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Student Mentorship Program

The Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography mentorship program was created to promote diversity, collaboration, and community in our student body. Working with NSU's Vision 2020, this program is designed to create a supportive environment for new students as well as and increase the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography students' confidence and leadership skills by also reinforcing the goals, objectives, and the mission of NSU.


The Peer Mentorship Program is constantly evolving to aid incoming Halmos students with their transition into the school and the College’s culture. Peer Mentors serve as leaders. Part of their mandate is to guide their mentees to available university resources.  Peer mentors understand the importance of communication with their mentee and work to develop a significant and lasting relationship.

The Peer Mentorship Program Consists of:

  • Experiential Learning activities
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Community outreach
  • Campus tours
  • Student Orientations
  • Networking and co-curricular opportunities
  • Commitment to meet with mentee minimally on a monthly basis, and maintain ongoing communication
  • Interaction with mentee to provide guidance, knowledge, and share experiences
  • Graduate student leadership and self-awareness for peer mentors
  • A unique set of personal and professional goals & learning outcomes
  • Inclusion of in-house and distance/online mentors in an integrated mentorship program

For more information or to apply to the mentorship program, contact Dr. Jody Hastings at 954-262-3663 or by email at



Sarah Gumbleton

Sarah is from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She received her B.S. in Biology from Loyola University Chicago. While Sarah was an undergraduate student, she studied abroad in Rome at John Felice Rome Center, Loyola University Chicago. She currently works for the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program. In the past, she has had two internship opportunities: one with Mote Marine Laboratory, and the other with the Emerald Coast Wildlife Center. She is currently working on her Masters degree in Marine Biology. Her thesis research is on the feeding ecology of wading birds in South Florida.

Sarah can be contacted at

Rachael Stevenson

Rachael Stevenson is a Master’s student in the Charismatic Megafauna and Oceanography Lab. She is studying how age, weight, and terrestrial duration affects the oxygen store development in phocid and otariid seals. She works as a research assistant at the U.S.G.S. seagrass lab, monitoring seagrass health and abundance in relation to dredging effects in the Port of Miami and Biscayne Bay, as well as monitoring seagrass habitats in Florida Bay. She also works as a surveyor with the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program.

Rachael can be contacted at


Alicia Vollmer

Growing up in Florida, Alicia became exposed to the marine environment at a very early age. She attended Florida State University for her bachelor’s degree in Biology with a certificate in Living Marine Resources. While at FSU she conducted independent research on the spawning sex ratios of snook in Charlotte Harbor, FL.  Alicia currently a master’s student double majoring in marine biology and coastal zone management at NSU. She is the lab manager and research assistant for Dr. Fogarty's REEF lab. Her thesis research involves investigating paternity in Porites asteroids with differing colony densities and sizes.

Alicia can be contacted at

Morgan Hightshoe

Morgan Hightshoe is a research associate working in the Reproduction and Evolutionary Ecology Laboratory at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) under the guidance of Dr. Nicole Fogarty. He received his M.S. in Marine Biology from NSU where he studied disease resistance and thermal tolerance in the endangered staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. Before attending NSU he spent a couple years in the Caribbean working on a variety of marine conservation projects with The Nature Conservancy, the Puntacana Ecological Foundation, and the Sea Turtle Conservancy. It was during this time that he developed his interest in coral conservation research. When he's not in the lab you can usually find him surfing, skating, and cycling.

Morgan can be contacted at


Leah Harper

Leah Harper grew up in Pennsylvania, where she attended the University of Pittsburgh. While at Pitt, she was a part of the swim team and had the opportunity to study abroad in Bonaire. Traveling abroad to Bonaire solidified her passion to study coral reefs. After graduating from Pitt, she decided to attend graduate school at Nova Southeastern University. Her thesis project was a three-year study of recruitment success along the Florida Reef Tract in Broward and Miami –Dade counties. This project was part of a larger study on the entire Florida Reef Tract extending from Broward County into the lower Keys. Since graduating with an M.S. in marine environmental science, Leah has continued to work as the project manager for the coral recruitment and juvenile survivorship project of Southeast Florida.

Leah can be contacted at

Aaron Hasenei

Aaron Hasenei is currently finishing up his M.S. degree at NSU while working in the Fisheries research lab under Dr. David Kerstetter. His research focus is fish physiology with his current work investigating the aerobic-metabolism, hypoxia tolerance, and visual ecology of invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish. He also works full-time as an aquarium curator at the Rainforest Cafe in Sawgrass Mills mall. Prior to attending NSU, he worked in the fish physiology lab at Towson University, located in Baltimore, MD, where he conducted research on striped bass and European seabass energetics and morphometrics. In his free time, he enjoys exercise, fishing, and being outdoors.

Aaron can be contacted at

Jamie Sickles

After graduating with a B.S. in Marine Biology from Stockton University, Jamie decided to continue her academic career in South Florida. It only took one visit to NSU’s Oceanographic Campus before she would apply to the marine science graduate program.

Jamie has always been captivated by deep-sea ecosystems so she pursued her master’s thesis as a research assistant in Dr. Tamara Frank’s Deep-Sea Laboratory where she now actively studies the cellular structure of organs that produce visible light in deep-sea shrimp. In the last two years, Jamie has joined Dr. Frank on four research missions to collect deep-sea samples from the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida. Jamie has exceeded the goals that she had originally set for herself through the opportunities and experiences provided by NSU’s Marine Science Graduate Program, and therefore joined NSU’s Student Mentorship Program to influence and motivate the goals of others.

Jamie can be contacted at

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