. in geography from Florida State University. Dr. Trepanier’s work focuses on the quantification of extreme hurricane wind and storm surge risks in coastal locations. This risk estimate provides planners and managers with an understanding of how often the most extreme events will occur in the region, which can help them better prepare structures for the worst-case scenario. Dr. Trepanier’s main research focus is on quantifying tropical cyclones, for which she has two different statistical approaches. The first uses extreme value statistics to estimate wind speeds or storm surges to specific locations. The second utilizes a copula model to find the combined probability of joint wind and storm surge occurrence.
[Back to top]
| ||Julie Albert |
Dr. Albert is an assistant professor and the Robert and Gayle Longmire Early Career Professor in Chemical Engineering at Tulane University. She received her B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Florida and her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research focused on developing gradient methods for exploring the effects of surface interactions on block copolymer thin film self-assembly and tailoring the chemical and mechanical properties of silicone elastomer networks for cell mobility studies and peptide assembly. At Tulane, Dr. Albert’s research is centered on the use of combinatorial methods to engineer nano- and micro-structured polymeric materials for applications in energy, health, and the environment. Specifically, she takes advantage of the phase separation processes responsible for self-assembly in block copolymers and polymer blends to produce materials in thin film geometries exhibiting desired morphologies.
| ||Alberto Caban-Martinez |
University of Miami
Dr. Caban-Martinez is an assistant professor of public health sciences and director of the Musculoskeletal Disorders and Occupational Health Lab at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine. He earned his B.S. in computer science from the University of Miami, his M.P.H. from Nova Southeastern University, and completed the osteopathic medicine program at Nova Southeastern University and the doctoral occupational epidemiology program at the University of Miami. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he learned to develop workplace interventions in the construction industry. Dr. Caban-Martinez’s interdisciplinary program of research aims to conduct robust occupational and environmental health surveillance activities and provide rigorous scientific evidence about effective ways to reduce musculoskeletal disorders and improve the well-being of worker populations. He focuses on finding ways to promote safe work practices, healthy behaviors, and healthy work environments.
| ||Zachary Darnell |
University of Southern Mississippi
Dr. Darnell is an assistant professor in the Department of Coastal Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Darnell earned a B.S. in biological sciences from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. in ecology from Duke University. Dr. Darnell’s long-term research interests are centered on the environmental constraints imposed upon marine and estuarine invertebrate species. Specifically, his research focuses on physiological and behavioral responses to environmental change and environmental stress; environmental effects on life histories, distributions, and population dynamics; and anthropogenic impacts on organism-environment interactions. Focusing primarily on crustaceans, this research relies on a combination of field- and lab-based experimental work, complemented by quantitative and spatial analyses of long-term fishery-dependent and fishery-independent datasets to better understand patterns of abundance and distribution in relation to environmental factors over longer time scales.
| ||Kelly Dorgan |
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Dr. Dorgan is a senior marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and an assistant professor of marine sciences at the University of South Alabama. She received her B.S. in marine biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Maine. As part of her dissertation research, she showed that worms extend burrows through muddy sediments by fracture, a result that was published in Nature and for which she was awarded the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Lindeman Award. Dr. Dorgan’s research program aims to develop a mechanistic understanding of the ecological and biogeochemical processes occurring in marine sediments. She is specifically interested in animal-sediment interactions, including the mechanics of burrowing and feeding and the impacts of these activities on the physical structure of sediments.
| ||Joel Fodrie |
University of North Carolina
Dr. Fodrie is an assistant professor of fisheries oceanography and ecology at the University of North Carolina, where he studies the population dynamics of fishes and shellfish. He has conducted research along all three major U.S. coastlines, as well as in the Baltic Sea and around the Galápagos Islands. Dr. Fodrie earned his Ph.D. in Oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he was supported as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and presented with the E. W. Fager Student Award. Dr. Fodrie’s research focuses on four major themes: 1) how the movement of fishes connects landscapes and affects population dynamics; 2) linkages between coastal habitat abundance/quality and fishery production; 3) biogenic habitat restoration; and 4) how basin-scale perturbations such as harvest pressure, climate change, and oil pollution influence the long-term community ecology of coastal ecosystems.
| ||Anna Michel |
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Dr. Michel earned B.S. degrees in biology and chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She then earned an M.S. in Ocean Engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Oceanographic Engineering from the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Joint Program. After receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Michel was a post-doctoral fellow and then an associate research scholar at the Center for Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment at Princeton University. She returned to WHOI as an assistant scientist in applied ocean physics and engineering. Dr. Michel’s research focus is on advancing environmental observation through the development and deployment of novel optical sensors for measurement of key chemical species. Dr. Michel designs, builds, and deploys advanced laser-based chemical sensors that are capable of measuring trace concentrations in gaseous and aqueous environments in locations ranging from the deep sea to Arctic environments, using remotely operated vehicles.
| ||Davin Wallace |
University of Southern Mississippi
Dr. Wallace is an assistant professor in the Department of Marine Science at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is also currently a guest investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a complimentary research scholar at Rice University. Dr. Wallace earned a B.S. degree from Tulane University, with a double major in geology and German. He earned a Ph.D. degree in earth science from Rice University. The aim of Dr. Wallace’s research is to establish the response of coastal systems to global change over historic and geologic timescales. Specifically, Dr. Wallace is primarily a field geologist interested in understanding how variations in hurricanes, sediment supply, and relative sea-level shape and impact the coastlines of the world. He has worked in areas along the Gulf of Mexico, Japan, Bermuda, and the Philippines.
| ||Helen White |
Dr. White is an associate professor of chemistry and the director of the environmental studies program at Haverford College. She received a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Sussex, U.K., and a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Joint Program. Dr. White’s research examines the persistence of oil and other organic contaminants in the marine environment. Her work seeks to examine how the chemical structure, physical associations, and bioavailability of specific compounds determine their cycling and eventual fate. Her research at Haverford College has been funded by an National Science Foundation RAPID grant to determine the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on a deep-water coral community in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to examine the weathering of petroleum and dispersant components in the deep-sea, on Gulf Coast beaches, and in laboratory incubations.
[Back to top]