PROFESSIONAL & ACADEMIC BACKGROUND
Photo and data credits: VAMSC
Map Credit: Gwen Lockhart
My career has focused on collecting biological data and leveraging GIS to inform natural resource decisions. As a Natural Resource Specialist for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic (NAVFAC-Lant) and a GIS Analyst at Versar, Inc. I coordinated data collection for marine and terrestrial field surveys including U.S. Navy Marine Species Monitoring projects, vessel and aerial marine species surveys, forest stand surveys, animal telemetry projects, protected plant surveys, and invasive plant removal projects. As a the GIS Research Specialist at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center (VAMSC) Research & Conservation Division, I developed a multifaceted GIS database including biological monitoring, stranding and anthropogenic use data. In addition to managing VAMSC data, I also lead field research projects including vessel and aerial protected species surveys, sea turtle in water tagging trips and large whale photo id and biopsy cruises.
I obtained a BS in Biology and Business Management from Old Dominion University, Post-Baccalaureate certification in GIS from Pennsylvania State University, and a Masters of Natural Resources from Virginia Tech. As a graduate student, I used ship behavior data collected during a VAMSC project to conduct a spatial analysis of ship-whale interactions, before and after the enactment of the Federal Right Whale Ship Strike Reduction Rule (50 CFR 224.105). You can view my final paper, and other research documents, on the Reports & Proceedings page.
Additionally, I spent two years working as a Water Quality Technician for Hampton Roads Sanitation District, acted as an endangered species observer during Army Corp of Engineers beach replenishment and created fish distribution maps for the Global Marine Species Assessment.
Photo credit: VAMSC
Click above to view full size poster.
Sea Turtle Tagging: The VAMSC has been deploying acoustic and satellite tags on rehabilitated and wild-caught sea turtles since 2007. As part of the VAMSC research team, I curated the data from over 70 satellite tags and conducted the analysis for several grant funded the projects. As an employee of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic (NAVFAC-Lant) I created loggerhead foraging maps for the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean and Kemp's ridley foraging maps for the Chesapeake Bay. I presented the Kemp's ridley research at the 2019 International Sea Turtle Symposium (click link above to view a poster). As an independent contractor, I am partnering with CheloniaData, LLC to combine the telemetry locations with environmental data, to create a predictive resource selection model. Our models will provide more precise information to managers regarding spatial and temporal changes in sea turtle behavior.
Large Whale Aerial & Vessel Surveys: The U.S. mid-Atlantic coast provides an important foraging and nursery habitat, as well as a migratory corridor, for a diversity of marine mammals. This area also poses challenges for management and conservation due to the intense use of this area for shipping, military, commercial fishing, and offshore energy development activities. VAMSC and colleagues have undertaken whale research off the coast of Virginia for more than two decades. As part of the VAMSC team, I have coordinated data collection and curated the marine mammal photo identification and survey database since 2011. We presented a poster at the 2015 Marine Mammal Biennial Conference (see above) that illustrates trends in larges whale presence in the mid-Atlantic.