SOCAN Steering Committee

Astrid Schnetzer

Astrid SchnetzerAbout: Astrid Schnetzer is a biological oceanographer at the rank of associate professor within the department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at NCSU. She received her MS in Zoology/Ecology and PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Vienna, Austria. Her research interests focus on how natural and anthropogenic processes, such as ocean acidification, impact plankton assemblages and how changes in community structure and diversity impact matter and energy flux through aquatic systems. To discern the ecological and biogeochemical roles that plankton play I employ molecular and genetic techniques in combination with more traditional approaches (i.e. microscopy and culture) in the field and in laboratory experiments.

Bill Causey

Bill CauseyAbout: Billy Causey is the Southeast Regional Director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. He has managed Sanctuaries in the Florida Keys since 1983, when he became the Manager of the Looe Key Sanctuary. He served as the Superintendent of the 2900 snm Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary from August 1991 to September 2, 2006, when he assumed his current position. Dr. Causey was the lead NOAA official in the development of the management plan for the Keys Sanctuary. He was responsible for establishing the first comprehensive marine zoning plan for the United States. Dr. Causey’s academic interests are in coral reef ecology, coral reef fishes, sustainable management, regional connectivity, ecosystem-based management, marine zoning, climate change and marine policy. He has observed and recorded the impacts of climate change on the coral reef ecosystem since 1978. Dr. Causey was among the first coral reef managers to link coral bleaching with elevated sea surface temperatures and to correlate the secondary impacts of coral diseases to the stressors created by the conditions caused by increased water temperatures and other sources of environmental degradation. He has worked on the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Project since 1993 and has been active with numerous initiatives to establish MPA networks around the region.

Charlie Phillips

Charlie PhillipsAbout: I am currently serving on the SAFMC from GA and the DNR Coastal Advisory Council. Reviewing CRP grant proposals is also on the yearly to do list. The day jobs are Phillips Seafood and Sapleo Sea Farms which handle shrimp, finfish, wild and farmed oysters and clams respectively.  Working with NGO’s is also a high priority, educating folks of the importance of keeping storm water and pollution out of our waterways.

Debra Hernandez

Debra HernandezAbout: Debra Hernandez currently serves as Executive Director of the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA).  SECOORA is one of eleven regional partners in the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System and is a nonprofit operating in the states of NC, SC, GA and FL.  SECOORA’s mission is to coalesce the efforts of multiple observing interests and deliver user defined products that save lives, conserve the coastal and marine environment and support the economic vitality of our coastal regions.  Debra has over 25 years of experience in coastal and ocean management and policy.  Her professional interests include improving the linkages between scientists and decision-makers, and facilitating discussions of public policy issues related to the coast and environment.   She recently served on the National Academies’ Ocean Studies Board and the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel, and currently serves on the SC Sea Grant Consortium Program Advisory Board and as vice-Chair of the IOOS Association.  She graduated from Clemson University with a Masters degree in Civil Engineering, and was a licensed professional engineer for many years.

Denise Sanger

Denise SangerAbout: Dr. Denise Sanger is an Associate Marine Scientist at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resource’s Marine Resources Research Institute and the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Research Coordinator.  She is responsible for overseeing the Environmental Research Section and the Southeast Regional Taxonomic Center.  She obtained her Doctorate in Marine Science in 1998 from the University of South Carolina and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Marine Biology in 1993 from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Denise has worked for the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and SC Sea Grant Consortium.  She has experience in coastal zone management and estuarine ecology with an emphasis in estuarine benthic ecology, ecotoxicology, sediment chemistry, design and analysis of ecological risk assessment data, and status and trends monitoring of environmental water quality data.  She is particularly interested in the impacts of human land use on the estuarine environment.

Geoff Scott

Geoffrey ScottAbout: Dr. Geoffrey I. Scott received his BS in Biology from Wofford College and his MS and PhD. in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina. Research experience included (1)  Aquatic Toxicologist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bears Bluff Field Station from 1976-80, studying the impacts of water chlorination on estuarine organisms and conducting ecological assessments of oil spill impacts around the world, including assessing impacts of the Ixtoc Well Blowout in the Gulf of Mexico; (2) Director of Toxicology Program and the Wide Awake Landing Marine Field Station for Research Planning Institute from 1980-84, conducting research on hazardous waste sites impacts, oil spills and Vibrio cholerae outbreaks in the Gulf of Mexico; (3) Assistant and Associate Tenured Professor at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health from 1984-90 working on assessing the impacts of agricultural pesticides, synthetic fuels and urban NPS runoff on coastal ecosystems; and (4) NOAA/NOS National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research (CCEHBR), 1990-2014, conducting research that measure the health of coastal ecosystems and evaluates the impacts of changing landscape ecology from urbanization on ecosystem and human health. Dr. Scott was the Director of NOAA’s CCEHBR from 2001-2014, and formerly the Acting Director for NOAA’s Center for Human Health Risk at the Hollings Marine Laboratory from 2009-2011.  Dr. Scott is currently a Clinical Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. He also holds faculty appointments at other academic Institutions including the Marine Biomedicine Program at the Medical University of South Carolina, the Marine Biology Program at the College of Charleston and Texas Tech University’s Institute for Environmental and Human Health.

George Sedberry

George SedberryAbout: George Sedberry is Sanctuary Science Coordinator for the Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration .  His interests and experience are in the biology, conservation and management of marine fishes, as well as deep-sea biology and coral-reef ecology. Most of his research has concentrated on reefs of subtropical and temperate waters off the southeastern U.S., but he has conducted research on Marine Protected Areas in Belize and Madeira, and on population biology of fishes from the North and South Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas, and the western South Pacific. He was a member of the US National Committee for the International Census of Marine Life, and he currently serves on the Scientific and Statistical Committee, the Marine Protected Areas Expert Workgroup and the Habitat and Environmental Protection Advisory Panel of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. He is an Adjunct Professor at the College of Charleston and the University of Georgia’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, and has authored over 100 publications on marine fishes and ecosystems.

Jack McGovern

Jack McGovernAbout: Jack McGovern is the Assistant Regional Administrator for the Sustainable Fisheries Division at the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Southeast Regional Office.  He has been at the Southeast Regional Office for 11 years and was previously the South Atlantic Branch Chief for the Sustainable Fisheries Division.  Prior to working at the Southeast Regional Office, Jack spent 11 years with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources as principal investigator for its Marine Resources Monitoring Assessment Program, and also worked for Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s juvenile fish monitoring program.  He earned his bachelor’s in biology from Washington and Lee University, a M.S. in marine science from the College of Charleston, and a Ph.D. from the College of William and Mary.

Jay Styron

Jay StyronAbout: Jay Styron and his wife, Jennifer, have owned and operated Carolina Mariculture Co for seven years now in Cedar Island, Carteret County, NC. He was born and raised on Cedar Island and grew up understanding how tied we are to the surrounding waters. Generations of families have earned their living from these waters and I hope to show that they still can in a different way. They currently have about 6.5 acres leased and are currently growing oysters, hard clams, bay scallops and Sun Ray Venus clams. They raise their oysters using floating bags and their clams and scallops are under screens. They are continually looking for underutilized species and niche’ markets. Jay Styron and his wife currently work at the University of North Carolina Wilmington full time, she is with the Coastal Ocean Research Monitoring Program (CORMP) and he is the Director of Marine Operations. 

Kevin Craig

Kevin CraigAbout: Kevin Craig is a Research Fishery Biologist at the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center Beaufort Laboratory. His interests and experience are in fisheries ecology, population and ecosystem dynamics, and resource assessment and management. His research addresses the linkages between coastal watersheds and habitat quality of fish communities in estuarine and continental shelf ecosystems.  Recent projects have addressed the effects of nutrient enrichment and hypoxia on fish and fisheries in the northern Gulf of Mexico and in Southeast U.S. estuaries. A key aspect of his current position is assessing the population and fishery dynamics of harvested species in the U.S. South Atlantic in support of management. He received a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry from North Carolina State University, an M.S. in Fisheries from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Duke University.

Kim Yates

Kim YatesAbout: Dr. Kimberly Yates is a senior research scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Center for Coastal and Marine Science and Co-Chair of the Ocean Carbon & Biogeochemistry – Ocean Acidification Subcommittee.  Her research focuses on coastal carbon chemistry and the impacts of climate change on coral reef and estuarine ecosystems.  She specializes in integrated ecosystem studies that examine biogeochemical responses and feedbacks to ocean acidification.

Leticia Barbero

Kim YatesAbout: Leticia Barbero has a PhD in marine sciences. She is an assistant scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) from the University of Miami and conducts her work at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) of NOAA. Her area of expertise is the CO2 system in the ocean. She has worked with CO2 data from dedicated cruises, ships of opportunity and drifters in the Atlantic Ocean, Southern Ocean and coastal regions of the US. Her current research focus is sea-air fluxes of CO2, ocean acidification (OA) in coastal waters and anthropogenic contribution to changes in aragonite saturation states. She has participated and led several cruises aimed at studying OA conditions in coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and eastern coast of the US.

Libby Jewett

Libby JewettAbout: Dr. Libby Jewett became the first Director of the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program in May 2011, and has been busy ever since crafting the shape of this important, new NOAA science enterprise. A founding member of NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Steering Committee, Jewett led NOAA-wide meetings of scientists and policymakers to conceive and develop NOAA’s first comprehensive ocean acidification research plan. She continues to represent NOAA on the ocean acidification interagency working group (under Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology) where she helped develop an ocean acidification strategic research plan for the nation. Prior to becoming Director, she directed the only two national competitive hypoxia research funding programs as program manager for the Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research in NOAA’s National Ocean Service. In this role, she strived to make the funded science relevant to the management of coastal ecosystems, especially in the Chesapeake Bay and northern Gulf of Mexico. She also has many years of experience working in nongovernmental organizations. Jewett earned a Ph.D. in Biology with a focus on Marine Ecology at the University of Maryland, a Master of Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and a B.A. at Yale University.

Lou Burnett

Lou BurnettAbout: Lou Burnett is a Professor of Biology at the College of Charleston in Charleston SC, USA. He studies the responses of marine organisms to hypoxia and elevated COand is interested in the effects of these two variables on animal performance and innate immunity. He is currently the president of the Southern Association of Marine Laboratories and the president-elect of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

M. Dennis Hanisak

Lou BurnettAbout: Dr. M. Dennis Hanisak is a Research Professor at Harbor Branch and Director of its Marine Ecosystem Health and Education programs.  He has over 30 years of experience in marine biology and ecology, with emphasis on marine plants, particularly macroalgae (seaweeds) and seagrasses.  He has conducted research in the Indian River Lagoon and in other parts of Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.  Dr. Hanisak is the author of over 70 scientific publications, a frequently invited participant at national and international meetings and workshops, a past President of the International Phycological Society, and a past President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Phycological Society of America.  His current research emphasis is the Indian River Lagoon Observatory (IRLO) to investigate ecological relationships in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and how they are impacted by natural and human-induced stressors.  A key component of IRLO is the development of a network of advanced observing stations: Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory (LOBO) units that provide real-time, high-accuracy and high-resolution water quality data through an interactive website at:

Paula Keener

Paula KeenerAbout: Paula Keener is a Marine Biologist and Director of Education Programs with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Paula received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston and her Master of Science Degree in Marine Biology from the University of Charleston. She conducted extensive larval and adult fish research off the Southeastern coast of the U.S. and was a research team member in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History Western Atlantic Mangrove Program off Belize, Central America. She leads teams of scientists and educators in reaching out in new ways to educators, students, and the public through NOAA ocean exploration expeditions to enhance ocean sciences literacy through educational products and professional development at national and international levels.

Rick DeVoe

Rick DeVoeAbout: Rick DeVoe joined the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium in 1980, and has served as its Executive Director since 1997.  Rick is a member of the Graduate School Advisory Board at the College of Charleston and the Board of Advisors for the Center for Marine and Wetland Studies at Coastal Carolina University.  He earned degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University (B.S., marine biology), CUNY/City College of NY (M.A., biological oceanography), and the University of Rhode Island (M.M.A., marine policy).  Rick serves as a member of the Executive Planning Team for the Governor’s South Atlantic (Ocean) Alliance, the Board of Directors of the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA), and the Regulatory Task Force for Coastal Clean Energy (South Carolina Energy Office).  Rick’s professional interests focus on coastal and marine resource policy, state and regional coastal ocean planning and policy, ocean observing, marine aquaculture policy, science-to-management linkages, and science communication and education.

Rua S. Mordecai

Rua S. MordecaiAbout: Rua grew up in South Florida and was learning about marine fish and coastal birds even before he could ride a bike. To this day, he continues to work on the connections between land and water and finding ways to bring together people to help improve ecosystem conditions over large areas. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. As the Science Coordinator for the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative he helps people and organizations work together to sustain the region’s natural environment and cultural heritage.

Scott Noakes

Scott NoakesAbout: Scott Noakes is a Research Scientist at The University of Georgia’s Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS).  He received his B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from Mississippi State University and M.S. and Ph.D. from The University of Georgia in Marine Science.  He has been involved with ocean acidification/CO2 monitoring, paleontological and surficial geologic studies at Gray’s Reef and surrounding areas for the past two decades.  His home department at UGA is involved with marine environmental surveys in estuarine and coastal regions and utilizes isotopic, elemental and organic analytes.  CAIS also houses an accelerator mass spectrometer used in carbon dating organic-based samples such as shells and bone fragments, many of which have come from the Gray’s Reef area.  In addition to his work at CAIS-UGA, he is also the Director and Diving Safety Officer of the University System of Georgia Scientific Diving Program, an AAUS organizational member.

Susan Lovelace

Susan LovelaceAbout: Susan Lovelace has a Ph.D. in Coastal Resources Management from East Carolina University. She is currently the Assistant Director for Development and Extension at the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, which serves to bring people together to identify, discuss, generate, study, and share information about our coastal and ocean environment and its economic, environmental, and social importance to the state. In her free time Susan teaches social research and environmental sciences and mentors students in the Masters of Environmental Studies program at the College of Charleston.  Formerly she developed a human dimensions research program for the NOAA Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, S.C. and prior to that directed the education, training, and Rachel Carson site management for the N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and N.C. Coastal Reserves.  When not engaged in these activities you will find her tending the garden, walking on the beach or floating in the ocean.

Terri Kirby Hathaway

Terri Kirby HathawayAbout: Terri Kirby Hathaway has been the Marine Education Specialist for North Carolina Sea Grant since October 2003, sharing her knowledge of ocean sciences and aquatic environments with educators statewide.  Prior to that, she was the Education Curator at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island for 18.5 years.  Terri is one of the co-authors of North Carolina’s Amazing Coast, a book featuring the habitats, flora, and fauna of NC’s coastal region that was published in May 2013.  With a BS in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a MAEd in Science Education from East Carolina University, she is active in state, regional, and national professional organizations, presenting at various conferences and instructing at professional development workshops.  Terri lives in Southern Shores (on North Carolina’s Outer Banks) with her oceanographer husband and their four rambunctious cats!

Wei-Jun Cai

Wei-Jun CaiAbout:Dr. Cai has worked on marine carbon cycling for twenty years. His research areas include CaCO3 dissolution and sediment diagenesis in deep sea using microelectrodes (O2, pH and pCO2) and air-sea exchange of CO2 and carbon cycling in coastal oceans. Most recently, his research focuses on the responses of coastal ocean carbon cycle and ecosystem to a changing terrestrial export of carbon and nutrients as well as bottom-water acidification in estuaries and coastal oceans.

William Fisher

Bill FisherAbout:William S. Fisher currently serves as Director of the Gulf Ecology Division, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Gulf Breeze, Florida. His science expertise includes effects of environmental pollutants on marine invertebrates, particularly marine bivalves, crustaceans and stony corals. He received a B.S. from Carnegie-Mellon University, an M.S. from Duquesne University and a Ph.D. in 1983 from the University of California at Davis in Physiological Ecology. His postdoctoral research was performed on eastern oyster physiology and disease at the University of Maryland, Horn Point Environmental Laboratory, followed by a Senior Fulbright Research Fellowship to study diseases of European oysters in Brittany, France. Dr. Fisher served as Assistant Professor at the Marine Biomedical Institute, University of Texas Medical Branch before joining EPA in 1990. He was President of the National Shellfish Association in 1995 and for many years served on the editorial boards for the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology and Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. Currently he coordinates research to develop biological water quality standards for protection of coral reefs in U.S. waters.

Zackary Johnson

Zackary JohnsonAbout:Zackary Johnson’s research team includes biological oceanographers, marine molecular ecologists, marine microbiologists and biogeochemists and it studies the abundance, diversity and activity of marine microbes across complex ocean environments.  Our research focuses on the marine phytoplankton as model marine microbes of global importance to ocean ecology and biogeochemistry. Our group is quantifying how multiple stressors related to ocean acidification (OA) such as higher temperatures interact with increased acidity to represent the impact of multiple stressors on marine microbial communities. In particular, the responses of microbial communities from estuarine, coastal ecosystems and open ocean waters are inter-compared using a variety of approaches. By integrating multiple types of data, we are working towards providing a predictive and mechanistic understanding of microbial community responses and feedbacks to OA, including essential ecosystem services, and to develop the use of microbes as sentinels of adaptive responses to multiple stressors including ocean acidification.