Meet the Scientific Divers

The Scientific Divers at Florida State University conduct research from the blackwater rivers of northwest Florida to the coral reefs of French Polynesia.  Let us introduce you to these incredible scientists and the star stuff that helps make Florida State University one of the top idea incubators in the nation. 

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    Dr. Scott Burgess is a marine ecologist. His research focuses on larval dispersal, reproductive strategies, and adaptation in organisms such as corals and bryozoans, among others. He conducts field experiments and surveys using SCUBA in coastal waters off the FSUCML and at Moorea, French Polynesia.

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    FSU graduate student Ethan Cissell is documenting the short-term bloom dynamics of benthic cyanobacterial mats on the coral reefs in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. Benthic cyanobacterial mats are increasing in cover on coral reefs worldwide, and pose numerous threats to overall reef health. His research seeks a better understanding of the persistence and resilience of these mats.

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    Dr. Don Levitan’s diverse research on sea urchins includes conducting field experiments on gamete fertilization and reproductive isolation, molecular studies of paternity, hybridization and protein evolution, phylogenetic analysis of trait evolution as well as theoretical explorations of sexual selection and gamete evolution. He conducts research at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Center (British Columbia); the Virgin Islands Research Station in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and at the Smithsonian field stations in Panama and Belize.

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    Barry Walton focuses on the spatial ecology and movement patterns of two Ariid catfish species found throughout the southeastern U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico (Ariopsis felis and Bagre marinus). To conduct his research, he heavily relies upon the use of SCUBA to deploy and maintain a large array of ultrasonic acoustic receivers within Apalachicola Bay and adjacent waters. This array of acoustic receivers enables him to track fish movements within the bay and will allow him to answer several questions that will further our understanding of these species.

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    Abigail Engleman’s research is aimed at incorporating coral recruitment needs into artificial substrates. Incorporating the use of recent technologies, such as 3D modeling and 3D printing, makes substrate design and manufacturing easier, faster, and more efficient than ever before. By combining characteristics that attract coral settlement with features known to enhance survival to recruitment, substrates can be designed to optimize the percent of larvae that recruit to a reef, improving restoration efforts and kick-starting ecosystem recovery.

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    Dr. Sarah Lester’s current research focuses on the effectiveness of marine protected areas, designing ocean zoning and fisheries management around small island states, understanding global marine aquaculture development, mapping ecosystem services from seagrass habitats, and examining feedbacks and linkages between fisher behavior and coral reef ecosystems. She is engaged in underwater research in seagrass beds along the Florida Gulf Coast and coral reefs in Moorea, French Polynesia.

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    Dr. Huettel’s research addresses the cycling of carbon and nitrogen in the coastal ocean. A primary interest is the flux of oxygen across the sediment – water interface because oxygen consumption is a good proxy for organic carbon mineralization in marine sediments. This flux is measured with instrumentation that he has developed with his colleague, Dr. Peter Berg (University of Virginia). One of the primary study sites for this research is in the Florida Keys.

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    Dr. Sandra Brooke's research primarily focuses on sessile benthic fauna associated with hard-bottom habitats and chemosynthetic ecosystems. She has worked throughout the US Pacific and Atlantic coasts including the Gulf of Mexico and also in international waters off Costa Rica, Samoa, Bahamas and Italy. Research topics include characterization of communities associated with shallow and deep sea habitats and biology of benthic invertebrates.


Last Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 2:44 PM