Dr. Jude AppleDirector of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Dr. Jude Apple is an oceanographer, estuarine ecologist, STEM educator, and Director of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. His research interests include ocean acidification, plankton communities, eelgrass ecology, and response of coastal ecosystems to a changing climate – and how to use this information to achieve sustainable management of our valuable coastal resources. He is also involved in developing curriculum and professional learning opportunities that advance climate and data literacy for K-12 learners. Jude lives in Anacortes WA and enjoys outdoor adventures in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with his wife and kids.
Jenna HarperDirector of the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve
Jenna Harper has served as the Director of the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve since 2014. Before moving into the Director role, Jenna served as the Research Coordinator for the Reserve, facilitating in-house research, collaboration with outside researchers and the running the System-wide Monitoring Program. As the Director, Jenna partners with many institutions to address locally-relevant coastal management issues such as declining water quality and quantity, changing fisheries status, and climate change impacts. The Apalachicola NERR has been a partner with FAMU in the CCME, and previous to that the Environmental Cooperative Science Center, for 19 years. The NERR is committed to facilitating priority research with CCME scientists and supporting the development of the next generation workforce.
Dr. Charles JacobySupervising Environmental Scientist for the Estuaries Section at the St. Johns River Water Management District
Dr. Charles Jacoby is the Supervising Environmental Scientist for the Estuaries Section at the St. Johns River Water Management District and a Courtesy Associate Professor in the Soil and Water Sciences Department at the University of Florida. In these roles, he translates science into sustainable management of aquatic systems. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biological sciences from Illinois State University, a doctorate in biological sciences from Stanford University, and a master’s in business administration from the University of Western Australia.
During his career, he has investigated water quality, seagrasses, spring-fed systems, saltmarshes, mid-water systems, invertebrates, fish, and manatees. Drawing from his experience, he has provided advice to industry and federal, state and local governments in both the United States and Australia, including being a Gubernatorial appointment to Florida’s Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force.
Keith LaakkonenDirector of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Keith Laakkonen is the Director of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples, Florida. He is responsible for administration and supervision of the 110,000-acre Reserve and more than thirty employees involved in research, education and coastal stewardship. Priority efforts at the Reserve include watershed restoration, maintaining native biodiversity, research and monitoring. In addition, Keith serves as the state’s regional administrator for aquatic preserves in Southwest Florida with oversight of field offices in Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor and Estero Bay. Currently, Keith serves as Vice President for the National Estuarine Research Association (NERRA). Keith has earned a M.S. from Florida Gulf Coast University with a focus on environmental policy. He is also an avid birder, fisherman and outdoor enthusiast.
Steve LonhartMarine Ecologist at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Dr. Lonhart has worked as a marine ecologist for MBNMS since 2002. Steve is responsible for maintaining research and monitoring programs and implementing scientific goals to integrate existing monitoring programs within the sanctuary; supporting research and monitoring programs that address important resource management issues; and disseminating information to resource managers, researchers, educators, and the general public. Steve collaborates and partners with multiple research and monitoring programs, spanning estuarine, rocky intertidal, and subtidal nearshore habitats.
Steve has biology degrees from UCLA (BS 1990), California State University Long Beach (MS 1996), and UC Santa Cruz (PhD 2001). Though he has several interests in marine ecology, his scientific research has focused on invasion biology, kelp forest ecology, range shift ecology, biogeography, and marine invertebrate natural history.