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Harmful Algal Bloom/Red Tide 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.


Emily Cooley, Florida Department of Health

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Emily Cooley joined the Florida Department of Health in August 2022 as an Environmental Consultant in the Bureau of Environmental Health’s Aquatic Toxins Section, where she is responsible for building on partnerships and collaborations to assist with relaying public health information related to harmful algal blooms (HABs). She has a B.S. and a M.S. in Biochemistry from Mississippi State University, with a special focus in plant biochemistry and cellular biology. Prior to coming to Florida, she worked as a contracted Research Scientist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where she researched freshwater HABs.

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 is consulting for CSS, Inc, which contracts with NOAA for her work as a Senior HAB Scientist.  She provides advice on Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) research and response and co-leads an effort to establish a National HAB Observing Network (NHABON).  She is currently serving as the co-chair of the NHABON Community of Practice Steering Committee, as an ex officio member of the National HAB Committee, and on the Interagency Working Group on the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (IWG HABHRCA).

Previously she worked for NOAA as the ECOHAB (2002-2020) and PCMHAB (intermittently 2010-2020) Program Manager.  Before that she was a faculty member at Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, and a Research Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory of Ocean Sciences.  Her work has focused on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), hypoxia, and eutrophication in coastal waters.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Oceanography, an M.S. in Chemistry from Indiana University, and a B.A. in Chemistry from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (now Randolph College).  Dr. Dortch is the author or co-author of more than 100 scientific papers and federal agency reports and plans.

Katherine Hubbard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, HAB Task Force Chair 2022-Present

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Dr. Kate Hubbard leads FWC-FWRI's harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring and research program and since 2020, directs FWC’s Center for Red Tide Research. She works closely with a broad network of international, federal, regional, state, county, academic, nonprofit, industry, and citizen partners as well as the IOOS Regional Associations to sustain and advance HAB monitoring. She also prioritizes engaging junior scientists in research and communication. Hubbard works with this broad network to examine biological responses to environmental perturbations across varying spatiotemporal scales. Recent enhancements to Florida’s HAB monitoring network under her direction have focused on new, enhanced, and/or sustained biological, chemical, and physical observation capabilities for Karenia brevis that can be more broadly applied to other regional HABs as well. Her specific expertise in genomics and ecology has helped evaluate drivers of HABs and other species using environmental DNA (eDNA), handheld detection technology, or submersible in situ detection tools such as the Imaging Flow CytoBot. As a Co-Investigator of the NSF/NIEHS-funded Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Hubbard is involved in HAB detection and forecasting projects across the US to better understand and predict blooms and their impacts and is committed to working at the interface of HAB research and management. She has served on the National HAB Committee since 2017.


Charles Jacoby, The Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation

Dr. Charles Jacoby is the Strategic Program Director for the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation. In this role, Dr. Jacoby manages workgroups of experts that address some of Florida’s most pressing problems arising from flooding and other natural hazards. 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 multiple major projects, including over $10M of work on harmful algal blooms in the Indian River Lagoon. 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 received a BS and MS in Biological Sciences from Illinois State University, a PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, and an MBA from the University of Western Australia.

Barb Kirkpatrick, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System

Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick is Senior Advisor 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 Health Occupations Education at North Carolina State University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Sarasota. 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, she 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. As a senior scientist and program manager at Mote Marine Laboratory, her continued research efforts focused on harmful algal blooms and the effects they have on humans. She was the co-chair of the National Harmful Algal Bloom steering committee for six years and co-chaired the National HAB science meeting in 2013. Dr. Kirkpatrick became Executive Director of GCOOS in 2014, where she was instrumental in broadening the scope of the ocean monitoring organization to include biological aspects of ocean monitoring — particularly monitoring for toxic algal blooms and marine animal movements. She retired as Executive Director in August 2021 and is now GCOOS Senior Advisor.


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 March 2020, Dr. Larkin was also named Director of the Florida Sea Grant where she has served as Interim Director since April 2019. 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.


Michelle Smith, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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Michelle Smith has a B.S. in Biology from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Her career has taken her to various locations around the country before joining Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fisheries Dependent Monitoring Section in 2011. She joined the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2015 as an Environmental Specialist in the Division of Aquaculture. Michelle is currently the Environmental Administrator for the Division of Aquaculture’s Shellfish Harvesting Area Classification Program (SHACP). The SHACP is responsible for monitoring water quality to ensure harvested shellfish are safe for public consumption, including monitoring and responding to harmful algal blooms.


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.