Dept. of Biological Sciences
- Ph.D. (2006) Oceanography/Marine Biology. Fish Assemblage Structure on Vessel-Reefs and Adjacent Natural Reefs. Nova Southeastern University, Oceanographic Center.
- M.S. (2002) Marine Biology and Marine Environmental Science. Nova Southeastern University, Oceanographic Center.
- B.S. (1997) Environmental Science. Rutgers University, Cook College.
From a very early age I was intrigued by the natural world. Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y. one might think there were limited opportunities to observe and study nature. However, my small concrete yard had an edge of plantings my great grandmother maintained and this provided enough habitat to sustain a small arthropod community. I was fascinated by these bugs and often collected and fed them. I was amazed how each organism survived and I learned all I could about the interactions they had with each other. My passion for terrestrial ecology then developed into an interest in the marine world during college. I wanted to be the first person to successfully keep a Great White Shark in captivity. Although I never realized that dream, I was fortunate enough to immerse myself in the South Florida marine environment during graduate school while studying reef fish assemblages. After getting the bends several times in the last decade, I currently have broadened my scope to include terrestrial ecology and the use of novel technologies (ROVs – Remotely Operated Vehicles) to monitor marine communities.
Ecology of Fish Assemblages on Natural and Artificial Reefs
My research was one of the first studies on sunken vessels in the Southeastern United States. The results have revealed strikingly, different communities between the two habitats. I support the use of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and suggest deploying vessels within MPAs to enhance their effectiveness by attracting economically important species.
Age and Growth of Reef Fishes Using Otolith Analysis
Currently, several graduate and undergraduate students are working on determining the age and growth of several reef fishes. One of the species, is the Hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus, an economically important and highly targeted fish species. A data gap exists in South Florida concerning local Hogfish populations and we are working to determine differences between our area and other established stocks in the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico.
Oyster Reef Restoration
Anthropogenic impacts have led to widespread destruction of natural habitats. Creation of oyster reefs in the Lake Worth Lagoon were aimed at increasing water quality of this estuary, while providing additional habitat for marine organisms. My students are monitoring the success of these newly created habitats by comparing the density and shell height to nearby natural oyster reefs.
My first interest in the natural world was ignited by arachnids. That interest has developed into arachnophilia and I am currently working with several students on various research projects looking at local species. We have shown the Golden Orb Weaver, Nephila clavipes, is larger in urban areas than natural areas. We are investigating several reasons for this finding, including possible differences in prey densities and light exposure.
Biodiversity of Native Plant Communities
Widespread urban development has led to the removal of the majority of natural terrestrial habitats in South Florida. Additionally, the plants we typically use for our home landscapes are often dominated by exotic species. I am interested in research focusing on the benefits of using native species to enhance local biodiversity and establishing a region wide native landscape plan to create necessary habitat for locally impacted species.
Courses Taught at NSU
BIOL 1510 Biology II/Lab
BIOL 3200 General Ecology/Lab
BIOL 3311 Vertebrate Zoology/Lab
ENVS 1500 Natural History of South Florida
ENVS 2000 Biodiversity of Alaskan Ecosystems – Online
ENVS 2001 Biodiversity of Alaskan Ecosystems Field Course – Study Travel in Alaska
MBIO 2410 Marine Biology/Lab
MBIO 3700 Biology of Fishes/Lab