Dr. Eric Milbrandt

    Marine Laboratory Director

    Eric has worked on the disturbance ecology and restoration of mangrove, seagrass, and oyster reef ecosystems. He is also interested in macroalgal diversity and physiology as it relates to environmental conditions and biological interactions. His research interests have been motivated by applying science to improve resource management decisions and to inform the public. He has published articles in international journals such as Limnology and Oceanography, Estuaries and Coasts, and Continental Shelf Research and serves as an editor/reviewer for the Journal of Wetland Management and Ecology and Marine Environmental Research. He is an adjunct member of the graduate faculty at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).


        Dr. Richard Bartleson

        Research Scientist

        At SCCF, Rick has been mainly involved with research and monitoring projects on the effects of Caloosahatchee flow and management on the estuary and Gulf of Mexico. Specifically around Sanibel, his work tracks the effects of salinity, dark water, and nutrients, hypoxia, occurrence of macroalgae blooms, seagrass and tape grass distributions,  and the occurrence of red tides. He is collaborating with local, state, and federal agencies, local non-profits, and universities and he is a Courtesy Faculty at Florida Gulf Coast University.

            Mark Thompson, M.S.

            Research Associate

            Mark developed and manages SCCF’s water quality and seagrass database. He also designs and implements water quality sampling for both nearshore waters and the islands many small stormwater lakes. He applies statistical analyses to interpret complex data (water quality, shell fish, habitat restoration) and writes grant reports. Mark uses Geographical Information System (GIS) data management and analyses to be shared with stakeholders and our members.

                AJ Martignette

                Research Assistant

                AJ is the lead for the River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network (RECON). He is responsible for the deployment and troubleshooting of the instruments and developed a custom mounting and retrieval system. He is also responsible for RECON data management and QA/QC. He uses Geographical Information System (GIS) and Aquarius software for data management and analysis. A.J. assists on other research projects, both in the lab and field as needed.

                    Jeff Siwicke

                    Research Assistant

                    Jeff is responsible for instrument prep and maintenance of the River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network (RECON).  Prior to deployment, each RECON sensor must be disassembled and extensive anti-fouling measures implemented. In addition to RECON, Jeff assists with field-based sampling and oversees the maintenance of the lab’s vehicles and research vessels. Jeff also is actively involved with SCCF’s events committee.

                        Ashley Harner

                        Research Assistant

                        Ashley Harner is a native Floridian, who received her B.A. in Environmental Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. During her time at FGCU she interned with Rae Ann Wessel, who is the Natural Resource Policy Director at SCCF.  With Rae Ann, Ashley worked on reporting the weekly conditions of the Caloosahatchee, developing fact sheets, researching land use and GIS, creating data, attending policy conference calls and meetings, as well as participating in post legislative session bill/issue reviews and webinars. Ashley also volunteered with Amanda Bryant, the previous Sea Turtle Program Coordinator, digging up hatched nests and recording the contents of each nest.

                        At Florida Gulf Coast University Ashley worked with Gopher Tortoises using telemetry satellite tracking as well as, assessing population density in urban environments before becoming a research assistant for the SCCF Marine Lab.


                            Ella Rothermel

                            Marine Laboratory Intern

                            Ella Rothermel is a recent graduate of the University of Delaware where she received her B.S. in Marine Science with a concentration in Marine Biology. While at UD, Ella was involved with the mapping and monitoring of Delaware’s valuable coastal habitats using cutting-edge technologies like quadcopters and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). She specialized in benthic ecology and the use of GIS and statistics to characterize changes in faunal assemblages. She is eager to continue her work with habitat assessments and marine conservation at the SCCF Marine Laboratory. Ella hopes to put her mapping and statistical analysis skills to good use as she assists in the lab’s efforts to restore oyster reef and seagrass communities.

                                Dr. David Fugate

                                Visiting Research Scientist

                                David Fugate is an Associate Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. David is collaborating with the SCCF Marine Lab on a project examining sedimentation processes in submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). After completing his doctoral degree at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 2002, he continued as a postdoctoral researcher estimating residence time in a shallow coastal lagoon. Subsequently, he was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. There he examined near bottom stresses and settling velocities of storm water overflow in Flushing Bay, NY, and the transport of contaminated sediment. His work also involved the development of a numerical bedload model of juvenile bivalves that incorporated data from laboratory and field experiments. His current research includes examing seasonal changes in bed shear stress due to biotic factors, and the effect of langmuir cells to vertical mixing of suspended sediment in shallow estuaries.

                                    Dr. E. J. Neafsey

                                    Visiting Research Scientist

                                    EJ Neafsey is a research scientist on the faculty of the University of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Sciences, concentrating in SW FL on the inventory and health assessment of local mangrove ecosystems using active/passive remote sensing, GIS, and field surveys and conducting subaqueous soil surveys of mangrove expansion zones and seagrass beds. He earned his PhD at Cornell University’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences for the dissertation entitled “Enhancing Soil Survey Using Diffuse-Reflectance Spectroscopy,” which focused, in part, on using the technology with subaqueous soils in coastal SE New England.

                                        Dr. Rozalind Jester

                                        Visiting Research Scientist

                                        Dr. Rozalind Jester received her doctorate in Ocean Science in 2008 at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) where she studied as a National Science Foundation Fellow. The focus of her doctoral research was on the food-web ecology of toxin producing algae and specifically those organisms responsible for human seafood poisoning events along the west coast of North America. “Dr. Roz”, as her students know her, made the big move from California to Florida in the fall of 2008 to teach marine science at Edison State College. As a professor her goal is to teach interdisciplinary science by providing hands-on experiences with the ocean, through coursework and student research. By sharing her love of marine biology and passion for ocean conservation she hopes to instill a sense of inquiry and social responsibility in her students. In her down time, Dr. Roz loves to travel and is always up for a trip to the beach of course! Learn more at

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