Harmful Algal Bloom/Red Tide Task Force
The Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force was established in 1999 and reactivated under the direction of Governor DeSantis in 2019. Consistent with the Governor’s direction, the Task Force has agreed to focus on issues associated with red tide as their top priority. The Task Force will play an important role in determining strategies to research, monitor, control and mitigate red tide and other harmful algal blooms in Florida waters. The Task Force will work closely with the Blue Green Algae Task Force and Mote Marine Laboratory’s Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative to evaluate current policies, procedures, research and response efforts, identify and prioritize actions and make recommendations.
Task Force Members
Donald Anderson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Dr. Don Anderson is a Senior Scientist in the Biology Department of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He earned three degrees from MIT – a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1970, and a MS (1975) and PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1977. He joined the scientific staff at WHOI in 1978. He has received the following awards: the Stanley W. Watson Chair for Excellence in Oceanography (WHOI, 1993), the NOAA Environmental Hero award (1999), the Dr. David L. Belding Award (Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission, 2005), the Yasumoto Lifetime Achievement Award (the International Society for the Study of Harmful Algae, 2006) , and the Bostwick H. Ketchum Award (2017). Anderson is the former director of WHOI’s Coastal Ocean Institute (COI), and presently serves as Director of the Cooperative Institute for North Atlantic Research (CINAR). Anderson also serves as Director of the U.S. National Office for Harmful Algal Blooms.
Anderson’s research focus is on toxic or harmful algal blooms (HABs), commonly called “red tides”. His research ranges from molecular and physiological studies of growth, sexuality, and toxin production to the large-scale oceanography and ecology of the “blooms” of these microorganisms, including numerical modeling, forecasting, and a range of monitoring and management strategies, many reliant on novel instrumentation and biosensors. Anderson is heavily involved in national and international program development for research, monitoring, and management of red tides, marine biotoxins, and HABs. He has testified multiple times before Congressional committees and has been actively involved in legislation and appropriations related to HABs and hypoxia. Anderson is the author, co-author, or editor of over 330 scientific papers and 14 books.
Duane De Freese, Indian River Lagoon Council/ IRL National Estuary Program
Dr. De Freese currently serves as the Executive Director of the IRL Council, an independent Special District of Florida and the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (IRLNEP). The IRL Council was created in 2015 to serve as host of a reorganized IRLNEP that was refocused to better respond to intense and recurring algal blooms and dramatic shifts in IRL water quality and ecosystem health. In that capacity, he has been working closely with over 20 scientific research organizations to develop a revised Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan – “Looking Ahead to 2030” that includes actions to address HABs. Dr. De Freese holds a B.S. degree in Zoology from the University of Rhode Island (1976) and M.S. (1982) & Ph.D. (1988) degrees in Marine Biology from Florida Institute of Technology. He holds special course certificates from the Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business, Rollins College (2002); Duke University, School of the Environment (Conservation Land Acquisition, 1991); and Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, MA. (Mariculture, 1983). Previous career experience includes serving as the first program director for the acclaimed Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (1991-1998). From 1998-2008, Duane served as the first Vice President of Florida Research for Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. In 2008-2009, Duane was appointed by the Dean of the College of Sciences at University of Central Florida to create a long-range vision for a multi-disciplinary center for coastal research and technology development in conjunction with an expanded UCF coastal & sea turtle research center located within the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. From 2009-2015, Duane served as Senior Vice President of Science & Business Development at AquaFiber Technologies Corporation. As an AquaFiber senior executive, Dr. De Freese provided leadership and oversight for all scientific and intellectual property activities associated with the company and its algae harvest/nutrient remediation technology development and applications. Duane currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Ocean Alliance (Vice-Chair) and the Board of Directors for the Association of National Estuary Programs.
Quay Dortch, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Dr. Quay Dortch currently manages two National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) programs that provide federal funding for research on the causes and impacts and prevention, control, and mitigation of harmful algal blooms (HABs). She also co-manages the HAB Event Response Program. Prior to coming to NOAA in 2003 she was a faculty member at Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium where she conducted research on HABs and hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico. From 1981 to 1986 she was a Research Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Oceanography, M.S. in Chemistry from Indiana University, and B.A. in Chemistry from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.
Jill Fleiger, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Ms. Jill Fleiger is an Environmental Administrator for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Aquaculture. She is the lead for the Shellfish Harvesting Area Classification Program that partners with FWC-FWRI in the collection of phytoplankton and shellfish meat testing as it relates to shellfish harvesting in Florida waters. She is a member of the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) and develops the Division’s Biotoxin Management Plans. She received her B.S. in Animal Biology from University of Alberta and M.S degree in Chemical Oceanography from Florida State University.
Leanne Flewelling, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Dr. Leanne Flewelling is the Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration Section Leader for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWC-FWRI), directing research groups focused on harmful algal blooms (HABs), fish and wildlife health, and Florida’s diverse terrestrial and aquatic habitats. She earned her M.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Massachusetts in 1997 and her Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of South Florida in 2008.
She began her career with FWC-FWRI in the Harmful Algal Bloom program more than 20 years ago and has authored or co-authored 49 scientific papers and 4 book chapters related to HABs. From 2007 to 2010, she served as the Administrator for the FWC Red Tide Control and Mitigation Grant Program. In her time at FWC-FWRI, she has developed the agency’s analytical capabilities for biotoxin detection and expanded the diversity of biotoxins that the state monitors. She also oversees regulatory shellfish sample analyses for algal biotoxins in support of shellfish management and conducts and collaborates on research projects focused on the production of algal toxins by multiple species of phytoplankton found in Florida waters, the fate and persistence of algal toxins in the environment, and their impacts on fish and wildlife.
Charles Jacoby, Saint John’s River Water Management District
Dr. Charles Jacoby is the Supervising Environmental Scientist for the Estuaries Section at the St. Johns River Water Management District. The Estuaries Section examines harmful algal blooms, nutrient loads, and restoration of coastal systems extending from the Florida–Georgia border through Indian River County. Dr. Jacoby has over 40 years of experience in designing, conducting, and interpreting research that guides management of natural resources, and he has led or co-led projects worth over $30M. His work has taken him to the Bahamas, Australia, New Zealand, and both coasts of the United States. During his career, he has investigated water quality, seagrasses, spring-fed systems, saltmarshes, mid-water systems, invertebrates, fish, and manatees. He has authored or co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed book chapters, journal articles, and reports; and he has presented over 100 invited lectures worldwide. He also has provided advice to federal, state and local governments in both the United States and Australia. Dr. Jacoby is Chair of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Modeling Advisory Committee and a member of the Management Board for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. In addition, he holds a courtesy appointment in the Soil and Water Sciences Department at the University of Florida, which allows him to supervise graduate students.
Barb Kirkpatrick, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System
Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick is the Executive Director for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observation System (GCOOS). She has more than 35 years of experience in human and environmental epidemiology and started her career as a Respiratory Care Supervisor at Duke University Medical Center before going on to receive a Master’s Degree in Heath Occupations Education at North Carolina State University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Sarasota. After completing her graduate program, Kirkpatrick served as an Associate Professor at Manatee Community College in Bradenton, FL, where she continued her research interests in human respiratory health and assessing clinical teaching effectiveness. In 1999, Kirkpatrick joined Mote Marine Laboratory as a staff scientist and shifted her research focus to environmental human health, particularly the respiratory effects linked to harmful algal blooms. Recently she served as senior scientist and program manager at Mote Marine Laboratory, with continued research efforts based on harmful algal blooms and human health effects. She was the co-chair of the National HAB steering committee for 6 years and is currently an ex-officio member.
Sherry Larkin, University of Florida
Dr. Sherry Larkin is a natural resource and environmental economist tenured in the Food and Resource Economics Department at UF. She earned her Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from Oregon State University in 1998 and has been a faculty member at UF/IFAS since 2000. She has maintained a 70 percent research and 30 percent teaching appointment from 2000 through mid-2014, at which point she moved into the Dean for Research Office as an interim assistant dean until August 2015. Since August 2015 she has held a 100 percent administrative appointment as an Associate Dean for Research and Associated Director of FAES. In UF/IFAS, she was a Fellow in the Natural Resource Leadership Institute (NRLI) from 2002-03, was a member of the IFAS Faculty Assembly from 2008-11 (serving on the Executive Committee from 2010-11) and participated in the national land grant LEAD21 program in 2014-15. At UF, she was a sustainability fellow from 2011-2012, served on the Faculty Senate from 2013-2016 and currently serves as an affiliate faculty member for the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. She is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Kasetsart University (Bangkok, Thailand). Her main area of interest involves projects relating to the sustainable use of marine resources. As of 2015, Dr. Larkin published over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and 10 book chapters and has received nearly $3 million in external research funding from 10 different funding agencies.
She has chaired 25 graduate student committees and served as a member or co-chair on an additional 23. She was an associate editor of the journal Marine Resource Economics from 2000-2015. In the profession, she has served as an elected member of the executive committee for the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET) and is the president-elect of the North American Association of Fisheries Economics (and will serve as president from 2017-2019). In the policy arena, Dr. Larkin is actively involved in fisheries management by serving on scientific committees for both the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils. In addition to seafood and fisheries, Dr. Larkin’s recent research has studied economic issues related to forestry, precision farming, harmful algal blooms and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Andrew Reich, Florida Department of Health
Mr. Andrew Reich is the scientific advisor to the Chief of the Bureau of Environmental Health at Florida Department of Health. Previously he was the administrator of the Public Health Toxicology Section. He has over 25 years of experience in public health addressing issues such as water quality, fish advisories,hazardous waste investigations, toxicology consultations, environmental contamination and disease outbreaks. Andy was also acting chief of the Bureau of Environmental and coordinated the Bureau’s response to the Ebola threat. For over 10 years Mr. Reich has led the Department’s effort to address adverse health impacts from exposures to toxic algal blooms in fresh water and marine environments. His efforts have led to an integrated and collaborative approach to environmental health response in Florida with federal, state, and local partners including NOAA, CDC, Army Corps of Engineers and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Reich has a Master of Science degree in Public Health from the University of Alabama in Birmingham as well as a Master’s in Medical Science from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia with a concentration in Intensive Care Medicine.
Rhonda Watkins, Collier County
Miss Rhonda Watkins is a Principal Environmental Specialist with Collier County Pollution Control. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Wittenberg University with focused studies in limnology and aquatic biology including special studies in oceanography and marine biology completed at Duke University. She has been monitoring and assessing water quality in Collier County for 29 years. She has been monitoring red tide for nearly 26 years and has participated in various research programs and grant panels involving red tide. She developed and coordinates the Collier County Red Tide Monitoring Program and coordinates the investigation of other marine and freshwater harmful algal blooms in Collier County.
David Whiting, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Mr. David Whiting works for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as the Deputy Director over the Laboratory and Water Quality Standards Programs within the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. Dave began his career with FDEP in 1994 as an Aquatic Toxicologist, having previously worked on Exxon Valdez Oil Spill research at the USEPA Laboratory in Gulf Breeze, Florida. In addition to administrating the laboratory and WQS programs, he is currently involved in FDEP’s Microbial Source Tracking efforts to identify fecal sources, FDEP’s Harmful Algal Bloom response activities, and the state’s efforts to understand the potential impacts of emerging contaminants of concern. Dave has a B.A. degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management and a M.A. in Ecology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.