The Fisheries-Dependent Monitoring scientist directs several projects that collect important information about Florida's recreational marine fisheries.
Associate Research Scientist:
St. Petersburg, FL
B.S. Biology, Christopher Newport University, Newport News, Va. (1993)
M.S. Candidate, Marine Resource Assessment, University of South Florida St. Petersburg (Expected graduation date: December 2013)
Currently, I manage several projects designed to collect vital statistics on recreational marine fisheries throughout Florida. Prior to this job, I worked for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, where I participated in marine turtle and blue crab research; the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where I developed fishery management plans for the Chesapeake Bay Program; and the University of South Alabama, where I attended graduate school and participated in blue crab and penaeid shrimp research.
What are you working on now?
I just completed a manuscript that evaluates survival of gag grouper after they are caught and released during recreational fishing. I am also working on another manuscript that will compare survival rates for several reef fish species. The FWC recently conducted an intensive field sampling effort during the three-day recreational harvest season for red snapper on the Atlantic Coast, and I will start evaluating those data soon. I am involved in a couple of newly funded projects to characterize recreational fisheries on Florida’s Atlantic coast and to study alternative methods to safely release fish in the Gulf of Mexico. I also helped write a new proposal for special surveys to collect more detailed data from offshore recreational fisheries, which I am hopeful will be funded in 2014.
How is this information beneficial?
All of my work contributes to population assessments for marine fish species, as well as sustainable management of the fisheries.
What is your typical work day like?
Since I manage multiple projects, I am often in the office making sure data are collected correctly and processed in a timely manner, and ensuring staff in the field have everything they need to conduct their work. When I’m not running the day-to-day operations of ongoing projects, I carve out time to analyze data, look for trends in recreational fisheries and research new methods for future projects.
What is your greatest career accomplishment?
Completing my master’s degree while working full-time will be one of my greatest accomplishments. It has also been gratifying to help design and implement, in cooperation with professional operators of recreational charters and headboats, new fishery-observer surveys and to see those surveys gain acceptance and be expanded to new areas of the state. Learn more in the article FWC Enlists Anglers to Assist Reef Fish Studies.
What are some of your biggest challenges?
Balancing professional and personal life. When you enjoy the intellectual challenge of your work, it has a way of creeping into every corner of your life.
What do you like most about your career?
My work is constantly challenging and there are always new projects on the horizon that keep me interested.
Was this your original career interest? Why or why not?
It took some time to decide after high school, but once I committed myself to getting a college education, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and have never thought about it twice.
What would you be doing if you weren’t involved in science?
I might have tried starting my own business, possibly a garden center. My father is a small business owner and I have a lot of respect for what it takes to make your own way.
What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in your field?
Get as much work and practical experience as you can while you are working towards your college degree(s). Volunteer and intern experience will open the door to your first job, which will open the door to the next job, which will open the next door...
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Sailing, kayaking, fishing, gardening and spending time with friends (including my two dogs).