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2016 Gulf Research Program Fellows

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2016 Science Policy Fellows

Debra Butler
Host: EPA Gulf of Mexico Program
Gulfport, MS

Makyba Charles
Host: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Gainesville, FL

Kristen Dorans
Host: RESTORE Council
New Orleans, LA

Paulina Kolic
Host: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
Baton Rouge, LA

Alejandra Mickle
Host: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Fairhope, AL

Krystal Pree
Host: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Tallahassee, FL

Geoffrey Roest
Host: BOEM Gulf of Mexico Office
New Orleans, LA

Lindsey Saum
Host: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Austin, TX

Stephanie Sharuga
Host: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Lafayette, LA

Caitlin Young
Host: NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program
Stennis, MS

2016 Early-Career Research Fellows

Jordon Beckler
Mote Marine Laboratory
Sarasota, FL

Ann Cook
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH

Brad Erisman
University of Texas at Austin
Port Aransas, TX

Diego Figueroa
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Brownsville, TX

Huilin Gao
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX

Michelle Meyer
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA

Jennifer Pazour
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY

Kerri Pratt
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Adam Skarke
Mississippi State University
Starkville, MS

Jill Trepanier
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA



Biographies – Science Policy Fellows


Debra Butler, Ph.D. Candidate, MBA, Ed.M.
Host Office: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program
Gulfport, MS


Ms. Debra Butler is a native of the Gulf coast; a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts Boston College of Management (Organizations and Social Change); and a fellow in the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) on Coasts and Communities, a trans-disciplinary research training program for social, governance, environmental and ocean scientists. Her research focuses on organizational responses to climate change, particularly processes of socio-political hybridization, community resilience capacity, and environmental migration/diaspora. In 2015, she completed a three month research project on organizational resiliency at the Massachusetts Port Authority.

At the Brandeis International Business School, Ms. Butler was awarded fellowships that supported research of hybrid entrepreneurship models (emprendes) in Havana, Cuba, (Hassenfeld, 2013) and sustainable wealth creation in rural communities through best practices for cooperative farming and forestry in SW Alabama (Bunson, 2012). Her additional training and education includes an Ed.M. and certificate in leadership education (Harvard) and a MBA and certificate in ethics (Spring Hill College). She has had a career in aviation (Delta/SwissAir), and additional work experience in financial services as a licensed advisor and FINRA arbitrator.

Ms. Butler’s volunteer activities include the Academy of Management, League of Women Voters, and engagement with community based climate change, leadership and financial literacy programs.

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Makyba Charles, Ph.D.
Host Office: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Gainesville, FL


Dr. Makyba Charles-Ayinde was born in Trinidad and recently received her Ph.D. in public health at the University of Florida. She earned a B.S. and M.S. in biology with honors at Florida A&M University and Purdue University, respectively. After completing her master’s, Dr. Charles-Ayinde joined the University of Florida’s department of environmental and global health as a graduate fellow. During her Ph.D., Dr. Charles-Ayinde dedicated herself to an interdisciplinary project which assessed seafood safety following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as part of a “Healthy Gulf Healthy Communities” initiative. Her research discerned seafood consumption patterns (fish, shrimp, oyster and blue crab) of residents of coastal communities along the northern Gulf of Mexico. This enabled her to identify highly vulnerable subpopulations in these communities which can be targeted in the event of any environmental disaster which impacts Gulf resources. In addition, she assisted in the creation of a probabilistic risk assessment model which determined the distribution of risk to these coastal populations from consuming in-shore caught seafood species in the wake of the oil spill.

Dr. Charles-Ayinde has won several awards for her work in the Gulf, including the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative’s student presenter award and the Society of Risk Analysis’ student merit award. More importantly, Dr. Charles-Ayinde has had the opportunity to work with various potentially vulnerable communities throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico. This provided her with valuable experiences in supporting environmental education as well as stakeholder engagement, community outreach, and resiliency as well as resource management and regulation.

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Kirsten Dorans, Sc.D.
Host Office: RESTORE Council
New Orleans, LA


Dr. Kirsten Dorans completed her undergraduate degree in bio-organic chemistry, graduating from McGill University in 2008. During the next year, she completed science communication and policy internships at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the American Chemical Society, and Nature Medicine. She subsequently worked for two years as an assistant editor at a Nature Publishing Group journal. Dr. Dorans then returned to school at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, from which she received an Sc.D. in epidemiology in May 2016. As a doctoral student, she studied the association of outdoor air pollution exposure with atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque in arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Dorans is interested in better understanding the link between the environment and human health, communicating scientific findings to the public, and helping to develop public policies that are rooted in sound science. As a Gulf Research Program Science Policy Fellow, she will work with the RESTORE Council.

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Paulina Kolic, Ph.D.
Host Office: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
Baton Rouge, LA


Dr. Paulina E. Kolic was born and raised in San Diego, California. In 2010, she obtained her B.S. in chemistry from California State University Channel Islands, where she graduated magna cum laude with program honors. During her undergraduate career, Dr. Kolic participated in summer research programs with the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Shortly thereafter, she began her graduate studies at Louisiana State University. Dr. Kolic’s dissertation work involved the improvement of solar conversion efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells through optimization of photosensitizing dyes. Recently, she completed her doctorate in chemistry under the mentorship of Dr. Isiah Warner. While at Louisiana State University, Dr. Kolic was supported by an economic development assistantship and the Department of Energy Science Graduate Fellowship. She is the 2016 awardee of the James G. Traynham Distinguished Graduate Student Award. In addition to her dissertation work, Dr. Kolic has actively participated in environmental research in Louisiana including studies on the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Mississippi River flood events. She is widely interested in conservation and restoration of the environment as well as the role that government and policy play in these endeavors.

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Alejandra Mickle, M.S.
Host Office: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Fairhope, AL


Ms. Alejandra Mickle was born and raised in Peru and moved to the United States at age 14. As an undergraduate, she interned and later became a lab technician at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory, where she worked on various projects related to the faunal communities of the Big Bend seagrass meadows. She received her B.S. in biology from Florida State University in 2009. Ms. Mickle spent the next few years working as technician for several labs, where she assisted on various projects related to the feeding ecology of coastal bony fish and sharks, independent fisheries monitoring, mercury bioaccumulation, deep sea sediment geochemistry, and the potential effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on deep sea communities. In the spring of 2016, Ms. Mickle finished her M.Sc. in Biological Oceanography at Florida State University, where she studied the trophic ecology and bioaccumulation of mercury in deep sea hagfishes from the Gulf of Mexico. She presented her findings at the 2016 Joint Meeting of Ichthyology and Herpetology in New Orleans.

Ms. Mickle is also involved with outreach as a camp counselor for the Saturday at the Sea program. There, she uses a hands-on approach to teach kids about the rich variety of marine creatures of the Gulf of Mexico, the biological relationships these creatures have to each other and to their physical environment, and create awareness of the interdependency of people in this region with the sea life in its estuaries and bays.

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Krystal Pree, M.S.
Host Office: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Tallahassee, FL


Ms. Krystal Pree is a native of Stamps, Arkansas. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of the Environment at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL. Ms. Pree is majoring in environmental science with a concentration in environmental policy and risk management, where she is investigating the risk to recreational fishers and harvesters in Lee County, FL, from exposure to red tides. Ms. Pree is a recipient of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Cooperative Science Center Graduate Research Assistantship at Florida A&M University and was recently awarded the McKnight Dissertation Fellowship.

Ms. Pree has a M.S. degree in environmental science at Baylor University in Waco, TX, where she investigated the use of bioassay-based reference doses in a human health risk assessment for those exposed to polybrominated diphenyl ethers through fish consumption. She received a B.S. in fisheries biology from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where she graduated summa cum laude and ranked number one in her class at the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.

Outside of academia, Ms. Pree has interned with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (National Ocean Council Office) serving as Intern and Special Assistant to the National Ocean Council Director; the United States Geological Survey (as a fisheries biologist student trainee and a biological science technician student); and with the Missouri Department of Conservation as a youth conservation corps coordinator/conservation scientist. Ms. Pree also serves those in need in her local community.

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Geoffrey Roest, M.S.
Host Office: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Gulf of Mexico Office
New Orleans, LA


Mr. Geoff Roest is originally from upstate New York. He has a B.S. in meteorology from Plymouth State University and an M.S. in geosciences from San Francisco State University, where he won a distinguished achievement award. He worked as an intern meteorologist at Sonoma Technology, Inc., where he forecasted air quality and gained experience in atmospheric chemistry research.

Currently, Mr. Roest is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station. His research has focused on measuring and quantifying emissions from unconventional oil and gas operations in the Eagle Ford Shale in southern Texas, as well as the climate and air quality impacts associated with those emissions. He has coauthored two peer-reviewed publications and presented work at multiple conferences. During his first year at Texas A&M University, Mr. Roest won an award for graduate student presentations in his department. He has also served as an officer on the graduate student council in his department and ran a seminar series exclusively for graduate students.

During his free time, Mr. Roest focuses on healthy living and is avid runner. He has completed two full marathons and one ultramarathon, and is currently training to complete a 100-mile run in 2017.

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Lindsey Saum, Ph.D.
Host Office: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Austin, TX


Dr. Lindsey Saum received a B.A. in microbiology and genetics from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2008, and a Ph.D. in environmental microbiology from the University of California Riverside (UCR) in 2016. As an undergraduate, she studied the inhibition of human viral pathogen replication by amino acids and proteins. During graduate school, Dr. Saum turned her focus to the environment and studied communities of oil-degrading bacteria found in beach sediment contaminated by oil still lingering from the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. While at UCR, she received the Prince William Sound Oil Spill Recovery Institute Graduate Student Research Fellowship, the Explorers Club Exploration Fund, two scholarships from the UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for the environmental sciences department. Dr. Saum is very interested in science education outreach, which led her to serve as a judge and mentor for K-12 science fairs and volunteer at family science education events in the local community.

Dr. Saum’s career goals include building public education programs and events to promote awareness of environmental protection and conservation, and contributing to the creation of more stringent pollution regulations to preserve natural resources.
She spends her personal time engaging in outdoor sports and activities such as ultimate frisbee, skiing, surfing, kayaking, and hiking.

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Stephanie Sharuga, Ph.D.
Host Office: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Lafayette, LA


Dr. Stephanie Sharuga has a Ph.D. in oceanography and coastal sciences from Louisiana State University (LSU), where she studied and developed approaches for evaluating deep-sea benthic megafaunal communities in the northern Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Her research has been presented at numerous international science conferences and workshops, as well as in forthcoming publications. Dr. Sharuga also holds a M.S. in environmental management and sustainability from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a B.S. in biology and earth & ocean sciences from the University of Victoria in Canada. Over the years, she has been involved in a variety of research, volunteer, and consulting projects with organizations including Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and the Field Museum. Dr. Sharuga’s past research has included ecology-focused projects studying wetlands and marine communities, along with work in marine and coastal policy and management. She has also been actively involved as both a ship and shore-based scientist for multiple oceanographic cruises.

Dr. Sharuga shares her lifelong passion for the ocean, environment and science through a variety of science education and outreach activities. She has served in several mentoring programs, the LSU Coast and Environment Graduate Organization, and as a conference and science fair judge. She is a member of multiple international honors societies, and was a student vice president for the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi. For her career, Dr. Sharuga is pursuing opportunities to use and develop innovative, novel technologies and approaches for marine and coastal research, education, policy, and management.

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Caitlin Young, Ph.D.
Host Office: NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program
Stennis, MS


Dr. Caitlin Young completed her Ph.D. in geosciences at Stony Brook University in 2013. She holds a M.S. from Stony Brook University and a B.S. from Tulane University. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica, WI, she worked on environmental awareness projects including drought mitigation, reduction of fertilizer application in traditional farming practices and marketing of crafts made from sustainably-sourced tree products. While at Stony Brook University, she was awarded a SeaGrant scholarship and the David E. King Fieldwork Award to support her dissertation research. Her dissertation research investigated transport and biogeochemical processing of nutrients in coastal aquifers, with a focus on how groundwater-sourced anthropogenic nitrogen impacts coastal water quality. After completing her Ph.D., Dr. Young accepted a post-doc position at the University of Florida. Her current research investigates how salt water intrusion will impact biogeochemical processing in coastal aquifers. Understanding how salt water intrusion will affect potable water quality in coastal aquifers is critical in the Gulf of Mexico, as sea level rise continues unabated leaving coastal populations vulnerable to contaminated drinking water.

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Research Summaries and Biographies – Early-Career Research Fellows

Jordon Beckler, Ph.D.
Mote Marine Laboratory
Sarasota, FL

Research Summary:

Harmful algal blooms are one of the largest and longest-lasting environmental disruptions of the Gulf, routinely affecting ecosystem dynamics, economics, and human health. Iron introduced to coastal waters indirectly supports the growth of K. brevis, a common harmful alga. Dr. Jordon Beckler’s work focuses on developing autonomous instrumentation to measure previously unidentified introductions of iron to coastal waters. Dr. Beckler’s work will contribute to improved understanding of the influences on Gulf algal blooms.

Biography:
Dr. Beckler is currently the program manager for the Ocean Technology Research Program at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL. He joined Mote in 2015 after completing a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography with a minor in inorganic chemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2014. His dissertation research focused on the study of metal and sulfur cycling in redox environments through both field and laboratory research, including elucidating the biogeochemical origin of soluble, organically-complexed iron (III) in sediments. At Mote, Dr. Beckler is currently working to a) understand the role of sediment-derived iron in serving as a nutrient source to Florida red tides and in enhancing the degradation of hydrocarbons; b) improve efforts to understand harmful algae bloom formation by developing optical techniques and autonomous measurement platforms; and c) develop in situ chromatographic techniques for remote detection of harmful algae bloom toxins. His oceanographic field efforts have included numerous research cruises in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico, as well as opportunities to explore hydrothermal vents at the East Pacific Rise using DSV ALVIN, and cold seeps in the Congo River deep-sea fan with a remotely operated underwater vehicle. Dr. Beckler combines his broad experience and his lab’s novel technology to bring engaging, hands-on oceanographic experience to many interns who are each given their own research projects, and to high school students and teachers through an advanced “Ocean Technology” club in which club members design and build their own oceanographic sensors and share data in real-time on the web.

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Ann Cook, Ph.D.
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH

Research Summary:

Gas hydrates -- methane gas molecules trapped within an ice-like cage of solid water -- occur worldwide within sediments on continental slopes. Dr. Ann Cook uses analytical data like geophysical well logs, seismic data, and sediment cores along with mathematical models to investigate these natural gas hydrates. Study of gas hydrates is critical for several reasons. The methane contained within them could be a commercial energy resource in the future, the “melting” of gas hydrate may trigger submarine landslides or could affect petroleum drilling and production, and they may play a key role in climate change by serving as a source or sink for atmospheric methane.

Biography:
Dr. Cook is an assistant professor in the School of Earth Sciences at The Ohio State 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 received her B.S. in geology from the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, OK, and her Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics from Columbia University in New York, NY. During graduate school, she spent time drilling and exploring gas hydrate systems offshore India and in the Gulf of Mexico. Following her Ph.D., Dr. Cook received the National Energy Technology Laboratory Gas Hydrate Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, which she spent at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Since she arrived at Ohio State, Dr. Cook’s research has been funded primarily through several grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). One DOE award is a multi-institutional, $81 million dollar project focused on drilling and recovering natural gas hydrate in sand reservoirs from the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Cook is leading the Ohio State portion of that award, which includes mapping and selecting the best drilling and sampling sites. Dr. Cook has published 16 papers in peer-reviewed journals, most of which focus on the dimensions and features of the submarine gas hydrate reservoir. She is also interested in marine geology, carbon sequestration and big pictures questions about energy choices and energy resource management. Dr. Cook also enjoys working with her students, both graduate and undergraduate and recently received the Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award in the School of Earth Sciences.

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Brad Erisman, Ph.D.
University of Texas at Austin
Port Aransas, TX

Research Summary:

Fish spawning aggregations (FSAs) occur when many members of a single species of fish gather in one location to reproduce. Dr. Brad Erisman’s research focuses on understanding interconnections among FSAs, ecosystems, fisheries, and climate. This matters because 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. Characterizing the dynamics of FSAs and how they interact with fisheries is vital for supporting the livelihoods and food security of coastal communities.

Biography:
Dr. Erisman is an assistant professor of fisheries ecology at the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute, where his research focuses on understanding spatial and temporal interactions between fish spawning aggregations, fisheries, and climate. Dr. Erisman 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 in 2008, 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, a bi-national research program involving students, scientists, and professionals from Mexico and the U.S. He currently leads several projects related to fishes and fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, California, the Indo-Pacific, and Mexico. He is a member of the Species Survival Commission for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is a board member of the Society for the Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations, and serves on the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Dr. Erisman has contributed more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, technical reports, and outreach publications on the reproductive biology, behavioral ecology, population dynamics, conservation and management of marine fishes. His recent film on spawning aggregations received the viewers’ choice award at the 2015 Blue Gulf Film Festival, first place for new media at the 2015 CINEFISH Film Festival, and first place documentary at the 2014 Reef Renaissance Film Festival.

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Diego Figueroa, Ph.D.
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Brownsville, TX

Research Summary:

The near-shore region of the South Texas Gulf Coast is one of the least-studied areas in the entire Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Diego Figueroa’s work focuses on establishing a baseline of oceanographic and biological characteristics of this region to serve as a foundation for long-term oceanographic monitoring. Dr. Figueroa’s research is essential to assess the effects of increased stress on this coastal environment from rising human use and climate change. It will provide invaluable information for policymakers and managers to mitigate negative impacts and promote the sustainable use of resources in the Gulf of Mexico.

Biography:
Dr. Figueroa is an assistant professor in the School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. 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. He also studies the colonization and speciation of organisms in anchialine habitats. Dr. Figueroa uses multivariate tools for community analyses and a wide range of molecular methods to answer ecological and evolutionary questions. 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 worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the College of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University and at the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at Florida State University. He has also worked as a visiting scientist for the Department of Marine Research at the Galapagos National Park Service, the Department of Marine Biology at the Charles Darwin Research Station, and at the Department of Invertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural History Museum. He is currently a member of Texas OneGulf Network of Experts for the Texas OneGulf Center of Excellence. Dr. Figueroa is spearheading a new outreach program to implement marine conservation, inquiry-based lessons at local K-12 schools through a Texas SeaGrant award. His past awards include a National Science Foundation GK-12 Rural Science Fellowship and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Nancy Foster Marine Science Fellowship.

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Huilin Gao, Ph.D.
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX

Research Summary:

Oil spills bring significant negative impacts to the food web in marine ecosystems. Although there have been numerous studies looking at the impacts of oil spills on higher levels of the food web, there is comparatively little research on microscopic organisms such as phytoplankton. Dr. Huilin Gao will use a combination of in situ observations, state-of-the-art remote sensing, and physically based, spatially distributed high-performance modeling approaches to investigate the interactions between phytoplankton and oil in the marine ecosystem. Dr. Gao’s research will 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.

Biography:
Dr. Gao is an assistant professor in civil engineering at Texas A&M University (TAMU). 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. Before joining TAMU in the fall of 2012, she also worked at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a research faculty member and at the University of Washington as a research associate.

Dr. Gao’s research interests are interdisciplinary, and are focused on several areas indispensable for protecting water and environmental resources—particularly those related to coastal ecosystem sustainability. Her expertise is centered on the use of field sampling, satellite based observations, and modeling approaches to understand the impacts of a changing environment on freshwater inflows and the effects of inflows on coastal ecosystems. Dr. Gao has authored/coauthored 33 peer reviewed journal publications and two book chapters. She has served as a reviewer for several federal and international funding agencies, and for more than 20 journals. She was also a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award in 2015.

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Michelle Meyer, Ph.D.
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA

Research Summary:

As an environmental and disaster sociologist, Dr. Michelle Annette Meyer’s interests include how environmental and social forces affect population groups, especially low-income and culturally marginalized groups. Her research identifies the importance of creating a practice of resilience among community groups centered around inter-organizational relationships and communication for community sustainability. 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.

Biography:
Dr. Meyer is a third-year assistant professor of sociology at Louisiana State University (LSU). Before joining LSU, she was a post-doc researcher with the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A&M University. Dr. Meyer completed her Ph.D. in sociology at Colorado State University in 2013, and received a B.A. in sociology from Murray State University. Since joining LSU, she has been selected as a fellow in the Next Generation of Hazard and Disasters Researchers Program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and also an Early Career Research Fellow with the Gulf Research Program. 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; assessing earthquake protective action messaging in Haiti; comparing disaster recovery following technological and natural disasters; assessing the inclusion of disability in emergency management planning; studying energy efficient building practices; analyzing social capital and collective efficacy for individual and community resilience; and developing participatory GIS activities to assess environmental and climate justice in marginalized communities; among others. Her research has been funded by the NSF, the National PERISHIP Dissertation Fellowship, the Midwest Sociological Society, and the Rural Sociological Society. She collaborates on research with nonprofit organizations including GeoHazards International, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and t.e.j.a.s. for environmental justice. She teaches research methods and environmental sociology at LSU, and was selected by the undergraduate sociological society as Professor of the Year in 2015.

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Jennifer Pazour, Ph.D.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY

Research Summary:

Logistics is the movement and storage of goods. We rely on logistics to enable and sustain our daily access to critical resources such as water, food, and medical supplies. The importance of logistics is never more apparent than when it has been disrupted due to a disaster. Moreover, disaster response logistics decisions are especially challenging, due to increased needs, uncertainties, and limited resource availability. Dr. Jennifer 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.

Biography:
Dr. Pazour is an assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her research explores how to make decisions in logistics and resource sharing systems. Sustaining our lifestyles and commerce, logistics is concerned with the movement and storage of goods, and plays a critical role in disaster response. Resource sharing systems connect resource requests to a crowd of independent decentralized resource owners. Resource sharing systems operate in a boundless network and can improve resiliency by increasing resource availability and coordination. Dr. Pazour’s research, published in a number of peer-reviewed journals, develops mathematical representations of complex systems and processes to better understand the implications of their design and operations. She is an active member of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers. Dr. Pazour serves on the board of directors for the Warehousing Education and Research Council. She is a recipient of a Young Investigator Program award from the Office of Naval Research, a Research Start-up Grant from the Material Handling Institute, a Doctoral Dissertation Enhancement Project from the National Science Foundation, and national fellowships from Tau Beta Pi, the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, and the Material Handling Education Foundation. Jen 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), and was previously on the faculty at the University of Central Florida. More information can be found through her blog: http://jenpazour.wordpress.com/ or her twitter account @jpazour.

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Kerri Pratt, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Research Summary:

Dr. Kerri 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. In the Arctic, critical knowledge gaps exist in understanding the impacts of rapid sea ice loss and increasing oil development and shipping. Dr. Pratt’s lab is examining air pollution contributions of oil extraction activities at coastal Prudhoe Bay, the third largest oilfield in North America. Due to far-reaching social, economic, and environmental impacts, there is an urgent need to investigate the current state to improve predictions of future conditions and inform public policy.

Biography:
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. Her environmental chemistry research laboratory studies atmospheric composition, clouds, and snow to understand key processes pertaining to air quality and climate change, with a focus on the Arctic. Recently, Dr. Pratt developed an innovative general chemistry laboratory course featuring semester-long original Arctic snow chemistry research to introduce first- and second-year college students to scientific research to improve STEM retention. Her research group conducts public outreach, both in Michigan and on the North Slope of Alaska, and recently developed outreach activities that translate their research to the public. Dr. Pratt received her B.S. degree in chemistry from Penn State University in 2004, followed by her Ph.D. in chemistry in 2009 from the University of California, San Diego as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow and Environmental Protection Agency Science To Achieve Results Graduate Fellow. Dr. Pratt began Arctic research during her postdoctoral studies at Purdue University where she was a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow and NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Polar Regions Research. In 2014, she was awarded the American Society for Mass Spectrometry Research Award and Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh Starter Grant Award. Dr. Pratt has contributed 36 peer-reviewed publications, which appear in journals including Nature Geoscience, Environmental Science & Technology, and the Journal of Geophysical Research.

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Adam Skarke, Ph.D.
Mississippi State University
Starkville, MS

Research Summary:

Dr. Adam Skarke uses satellite imagery and acoustic instrumentation to investigate the oceanographic and geologic processes that control sediment erosion, transport, and deposition in marine environments. This work includes studying how coastal storms alter the shape of coastlines and how gas release from seafloor sediments impacts water quality. 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.

Biography:
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. Specifically, his research quantifies how those relationships evolve and are linked across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Dr. Skarke’s technical approach is field based and focused on the analysis of geological, geophysical, and oceanographic data collected with innovative environmental observing sensors and platforms. His current research is focused on 1) understanding linkages between coastal erosion and underlying stratigraphy, 2) remote sensing of suspended sediment dynamics, 3) identification and quantification of hydrocarbon discharge from seafloor sediments, and 4) development of unmanned surface vessels for high-resolution coastal habitat mapping.

Dr. Skarke is an Assistant Professor of Geology in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University. Prior to his current appointment, he was a postdoctoral associate with the Geosystems Research Institute at MSU and a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Dr. Skarke earned a B.A. (2003) in geology from Colgate University and a M.S. (2008) as well as Ph.D. (2013) in geology from the University of Delaware. He has participated in 23 oceanographic research cruises, presented research results at over 20 national and international conferences, and published research articles in a number of leading scientific journals including Nature Geoscience, Oceanography, Geology, and Continental Shelf Research.

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Jill Trepanier, Ph.D.
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA

Research Summary:

The Gulf Coast region of the United States is highly vulnerable to hurricane strikes. Dr. Jill 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. Additionally, as the Gulf region has a large number of oil platforms, this quantified risk can be estimated for platform locations, helping to prevent catastrophic life, economic, and environmental losses.

Biography:
Dr. Trepanier received her bachelor's degree in geography from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 2007 and her master's and Ph.D. in geography from Florida State University in 2009 and 2012, respectively. She began a tenure-track position in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University in August 2012. Her main research focus is on quantifying extreme weather events, particularly tropical cyclones. Using statistical approaches, she employs models to estimate the frequency and severity of tropical cyclone events on coastal locations. She has related these different risk assessments to climate change using global sea surface temperature changes. Much of her work has been conducted in the North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. She has two different statistical approaches to quantify tropical cyclone hazards. 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. She is currently funded by the Louisiana Board of Regents to employ her copula model at stations throughout the Gulf of Mexico coastline. She is also funded by NASA to aid physicists in their understanding of gamma burst lightning signatures in Jamaica and Puerto Rico. She is currently advising four graduate students and has received two university-wide teaching awards. She serves as the advisor for the departmental undergraduate student organization and the international honors society, Gamma Theta Upsilon.

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About the Gulf Research Program’s Fellowships

These competitive awards are among the suite of activities in the program’s 30-year mission to enhance oil system safety and the protection of human health and the environment in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. outer continental shelf regions.

The science policy fellowships, focused on leadership development and capacity building at the science-policy interface, are awarded to graduate or professional students or those who have completed their studies within the past five years and demonstrate a strong scientific or technical background, superior academic achievement, and leadership qualities. This year’s fellows will spend a year on the staff of a state agency or at relevant federal agency’s regional office in a Gulf state. Fellows will be paired with a mentor when they arrive at their host offices. They will also have opportunities for professional development. Fellows will receive an annual stipend of $45,000 for current students or $55,000 for graduates.

The early-career research fellowships recognize professionals at the critical pre-tenure phase of their careers for exceptional leadership, past performance, and potential for future contributions to improving oil system safety, human health and well-being, or environmental protection. To foster their development as leaders, fellows will receive professional guidance from a mentor who is a senior faculty member at their home institution. Fellows will receive an award of $76,000, paid to their institution in the form of a two-year grant, for research expenses and professional development.

Read the full press release announcing the 2016 fellows.

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