Alumni Scholars

Active Scholars

 

Cohort 1 Alumni  (Back to Top)

Jamal Burey 
Bethune-Cookman University (BCU)
Degree: BS Mechanical Engineering
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence 

As a CCME-II Cohort 1 Scholar and an undergraduate student in Computer Engineering at Bethune-Cookman University, my research focused on trends analysis of coastal conditions and sustainability that aligns with Coastal Intelligence. I graduated with my bachelor's degree in 2023 and am now pursuing an M.S at Florida A&M University as a CCME-II Cohort 3 Scholar.

 

Jasmine J. Callier  
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree: MS Marine Biology
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

As a CCME-II Cohort 1 Scholar and a masters student in Marine Biology at TAMUCC, my research focused on the areas of biological oceanography and ecotoxicology. I mainly studied jellyfish and gelatinous zooplankton. I graduated in 2023. My masters project examined specific stressors on the environment and the relationship it has with ecosystem health so that I could determine implications to maintain a healthy ecosystem. In the future, I would like to focus on the leading stressors on the deep-sea ecosystems so that I can provide more information and understanding of the deeper parts of the ocean and understudied organisms. Using existing and new data sources, I can provide further understanding of the jellyfish and gelatinous zooplankton population. I would like to work in a zooplankton ecology lab looking at their ecology and population dynamisc. I am interested in working for NOAA in an ecotoxicology lab or deep-sea coral lab on how different toxins/chemicals effect zooplankton or other organisms. I have an interest in deep-sea corals because they have a different composition and biological processes than pelagic corals. My research interests align with NOAA CCME II thematic area of Coastal Intelligence. I am currently a PhD student at the University of South Carolina.

Jackinson E. Marcellus
Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU)
Degree: BS Computer Engineering
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence 

As a CCME-II Cohort 1 Scholar and an undergraduate student at B-CU, my research related to robotics (e.g. an autonomous boat) designed to collect sensing data using motor control, Esc and Arduino technology. I graduated in 2023. I am pursuing a career in areas that include robotics, hardware and electrical engineering.  I am also focused on machine learning and applying more knowledge in the field. The ability to train any computer device to operate on its own at a fast rate is in my opinion the most useful breakthrough in society today. My long-term goal is to contribute as much as I can towards the growth of the field. 

 

Nicholas Romero
California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB)
Degree: BS Marine Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

As a CCME-II Cohort 1 Scholar and an undergraduate student at CSUMB, my research resided in the fields of biological and physical oceanography, specifically studying how phytoplankton communities affect or are affected by abiotic and biotic factors within the ocean. I graduated in 2023. As part of the CCME-II program, I worked to understand phytoplankton's functional type and physiology to get a better understanding of phytoplankton biodiversity using remote sensing and in-situ observations. My interests also related to using widely used databases and archived/new data streams that support my research in understanding present-time trends and compare to historical trends. My research interests related to the NOAA CCME coastal intelligence theme because I wanted to gain a better understanding of how stressors on ecosystem processes affect ecosystem health (i.e ENSO phases affecting phytoplankton physiology). My career goal is to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a senior scientist. I am currently exploring options for graduate studies.

Taylor A. Triviño
California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB)
Degree Level Enrolled: BS Marine Science
Thematic Area: Place Based Conservation 

As a CCME-II Scholar and an undergraduate student at CSUMB, my research interests included mitigating the impacts of human driven threats for ecosystems and species that are more susceptible to the degradation of their populations. I graduated in 2023. Areas such as kelp forests, coral reefs, and the intertidal zones are fascinating to me due to the complex nature of how adaptive the organisms in these environments have to be to survive. Understanding the science logistics and connecting a management approach allows for bridging the gap between science and policy work. It is important for me to engage in conservation work because I know I want to make an impact on a larger scale in the foreseeable future. Using my science background, I want to advocate for the protection of marine organisms via research that can be used to implement new marine policies. I am particulary interested in coastal intelligence and place-based conservation in terms of NOAA’s research thematic areas. Partnering with the local community grants me the opportunity to expand on my knowledge and take a research project to the next level. It is principle to involve those who are impacted by threats to their home, where both parties can learn from each other. I have transitioned into an M.S. program at the University of Washington with an NSF graduate fellowship.

   

Cohort 2 Alumni (Back to Top)

Edward (Ted) Gniffke
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Environmental Studies 
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence  

As a CCME-II Scholar and a master's student at UTRGV, my research focused on the field of benthic ecology under the supervision of Dr. Erin Easton. My NOAA NERTO mentor was Dr. Ian Enochs at the NOAA AOML Coral Program in Florida. My NERTO project was siRNA mediated gene knockdown in Acropora cervicornis from May 18- August 29, 2022. I graduated with my M.S. in Ocean, Coastal, and Earth Sciences in July 2023 and began employment as a senior research associate in molecular engineering in the private sector.

 

Andrea A Pugh-Kelley
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence  

As a CCME-II Scholar and a PhD student at FAMU, my research focused on per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as an emerging major contaminant in the Great Lakes region. Prior to entering the CCME-II program, I received my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science as a NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center student at FAMU and I attended the University of Michigan School of Public Health and earned a Masters of Public Health with a focus in Environmental Quality and Health in 2018. Since the 5th grade, I have conducted research in environmental science with a focus on lead in soil and drinking water. I was first introduced to NOAA in 2008 as an eighth grader when I was awarded the NOAA ‘Taking the Pulse of the Planet.’  In 2019, I completed my NOAA Experimental Training and Research Opportunity (NERTO) at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab under Dr. Mark Rowe. My research involved using Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Modeling System. I graduated with my Ph.D. in Environmental Science in July 2023 and was hired as a physical scientist within NOAA/NCCOS.

DeMarcus D. Turner
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence 

As a CCME-II Scholar and a PhD student at FAMU, my field of study focused on the environmental sciences of the marine and estuarine environments and how human activities affect the wellbeing of its inhabitants. The foundation of this work is coastal intelligence, which examines how human activity affects habitats that connect the land and the sea. My professional goal is to seek out opportunities to broaden my understanding of ecological systems while networking with groups, individuals, and leaders who are committed to maintaining the environmental conditions necessary to support the health and expansion of nature throughout its life cycle. Environmental risk assessment and analysis, habitat conservation, environmental health sciences, and marine and estuarine ecosystems are some of my areas of interest. I earned my M.S. in Environmental Science in July 2023 and have entered a Ph.D. program at the University of South Carolina with an Oak Ridge National Laboratory fellowship.

 

 

 

Cohort 3 Alumni (Back to Top)

Summer (Martinez) Crescent
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Biology
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence 

As a CCME II scholar and master’s student at FAMU, my research studied fungi in oceanic ecosystems and correlate fungal diversity to their symbiotic prokaryotes. This research falls under the NOAA CCME thematic areas of coastal intelligence by providing insight on the microbial conditions of coastal areas. In 2022, I was selected as a NOAA EPP/MSI Graduate Fellowship program at the NOS Hollings Marine Laboratory. After completing my masters, I started an ORISE Fellowship with the NOAA National Ocean Service at NCCOS.

 

 

Cohort 1 Active Scholars (Back to Top)

Christian M. Amos 
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Chemistry
Thematic Area: Coastal Resilience

My project focuses on nature-based infrastructure that addresses the impact of extreme weather on coastal ecosystems and communities. Using data collected during 2018-2021 period, which includes a significant freeze event during spring 2021, as well as new water samples, I am investigating estuarine carbonate chemistry dynamics and CO2 flux in Mission-Aransas Estuary. My future career interests include a role to further understand the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal communities all over the United States. 

 

Alyssa A. Anzalone
California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB)
Degree Level Enrolled: M.S. in Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

It is my goal to be a part of the marine debris program under NOAA. In the future, I want to study marine ecosystems and the stressors on them with the hope of mitigating the effects of anthropogenic activities. My research will increase my understanding of microplastics and their effects on ecosystems. The research I am conducting will feed into the thematic area, coastal intelligence, by informing NOAA practitioners about an understudied source of pollution that is pervasive on the California coast. In California, agriculture dominates most of the state’s acreage. Coastal agriculture has the ability to introduce toxins into marine ecosystems by using microplastics as a vector. Understanding agricultural microplastics and how they differ from urban microplastics will improve our ability to manage this stressor on ecosystems. I will also make observations on pollutant load between the dry and wet season because California has highly variable precipitation patterns. My hope is that my research will improve how coastal habitats in California and similar ecosystems will be managed in the long-term. 

     

Foroozan Arkian
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

My career objective is to attain a position in which I can conduct research focused on air pollution and its impacts on communities and ecosystems. For my current research, I am using the NOAA HYSPLIT model and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) to develop a better understanding of the fate and transport of the toxic chemicals released by the refineries in the Gulf coast. In particular, I am interested in the role of small-scale atmospheric processes unique to the coastal region (i.e., sea breeze circulation) in transporting pollutants. Atmospheric transport over coastal waters can also contribute to the introduction of toxic pollutants into coastal marine ecosystems through deposition, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico where high rainfall and abundant wetlands enhance the deposition and impact on marine ecosystems. The outcome of this research provides actionable coastal intelligence for communities and ecosystem managers in the coastal zone using cutting-edge modeling approaches.  The research also enhances the resilience of coastal communities by providing greater understanding of human and ecological impacts.

 

Mya Brown
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Ocean, Coastal and Earth Sciences
Thematic Area: Place-Based Conservation

My research interests are in investigating the collaborative processes of stakeholders in place at the Lower Laguna Madre Estuary in Texas concerning marine resource management. The goal of my research is to understand what collaborative processes are currently in place, assess whether these processes are beneficial or harmful to this environment, and ultimately implement newer concepts and management strategies. The insight can encourage collaboration amongst stakeholders and the community who both depend on the resources found in this environment. My research aligns with the place-based conservation thematic area’s objective to involve local communities in balanced conservation that addresses demands for coastal resource use and economic development.

Avia Cesarone;
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: BS Environmental Studies
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

Avia Cesarone is an environmental studies major pursuing a minor in journalism at FAMU. Originally from Pompano Beach, Florida, she always admired the ocean and its complexity. She is interested in conserving and restoring coastal ecosystems and identifying the impacts on nearby affected communities, which aligns with the NOAA CCME-II thematic area of Coastal Intelligence. Her research focuses on the transportation of Sargassum seaweed and its coastal impacts. This floating brown alga serves as a habitat, food source, protection, and breeding ground for numerous marine species. But with an unprecedented amount of Sargassum Seaweed floating in the Atlantic Ocean, it eventually gets washed ashore along different coastlines. It impacts coastal communities economically with unexpected effects on tourism, local business, inshore fishing, trade, and human health. A better understanding of Sargassum's transport mechanisms allows one to have more precise predictability to aid and prevent such events from occurring. Cesarone works under the supervision of Dr. Steven Morey

 

Neina M. Chapa  
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Coastal and Marine System Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

My career objective is to become a Fisheries Biologist who effectively leads large projects such as restoring headwater stream habitat connectivity for endangered fish species. I am enthusiastic about how my graduate thesis aligns with these future career plans, where I am currently implementing oyster restoration techniques that benefit Texas fisheries. Learning how to conserve coastal habitats to help reduce climate change, invigorating healthy ecosystems to support extensive biodiversity, and preserving natural areas for the enjoyment of future generations are the epitome of my research interests. These overarching research initiatives align particularly well with the NOAA CCME II Thematic Area of Coastal Intelligence, which seeks to use our research findings to holistically assess coastal ecosystem health, pursue best restoration practices, and advise administrative decisions based on comprehensive data. In 2023, I was selected to receive the William and Lyell Snyder Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Marine Science and the Coastal Conservation Association Texas scholarshipShimano. I have also been awareded a Shimano-Coastal Conservation Association National Marine Science Scholarship and the TAMUCC College of Science 2023 summer scholarship.

Jose Cisneros

Jose Cisneros   
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
Degree Level Enrolled: BS Marine Biology and Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

My name is Jose Cisneros, and I am a NOAA CCME Undergraduate Scholar and a Junior at The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley pursuing a B.S. in Marine Biology with a minor in Environmental Science. I am currently assisting in the research of Benthic Community Dynamics in Bahia Grande as part of a hydrologic restoration project. The ecological health of the estuary's benthic community will be examined in this study. This research is part of a larger effort to restore the estuary's hydrologic function, which has been harmed by anthropogenic factors. With the guidance of my mentor, I have been working on my own undergrad project dedicated to restoring black coral. This research truly reflects my passion for safeguarding our coastal ecosystems. As a returning student, my previous work experience could help develop cost-effective strategies for using these natural solutions and ensure their sustainability for future generations. In the future, my hopes are to work as a researcher in the marine sciences, with a focus on Coastal Intelligence. My mission is to protect and preserve our coastal ecosystems. In 2023, I was presented with the UTRGV Distinguished Scholars Award in Physical, Earth, and Space Science. I have a strong commitment to education and public outreach and wish to contribute to a future where coastal environments are respected, safeguarded, and perpetuated for future generations by enlisting future naturalists.

 

Patricia Cockett  
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Coastal Marine System Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

Patricia Cockett is a CCME II Graduate Scholar completing a Ph.D. in the Coastal Marine System Science program Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She earned her BA in Biology from the University of Hawaii, Manoa in 2012 and her MS in Marine Biology from TAMUCC in 2015. Under the supervision of Dr. Paul Montagna, Patricia is conducting research that will determine anthropogenic impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems. She is incorporating traditional Hawaiian concepts to explore the relationship between the land and the sea. Patricia completed a NERTO internship under NOAA mentor Dr. Randall Kosaki at the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Honolulu, HI. After completing her PhD Patricia plans to return to Hawaii to work in resource management. 

David De La Garza   
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Ocean, Coastal and Earth Sciences
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

My research investigates the effects of several ecological factors on greenhouse gas emissions (specifically carbon dioxide and methane) from soil (e.g. soil carbon flux) within mangrove stands (Avicennia germinans) in estuarine environments. I’m interested in contributing to our understanding of coastal ecosystem dynamics as a result of ecological factors due to natural fluctuations or climate change. Specifically, the goal of my research is to assess the significance of commonly overlooked factors affecting soil carbon fluxes and short-term carbon dynamics of tidal zones including mangrove-dominated ecosystems.  Factors to be investigated include: porewater salinity, inundation/flooding, soil texture and depth, mangrove leaf litter decomposition, and how crab burrow activity influences soil carbon fluxes.My research interests most closely align with Coastal Intelligence particularly as it pertains to understanding how stressors (i.e., factors) affect ecosystem processes and creating new sources of data to understand said processes in the future.

  Amonra Garrett-Mills

Amonra Garrett-Mills
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Environmental Studies
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

My area of research focuses on expanding coastal intelligence. Dr. Martinez-Colon has provided me with an opportunity to work on a multi-faceted project in collaboration with NOAA and FSU’s marine laboratory for my thesis. This project will establish whether foraminifera can support ground-truthing habitat sustainability models. I am examining the environmental health of deep-sea coral communities using foraminifera as a biological indicator. To accomplish this I am extracting benthic foraminifera from a sediment sample, sorting them by morphological similarities, and establishing the temporal range of the sediment sample and the chemical and physical conditions of the ocean water. As a master’s student I aim to amplify the knowledge and skills I gained as an undergrad. I hope to gain experience with geographic information system mapping, developing climate predictive models, working as a field associate, incorporating omics into my research goals, contributing to the development of nature-based coastal infrastructure, and expanding my community engagement skills.

Valeria Garza
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
Degree Level Enrolled: BS Environmental Science (Computer Science Minor)
Thematic Area: Place Based Conservation

My research interests involve exploring the management of marine resources, specifically those in Bahia Grande in Texas. Using qualitative analysis, I will analyze patterns and identify solutions to aid in a collaborative management process of marine resources. As insight from the research can support new decision-making tools that benefit the conservation of coastal resources and involve local communities, it can be categorized within place-based conservation. This topic aligns with my career goal of becoming a successful environmental scientist that can find new solutions to problems that impede the proper conservation of habitats, while also benefitting the communities that surround those habitats. I hope this project allows me to find new ways to implement my personal interests and skills into the protection of the environment and the development of more sustainable practices that can benefit both the environment and humans

 

Susana M. Gonzalez
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Coastal and Marine System Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

My research interests are interdisciplinary and fit within the NOAA CCME-II thematic area of Coastal Intelligence. I intend to address drivers of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and the relationship between anthropogenic activities and ecosystem health. Additionally, my research will investigate the interrelationship of HABs and society to mitigate future impacts on the food and financial security of communities. I will rely on existing and new datasets, experiments and outreach/engagement that will further promote sustainable recreational and commercial utilization of resources. My research will contribute to the development of new conservation programs meant to continue collecting data in support of ecosystem dynamics and research. This data will also support educated decisions that address coastal hazards and advance best practices for ecosystem assessment and restoration. Ultimately, I hope that I can learn through this experience and progress conservation programs across borders. 

Dwan M.N. Jackson
Jackson State University (JSU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Biology with concentration in Marine and Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal intelligence or Place-based conservation

My career goals are largely focused on oceanography and the application of omics tools to understand the dynamics of the planktonic communities.  Omics tools, like environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding, are being used to generate a new paradigm of understanding in marine science and I am excited at being able to combine these tools with fields like data analytics and bioinformatics to better understand oceans as a whole. These research interests align with CCME-II’s thematic area of Coastal Intelligence. Following completion of my Master’s in Biology (with a concentration in Marine and Environmental Science) as a CCME-II Scholar at Jackson State, I hope to continue my education working towards a PhD in biological or chemical oceanography.  

 

Djani L. Laplace
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Environmental Science 
Thematic Area: Coastal Resilience

My research focuses on understanding how coastal communities of the US Virgin Islands perceive resilience, how they respond to stressors, and using this information to inform natural resource managers on how to focus efforts to promote resiliency and recovery.  This research combines social science with ecosystem science and biodiversity, environmental policy, hazard mitigation and resilience, climate change and its related threats (drought, sea level rise, etc.) and the application of geospatial techniques (GIS) to assess environmental issues and identify potential solutions.  Many Caribbean islands currently lack the local technical capacity and resources to effectively manage their natural resources, which are already under threat from climate change and its related effects. At the end of my degree, I would like to work with state or federal entity that will utilize my interests and skills for real world application; and also learn how techniques can be transferred and applicable in a Caribbean context. One the major reasons I choose Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi was the area’s similarity in climate to the Caribbean and its proximity to the coast; two factors which I deem important for my thesis project.  Combining these factors with my research interests is why the thematic area of Coastal Resilience best fits my research endeavors.

Lakean W. McGregor
Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU)
Degree Enrolled: MS Integrated Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Place Based Conservation

My area of research is focused on temperature impacts on marine organisms and aligns best with healthy oceans. The implications from my research will be applicable to topics such as climate change and resource management. I aspire to have a career in which I can contribute to expanding the knowledge of environmental impacts at local, state, or federal scales. I would like to be able to do meaningful and impactful research on climate change. Climate change is causing rapid changes to our environment. Many commercial fish are in jeopardy, and little is known whether they will be adapted to these changing conditions.  I would like to be able to further expand on discovering specific impacts in threatened communities by climate change and then translate that information to the public. In my career path I hope that my research can be used in community meetings to address systemic changes that can be made. Socioeconomic issues and the environment are at the forefront of every major discussion now. 

 

Madison R. McKay 
California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS in Marine Science
Thematic Area: Place-Based Conservation

Common methods for monitoring kelp include diving, kayaking, and often the use of quadrats. However, these methods are time-consuming and expensive, and not effective for tracking large scale changes. For my thesis project I will be using drones to measure spatial and temporal changes in kelp canopy cover. Drones and other uncrewed systems have made the monitoring of these critical ecosystems more accessible and more affordable. In alignment with the Coastal Intelligence thematic area, this project will help identify the leading stressors on the kelp forest ecosystem and inform on best practices for restoration. This research also aligns with the Place-Based Conservation thematic area. By using applied science and effective communication strategies, we can inform on policy that supports place-based conservation. I would also like to incorporate science communication and citizen science into this project, as this is something I want to do in my future career. Citizen science is not only beneficial to collecting data, but also for the communication of data. In order to promote conservation and stewardship of fragile ecosystems, one of the first steps is creating a connection between the community and the ecosystem. I suggest using ArcGIS story maps to provide data to community members and policy makers to promote the conservation and management of bull kelp.

 

Maya McWilliams
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

My master’s thesis focuses on microplastics which are a growing concern to oceanic and coastal ecosystems. The particles from microplastics can threaten many organisms. In my project, I am observing microplastic concentrations along the Apalachicola River. My project will focus on determining the concentration of microplastics trapped by the Jim Woodruff Dam and, if possible, resolve any temporal changes using a sediment core. I will link this research to humans' overall impact on the environment. In addition, I aim to relate my research to environmental justice. I have interests in environmental policy and management, particularly the relationship between humans and the environment. Conclusively, my research focuses on the Coastal Intelligence area of interest for NOAA CCME-II. Ultimately, my academic goals are to obtain my Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Science to pursue a career that combines research, science communication and increasing public awareness of environmental issues.

 

Geaceli G. Orive
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Ocean, Coastal and Earth Sciences
Thematic Area: Place-Based Conservation

I am interested in Place-Based Conservation (PBC), a field where conservation methods and issues are focused on a specific place/region. The awareness of conservation is a great way to balance the increasing demands of coastal resources use. I aimed to become a Marine Biologist specializing in dolphins and sea turtles originally, then I became interested in coral reefs throughout a learning experience on coral bleaching, as estimated that by 2050 about 90% of coral reefs will die, nourishing a greater interest in PBC. For my M.Sc. I will be focusing on the genetic connectivity of Gray Triggerfish (Balistes capriscus),this way I would be able to link natural and applied science aiming at fishery’s resource management as demand for human consumption of this fish is likely to continue increasing. Hence, improving fisheries’ sustainability. Using “omics” as part of my degree aligns with NOAA’s Science and Technology Focus Areas, which is part of the NOAA Strategic Plan.

Jiyahna S Price
Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU)
Degree Enrolled: BS Integrated Environmental Science

My name is Jiyahna Price, and I am a NOAA CCME Undergraduate Scholar. I am a Junior completing a B.S. in Integrated Environmental Science at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. I am interested in pursuing a career in topics related to Coastal Intelligence. I am currently participating in research that focuses on water quality and seagrass restoration within a mosquito impoundment under the supervision of Dr. Hyun Jung Cho. In 2023, I was selected to attend the National Annual HBCU Week Annual National Conference, part of the HBCU Scholar Recognition Program of the White House Initiative on Education Equity, Excellence and Economic Development through HBCUs. In the future, I would like to continue working in the marine sciences as a researcher, and hopefully conduct research that will contribute to the conservation and protection of marine mammals.

 

Emily Smith
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Environmental Science (Aquatic & Terrestrial Ecology)     
Thematic Area: Coastal Resilience  

I am interested in aquatic toxicology and how the chemicals in the environment affect organisms.   I have a strong interest in costal resilience because as the environment and climate continue to change and natural threats continue to happen; it causes a huge threat to the coast. Implementing mangrove forests, marshes, and coastal reefs have helped reduce the impact on the coast.  I also would like to work in coral reef restoration, microplastics, or climate change. Research that helps build resilience in a coastal community and ecosystem is important to me. 

Pedro Solis 
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
Degree Level Enrolled: BS in Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Place-based Conservation

My fascination with nature, botany, mycology, and other natural sciences fuels my research interest in NOAA CCME-II. Under the supervision of Dr. Erin Easton, I am involved in research to improve our understanding of marine environments, the restoration of the Bahia Grande, and the biodiversity found in mesophotic reefs. Such understanding will improve our ability to identify coral communities that need immediate protection. My research interests align with the CCME Place-Based Conservation Thematic Area in providing place-based knowledge and assessment tools for the Bahia Grande and mesophotic reefs of South Texas. Specifically, I focus on invertebrates such as arthropods and their responses to restoration efforts and environmental change. In addition to this, I am interested in learning about other related patterns found in these aquatic ecosystems. My research also aligns with NOAA Strategic Priorities of Stewardship, ‘Omics, and Data in the training I will receive and the information that will be gathered and shared during my time as a CCME II Scholar. I would like to further work with NOAA to understand the ecology of invertebrates that are essential to the health of marine ecosystems and nearby biomes. Ultimately, I would like to pursue a Master’s and Doctorate in Biology (or another related/specific branch like systematics, taxonomy, or ecology), preferably with a specialization in arthropods.

 

Reneisha Sweet 
Jackson State University (JSU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Biology with concentration in Marine and Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal intelligence 

Broadly speaking my research interests are focused on the use of genomics and other ‘omics tools to better understand the complex interactions that occur between organisms and their environment. My current work is focused on the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect evidence of hypoxia in coastal communities, which most closely aligns with the NOAA CCME-II thematic area of Coastal Intelligence. After completing my Master’s in Biology at Jackson State University as a CCME-II Scholar, I hope to continue my education as a I pursue a PhD applying omics tools to questions in marine conservation and ecology.  Ultimately, I open to careers in government service, NGOs, or even academia and look forward to exploring these options more fully in the coming years. 

Cohort 2 Active Scholars (Back to Top)

Destyn Brooks                                         
Jackson State University (JSU)
Degree Level Enrolled: BS Marine Biology        

My research interests are focused on understanding how the dynamic nature of coastal waters impact the behavior and ecology of marine animals. In my research as Jackson State University, I am planning to use environmental DNA to better understand community composition in oyster reef habitats and how shifting environmental parameters impact these communities. I will also assist with a project that examines impact of water quality on oyster gaping behavior.  My research aligns best aligns with the CCME-II thematic areas of coastal intelligence.  In the long-term, my goal is to work as a marine ecologist focused on marine animals and the factors, both naturally and anthropogenically driven, that drive changes in animal behavior, habitat use, reproduction, and survival.

 

Lalah Choice 
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: BS Environmental Studies 
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence  

My name is Lalah Choice and I am an undergraduate NOAA CCME II scholar studying environmental science at Florida A&M University. I am interested in conservation and management practice in coastal and marine ecosystems. I am also particularly interested in how to effectively communicate information with coastal communities impacted by related environmental stressors and disparities. Particularly, I would want to make climate information more accessible and easier for vulnerable communities to find the resources they need to stay safe against weather and climate disasters. I would like to be in a place where I can influence policy change around local and federal environmental and marine laws.

     

Sonia Duran
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Ocean, Coastal and Earth Sciences
Thematic Area: Place-Based Conservation

My research encompasses a post-channel widening community assessment of the 6,500-acre Bahia Grande coastal wetland near Port Isabel, Texas. Beginning in the 1930s, the wetland desiccated entirely due to anthropogenic activities. To mediate human health issues that stemmed from wind-blown particulate, it was refilled via a narrow pilot channel in 2005. The channel was widened in 2022 to improve the wetland’s ecology and ecological services. The Bahia is predominantly sourced by the nearby Laguna Madre, the most economically important coastal fishing resource in Texas. While I serve in the Place-based Conservation thematic area, I hope to incorporate both NOAA’s restoration and human dimensions expertise in a manner that serves both the wetland and its associated outdoor recreation community. With previous experience and through these research efforts, I will apply my experience to a multitude of restoration and habitat management projects for the duration of my career. I am extremely excited to discover what those projects will be. 

 

Imani Ford
Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Integrated Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Place-based Conservation  

My research aligns with the thematic area of place-based conservation. My goal is to develop a visual analytic infrastructure that will aid decision-making in stormwater management by analyzing previous written stormwater management plans for municipalities connected to the Halifax River Watershed. I am interested in both restoration of coastal systems via stormwater management, as well as policy and decision-making that includes more perspectives from lower-income and diverse communities. I am passionate about the triumph of the African American community, in particular bridging the gap between the community and knowledge of the environment. I believe that being involved in the CCME research program will allow me to further my research while gaining insight from an under-represented demographic of professionals through programs like the Knauss Policy Fellowship.

Taylor Howard
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Place Based Conservation

Beginning graduate school with a background in conservation biology and community outreach, my research continues to pursue the overarching area of social science in the context of environmental justice and  equity. I aspire to help advance the capacity and the application of social science approaches to long standing environmental problems – such as lack of representation/consideration in environmental policy or inequitable access to clean water and other resources that exacerbate health disparities in the nation. I would like to work with underserved communities to empower them to be proactive in protecting their health against harmful environmental factors like climate change, severe weather events and water pollution.

 

Jaden E. Hunt 
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence  

My research focuses on molecular environmental microbiology, more specifically, marine microbial ecology. It explores the ecological services provided via the endemic life of the ocean such as oysters, and how their gut microbiome contributes to nutrient cycling. My background in molecular biology and biotechnology informs my ability to assess substrates for genomic analysis. This insight allows me to delineate correlations to what may also be going on in the surrounding environment aiding in the focal area of coastal intelligence for NOAA. I also aspire to assess and survey environmental DNA (eDNA) to predict and respond to events such as harmful algal blooms.  

Miles L. Jordan                                     
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: BS Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence  

Miles Jordan is an undergraduate CCME II scholar studying environmental science at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. My research interest focuses on coral ecology and preservation. I am also interested in research into ocean acidification's impact on zooplankton species. In the summer of 2022, I participated in the BIMS week program with Black in Marine Science (BIMS). During the program, I was informed us about what coral reef restoration is, how it is done, and how much progress they’ve made. After graduati

 

Ashley Lacey 
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Environmental Science (Aquatic & Terrestrial Ecology)                          
Thematic Area: Coastal Resilience 

I am Ashley Lacey. I am a third-year doctoral candidate pursuing a PhD in environmental science at the Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of the Environment. I received a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in environmental health and a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational wellness with a minor in psychology. My PhD concentration is aquatic and terrestrial ecology; presently, I am a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems (CCME) Graduate Scholar. My research aligns with the NOAA CCME-II Coastal Resilience Thematic area. My research is based on coastal resilience and harmful algal blooms (HABs) impact on coastal Florida residents, business owners, and tourists in Southwest Florida (Pinellas County); this research will be implemented with the use of surveys to collect data to understand how the public (Pinellas County Florida residents and tourist) utilize the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting System and their level of awareness of the forecasting system. My future career objective is to pursue a career with NOAA as a social scientist. The goal of this career objective is to continue collecting public feedback using surveys to collect data for NOAA.

Nigel Lascelles 
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Coastal and Marine System Science 
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence 

Nigel Lascelles Jr. is a Ph.D. student in the Coastal and Marine System Science Program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He is a NOAA CCME scholar working under Dr. Jeremy Conkle and Dr. Richard McLaughlin. His research focuses on the chemical characterization of microplastic pollution in coastal areas and microplastics impact on those areas. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida, where he studied denaturing Hen Egg-white Lysozyme (HEWL) amyloid fibers. Nigel has been highlighted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for his work on microplastics during his NOAA Experimental Research & Training Opportunities (NERTO) at The NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. He specializes in the use of instruments such as Pyrolysis GC-MS & UV Vis spectrophotometer dealing with data analysis. He hopes to use his chemistry background to help bring change to the area of Coastal and Marine science. 

 

Hector Leal
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Degree Level Enrolled: BS Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence

My area of research focuses on the nitrogen dynamics that algal mats create within estuarine soil and how it affects greenhouse gas emissions. I am eager to contribute to a better understanding of nutrient enrichment within these coastal ecosystems as it will show how they operate and change over time. The goal of my research is to investigate factors that may contribute to nutrient enrichment such as flooding, hyper salinity, human impacts, and how it adjusts the dynamics of greenhouse gas emissions. With the use of different technologies such as analyzers and software, I will observe and record nitrogen dynamics as these ecosystems face constant change. My research interests align with the Coastal Intelligence thematic area, particularly as it pertains to stressors such as nutrient enrichment on mangroves and saltmarshes, including how their greenhouse gas emissions are affected.

Kylee Lewis  
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Coastal and Marine Systems 
Thematic Area: Coastal Resilience 

Currently, my career objectives revolve around working in coastal management or conservation, preferably within application/policy. My thesis research explores the potential changes to oyster vitality by the end of the century due to climate change. The project involves determining how any changes in oyster vitality may impact adjacent coastal communities. Oyster reefs provide a multitude of ecosystem service which benefit coastal communities, and so my research facilitates better understanding for balancing resource management and conservation as well as environmental justice. My research will directly contribute a framework to understanding and preparing for potential impacts of climate change on nature-based infrastructure. 

 

Anthony Lima 
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD  Coastal and Marine System Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Resilience 

My research interests include aquaculture, fisheries, ecosystem services, eutrophication, and marine spatial planning. My dissertation research is an interdisciplinary analysis of oyster mariculture within Texas, where I compare state regulations, provide valuations for nitrogen removal of cultivated oysters, and use growth modeling to understand and reduce risks associated with the oyster farming business. Understanding environmental resilience is required to understand the resilience of coastal communities, especially those who work directly on or near the coast. This work aligns with the CCME-II Thematic Area of Coastal Resilience, as it uses data to understand environmental resilience to stressors (such as eutrophication) and the economic/business resilience of growers within a new industry. The products of this modeling and analysis can be used to catalyze the new industry and provide some of the first datasets of containerized oysters available in Texas. I am interested in both the physical science aspects of organism survival and rearing and the social science of financial feasibility, risk, and stakeholder considerations. My career objective is to continue my research in aquaculture as a NOAA scientist and to assess strategies and plans that sustainably provide both environmental and economic value to our nation’s coasts.

Gabriella Lirio
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Environmental Science 
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence  

My area of research focuses on the impacts of ocean acidification on foraminiferal calcification. I will be using both benthic and planktic foraminifera species to assess the impacts of ocean acidification on shell calcification over time. This research closely aligns with the CCME-II thematic area of Coastal Intelligence. Aside from my master’s research, my research interests largely focus on ocean acidification and marine conservation. In the future, I hope to work on research in these focal areas as a NOAA research scientist. After completing my master’s degree, I plan to pursue a PhD in environmental or marine science. In my PhD research, I hope to do similar research as in my master’s research by building on it and filling in any potential knowledge gaps left.

 

Kambrial Love 
Jackson State University (JSU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Biology with concentration in Marine and Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal intelligence 

My research interests are focused on the use of ‘omics and environmental DNA (eDNA), to address topics like the use of non-invasive methods to detect and estimate relevant abundance of species of interest or concern, using plankton samples to collect population-level allelic frequency data that can be used to examine population connectivity in species of commercial or sport interest, use of shallow-genome scanning for rapid generation of barcoding data, and the use of metabarcoding or metagenomics to examine biodiversity in marine habitats or to understand trophic ecology in fish and invertebrates. This research is aligned with the CCME-II thematic areas of Coastal Intelligence and Place-Based Conservation. Beyond completing my Master’s in Marine and Environmental Science at Jackson State University as a CCME-II Graduate Scholar, my future career goals are to continue to develop knowledge and experience in NOAA-aligned fields with the goal of working to address marine and environmental issues using omics as a tool to better understand marine ecosystems.

Christina (Nina) I. Mauney
California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Marine Science
Thematic Area: Place Based Conservation 

I am currently a MS Marine Science student at CSUMB and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. My master’s work uses drones, remote sensing, and satellite telemetry to understand leatherback sea turtle movement and habitat use in St. Croix USVI during the breeding season. This research aligns closely with the NOAA CCME-II Place-Based Conservation Thematic Area. Through a collaborative partnership between government, academic, nonprofit, and community organizations, the work seeks to provide resource managers with information and tools to ensure this protected species’ protection and sustainability. Upon completion of my MS degree, I am excited by the prospect of a career of NOAA, ideally working in the field of marine remote sensing and GIS. I have a passion to use spatial science and modeling to inform conservation, my research interests lie in using methodologies to understand marine processes, inform conservation, and communicate research with stakeholders.

 

Christopher A. Olson
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Environmental Engineering
Thematic Area: Coastal Resilience 

My area of research focuses on the numerical modeling of hurricane-produced waves. I would like to work on improving our understanding of hurricane preparedness, post-mitigation, and coastal resilience specifically from waves created by hurricane events. To do so requires the assistance of numerical modeling software in both foresight and hindsight of hurricane events. I would also like to create and improve the effective distribution of the data produced by the software to not only hurricane researchers, but to the general public, especially to communities that have been and will be directly and indirectly affected by hurricane events. I would like to better understand hurricane-produced waves, as they are a key factor in determining various coastal resiliency approaches, including determining the type, height, and area of natural, nature-based, and gray infrastructure. I would like to see the improvement of public policy with the help of increasing our knowledge of hurricane-produced waves.  

Alyssa A. Outhwaite
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Marine Biology
Thematic Area: Place Based Conservation 

My ultimate career objective is to become a professor of biological sciences for an institution that serves underrepresented and minority groups. As a Cohort 2 NOAA CCME-II Scholar, my current work aligns with the CCME-II Thematic area and competencies of Place-Based Conservation. My work aims to better understand flows of organic matter among habitats and across estuarine ecosystems and will be useful for better understanding habitat provision and health of oyster reefs, which is crucial to balancing the demands of this resource use and conservation. This work will also investigate the current status of wind-tidal flats in Matagorda Bay to better valuate their organic matter contributions and community structure. Finally, my work will combine information across habitats to determine how different sources of organic matter contribute to overall ecosystem level functioning which is crucial for informing policy on habitat services. Ultimately this work aims to highlight areas of concern, which can be communicated to resource managers and local stakeholders to generate conversations about how we can use science to best serve these communities. I plan to use this data to address site-specific concerns while meeting demands for commercial harvesting and coastal resource use. In 2023, I won best poster presentation by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Port Aransas, TX

 

 

Felipe Urrutia
Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Marine Biology
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence 

My project aims to ensure estuarine ecosystem health by examining the influence of salinity on nekton diversity and the habitat suitability of crucial indicator species from seven major estuary systems along the Texas coast to inform focused flow strategies. This project is aligned with NOAA’s goals to understand how changing climate conditions and stressors may impact coastal resources for use in management decisions. Furthermore, this project is aligned with the CCME II thematic area of Coastal Intelligence. Particularly, it aims to understand climate impacts on estuarine habitats, ecosystem health and coastal resource management. The project will utilize databases to create a decision-support tool to address climate stressors as well as improve natural resource management and assessment. This project suits my career objectives as a data analyst, compliments my future aim of working in the NOAA workforce, and as I gain professional development skills working with biological data in response to climate change stressors. As the outcomes of this project will be implemented for natural resource management, I seek to create better data-driven ecosystem models that directly influence natural resource decision-making in my future career.

 

Cohort 3 Active Scholars (Back to Top)

 

Destiny Anderson
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD Marine Microbiology
Thematic Area: Coastal Resilience

My career objective is to become a marine microbiologist, with a specific focus on understanding the effects of ocean acidification on the marine microbiome. Ocean acidification, driven by the absorption of excess carbon dioxide (CO2) in seawater, is a pressing global issue that has far-reaching implications for marine ecosystems. My research interest lies in unraveling how these changing oceanic conditions influence the composition, diversity, and functionality of marine microbial communities. The marine microbiome plays a pivotal role in maintaining the health and resilience of coastal ecosystems. As ocean acidification alters the chemical composition of seawater, it can disrupt the delicate balance of microbial communities. Understanding these changes is crucial for predicting and mitigating potential ecological consequences. This research directly aligns with the NOAA thematic area of coastal resilience. By investigating the intricate interactions between ocean acidification and the marine microbiome, we can gain insights into the resilience of coastal ecosystems. Understanding how global warming impacts oyster populations and microbial communities enables researchers to identify stressors and develop adaptive strategies to safeguard these environments in the face of environmental stressors. Strengthening the resilience microbial communities helps to ensure the overall health of coastal ecosystems. My research aims to contribute to this goal by using metagenomics to provide insights into the response of the marine microbiome to ocean acidification, ultimately supporting the resilience of coastal ecosystems in a changing world.

 

Aliya Brown
UTRGV
Degree Level Enrolled: MA Disaster Studies
Thematic Area: Coastal Resilience

My research interests are deeply rooted in pursuing environmental equity and justice, particularly concerning coastal resilience and community engagement. My anticipated work aims to develop inclusive, resilient coastal communities, particularly addressing historical disparities disproportionately impacting underrepresented populations. By ensuring meaningful collaboration with underserved communities, my research seeks to integrate their voices, needs, and cultural perspectives into area-specific resilience strategies. This approach cultivates an inclusive environment for communities to actively contribute to decision-making processes and co-create solutions to the impacts of climate change. By engaging these communities and developing equitable models, my research aims to assess and address their needs in facing coastal hazards and risks. By aligning my goals with the NOAA CCME-II thematic area of coastal resilience, I am committed to advancing equitable coastal resilience practices that empower communities and drive positive change through social science research.

Jamal Burey 
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS Mechanical Engineering
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence 

As a graduate student in mechanical engineering at FAMU, my research specializes in robotics and the integration of mechanical systems with computer science programming techniques. My academic journey is driven by a passion for innovative technologies and effective problem-solving, aligning perfectly with NOAA CCME-II's focus on Coastal Intelligence. My diverse skill set spans various computer science domains, providing me with both theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience in robotics and engineering. Alongside my academic pursuits, I've served as the President of the B-CU Robotics Club during undergrad and contributed to our marching band, fostering qualities like discipline, teamwork, and time management. I am currently active in NSBE ( National Society for Black Engineers ) which is an organization that surrounds myself with likeminded individuals with similar professional interests. Whether I'm tackling complex computer science projects or completing course work, my commitment to precision and creativity is unwavering. Academic challenges fuel my drive, and I eagerly offer my expertise to forward-thinking teams and projects. Beyond academics, I seek balance and inspiration in nature. With a strong academic foundation, a passion for robotics, and a deep connection to the natural world, I'm poised for a fulfilling career shaping the evolving tech landscape.

 

Kion James
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: BS in Environmental Science 
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence 

​​My area of research focuses on the marine ecosystem and how ocean acidification is affecting the ocean and its wildlife. I would like to work as a marine biologist due to my passion for marine life ever since I was a kid. My career objective is to research different ways we can address these challenges to protect the health of our oceans and coastal environments. This research aligns with Coastal Intelligence. Studying the effects of ocean acidification on various species and their interactions helps us understand potential tipping points and the vulnerability of entire ecosystems. This knowledge informs conservation strategies to protect marine biodiversity. Ocean acidification disrupts these ecosystems by harming calcifying organisms like corals, mollusks, and some plankton species. These changes ripple through the food web, affecting fish populations and ultimately impacting fisheries that millions of people rely on for livelihoods. It is very important that we learn as much as we can about the effects ocean acidification has on our coastal and marine life so that we can combat it efficiently.

Tristan Lam
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS in Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence 

My research interests include the use of marine organisms as bioindicators of anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems. My project investigates heavy metal pollution on mesophotic coral reefs, aligning with NOAA CCME’s thematic area of Coastal Intelligence. My research analyzes benthic foraminifera assemblages from reefs in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) to examine how heavy metal pollution can drive changes in assemblage composition, and how assemblages can reflect reef health overall. The goal is to program an ecological model that demonstrates interactions between environmental stressors, organisms inhabiting the reef, and ecosystem services the reef provides, and ultimately utilize the model to advise ecosystem managers on best practices to adaptively manage the reef ecosystem. During my time at FAMU as a NOAA CCME-II Scholar, I wish to gain knowledge and skill by finding new ways to analyze and interpret findings and by building upon and improving previous methodologies. I hope to dedicate my time and effort in this master’s program to performing high-quality science that can be applied to current research and future studies.

 

Angelica Ovalle
Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS in Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence 

Angelica Ovalle is a NOAA CCME-II graduate scholar studying Environmental Science at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She works at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies under Dr. Paul Montagna. Her Master’s thesis focuses on understanding how human activity in landscapes influences the ecological health of Gulf of Mexico estuaries by delving into the intricate link between adjacent land use patterns and estuary benthic diversity. Angelica earned a B.S. in Agricultural Business Management from Texas State University, where she found a passion for sustainability, particularly in the restoration of degraded soils. She now applies her expertise to the analysis of sediment and water quality, benthic species identification, and assessment of anthropogenic land usage in proximity to estuaries. Angelica is an outdoor enthusiast who finds inspiration in nature and expresses her creativity through art during her free time. After completing her degree, she plans to put her education into her own sustainability-focused business that aims to rejuvenate depleted soils, aligning with her passion for local and eco-conscious practices.

Bria Pope
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: MS in Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Place-based Conservation

I am interested in creating a habitat suitability model that would evaluate oyster filtration of coastal water pollutants and assist in assigning value to the current leases available for aquaculture usage in Apalachicola Bay. NOAA’s place-based conservation thematic area is the perfect category for this project as I will focus on potential conservation methods and issues as they pertain specifically to the unique area of Apalachicola Bay. In the future, I see myself graduating from this program at Florida A&M University with NOAA and using my connections and experience in the field to continue my research at a NOAA facility or one that has similar emphases on coastal restoration and cutting-edge research. My passions are in the laboratory and as I progress in my career, I want to continue doing research and that results in impactful changes in coastal environmental health. 

 

Queriah D. Simpson
Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD in Environmental Science
Thematic Area: Place-based Conservation

Engaging in community service has been a significant part of my life since adolescence. After joining Black in Marine Science in 2021, I have been able to work with diverse communities globally. Providing experiential learning opportunities to students, mentoring youths, developing and implementing educational programs, and helping educate communities, including my hometown. Most of the communities I work with are underrepresented and under-resourced coastal communities disproportionately affected by climate-related events and other hazards. However, leaders and individuals within these communities have been educating and preparing their communities for such events. This presents an opportunity to analyze the place-based conservation methods employed to increase environmental literacy, aid in community resilience, promote ecological conservation and restoration, and improve local economic development on a community level. I will be leveraging my relationships with these frontline communities and other diverse groups to develop actionable climate adaptation strategies for vulnerable communities and establish a replicable framework for priority communities to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to hazardous events related to climate change and social and environmental injustices. That encompasses the co-development of adaptation strategies and climate services that incorporate local and indigenous knowledge and involves regional coordination and collaboration, workforce development, risk reduction, and enduring capacity.

Miranda White
Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
Degree Level Enrolled: PhD in Coastal Marine System Science
Thematic Area: Coastal Intelligence and Place-based Conservation

Miranda is a NOAA CCME-II Graduate Scholar in the Coastal and Marine System Science program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees at Bethune-Cookman University in Integrated Environmental Science. Her current research at TAMU-CC focuses on assessing and communicating variability, uncertainty, and trustworthiness of coastal Artificial Intelligence (AI) models, under the advisement of Dr. Philippe Tissot. She is collaborating with TAMU-CC machine learning (ML) scientists, National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) risk communication scientists, and diverse groups of stakeholders. The research aim is to provide trustworthy AI models, data visualizations, and uncertainty quantifications to improve stakeholder decision-making for critical environmental applications. Her research specifically focuses on water temperature predictions that help to minimize ecological and economic impacts during extreme cold events, concerning sea turtle and fisheries conservation efforts and barge operations along the southern Texas coast. She is interested in modeling the landscape around trust and understanding the contextual factors that are most important for how it relates to ML users’ needs, decision-making processes, and longevity of utilization of ML models. In her career, she hopes to promote user-inspired AI development in research and operational realms to increase implementation and trust in reliable AI and ML tools.

   

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