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 what makes Florida State University one of the top idea incubators in the nation. 

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    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.

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    Divemaster and graduate student Adin Nahoa Domen's research interests are developing around how the local marine communities are adjusting and adapting to oyster reef restoration efforts done by the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative.

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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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    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.

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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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    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.

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    Dr. Markus 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.


Last Updated: Monday, June 3, 2024 at 9:00 AM