Meet the Team
Chief Scientist John Burke
NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research (CCFHR) fisheries biologist with NOAA for over 20 years, John has worked on this project since it began in 1999. His research has focused on the behavioral ecology of marine fishes, a critical consideration in the design of marine protected areas and their impact on fish populations. In addition to planning of day-to-day science operations, he will act as a fish counter and work on drop camera operations. Between cruises, he spends lots of time analyzing survey data and writing reports and papers.
Field Chief Brian Degan
Brian has worked at the CCFHR Beaufort lab as a research technician and NOAA Divemaster since 2001. His main duties are to assist the Chief Scientist in scheduling daily field ops, maintaining sampling gear, and 'putting out any fires' that may arise during the mission. He is a fish counter for his dive team. Brian's main interests are fish morphology and phylogeny, fish habitat utilization, and raiding the ship's ice cream freezer.
Divemaster Jenny Vander Pluym
Jenny Vander Pluym is a research technician and NOAA Divemaster at the CCFHR in Beaufort, NC. She began working at CCFHR after completing her master’s degree in Marine Science at North Carolina State University three years ago. Jenny’s main duties during the cruise are to serve as the dive coordinator as well as a scientific diver collecting fish data. Jenny loves conducting research on SCUBA for the opportunity to observe such unique systems and study the relationships between habitats and the corresponding communities. She will miss her most recent accomplishment, her 10-month-old son, very much.
Christine Addison, research technician at NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research. She earned her BS in Biology at University of Nebraska, Lincoln and her MS in Marine Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a NOAA science diver and certified in technical and trimix diving. She is a versatile diver for her team; contributing to this cruise as a habitat and marine debris surveyor and fish counter. As a long-time participant in the invasive species research at CCFHR, Christine will be documenting any invasive species encountered, including lionfish, a species of particular interest to the FL Keys National Marine Sanctuary Program. She has participated in this project since 2001 and has been aboard the Nancy Foster for more than 10 cruises; her experience with the project and the vessel will be helpful to the field chief, diver master, and chief scientist. She enjoys working in the Tortugas and is interested in the dynamics of fish and habitat community shifts resulting from the alleviation of fishing pressure within the Reserve.
Kimberly Foley Edwards
Kimberly Edwards is a Marine Biologist with the Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment's Biogeography Branch. Kim is an active diver with CCMA, conducting fish and habitat surveys for several characterization and monitoring projects throughout the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Kim completed her master's degree at the University of Puerto Rico, where she was working on a CCMA project investigating fish and habitat associations across cross shelf habitats. Her research interests continue to focus on fish and habitat associations, particularly in zones of dynamic physical oceanographic patterns. As a result of her experience in Puerto Rico, Kim is fluent in Spanish and has maintained a strong network on the island, skills that have aided our missions. Stationed in Beaufort, North Carolina, Kim is serves as a liaison between the two NCCOS branches of CCMA and NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research on projects in similar geographic regions.
Don has worked for NOAA for 25 years. He joined the NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research lab eight years ago. His main research interests lie in remote sensing of coral reefs and seagrass habitats. His Ph.D. dissertation focused on remote sensing of submerged habitats in the Dry Tortugas. Since 2001, he has made numerous cruised to the Dry Tortugas on both the NOAA Ships Ferrel and Nancy Foster. During this mission, he is the fish counter for his dive team, and is involved in the drop camera operations.
Brett has worked with both NOAA and the NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research for two years. On this mission, his primary duties include being a habitat photographer, monitoring marine debris, and supporting other operations such as the drop camera work, equipment prep and data downloads.
Susie Holst is a marine ecologist with over 10 years of experience working in coral reefs in the Atlantic/Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Oceans, and is now based in Washington, DC working for the Headquarter's office of NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program. She received her BS degree in Marine Biology from James Cook University, Australia and completed a MS degree in Marine Science from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington as an EPA STAR graduate research fellow. Her first experience working for NOAA was as a research technician for a coral reef monitoring program in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in 1999, then after finishing her MS degree she continued working with NOAA in North Carolina as a Port Agent for the Headboat Survey, then moved to Hawaii to work as a marine debris diver to remove derelict fishing gear from the reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for NOAA's Coral Reef Ecosystem Division. Next, she spent time in the Maldives working on coral restoration projects after the 2004 tsunami, then moved to Washington DC in 2006 to work as the Assistant Director of Marine Programs at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation before settling into her current role. One of the many hats she wears is the vessel coordinator for the Coral Program, so Susie is looking forward to her first cruise aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. She's also been a scientific diver with NOAA since 2004 and is excited about getting into the water as a member of the diving team in the Dry Tortugas Ecological Reserve -- one of the sites she visited back in 1999 with her first NOAA job. She's come full circle...
Chelsea is a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow working as NOAA’s Ecosystem Research Program Coordinator and has just completed her Masters in Biological Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her studies have included limnology, environmental systems, chemical hydrogeology, GIS mapping, and all things chemistry. On this cruise, she will primarily be observing and informally interviewing scientists in order to develop and coordinate entries for the public cruise log, but will also lend an extra set of hands where needed!
Abby has worked for NOAA in the past, and is currently finishing her masters in marine biology at California State University, Northridge. She participated in four previous Tortugas cruises, and, was invited to join this year’s mission due to her experience. She primarily acts as a photographer for her dive team, and assists the chief scientist with any necessary organizational projects. Her typical day begins with the daily dive brief and includes dives, completing the associated dive log, and data downloads.
Greg is a research ecologist and Acting Chief of the Applied Ecology and Restoration Branch at NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research. He has been with NOAA and CCFHR for four and a half years. His career focus is coral reef ecology. This includes monitoring and working to understand human impacts on coral reef ecosystems. His primary duty has been as a photographer for his dive team – preparing camera gear before each dive and downloading the data at the completion of each dive. Greg will also be involved in post–mission analyses of the benthic photo data.
Chris joined NOAA February 2008. He earned his MS and PhD in Zoology from North Carolina State University and was most recently a research professor at the University of North Carolina – Institute of Marine Science. His interest is in marine fisheries ecology with an emphasis on underwater remote sensing applications for understanding fish and habitat relationships. Chris’s specialty is hydroacoustics and sonar. Chris uses hydroacoustic techniques to a assess distribution and abundance of fish populations. His primary duty is survey planning and collecting fisheries hydroacoustic data. He works closely with the Nancy Foster’s survey technicians to integrate multibeam and fish distribution data collected using hydroacoustics and assist designing diver surveys based on the multibeam habitat and fish distribution maps.
Currently a Biological Research Scientist for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Danielle is part of the finfish research department. She works out of the Marathon field lab in the Florida Keys spending most of her time doing visual censuses of the area’s reef fishes and looking for spawning aggregations. As a part of this mission Danielle will be lending her expertise as a fish counter for her dive team.
Beth will be graduating from Cape Fear Community College, Wilmington, NC, with a degree in Marine Technology in December of 2009. Beth has participated in five training cruises onboard CFCC’s research vessel the Dan Moore, and this is Beth’s first cruise with NOAA. She has taken classes in hydrographic survey, data processing, and marine GIS just to name a few. She is excited about this upcoming trip, and eager to learn new processes and techniques. Beth will lend her expertise to the multibeam sonar and hydroacoustic components of the expedition.