Top of PageSkip to main content


Melissa Phillips Sathe, M.S. Marine Biology '08

Melissa Phillips Sathe

Since September 2007, Melissa has been working as a Biologist for the Miami-Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM). In the Restoration and Enhancement Section of DERM she supervises, coordinates and takes part in offshore monitoring and artificial reef projects in Miami-Dade County.

After the field work is finished, Melissa is responsible for data analysis and report writing as well as keeping track of vessel maintenance. She assisted in the implementation of the Miami-Dade Mooring Buoy Program and continues to assist in program management. She has presented project results at the 2010 Florida Artificial Reef Summit and represents the county in various working groups and project teams with local, state and federal agencies

Demian Chapman, Ph.D. in Oceanography '07

Demian Chapman

After earning his PhD from the NSUOC in February 2007, Chapman worked as a postdoctoral scientist at the Rosenstiel School of Marine an Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, where he was in charge of several genetic and field research projects on sharks and sawfish for the Pew Institute for Ocean Science. Chapman is conducting projects in Belize, Bimini (Bahamas), Jupiter (Florida) and New Zealand, with a focus on looking at the connections that sharks maintain with specific places, including their birthplace.

His Research goals are to ensure that information on space utilization is incorporated into shark stock assessments and to determine how marine protected areas can be integrated into shark conservation.

Chapman has recently accepted a position as Assistant Professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, where he will be setting up a molecular marine ecology laboratory and be a part of the new Institute for Ocean Conservation Science.

Shaun Gill, M.S. Marine Biology '07

Shaun Gill

Upon graduation, Shaun went to work in higher education and manage the University of New England (UNE) Marine Science Center (MSC) in Biddeford, Maine. Shaun’s involvement with field research and waterfront operations while at the NSUOC, prepared him for roles as an oceanographic project manager, dive safety officer, research vessel captain, and research facility manager.

In 2012, Shaun became the Assistant Director of the UNE MSC which was designated a UNE Center of Excellence in 2013. Shaun provides leadership for all of UNE’s marine operations and works closely with students, faculty, administrators, and staff to connect them to physical resources as well as each other.

Shaun is an interdisciplinary ambassador for the trades and sciences and a leader of creative processes. He regularly mentors students in design and fabrication of innovative tools and systems for their own research. An advocate for applied, hands-on learning, Shaun recently launched a life support internship to teach students how to run commercial seawater systems found in research facilities and large aquariums.

Joanna Walczak, M.S. Marine Biology

Joanna Walczak

Joanna Walczak is the Southeast Regional Administrator for the Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office. Based in Miami, she oversees the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves, Florida’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary – which is co-managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She is also the State of Florida’s Point of Contact for the US Coral Reef Task Force and US All Islands Coral Reef Committee. Joanna holds a B.S. from Texas A&M University Galveston, and an M.S. from Nova Southeastern University’s Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography – both in Marine Biology. She specializes in stakeholder engagement in conservation issues, as well as permitted and un-permitted coral reef injury assessment, mitigation, and enforcement.

Yvonne Haberer, M.S. Coastal Zone Management '06

Yvonne Haberer

I have been working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) since 1992. I currently work as a biologist serving as the Environmental Leader on several interdisciplinary water resource study teams. In particular, I work on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and several coastal projects such as beach restoration and harbor expansion, in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida. I do the environmental coordination and prepare Environmental Impact Assessments during a study's planning process.

The online CZM program is the ideal method of delivery for the working professional. The quality of classes offered online were way above my expectations. I wanted to be able to pursue a degree and continue working my full time job with the Corps. The program has allowed me to gain additional technical expertise in the marine science field and to establish a network of contacts within the research community. The CZM degree strengthened my understanding of the problems and conflicts associated with the coastal zone, and provided me with the technical expertise necessary to make better decisions and more effectively manage the coastal environment.

Leah Motzko Weyandt, M.S. Coastal Zone Management '05

Leah Motzko Weyandt

Leah works for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) program. This program promotes kids fishing and helps bring fishing to urban areas of central Minnesota.

Every year, they stock small fishing ponds with fish and then do aquatic education events with kids and take them fishing. They teach them about aquatic habitat, native Minnesota fish species, aquatic plants, aquatic insects, water safety, and ice safety, among other things. Leah says, "It's a great job, very rewarding, and we're expanding so much that there's too much work! We need more people on our team to keep the kids interested in the environmental and natural resources!" Find out more about what Leah is doing at environment.

Marcy Plaza, M.S. Marine Biology '05

Marcy Plaza

Marcy Plaza is a 2005 graduate of the Nova Southeastern University Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. During her time at NSU, Marcy worked as a Research Assistant in Dr. Mahmood Shivji’s genetics laboratory and as an office assistant at the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. While in Dr. Shivji’s laboratory, she learned about and gained experience in the techniques and fundamentals of DNA testing. Her thesis work involved the development of a PCR-based assay to aid in the identification of carcharhinid sharks for use in wildlife forensics, trade monitoring, and the delineation of species distributions. A poster presenting her work at the 2005 Fort Lauderdale Forensic Science Symposium was the first place recipient of the Edward Whitaker Research Poster Award. Some of Marcy’s fondest memories of the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography include research trips to Belize with Dr. Shivji and his students, holiday parties and happy hours on the old houseboat, and the lasting friendships she made.

After graduating from NSU, Marcy worked as a Research Associate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing investigating the effects of traumatic brain injury on mitochondrial DNA. For the past six years, Marcy has been a Casework DNA Analyst at Bode Technology, a private forensics laboratory just outside of Washington, D.C. Her responsibilities include processing evidence associated with various criminal cases, generating and reporting DNA profiles, performing statistical calculations, and testifying to her results as an expert witness.

Sarah Grubs, MS Marine Biology '04

Sarah Grubs

Sarah's job description is wildlife biologist for the Seminole Tribe of Florida. She is based out of the field office in Big Cypress Reservation. Currently, the tribe is participating in part of the Critical Everglades Restoration Project. Part of her job is to monitor the endangered and threatened species on the reservation during the project. Sarah is also the tribal representative for the Panther Recovery Team, which led to her helping write the recovery plan for the Florida panther

Heather Halter, MS Marine Biology '04

Heather Halter

While at NSU, Heather worked for the National Coral Reef Insitute on Acropora cervicornis studies. At that time, A. cervicornis was being placed on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Candidate List and has since been listed as threatened. Her interest in the ESA listing process prompted her to apply to law school to become an environmental attorney, so she entered the University of Florida Levin College of Law (UF Law) in 2004.

At UF Law, she was active in the environmental and land use law program and was able to work as a summer associate for various environmental law practices which included: Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (Eugene, OR) and the Solicitor's Office at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Division of Land and Water (Washington, D.C.). She also participated in UF Law's environmental law clinic in Gainesville as well as an environmental law clinic at the University of Costa Rica (San Jose, Costa Rica). After graduating from UF Law in 2007, she was awarded a John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship and moved to the Washington, D.C. area. During her fellowship, she worked for the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) Highly Migratory Species Management Division and was able to travel to many states and U.S. territories to conduct public hearings for new shark management measures. She has now come full circle with her desire to work with the ESA. She is currently a NMFS employee in the Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources. Her interests continue to be Endangered Species and Marine Protected Area issues, especially in the international realm.

James Sulikoswki, MS Marine Biology '96

James Sulikoswki

After graduating from the OC, James went on to get a Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire. James is now an assistant professor at the University of New England and the resident ichthyologist and area shark specialist.

Recent research interests include the physiological responses to stress and how this influences by-catch mortality and aquaculture practices in teleosts.

John Hocevar, MS Marine Biology '93

John Hocevar

John recently led an expedition aboard the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, using submarines and an ROV in the Bering Sea to explore the largest underwater canyon in the world for the first time.

Their findings included visible damage from trawl fishing in deep remote areas, species that are probably new to science, and corals and sponges not known to live in the area. You can see blogs, images, and other interesting information on their Web site.

Yasushi Fukamachi, Ph.D. Oceanography '92

Yasushi Fukamachi

Following his graduation from NSUOC Yasushi was hired as an assistant professor at the Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, in Sapporo, Japan. His current research interests are ocean circulation and interaction between sea ice and ocean in the seasonal sea-ice zone such as the Southern Ocean, where sea ice exists seasonally.

In 2003 and 2005, he participated in the Australian Antarctic Research Expedition's Southern Ocean cruises to carry out a mooring experiment of a deep western boundary current southeast of the Kerguelen Plateau, which is the largest plateau in the ocean, located in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean.

Fukamachi returned to the Southern Ocean last February to deploy moorings including ice profiling sonars in a coastal polynya (thin ice zone with high ice production) near the Amery Ice Shelf. They are designed to reveal ice-production rate and formation processes of the Antarctic Bottom Water in this region.

Return to top of page