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. 

  • Andy Shantz Profile

    From the cellular- to the ecosystem-level, Dr. Shantz focuses on understanding how global change impacts the biology and physiology of animals to shape their behavior and functional roles. Along Florida’s “Forgotten Coast”, across the tropics, and all the way to the world’s hottest reefs in the Persian-Arabian Gulf, Dr. Shantz is working to bridge ecological theory and applied ecology to understand how coastal ecosystems function and to improve the management, conservation, and restoration of these vital habitats.

  • P5283403

    PADI OWSI Bobbie Renfro is generally interested in conducting research, teaching, and public outreach related to tropical marine ecology and anthropogenic disturbance. Specifically, her dissertation research explores the effects of nutrient enrichment on Caribbean reef sponges. She is also currently using her PADI Pro skill set to guide volunteer recreational divers on sponge restoration dives to restore the famous Alligator Reef in the Florida Keys with the Islamorada Conservation and Restoration Education group.

  • Rbest Dive Photo

    Graduate student Rachael Best is investigating how gorgonian octocorals in the northeast Gulf of Mexico are able to persist under variable and changing environmental conditions despite being unable to move. Octocorals are distributed globally, yet they are largely understudied. She is working out of the FSU Marine Lab on a species of gorgonian that is prevalent locally to evaluate how mechanisms, such as phenotypic plasticity, are driving observed patterns of their morphology and distribution between inshore and offshore limestone reefs.

  • IMG 9791

    Jackson's research focuses on how the rate of adaptive evolution can be slowed by several factors, particularly multiple life stages (larvae and adults). The rate of adaptive evolution can be used to predict if populations will persist if the rate is fast enough to allow a population to evolve quickly enough to keep up with changes to the environment, such as an increase in temperature and a decrease in pH. Knowing what could influence the rate of adaptive evolution improves our understanding of which populations will remain intact in the future. Additionally, organisms with multiple life stages are rarely studied at all life stages in spite of their abundance (Insects, crabs, sea urchins, oysters, marine gastropods, etc.).

  • Spindel_Sea Urchin

    FSU graduate student Nate Spindel aims to advance our understanding of how food availability, trophic dynamics, and environmental change affect the metabolic ecology of size-structured populations. He currently study benthic marine invertebrates such as urchins and abalone in temperate kelp forest ecosystems as model organisms for understanding these dynamics. In the past, he also studied the physiological ecology of tropical corals and calcifying algae under environmental pressure from ocean acidification.

  • Two Divers with Sponges

    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.

  • Don Diving 2

    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.

  • Brooke_Sandra Collecting

    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: Tuesday, September 6, 2022 at 9:26 AM