Kelly Darnell, University of Southern Mississippi I am an Assistant Research Professor in the School of Ocean Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi where I also hold the position of Director of the Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence. Previously, I was a Research Scientist at The Water Institute of the Gulf, a non-profit research institute in Baton Rouge, LA, and the Deputy Director of the RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana. My experiences in academia and at a non-profit, and the research administration roles I’ve held have given me the broad perspective to represent the wide breadth of GERS members. I have also worked and/or lived in all five of the U.S. Gulf Coast States, and I appreciate the unique social and ecological aspects of each area, but also recognize the interconnectedness of the States as part of a larger functioning system. My research is an extension of this perspective and combines large-scale, regional studies with smaller scale projects to address biological and ecological questions in nearshore plant-dominated systems.
I would be honored to be President-Elect of GERS. I have been a member of GERS and CERF (ERF) since 2007, when I attended my first CERF conference as a graduate student. I have since served on the GERS Board as a Member-at-Large for two terms and chaired the fundraising committee for both the 2016 and 2018 GERS meetings, raising over $10,000 to help defray meeting expenses and support student travel. I look forward to the opportunity to serve the organization that has supported me throughout my career by promoting the support and training of students, creating opportunities for increased student involvement, encouraging active participation of members across all career stages, and, as President, proudly representing GERS on the CERF Governing Board as the GERS Affiliate Society Representative.
Student Representative: McDonald and Janelle Goeke
Ashley McDonald, Texas A&M University - Galveston I am a second-year Ph.D. student at Texas A&M University – Galveston (TAMUG). My dissertation research focuses on the biotic and abiotic factors that influence coastal plant communities, including those that specifically influence the persistence and expansion of mangroves on the Gulf of Mexico coastline. I received my bachelor’s degree in Marine Sciences at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL where I conducted research and completed a senior thesis studying created mangrove swamps in Cockroach Bay. Between my junior and senior years at Eckerd, I spent a summer at LUMCON as an REU intern, where I studied the mutualistic relationship between Spartina alterniflora and the gulf ribbed mussel. I am well suited to be the GERS student representative due to my experience in multiple areas of the Gulf of Mexico, my passion for coastal research, and my desire to promote research and scientific communication throughout the region. As a member of the GERS Executive Board, I hope to encourage student member engagement and ensure that student concerns are heard and addressed. I am passionate about research and increasing scientific literacy and hope that I may serve on the GERS Executive Board to continue to share my knowledge and abilities.
Janelle Goeke, Texas A&M University - Galveston I am a PhD Candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at Texas A&M University at Galveston. So far I’ve had the good fortune to participate in three biennial CERF conferences and the most recent GERS meeting. I’ve greatly enjoyed both the academic and social experience of all four meetings, and have been actively trying to get more involved in the organizations. Beyond CERF, I have attended seven conferences hosted by five different organizations in my first three years of graduate school. This has allowed me to see and experience a variety of meeting styles, and make connections in fields beyond the coastal and estuarine sciences. Additionally, I have served as the Vice-President and President of the Galveston Graduate Student Association, and have been on the planning committee for the EEB program’s Darwin Day event (an educational outreach event celebrating biodiversity that attracts over 300 people) for the past two years. These experiences have provided me with broad insight that will serve me well in planning the upcoming GERS 2020 meeting and broadcasting GERS and the work of its members to a broader audience. In exchange, I’m excited to learn more about what goes into the running of academic societies and events, as I plan to continue to be enthusiastically involved with both GERS and CERF as I move forward with my career.
Members At Large: Brian Roberts, Donna Devlin, Matthew Hoch, James Nelson
Brian Roberts, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium I am honored to be nominated for a Member-At-Large position on the GERS Board. I have over 20 years’ experience as an ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist, with a focus in the Gulf of Mexico region since joining the faculty of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) in 2007. As LUMCON’s Associate Director of Science, I oversee our scientific faculty, science programs and usage of facilities, properties, and resources.
My research program spans across coastal, estuarine, and ocean systems with a broad focus on how human activities influence the ability of ecosystems to retain and transform carbon, nutrients, and energy and how restoration activities may help ameliorate some of these impacts. Current research focuses on topics including Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacts on coastal wetland biogeochemistry, plant ecology, and microbial ecology; controls on coastal hypoxia; ocean acidification; living shoreline coastal restoration; and how salinity alterations and marsh creation projects impact wetland food webs. I became an active member in CERF since attending my first meeting in 1997, have been personally involved in GERS meetings since moving to the Gulf (including organizing a career panel at the last meeting), and have stressed attendance by my students and postdocs. A favorite aspect of GERS is the friendly and supportive atmosphere it provides for students and early career scientists. This has also been a central mission of my career. I initiated and have served as the program director for LUMCON's NSF REU site since 2011. I was an original member of ASLO's Early Career Committee and have served on similar panels and committees for agencies and organizations. My goal as a Member-At-Large will be to continue building on the tremendous foundation and spirit of collaboration, network building and professional development that typifies GERS.
Donna Devlin, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi I am a research professor at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi and research associate at the Smithsonian Marine Station. I am an ecologist/ecological geneticist and my work focuses on the link between global change and ecosystem function as saltmarsh and mangrove systems converge and the effects on population structure and biological interactions of these systems. Previously I was a coastal biologist and executive and legislative lobbyist for the State of Florida at the Center for Marine Conservation, now the Ocean Conservancy. GERS plays an important role transferring information facilitating communication among its members especially between academics, government agencies and land managers. As threats to estuarine systems increase, communication and effective transfer of research findings will become even more crucial. As a member at large, I will work to provide forums at meetings where scientists and managers to work together to solve problems. GERS role in supporting graduate and undergraduate students is pivotal in the development of students as confident scientists and leaders in the field of estuarine research. We provide a platform where students can network with academics, agency representatives and corporate interests. Students are encouraged to present in a constructive atmosphere. I gave my first talk as a graduate student at a GERS meeting and it was a very positive experience. I will work to increase GERS student membership and ensure that meetings are highly beneficial to students.
Matthew Hoch, Lamar University Matthew P. Hoch is an Associate Professor of Aquatic Microbial Ecology at Lamar University, Beaumont, TX. His early work while with the U.S. EPA Gulf Ecology Research Lab and TAMU, Oceanography included microbial oceanography studies of the Mississippi River Plume and the Florida Keys. For the past 23 years, he has held academic positions at primarily undergraduate universities. He has taught numerous microbiology and aquatic ecology courses, including study abroad courses in tropical watersheds and marine biology in Belize. His administrative experience includes service as Department of Biology Chair at both Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC, and Lamar University. His current research program involves undergraduate students in studies of marsh sediment microbiology and biogeochemical processes related to coastal marsh loss and restoration in the Texas Chenier Plain and the microbial oceanography of Sabine Lake and Salt Bayou Estuaries on the Southeast Texas coast. He also takes students to Belize to study wetlands and watershed, and to perform coral reef molecular microbiology research on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Complex. Hoch is a strong advocate of the undergraduate research experience, especially for underrepresented groups in aquatics sciences. He hopes to serve GERS in this and other capacities.
James Nelson, University of Louisiana Lafayette I am an assistant professor of Biology at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. I received my Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography from Florida State University. My work focused on using stable isotope analysis to trace the major sources of energy in offshore food webs in the Gulf of Mexico. After completing my Ph.D., I received a Northeast Climate Science Center fellowship working at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. There I worked in the Plum Island Long-term Ecological Research site where, my research linked long-term effects of eutrophication on the marsh landscape to changes in the food webs and fish production. One of the core goals of his long-term work is to understand how large scale perturbations to ecosystems alter the flow of energy in food webs and in turn, how living marine resources respond to these changes. CERF and its regional affiliate societies have been critical to my development as a scientist. As a Ph.D. student at FSU I attended GERS meetings giving some of my first public presentations of my research. The meetings were always excellent venues to present your newest work, get feedback, and build your professional network in a low pressure environment. As a Member-at-Large on the GERS Governing Board, I will work to keep GERS and active research society. As an early-career scientist, I will serve as a liaison to the next generation of GERS members. I will be committed to increasing the participation and retention of underrepresented students. I will seek to provide early mentoring opportunities and to build support networks within our society.