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ECSC Director

Michael D. Abazinge, Ph.D. (Florida A&M University)

Professor, School of the Environment


Dr. Abazinge is the Director of the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science from Florida A&M University and a Master of Science Degree and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Physiology and Nutrition from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Abazinge has a strong background in biochemistry, microbiology and physiology of microbes. His expertise includes Nucleic Acids and DNA manipulation and enzyme production. Additionally, he has experience with the interrelationships between soils, plants and animals and the metabolism of nutrients, particularly metals. His research focus has been in the bioconversion of cellulosic materials and evaluating the biochemical pathways to enhance their degradation. His Master of Science Degree thesis addressed nutrient cycling and stability of dairy waste and his dissertation delineated the pathway for stabilizing seafood processing waste and evaluating the microbes and pathway(s) responsible for the “fishy” odor in the waste. After graduation, he took an appointment as Assistant Professor, Florida A&M University, Division of Agricultural Science and rose through the ranks as Associate and later as Full Professor in the School of the Environment. During his tenure, he has been involved in teaching, research and university/community service. Grantsmanship is a critical component in the training of graduate students and he has been very successful in this regard. He has also served his community and professional organizations and currently is serving as a member of the Science Advisory Committee (SAC) for the City of Tallahassee. Professionally, he serves as a reviewer for a number of Journals, notably the Journal of Bioremediation and served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Restoration. In addition, his research experiences have been expanded to include international work. In this regard, he has collaborated with scientists in other institutions, notably the University of Ghana and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Ghana, West Africa. These collaborations have resulted in Master’s theses and publications.

ECSC Deputy Director / Education and Outreach Lead

Bernadette Kelley, Ed.D. (Florida A&M University)

Associate Professor, College of Education, Department of Secondary Education, Technology Education, and Foundations


Dr. Kelley is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Florida A&M University since 1995. Dr. Kelley currently also serves as the Deputy Director and Education Outreach Lead for the NOAA Educational Partnership Program Environmental Cooperative Science Center. Dr. Kelley has been associated with the ECSC since 2002. Dr. Kelley has received grants from the Department of State, the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the U. S. Department of Education all in support of STEM education. Her research interest includes the incorporation of technology into education, teaching via distance learning, and educational reform and renewal.

ECSC Distinguished Scientist

Charles H. Jagoe, Ph. D. (Florida A&M University)

Distinguished Professor, School of the Environment


Dr. Charles Jagoe is an ecotoxicologist interested in the effects of pollutants and other anthropogenic stresses on organisms and ecosystems and currently studies the cycling, accumulation and effects of toxic compounds in the environment. He is interested in 1) environmental processes controlling contaminant speciation, bioavailability and bioaccumulation; 2) biomarkers of contaminant exposure and stress; 3) applications of transgenic and invertebrate models in environmental toxicology; 4) risk assessment as applied to ecological problems, and 5) radio ecology. Dr. Jagoe's current work includes studies of the impacts of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, mercury biogeochemistry and effects in coastal and estuarine systems, effects of pollutants on fish and wildlife, interactions among microbes and contaminants, and applications of remote sensing to assess environmental changes.


Randall S. Abate, J.D. (Florida A&M University College of Law)

Associate Professor and Director, Center of International Law and Justice


Professor Abate is an associate professor of law with a J.D. and M.S.E.L. (Environmental Law and Policy) from Vermont Law School. He teaches Constitutional Law I and II and several electives in domestic and international environmental law, including Ocean and Coastal Law. He is Project Director of the Environment, Development & Justice Program at the College of Law where he serves as academic advisor for students seeking to pursue course work, internships, and careers in international and environmental law. His research interests include international environmental law and climate change law and policy, with an emphasis on climate change impacts on human rights and indigenous peoples.

Robert Abrams, J.D. (Florida A&M University College of Law)

Professor of Law, Environmental & Water Law/Decision & Policy Tools


Professor Abrams serves as the head of the Policy and Decision Tools Focus Area of the ECSC. He is a nationally recognized expert of water resources law. He is co-author of Legal Control of Water Resources, one of the leading texts on the subject that is going into its 5th edition. He also is co-author of a casebook on Environmental Law. He is active in the American Bar Association, Water Resources Committee, where he has been in a leadership position for two decades. Professor Abrams is a Life Member of the American Law Institute.

Carlos Cintra Buenrostro, Ph.D. (University of Texas - Brownsville)

Assistant Professor, Environmental Science/Ecological Processes


Dr. Cintra Buenrostro is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science with a Ph.D. in Marine Paleoecology from the University of Arizona. His research expertise includes Biotic responses to environmental change, artificial reef monitoring and development, biogeography, ecology, evolution, taxonomy and paleontology of marine macroinvertebrates (mainly corals, echinoderms and mollusks).

Fengxiang Han, Ph.D. (Jackson State University)

Assistant Professor, Environmental Chemistry, Biogeochemistry/Ecological Processes, Risk Assessment


Dr. Han is an assistant professor of Environmental Chemistry/Biogeochemistry with a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Dr. Han’s current research focuses on Environmental Chemistry and Biogeochemistry of nutrients, trace elements, heavy metals and radionuclides (N, P, S, C, Hg, As, Se, Cr, Cu, Pb, Ni, Zn, Cd, Sr, Cs and U), wetland biogeochemistry, phytoremediation of polluted soil and water, carbon sequestration and global warming. He is currently in Editorial Board of Water, Air, & Soil Pollution; Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation; and Soil & Sediment Contamination.

Christopher M. Heckscher , Ph.D. (Delaware State University)

Assistant Professor, Entomology and Wildlife Ecology


Dr. Heckscher has three broad interests: 1) avian behavioral ecology (esp. acoustic communication and reproductive behavior); 2) biogeography of rare terrestrial-associated invertebrates; 3) structure, function, and conservation of rare ecosystem or natural community types. His primary research interests focus on the natural functioning of systems so that we may fully understand the potential effects of anthropogenic stressors (e.g., fragmentation, toxins, sea-level rise). Currently, Dr. Heckscher is studying the migratory, wintering, and reproductive biology of the Veery (Catharus fuscescens) in part to relate these phenomena to variation in climate. He is also studying the occurrence of Photuris fireflies, Odonata, and Catocala underwing moths in relation to various uncommon natural community types in the Mid-Atlantic region. Dr. Heckscher hopes to obtain the knowledge to accurately associate the distribution of sensitive taxa with systems of high ecological quality. The potential use of specialized species as reliable biological indicators of ecosystem health has been an ultimate goal.

David W. Hicks, Ph.D. (University of Texas - Brownsville)

Associate Professor, Marine & Estuarine Ecology/Ecological Processes


Dr. Hicks is an Associate Professor of Marine & Estuarine Ecology with a Ph.D. in Quantitative Biology from the University of Texas Arlington. His research expertise includes applied ecology and environmental physiology of marine invertebrates, particularly molluscs and exotic invertebrate species. Current projects range from restoration ecology, functional indicator development for disturbed coastal habitats, shore dynamics and ecology of Texas beaches as related to beach management practices (e.g., beach raking and beach nourishment programs), and various projects related to artificial reefs. Other research interests include statistical analyses and experimental design. He is currently the Chair of the Biological Sciences Department at the University of Texas Brownsville.

Elijah Johnson, Ph.D. (Florida A&M University)

Associate Professor, School of the Environment


Professor Johnson studied chemistry at South Carolina State University for two years. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from Pennsylvania State University. He served two years in the United States Army as a Combat Medic and Medical Laboratory Technician. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Chemical Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was a staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for a number of years before joining the faculty at Florida A&M University. His scientific interests are in statistical mechanics, the applications and quantum chemistry of nanoparticles, atmospheric dispersion, surface water composition and flow, and fluid mechanics. He has recently collaborated on gamma ray spectroscopy, neutron activation analysis, and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy projects.

Dennis McIntosh, Ph.D. (Delaware State University)

Associate Research Professor & Extension Specialist - Aquaculture


Dennis’ professional qualifications include earning a bachelor’s degree in Marine Resource Management from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in 1994, a master’s degree in Mariculture from Texas A & M University - Corpus Christi in 1999, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona in 2002. Throughout his professional career, Dr. McIntosh has endeavored to reduce aquaculture’s impact on the environment, believing that a thriving aquaculture industry depends upon our resolve to create the smallest environmental footprint possible. Specifically, his goals are to continue to strengthen and support the aquaculture industry by conducting applied aquaculture research and to share this new information with producers to enhance the industry and its products.

Richard McLaughlin, Ph.D. (Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi)

Professor, Endowed Chair Marine Policy and Law/Social and Economic Processes


Dr. McLaughlin is Endowed Chair Professor for Marine Policy and Law, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Paul A. Montagna, Ph.D. (Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi)

Professor, Endowed Chair Ecosystem Studies and Modeling/Forecasting, Ecological Processes


Dr. Montagna received a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of South Carolina (1983), and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (1986). He was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Marine Science Institute from 1986 – 2006, where he was the creator and founding manager of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve in 2006. In September 2006, he became the Endowed Chair for Ecosystem Studies and Modeling at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico. He is a marine ecologist whose research focuses on coastal management, benthic processes, ecoinformatics, ecosystem modeling, environmental flows, and integrating natural science and socioeconomics. His research is related broadly to two major questions: 1) what flow regime is necessary to maintain ecological health of estuaries? and 2) wat are the deep-sea effects of the Deepwater Horizon accident?

Gulnihal Ozbay, Ph.D. (Delaware State University)

Research Professor, Natural Resources


Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay is a Research Professor in Natural Resources Program in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Delaware State University. Her research interests are in the area of habitat restoration and water quality issues, specifically research associated between water quality driven toxicity in harmful algae, shellfish-algae dynamics, nutrient and water quality management, aquatic ecology and bacterial monitoring. She received her Ph.D. in Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama in 2002. She conducted research leading to the development of aquaculture effluent water quality standards for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as her Ph.D. project. She received her Master of Sciences in Marine Bio-resources at the University of Maine, Orono, Maine in 1996. Dr. Ozbay teaches Introduction to Environmental Science Class to increase minority student participation in environmental issues, global climate change and adaptation, and green energy. Dr. Ozbay has advised 15 graduate and 50 undergraduate students and has served other 15 graduate students’ committees. She published over 50 articles in peer review journals and scientific magazines. She currently serves as an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Earth Science & Climatic Change; Journal of Biotech Research; Journal of Geophysics & Remote Sensing; Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography; Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation, Journal of Environmental Monitoring & Restoration, and former Executive Board Member for Atlantic Estuarine Research Society. She also serves in the Research Advisory Committee for NOAA-LMRCSC and Technical Advisory Committee for the Northeast Aquaculture Center where she currently serves as co-chair.

John F. Schalles (Creighton University)

Professor of Biology, Director of Environmental Science Program/Ecosystem Characterization


Dr. John Schalles' primary research examines spatial and temporal patterns of primary producers in wetland and aquatic ecosystems in coastal and inland settings. He uses a hierarchical set of remote sensing approaches (close range, airborne, and satellite data) to quantify, classify, and map phytoplankton and wetland vegetation in relation to site-specific climatic, geomorphic, nutrient, hydrologic, and tidal regimes. His work is strongly comparative and highly collaborative, utilizing protected habitats and research networks of NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserves and NSF Long Term Ecological Research sites of the Atlantic Coast. My primary questions relate to the external factors controlling ecosystem production within coastal and inland aquatic and wetland ecosystems and how these attributes vary across geographic gradients. Dr. Schalles also has related interests in optical detector systems and their calibration, the biophysical nature of emergent optical signals, predictive algorithm development, and image processing and classification products. Overall, his current work has a strong geospatial focus, and many of the questions originate from the need to provide resource managers with improved habitat inventories and classified mapping products. These products also have application for spatially explicit modeling of carbon and other material storages and exchanges at local to regional scales.

Greg Wayne Stunz, Ph.D. (Texas A&M University-Corpus Chrisit)

Professor, Marine Biology


Greg Stunz, Ph.D. is marine biologist that specializes in fisheries ecology and sport-fisheries. He holds the Endowed Chair of Fisheries and Ocean Health at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and is a Professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He received both his M.S. and Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University (1995, 1999), and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio (1990). A major focus of Dr. Stunz’s research program is to provide scientific data for sustainable management of our marine fisheries and ocean resources to ensure healthy environments. Greg’s research program is diverse but currently focuses on migration patterns marine life using a variety of state-of-the-art electronic tracking devices, how marine animals interact with their habitats, and the vital role that estuaries and near-shore waters play in sustaining marine populations. Specifically, his research includes understanding the roles of apex predators (i.e., sharks) in Gulf ecosystems and tracking their movement patterns, dolphin-fish migration patterns and life history studies, red snapper ecology and management, several projects dealing with many estuarine fishes such as spotted seatrout and red drum and their sustainable management, and many others.

Paul B. Tchounwou, Ph.D. (Jackson State University)

Presidential Distinguished Professor, Environmental Toxicology
Associate Dean, College of Science, Engineering & Technology


Dr. Paul Tchounwou is an environmental toxicologist interested in studying the effects and mechanisms of toxicity of various environmental compounds to biologic systems. He studies the fate and transport of pollutants in selected ecosystems, evaluate their toxic effects on aquatic organisms and the food chain, and determine the potential risks to human and ecosystem health. Hence, Dr. Tchounwou's research focuses on the assessment of the impact of natural and anthropogenic factors on coastal ecosystems, and to utilize the knowledge gained to recommend cost-effective control and prevention strategies. His current work includes investigations of acute and chronic effects, and studies of biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility and effect associated with toxic chemicals exposure. He also conducts research on the biogeochemistry and toxic effects of trace elements in coastal ecosystems, as well as on the effects of environmental factors on the toxicity of various environmental compounds. Dr. Tchounwou is also interested in microbial source tracking and water quality research, as well as in conceptual modeling for ecological risk assessment and management.

John W. Tunnell, Jr., Ph.D. (Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi)

Professor, Coastal and Coral Reef Ecology/Ecological Processes
Associate Director, Harte Research Institute


Dr. Wes Tunnell is a Professor of Biology with a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, whose current research focuses on the biodiversity of the Gulf of Mexico. He is currently the Associate Director and Endowed Chair of Biodiversity and Conservation Science at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at TAMU-CC. His research interests include Coastal, Coral Reef, and Molluscan Ecology, as well as oil spill impacts in the marine environment.

  •   1515 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd,
         305-D FSH Science Research Center
         Tallahassee, FL 32307
  •   (850) 412-7797


The Environmental Cooperative Science Center (Award# NA11SEC4810001) was established in 2001 as part of NOAA's Educational Partnership Program to address ecological and coastal management issues at specific National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERR) and National Marine Sanctuaries.

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