College of Science & Mathematics
Master of Science in Marine & Environmental Science

2015 Cohort - Current Students

Elizabeth Brown Elizabeth Brown - I was born in Hawaii but grew up in New Mexico. I completed a B.A. in math and studio art at Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles. Then I moved to Seattle to work as a web and graphic designer. I was soon disillusioned with the advertising industry and left to work as a wildland firefighter for the US Forest Service all over the western US for 8 seasons! During the winters I earned a second B.S. in Environmental Science at Oregon State University. During this time I got involved in oceanography and now I will be studying coral disease with Dr. Marilyn Brandt. I will be using the spatial analysis and GIS to analyze patterns of coral disease transmission.
John Cassell John Cassell - John grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. His passion for wildlife began with summers along the Chesapeake Bay; fishing, catching blue crabs, and searching for reptiles in the woods. However, drastic changes in the watershed (deforestation, pollution, overfishing) he observed overtime convinced him to become a conservation biologist. He graduated from Eckerd College in 2012 and has since worked with multiple organisations along the East Coast.
Michele Donihe Michele Donihe - I wasa double major in cell and molecular biology and psychology with a chemistry minor. I love to learn, teach others and be as adventurous as possible.
Mara Duke Mara Duke - My hometown is Minneapolis, MN, but I've lived in Superior, WI for seven years. I'm pretty much terrified of waves, but I've loved everything about the ocean since I was just a little girl.
Allie Durdall Allie Durdall - I'm from St. Cloud, MN. I completed my BS in Biology and Psychology at the University of Madison, WI. From a Marine Biology aspect, my research interests lie broadly within the phylum Cnidaria, although I am fascinated by most all facets of study within the field. I look forward to expanding my knowledge and getting some hands on experience in the MMES program!
Damon Green Damon Green - Hey there everyone, my name is Bo and I'm from Orlando, Florida. I love fishing, beaching, and diving. I'm really stoked to meet new people, learn a whole bunch, and see what this island has to offer. I am always looking for an adventure and I can't wait to explore the islands.
Sarah Heidmann Sarah Heidmann - I grew up in the Bay Area in California, in a family that loves sailing, swimming, boogie boarding, and visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium. After spending a cold year at school in Boston, I transferred to Oregon State University, where I received my Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology. My experiences studying abroad in Bonaire and doing surveys in marine reserves off Oregon’s coast have directed my interests in fish ecology and SCUBA diving. I will be working with Dr. Rick Nemeth acoustically tracking fish and correlating their movements with environmental conditions in Brewer’s Bay on St. Thomas.
Paul Hillbrand Paul Hillbrand - My name is Paul Hillbrand and I graduated with B.S. in Biology from Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri. Then I was selected as a 6 month intern for the Stranding Investigations Program at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Upon completion of my internship I was offered a job in the sea turtle and marine mammal hospital at Mote where I was for the last two years.
Colin Howe Colin Howe - My name is Colin Howe a coral enthusiast and eager new graduate student. My family is originally from the Caribbean and I've enjoyed working and learning about the wonder of the cool sweet waters of the Caribbean. My mom always says "Information fueled with motivation equals success.”
Danielle Lasseigne Danielle Lasseigne - I'm from Southern California, and earned my Bachelor of Marine Science Degree from California State University, Long Beach. I took several years off of school to work for Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in Los Angeles and for The Catalina Experience on Santa Catalina Island as an informal Marine Science Educator. My interests include studying human impacts on coastal marine environments and coral reef communities, and educating the public and help them make positive impacts on the environment. Currently, I am looking to study marine micro-plastics in areas of high human activity and eventually study the impacts of micro-plastics on near shore coral reefs.
Lauren Olinger Lauren Olinger - Moved to Miami after high school to attend the University of Miami. While there, I got my undergraduate degree in marine biology. A few of my interests include SCUBA diving, drawing, and science fiction books and movies. I live here with my lovely cat, Taco.
Tanya Ramseyer Tanya Ramseyer - I was born in Colorado, and raised in Virginia. I recently lived in Florida, and spent some time traveling to Belize, Dry Tortugas, and Florida Keys. I earned a B.S. in Biology from Old Dominion University in VA (2013). I have always had an affinity for the ocean, but something about the tropical corals of the USVI drew me in. I am excited to explore thesis ideas with Tyler Smith while assisting with TCRMP and Ciguatera surveys. I would like to focus my efforts on learning more about the impact of macroalgae on coral reefs around the Virgin Islands.
Mareike Romero Mareike Romero - I am a citizen of the world, with my roots embedded in Germany and Mexico. Despite being landlocked in the second biggest city of the world, Mexico City, I have always had a keen interest in animals and the ocean. Thus bringing me to Humboldt State University in California to complete my undergraduate studies in Marine Biology and Zoology. My main interest is to understand how climate change and human impacts affect the behavior of animals. My thesis topic will be looking at fish migration patterns in St. Thomas and how it is affected by environmental factors (ie rain, temperature, sedimentation, El Niño) and possibly look at other behavioral changes in fish due to these environmental fluctuations. 
Sara Thomas Sara Thomas - I grew up in Tennessee but moved to Sarasota, Florida in high school to pursue my love of marine biology closer to the ocean. In April 2015, I graduated from Florida Atlantic University in Jupiter, FL with a Bachelor’s in Marine Biology and minor in Environmental Science. During high school and college, I worked with dolphins and sea turtles but while doing my undergraduate thesis on lionfish, I fell in love with fish biology and fisheries sustainability, therein finding my niche within marine biology.  A few months after graduating FAU, I moved to St. Thomas to attend the University of the Virgin Islands, where I am working with Dr. Rick Nemeth as a research assistant. My thesis will most likely be focused on the queen triggerfish spawning aggregation here in the territory and studying their reproductive characteristics. After completing my Masters, I hope to work for a state or federal fish and wildlife agency as a fisheries biologist to ensure the sustainability of fisheries regulations. In my spare time, I enjoy doing my two favorite things in the world: watching Lord of the Rings and doing Sudoku puzzles, but I also love to snorkel, scuba dive, and talk to my family.

2014 Cohort - Current Students

MMES Student Photo Jan-Alexis Barry - I hail from the island of St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands and I am a Masters student in marine biology at the University of the Virgin Islands Masters in Marine and Environmental Science Program. I am the eldest of five, the first in my family to graduate from college, and I’m an easy going guy who loves trying great food, traveling, and gets really excited about fish or pretty much anything fish related. My proposed thesis project involves the parasite Anilocra chromis and its interactions with the host fish species Chromis cyanea and Chromis multillineata. My interest stems from personal observations on the parasite being found on one species in St. Thomas, but being on the other species while it is further up the Caribbean. What is peculiar is the fact that both hosts occur in the same areas. I want to figure out why this is and I am taking a genetic approach to the question by trying to figure out if they are the same species, because when the parasite was first described genetic analysis did not exist and so it may be a new species that was mislabelled simply due to an old classification method.
MMES Student Photo Alexandria deJarnett - I grew up in southern California and transferred to UVI as a junior in 2011, where I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology. I have always been interested in marine mammals and have completed internships at Dolphin Discovery in Tortola, BVI and Coral World Ocean Park in St. Thomas, USVI. I'm currently interning with the Coral Bay Community Council in St. John where I'm evaluating shipwrecks in the bay to determine if they can be removed without affecting the surrounding habitats and species. I will be using this internship project for my thesis and looking at blowouts in seagrass beds and determining if there will be any affects before, after, and during the removal of the shipwrecks.
MMES Student Photo Kari Gehrke - I am from Southern California and received my Marine Biology degree from the San Francisco State University. My current thesis will be on finding the home range of the green sea turtle here in Brewers bay St. Thomas. I will be using acoustic telemetry to be able to help in the estimation of the abundance of green sea turtles that use the bay. In order to do this research I will be catching the sea turtles in the water and attaching tags. I will hopefully be able to get genetic samples along with isotope samples for further research. I will also be continuing with my PhD after I complete my thesis. 
MMES Student Photo Haley Goodson - Haley was born and raised in Texas, but escaped her landlocked blues and chased her nautical dreams out east to Pensacola, FL where she attained her B.A. in Anthropology/Archaeology with a focus in Nautical Archaeology at the University of West Florida. While working on her undergrad degree at UWF, Haley volunteered with the Share the Beach program in Gulf Shores, Alabama where she participated in ensuring the overall hatchling success of Kemp’s Ridley and Loggerhead sea turtles along the lower Alabama coast, which stemmed her desire for future work protecting endangered sea turtle species. After graduation from UWF, she traveled to the Caribbean to focus her studies on the anthropogenic climate change affecting the available nesting beaches of sea turtles for her Master’s work at the University of the Virgin Islands.
MMES Student Photo Sarah Groves - I was raised in a sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving loving family in Tallahassee, Florida.  After earning a BA in Sociology from Florida State University, I moved to St. John, Virgin Islands, planning to spend a year.  A year in the Virgin Islands turned into a two-year sailing trip that roamed from Martha’s Vineyard, to Grenada, through Panama and the Galapagos and finally landed in Hawaii by way of the Marquesas.  After returning to the Virgin Islands, my interests shifted to the marine environment and brought me to UVI.  I will be working with Tyler Smith identifying and mapping additional Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems surrounding St. Thomas and exploring the physical factors that define each system.     

Previous Cohorts - Current Students

  • Kurt Alexander - II was raised on the island of St. Croix and I graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands with B.S. in Biology in May 2010. I am now a full-time student in the MMES program at UVI. My interests include microbiology and recently coral disease. My thesis project will most likely focus on coral disease. Though much research has been done using field studies, I wish to work in the laboratory. I am very much interested in the microorganisms associated with coral diseases and also the spread of disease among coral colonies. The direction my future will go is still unknown to me; I may go on to get a Ph.D. in microbiology, continue research on coral disease, or pursue a degree in biomedical research.
  • Madeleine Arencibia ­- Madeleine grew up in Northern Virginia and completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology at The College of William and Mary (Class of 2013). While at William and Mary, she participated in a research program focused on bacteriophage that was funded by The Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She also worked with a graduate student in the Marine Biodiversity lab at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Through her classes and experiences she narrowed down her interests to the physiology and physical ecology of marine mammals. In order to pursue this desire, she came to the Virgin Islands to attend UVI and work with Dr. Paul Jobsis. She is currently conducting research on the metabolic rate and aerobic dive limit of the South American sea lions at Coral World Ocean Park.
  • Sara Aubrey - Sara received a bachelor’s degree in Animal Biology at the University of California, Davis in 2006. Her coursework included conservation and environmental policy. She has spent time conducting field and laboratory research both in the sea and on land for a number of projects around the world. Currently within the MMES program she is studying feeding strategies of a major reef building coral as a result of changes in environmental conditions. Her research interests also include investigating mangroves as important habitats in the life histories of commercial fish. Ultimately she'd like to perform research to aid in natural resource management. After earning her Masters degree she hopes to work in St. Thomas and use her newly gained knowledge to give back to the community.
  • Hema Balkaran - Hema was born on the island of Trinidad, where she completed high school and then moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands. She achieved a B. S. degree in Biology at the University of the Virgin Islands in 2012. During her undergraduate, she was a MBRS-RISE scholar which granted her many research opportunities. She travelled to several universities, where she conducted research mostly in the genetic field. Hema has also conducted research at UVI, most of which was done with Dr. Alice Stanford, where she looked at the allele variation in a number of differing banana varieties.  After graduating from UVI, she was positioned as a research analyst for Geographic Consulting, where she worked with Brian Daley on St. Croix on studying the growth of native trees on a variety of soil types. She’s now a graduate student at UVI obtaining a masters’ degree in marine and environmental science. Her research includes looking at the genetic population of the velvety free-tailed bat, Molossus molossus, among St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John for conservation of their species. She love animals and believes that they are so awesome!!!
  • Victoria Beasley - Victoria Beasley grew up in Williamston, Michigan where her interest in biology began. She continued her education at Western State Colorado University and attained a degree in Cellular Biology. After spending 6 months in the small country of the Seychelles she traveled to St. Thomas to become a part of the MMES program. Her research will be dealing with bacterial pathogens causing coral disease.
  • Jonathan Brown - As a graduate student, Jonathan is learning the applied science of studying reef fish spawning aggregations from Dr. Richard Nemeth and Elizabeth Kadison.  As a best management approach he integrates local and traditional knowledge with western science.  His current study identifies movement patterns of individuals aggregating to spawn for better understanding the effectiveness of an area closure with their spatial relationship.  His study design involves establishing and maintaining an acoustic array, profiling ocean currents, and monitoring fish acoustics.  Jonathan also performs underwater surveys via technical nitrox diving and collects biometrics for assessing the aggregation's reproductive fitness.  If his findings are significant the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council and the Department of Planning and Natural Resources may adopt them as management recommendations for protecting areas where reef fish aggregate to spawn.
  • Scott Eanes - I am from the great state of California and the even better city of Alameda. I am an educational product of the most exceptional university in the modern world: the University of Oregon. All joking aside, I am a very proud duck and it was after a semester abroad and a trip through New Zealand and Australia that I discovered my passion for sea turtles. I have worked with Kemp's Ridley, Hawksbill and Leatherback sea turtles in South Texas, Barbados, and Grenada. My thesis project will investigate the in-water movement, sex ratio, and genetics of the juvenile population of Hawksbill sea turtles around the Cyril E. King runway on St. Thomas. A smarter person than me once told me to go to grad school where, "you can study exactly what you want to study."ï The University of the Virgin Islands gives me that opportunity.  Scott was the 2011 MMES student representative.
  • Frank Galdo - I completed an undergraduate degree in Marine Science at Eckerd College, on the Gulf Coast of FL. Since moving to St. Thomas in 2007, I have worked as a lead guide and photographer for VI Ecotours, which has given me the opportunity to share the wonders of the underwater world with people young and old, and to teach people from all walks of life about the issues facing our fragile marine ecosystems. My goal in studying marine science is to help ensure that the marine life that I have seen will continue to thrive for generations to come. My key research interest involves understanding the linkages between runoff and the degradation of the coastal marine ecosystems. When not studying, I am an avid photographer, musician, hiker, kayaker, diver, gardener, and culinary adventurer.
  • Ariel Hawkins - Ariel Hawkins grew up in the military and enjoyed a life of constant travel. She earned a dual B.A. degree in Biology and Environmental Science at Tusculum College in East Tennessee with the goal of establishing a strong scientific base with which to pursue a Master's degree in marine science. Her research interest is in the environmental factors affecting the larval dispersal dimorphism in Opistobranch photosynthetic sea slugs here in the Virgin Islands.
  • Sam Mitchell - Sam Mitchell was born and raised in Hightstown NJ and spent his childhood there. He graduated Hightstown High School and attended his undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. There he assisted turtle biologist Peter Meylan in research on the green sea turtle and he also worked as an intern at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve studying the local gopher tortoise population. He now is in the Marine Bio and Environmental Science masters program and works as the research assistant for the University of St. Thomas's VIMAS program. The focus of his thesis is the return of green sea turtles to Brewer's Bay St. Thomas in relation to the return of seagrass beds to the bay.
  • Pedro Nieves - Pedro was born on the island of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. He attended Lockhart Elementary School then Addelita Cancryn Junior H.S. and graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School. class of '95. He furthered his education by attending the University of the Virgin Islands, spending time at Jacksonville University, FL but ultimately returning to graduate with a B.S. in Marine Biology from UVI. Pedro has worked in many marine related fields such as Coral World where he was a Greeter, SeaTrek operator (guiding guest/non-divers on helmet dives), and Aquarist, maintaining the animals and plants and their exhibits. Currently, he continues to focus his energy on preserving our islands' beauty by serving as a Geographic Information System Coordinator for the Coastal Zone Management, DPNR. Pedro lives with his wife and two boys on the island of St. Thomas.
  • Maggie Rios - I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a minor in Biology. I am originally from Southern California and have always had a love for all things marine. In 2010, I spent about five months in Monteverde, Costa Rica for a study abroad program in which I participated in an Internship with ProNativas, an NGO that is interested in doing educational outreach about the importance of native plant species in Costa Rica. I conducted a baseline study for the organization on the potential of invasive plant species in Monteverde. Through this opportunity, I was also able to participate in some other research opportunities that took me to the coast.  I will be looking at the affects of human activity (boat engine noise) on the movement patterns of juvenile Blacktip sharks in their nursery habitats on St. Thomas and St. John, USVI. 
  • Joseph Sellers - My name is Joe Sellers and I am from Arkansas.  I performed my undergraduate work at Arkansas State University receiving Bachelor degrees in both Zoology and Wildlife Management and Ecology. I have always been interested in ecology, biology, and marine systems.  For the last 4 years I have done research with fish parasites in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  I was accepted to the masters of marine and environmental science program in 2013 where I have continued my research interests, the parasitic isopods known as gnathiids.  I am currently investigating individual and combined effects of gnathiids and haemogregarines on fish in the Caribbean.
  • Gabriel Sello - Gabriel Sello was born on the island of St. Croix, U.S Virgin Islands.  She attended the University of the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas), where she obtained a bachelor’s of science in General Biology. At UVI, she conducted research under the tutelage of Dr. Alice Stanford on the DNA extraction and amplification of Rhizophora mangleLaguncularia racemosa, and Conocarpus erectus; three mangrove species found throughout the U.S Virgin Islands and other islands of  the Caribbean. She has also conducted research at the University of Florida, under Dr. Stephanie Karst, on the Norovirus VP2 protein.  Research has always been important to her.  Thus, she decided to apply to the Master’s program at the University of the Virgin Islands in Marine and Environmental Science to further her education and to obtain the tools that would allow her to have a greater impact on her community.  While at UVI, she is interested in studying population dynamics of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the vector of Dengue Virus.
  • Moriah Sevier - Moriah is the 2012-13 MMES student representative.  Moriah Sevier grew up in the redwoods of Northern California. She moved to Santa Cruz California in order to attend Cabrillo Community College and University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). Her studies were focused on temperate marine systems including kelp forests.  She graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in two areas:  Marine Biology and Ecology & Evolution. After graduation she spent three years working as an independent contractor, a SCUBA technician for UCSC, a mooring technician with Oregon State University, and as a laboratory technician at Cabrillo Community College. She also spent four months as a lab and field volunteer studying the effects of nutrient input in the coralline system for a PhD student in Curacao at the Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity field station.  Moriah has decided to attend University of Virgin Islands (UVI) and enter the Masters of Marine and Environmental Science (MMES) program because it offers her the opportunity to further her understanding of warm water ecosystems. The beautiful island, small cohort size, fantastic professors, and the chance develop her own research project all influenced her decision to study at UVI.  For her thesis she is interested in studying land sea interactions, specifically the relationship between gorgonian disease and anthropogenic inputs into the marine realm.
  • Ashley Ruffo - In 2008 I graduated from the University of North Carolina - Wilmington with a BS in Marine Biology and a minor in Chemistry. At UNCW's Center for Marine Science I worked in the Ichthyology and Fish Ecology lab working on a collaborative research study analyzing the effects of beach renourishment on the coastal ecosystem at Wrightsville Beach, NC. I was also involved with studies evaluating the biological health of fishes utilizing tidal creek habitats along with monitoring bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) recruitment in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway determining the establishment of a Marine Protected Area. Here at UVI I am actively involved as a research assistant in a National Science Foundation funded research study of the cognitive, social, and behavioral characteristics of creative problem solving under Dr. Donald Drost and Dr. Kostas Alexandridis. My thesis work is focused on a known yellowtail parrotfish (Sparisoma rubripinne) spawning aggregation site located in Reef Bay off the coast of St John under the advisement of Dr. Rick Nemeth. The existence of this aggregation has been documented and it has been observed that fish congregate at the same site and spawn around the same time every day. It is my goal to gain an understanding of the movement and spatial patterns of individuals visiting the site. In my spare time I enjoy listening to music and running around the island" literally, running, and anything else that keeps me physically active!
  • Kayla Tennent - I am from St. Augustine, Florida…the “oldest city in the nation…besides the territories.” I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Flagler College, with a major in Education and a minor in Environmental Science. During my undergraduate research I worked on designing a conservation plan for Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias). I am currently working on publishing a paper on the documentation and distribution of Red Mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) as baseline data in northeast Florida. Before moving to St. Thomas, I taught elementary school and was the science coordinator for environmental science club. I absolutely love teaching science, but I am also very passionate about research and outreach. I enjoy conservation efforts, and being in the field. I came to UVI to gain more research experience, as well as to experience the culture of Caribbean. As a result of my research, I hope to fill research needs and make a positive change in U.S Virgin Islands. Because I try to spend the majority of my time of the beach and I am always picking up trash, I asked how much trash accumulates on our beaches and how persistent is it? That led me to investigate the prevalence or abundance of debris on beaches in St. Thomas, with hopes of starting an anti-littering campaign to raise awareness and ultimately decrease litter from beaches and oceans. In my free time, I enjoy snorkeling, free diving, hiking, photography, gardening, surfing, reading, camping, trying new foods, going to the farmers market, and traveling.  
  • Nikki Thompson - I was born and raised on the island of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2010, I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of the Virgin Islands with a B.S in Biology. During undergraduate studies, I worked in Dr. Richard Hall's lab studying the neurophysiology of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster. Also, I interned at the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources in the Division of Fish and Wildlife, where one day I hope to gain a full-time position using the resource management skills gained from the MMES program to better my community. One reason I chose to continue my education here at UVI is to be able to have a better understanding of the environmental issues that the V.I is faced with, and someday work to help implement better management plans that would allow the continuing existence of the current ecosystems and diverse organisms here in the V.I. for future generations to enjoy. Therefore, I am interested in wildlife biology, marine biology, and environmental education. While in the MMES program, I plan to conduct my thesis on the invasive species, the lionfish.
  • Logan Michelle Williams - I was born and raised on St. Thomas and earned my Bachelor’s of Science degree at Eckerd College where I majored in marine science. I am now a student in the MMES program at the University of the Virgin Islands. For my thesis, I will look at how white plague disease is transmitted between different species of coral. In the future, I would like to continue my research on coral disease epidemiology.


  • Chris Settar '08 - Chris was the first graduate of the MMES Program. She defended her thesis, entitled 'Coral Reefs and Residents of the US Virgin Islands: A Relationship of Knowledge, Outdoor Activities and Stewardship' in April 2009. Her advisor was Dr. Teresa Turner. Since graduating Chris has been working as the Marine Stewardship Coordinator for the UVI Sea Grant marine Outreach Program. She can be contacted at
    • Publication:  Settar, C. and T. Turner. 2010. Coral reefs and residents of the US Virgin Islands: A relationship of knowledge, outdoor activities and stewardship. Rev. Biol. Trop. 58 (Suppl 3): 197-212          
  • Allan Bright '09 - Allan defended his thesis entitled 'The effect of swell-generated physical damage on disease prevalence and asexual reproduction in the coral Acropora palmata (Lamarck)' in July 2009. His major advisor was Dr. Rick Nemeth. Since graduating Allan has been working as a Research Associate at the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center. He can be contacted at
  • Ian Lundgren '09 - Ian defended his thesis entitled 'Relation of abiotic conditions to hatch success for relocated Hawksbill sea turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata, nests at Buck Island, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands' in October 2009. His advisor was Dr. Paul Jobsis. Since graduating he has continued to work as a Biologist for the National Park Service on St. Croix. He can be contacted at
  • Steven Hitt '10 - Steven defended his thesis entitled 'Quantifying the migration behavior and space use patterns of Haemulon sciurus and Lutjanus apodus across US Virgin Island seascapes' in August 2010. His major advisor was Dr. Rick Nemeth. Steven is now an Environmental Analyst with Kimley-Horn and Associates, a consulting firm in Florida. He can be contacted at
    • Publication:  Hitt, S., Pittman, S.J., Brown, K.A. 2011. Tracking and mapping of sun-synchronous migrations and diel use patterns of Haemulon sciurus and Lutjanus apodus in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Environ Biol Fish 92:525-538. DOI 10.1007/s10641-011-9875-2
    • Publication:  Hitt S., Pittman S.J., Nemeth R.S. 2011. Diel movements of fish are linked to benthic seascape structure in a Caribbean coral reef ecosystem. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 427: 275–291. doi: 10.3354/meps09139
  • Eddie Parish '10 - Eddie defended his thesis in December 2010. His major advisor was Dr. Teresa Turner. He can be contacted at
  • Christina Colletti '11 - Christina defended her thesis entitled 'The effects of seascape structure on the spatial distribution of juvenile fish within Benner Bay Mangrove Lagoon, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands' in April 2011. Her major advisors were Dr. Simon Pittman and Dr. Rick Nemeth. She can be contacted at
  • Bryan Legare '11 - Bryan defended his thesis entitled 'Juvenile Blacktip Shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) and Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris) movements within two nursery areas of St. John, US Virgin Islands (USVI)' in November 2011. His major advisor was Dr. Rick Nemeth. He can be contacted at
  • Chris Loeffler '11 - Chris defended his thesis entitled 'The interactions of depth, grazing and addition of nutrients on the abundance and distribution of Gambierdiscus spp.' in December 2011. His major advisor was Dr. Tyler Smith. Chris is continuing to do research on ciguatera poisoning at the FDA in Louisiana. Chris can be contacted at
  • Steve McCauley '11 - Steve defended his thesis entitled 'Understanding differences in recovering Diadema antillarum densities following mass-mortality in the Caribbean: Testing hypotheses in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands' in April 2011. His major advisor was Dr. Teresa Turner. He can be contacted at
  • Gabriel Renchen '11 - Gabby defended her thesis entitled 'Assessing the impact of derelict fish traps in the US Virgin Islands' in April 2011. Her major advisors were Dr. Simon Pittman and Dr. Angela Dikou. She is working as a biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. She can be contacted at
  • Shruti Arora '12 - Shruti defended her thesis entitled ‘Diversity of bacteria associated with the Montastraea annularis species complex across a seawater quality gradient in the United States Virgin Islands’ in April of 2012. Her major advisor was Dr. Marilyn Brandt.
  • Leslie Henderson '12 - Leslie defended her thesis entitled ‘The relative importance of nutrients and herbivory on benthic community structure: Nearshore vs. offshore reefs’ in April of 2012. Her major advisor was Angela Dikou. She is currently the Coral Reef Initiative Coordinator for the USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources. She can be contacted at
  • Sophia McKenzie '12 - Sophia defended her thesis entitled ‘Influence of biophysical processes on the distribution of coal communities in Hurricane Hole, St. John, United States Virgin Islands’ in November of 2012. Her major advisor was Nasseer Idrisi.
  • Jeff Renchen '12 - Jeff defended his thesis entitled ‘Inter- and intra-population diversity of red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle L. ) in the U.S. Virgin Islands and northern Jamaica’ in April of 2012. His major advisor was Alice Stanford.
  • Sean Richardson '12 - Sean defended his thesis entitled ‘The effect of the exotic invasive plant Bromelia pinguin on the floristic composition of dry forests in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands’ in April of 2012. His major advisor was Dr. Alice Stanford.  He can be contacted at
  • Rob Brewer '13 - Rob defended his thesis entitled ‘Caribbean hybrid Acropora prolifera viability restricted to shallow reef zones’ in February 2013. His major advisor was Tyler Smith. He can be contacted at
  • Elizabeth Clemens '13 - Liz defended her thesis entitled ‘Investigating the transmissibility of the coral disease, white plague’ in April of 2013. Her major advisor was Marilyn Brandt. She can be contacted at
  • LeAnn Conlon '13 - LeAnn defended her thesis entitled ‘Effects of climate change on coral reef benthic-pelagic coupling in a tropical coastal ecosystem: a theoretical study’ in April of 2012. Her major advisors were Nasseer Idrisi and Tyler Smith. She can be contacted at
  • Matthew Cring '13 – Matthew defended his thesis entitled “Population structure of the Greater Bulldog Bat.”
  • Brittney Honisch '13 - Brittney defended her thesis entitled ‘Chronic impacts of land-based sources of pollution on coral health in the U.S. Virgin Islands’ in April of 2013. Her major advisor was Tyler Smith. She can be contacted at
  • Matthew Kamman '13 - Matt defended his thesis entitled ‘Macroalgal overgrowth on coral health across the U.S. Virgin Islands’ in May 2013. His major advisor was Tyler Smith.
  • Elena Kobrinski '13 – Elena defended her thesis entitled “A descriptive cross-sectional research study of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands: an introspective look at the local participation in tourism, experiential social learning, and survey participant attitudes about coral reefs and nature.”  She can be contacted at
  • Lia Ortiz '13 – Lia defended her thesis entitled “The social structure of the USVI fishing community: A basis for reducing fishery ecosystem and resource vulnerabilities, while improving chances for sustainability.”
  • Clayton Pollock '13 - Clayton defended his thesis entitled ‘Abundance and distribution of sea turtles at Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, USVI’ in April 2013. His major advisor was Paul Jobsis.
  • Alexis Sabine '13 - Alexis defended her thesis entitled ‘Impact of environmental factors on recovery of coral lesions in the U.S. Virgin Islands’ in April of 2013. Her major advisor was Marilyn Brandt. She can be contacted at
  • Alex Webb '13 – Alex defended his thesis entitled “Community Perspectives on Sustainability in a Social-Ecological Paradigm.”
  • Zach Whitener '13 – Zach defended his thesis entitled “Factors affecting the colonization of coral rubble by motile cryptic invertebrates on fringing reefs of St. Thomas, USVI.”
  • Rosmin Ennis ’14 - Rosmin defended her thesis entitled “Coral reef health responses to chronic and acute changes in water quality gradients in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands” in April 2014. Her major advisor was Tyler Smith. She can be contacted at .
  • Howard Forbes ’14 – Howard defended his thesis entitled “Using biogeochemistry and phytochemistry to better assess and understand rhizophora mangle (red mangrove) ecosystems in the Virgin Islands” in April 2014. His major advisor was Michael Doyle. He is currently the Coordinator for the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service. He can be contacted at 
  • Jon Jossart '14 - Jon defended his thesis entitled "Modeling a yellowfin grouper (Mycteroperca venenosa) spawning aggregation with passive acoustic telemetry on the Grammanik Bank, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands" in November 2014. His major advisor was Richard Nemeth. He can be contacted at
  • Jennifer Kisabeth '14 - Jen defended her thesis entitled "Cruise ship induced sediment resuspension characteristics in Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the West Gregorie Channel, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands" in December 2014. Her major advisor was Tyler Smith. She can be contacted at
  • Viktor Brandtneris '15 - Viktor defended his thesis entitled "An examination of seasonal variability in energy content among reef habitats" in March 2015. His major advisor was Tyler Smith. He can be reached at
  • Christopher Biggs '15 - Chris defended his thesis entitled "Multi-scale spatio-temporal dynamics of dog snapper Lutjanis jocu and Cubera snapper Lurtjanus cyanopterus spawning aggregations" in April 2015. His major advisor was Richard Nemeth. He can be contacted at
  • Tyler Grespin '15 - Tyler defended his thesis entitled "Low level of population structure detected by microsatellites in red hind, Epinephelus guttatus, collected from spawning aggregations in the northeastern Lesser Antilles" in April 2015. His major advisor was Sandra Romano. He can be contacted at
  • Katie Baltzer '15 - Katie defended her thesis entitled "Investigating sub-lethal effects of Caribbean ciguatoxin (C-CTX) on zebrafish (Danio rerio) behavior" in April 2015. Her major advisor was Tyler Smith. She can be reached at
  • Jessica Keller '15 - Jess defended her thesis entitled "Groundwater and sediment analyses of a mangrove swamp near Bovoni landfill, St. Thomas, USVI" in April 2015. Her major advisor was Renata Platenberg. She can be reached at