Marine Laboratory Director
- B.S. in Biology from Humboldt State University
- Ph.D. in Biology from University of Oregon
Dr. Eric Milbrandt began his career in marine science in northern California at Humboldt State University. A upper level course in Invertebrate Zoology at the Telonicher Marine Laboratory in Trinidad helped inspire a career in marine science. In 1996, he received an NSF REU fellowship to conduct marine research using molecular techniques at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Center for Great Lakes Research under the mentorship of Dr. Chuck Wimpee. This internship led to a directed senior undergraduate research project on disturbance ecology and life history of rocky intertidal seaweeds under the direction of Dr. Frank Shaughnessy.
Dr. Milbrandt went on to pursue a Ph.D. in biology at the University of Oregon. He spent 6 years on the Oregon coast at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, OR with Dr. Lynda Shapiro as his major professor. During his Ph.D., Eric received a Graduate Research Fellowship from the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve to study the microbial ecology of the South Slough Estuary. He was awarded a scholarship while at the U of O to travel to Kindrogen Field Station in Scotland to study freshwater algae taxonomy. While writing his dissertation, he was offered the position of Research Scientist at SCCF. He returned to OIMB to defend in the spring of 2003 and has been contributing to the SCCF Marine Lab ever since.
In Florida, Dr. Milbrandt has established several permanent mangrove forest plots to study the effects of human activities on mangrove reproduction, recruitment and forest structure. He has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles on the recovery of mangroves after hurricane disturbance and the effect of sea level rise on black mangrove recruitment. He has also led several grant-supported efforts to restore the tidal hydrology to Clam Bayou, then to enhance and restore mangrove shorelines. Part of the effort was in collaboration with Drs. Loren Coen, Steve Geiger and others to build oyster reefs and conduct extensive mapping and monitoring.
At SCCF, Dr. Milbrandt established RECON (River Estuary Coastal Observing Network) which is providing Real-time water quality data to scientists, stakeholders and educators. RECON helps SCCF in the policy arena and helps support the collaborative meetings and influences of the Southwest Florida Stakeholders and weekly consultations with the Corps and SFWMD. RECON also enhances research at the lab including in numerous water quality studies around Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in cooperation with the USFWS in J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
In 2011, Dr. Milbrandt was named the third SCCF Marine Laboratory Director. He serves as an editor/reviewer of manuscripts for Estuaries and Coasts, Limnology and Oceanography, Botanica Marina, the Journal of Wetland Ecology and Management, and Hydrobiologia. He is a Graduate Faculty at Florida Gulf Coast University and an affiliate member of the Coastal Watershed Institute. He is also an avid sailor and is campaigning his 26 ft. S2 yacht, Full Tilt, the Caloosahatchee Boat of the Year in 2012 and 2014 and CMCS fleet champion in 2012 and 2014.
Building a new core facility for the Marine Lab has been a priority since the Lab opened its doors in 2002. During his first month on Sanibel, Eric reviewed floor plans and discussed locations for a new lab. An opportunity for a public/private partnership with the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the USFWS to build a new lab ‘on the water’ is underway. The new facility will be elevated at Tarpon Bay with photovoltaic solar power and a rainwater capture system to compliment state-of-the-art lab space. The expected construction of the new facility is 2015.