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Education & Students

Through innovative education of talented graduate, undergraduate, and high school students, the I/UCRCs are providing the next generation of scientists with a broad, industrially oriented perspective on research and management practices. SCeMFiS has touched the lives of a class of high school students in Cape May, NJ.
Read more details on selected students in the Education Spotlight

Current Graduate Students

Kathleen Hemeon: graduate student at the USM Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Kathleen Hemeon
Kathleen Hemeon, University of Southern Mississippi, holding an unarmored threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni

Kathleen Hemeon is a first year PhD graduate student with Dr. Eric Powell at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab. Kathleen has earned a BS degree from Western Washington University and a MS degree from James Madison University. Kathleen joins GCRL from the west coast after working for several years as a U.S. Forest Service fisheries team lead and as a green sturgeon research technician with the University of California Santa Cruz/NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Past experience as a fisheries team lead included the monitoring, protection and restoration of federally listed aquatic populations and their habitat in parallel with local management directives.

Green sturgeon research included estimating spawning run sizes for the federally threatened green sturgeon (southern DPS) in the Sacramento River using Dual-Frequency Identification Sonar. Current work with Dr. Powell and SCeMFiS collaborators will include the continued investigation of Mid-Atlantic ocean quahog population dynamics through the generation of an age-frequency probability distribution and applying this distribution to ocean quahog fishery stock projections. 

Chase Long
Chase Long, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, with the Dameron-Kubiak Dredge in the background.
M. Chase Long: graduate student at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, Virginia

M. Chase Long entered the graduate program in the School of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in the fall of 2017. Chase worked as a laboratory specialist in Roger Mann’s molluscan ecology laboratory at VIMS for three years prior to becoming a student. During that time, he assisted with projects ranging from the identification of shell valve morphometry useful for determining the size of clams from broken shell pieces to refining sclerochronology techniques used to investigate the age structure and recruitment history of ocean quahog populations. As a student, he will continue to investigate the recruitment patterns, age structure, and growth variability within ocean quahog populations from the Mid-Atlantic Bight to Georges Bank.

Read more in the Education Spotlight regarding Chase's Knauss Fellowship in Washington, DC.


Leanne Poussard: graduate student at the USM Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Leanne Poussard
Leanne Poussard, University of Southern Mississippi


Leanne Poussard is starting her first year in the Master’s program at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. She will be working with Dr. Eric Powell studying ocean quahog and surfclam population dynamics and conducting an analysis of dredge efficiency in order to help improve future assessment. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor's Degree in biology.

Laura Solinger
Laura Solinger, University of Southern Mississippi holding a lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus)


Laura Solinger: graduate student at the USM Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Laura Solinger is a PhD student in Dr. Eric Powell’s Lab at the University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Research Lab (GCRL). Laura received her BS in Biology with a focus on Marine Science from the University of South Florida, and is currently finishing her MS in Fisheries Biology with Humboldt State University. In her Master's, she examined how oceanographic conditions in the Pacific relate to spatial heterogeneity in recruitment success of Chilipepper Rockfish. At GCRL, her work focusses on developing a risk-based approach to assess the effectiveness of different management strategies on fisheries resources, including summer flounder and Atlantic surfclam. After her PhD, Laura hopes to work with private and public fisheries organizations to develop stock assessment models, assess their effectiveness and continue advancements to incorporate new data sources and environmental variables into models.

Former Graduate Students

Taylor Daley

Taylor Daley, University of Southern Mississippi

Taylor Daley: graduate student at the USM Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Taylor Daley is a technician at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. She will be transitioning into the Master’s program in August 2016 working with Dr. Robert Leaf studying the biostatistical and fishery characteristics of poorly characterized forage fish stocks from the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions. Taylor says, "The SCeMFiS grant has provided me with the opportunity to work with a very a specialized network of academic and industry leaders from many institutions and groups. I will be traveling to New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island to obtain samples being collected by commercial fishers, Lunds and SeaFreeze. It is an excellent opportunity to collaborate with experts in the field, including NMFS experts in age and growth.”

See more details of Taylor's research in the Education Spotlight

Daley, T. Growth and Reproduction of Atlantic Chub Mackerel (Scomber Colias) in the Northwest Atlantic. (2018) University of Southern Mississippi

Kelsey Kuykendall
Kelsey Kuykendall, University of Southern Mississippi
Kelsey Kuykendall: GCRL, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Kelsey Kuykendall was the first SCeMFiS-funded graduate in 2015. As a Master’s student at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, she began her degree in August of 2013 with Dr. Eric Powell studying area management of the Atlantic surf clam. She says she has experienced many new opportunities for both learning and expanding my understanding of the fisheries industry. Kelsey said, "I have had the chance to travel to many interesting places from Annapolis, Maryland, to New Bedford, New Hampshire. Along the way, I have seen a total of seven major cities in just my first semester. Not only has being a SCeMFiS grad student provided experience in travel, but it also provided a possibility to grow as a researcher by providing interactions with academic and industry leadership. I have met a variety of influences that help to clarify the many vague aspects of research from computer programmers to clam boat captains. SCeMFiS provided the opportunity to be a well-balanced student between experience and academics."  Kelsey also served in SCeMFiS Operations after graduation.

- Management Strategy Evaluation for the Atlantic Surfclam (Spisula Solidissima), using a Fisheries Economics Model - the goal was to identify a preferred management option that promotes enhanced surfclam productivity and increased fishery viability as indicated by improvement in performance metrics.

- The effect of abundance changes on a management strategy evaluation for the Atlantic surfclam (Spisula solidissima) using a spatially explicit, vessel based fisheries model (2019)

- Poster from Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council Meeting, December 2013

- Identifying the Historical Footprint of the Surfclam Spisula solidissima and Habitat Relationships from a Long-Term Dataset of Death Assemblages and Sedimentology

- Captains' response to a declining stock as anticipated in the surfclam (Spisula solidissima) fishery on the U.S. Mid-Atlantic coast by model evaluation

Kelsey has taken a position at West End Interiors in Nashville, TN


Jason Morson
Jason Morson, Rutgers University
Jason Morson: graduate student at Rutgers University

Jason Morson was a PhD student in the Ecology and Evolution program at Rutgers University and a researcher at the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory. Jason studied population dynamics, stock assessment, and fisheries management. For part of his dissertation, Jason worked to understand how we can account for sexually dimorphic characteristics in modeling population dynamics and in managing fisheries. Having worked with Dr. Daphne Munroe, his SCeMFiS-funded project examined the sex ratio of discarded fish in the summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) recreational fishery.

Jason said, "I appreciated having an opportunity to work cooperatively with industry stakeholders and understand, from their point of view, the most pressing issues facing assessment and management of marine resources."

Dissertation - Understanding the Ecological Processes that Drive Patterns in Fishery Selectivity and Survey Catchability


Sara Pace
Sara Pace, University of Southern Mississippi
Sara Pace: GCRL, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Sara Pace was a Master’s student and Graduate Assistant at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab and worked with Dr. Eric Powell to improve reference point formulations to reduce uncertainty in stock status in ocean quahogs. Sara says, "The SCeMFiS grant has provided me with the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Roger Mann at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, aging ocean quahogs for my thesis work. Being a SCeMFiS graduate student has given me the opportunity to obtain my Master’s degree while gaining valuable research experience, as I was exposed to both academic and industry interactions."

Evidence of multidecadal recruitment in the ocean quahog, Arctica islandica in the western Atlantic Ocean (Powerpoint)

Pace, S. Evidence of multidecadal recruitment in ocean quahogs (Arctica islandica) in the western Atlantic Ocean. (2017). University of Southern Mississippi.

Poster from Spring Industry Advisory Board Meeting, April 2015

Update: Sara now works in Operations for SCeMFiS. See Operations Personnel for more info.


Jeremy Timbs
Jeremy Timbs, University of Southern Mississippi
Jeremy Timbs: graduate student at the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Jeremy Timbs is a Master’s student and Graduate Assistant at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab. He originally began the pursuit of a Master's degree in Tennessee studying parasites of sharks. Jeremy transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi in January 2016 to work with Dr. Eric Powell as a Master's student. His thesis project involves a stock and recruitment analysis of Atlantic surfclam.

Timbs, J. Spatial Distribution and Stock-Recruitment Analysis of the Atlantic Surfclam, Spisula solidissima, in the Mid-Atlantic Bight and on Georges Bank. (2018) University of Southern Mississippi


Anja Ewing: undergraduate student at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus, Mississippi
Anja Ewing
Anja Ewing, University of Southern Mississippi

Anja Ewing, a gulf coast native, is a senior at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus, majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in psychology. She is working with Dr. Eric Powell and Kelsey Kuykendall entering and analyzing data on Atlantic surf clams and ocean quahogs. Anja says, “When this REU opportunity became available, I knew that it was a chance to be involved in something incredibly unique. The experience and knowledge I would obtain through this opportunity was something I knew I couldn’t pass up. I look forward to being able to evolve my technical skills, along with increase my knowledge of benthic ecology and climate change.”

Ryan Harner
Ryan Harner, Stockton University (courtesy Daphne Munroe, HSRL)
Ryan Harner: undergraduate student at Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey

Ryan Harner is a Stockton University Environmental Science student with a Veteran's Research Supplement (VRS) through Rutgers University. He worked during the summer collecting summer flounder samples for the SCeMFiS project and will return in the spring to continue to do extra work on the summer flounder discard project. Ryan presented the poster "Sex Ratio of Summer Flounder Discards in the Recreational Fishery" at the MidAtlantic Chapter of the American Fisheries Society in Bordentown, NJ, Oct. 27/28, 2016.

Rachel Marshall
Rachel Marshall, Rutgers University (courtesy Daphne Munroe, HSRL)
Rachel Marshall: undergraduate student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey

Rachel Marshall was awarded runner up in the Rutgers REU (RIOS) program for the poster "Sex Ratio of Summer Flounder Discards in the Recreational Fishery." This poster presented data about the interim (mid-season) results. She was supported by the Rutgers REU in Ocean Sciences program.


Khalil Russell: undergraduate student at the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

Khalil Russell
Khalil Russell, College of William & Mary

Khalil Russell is an undergraduate majoring in biology at the College of William and Mary. He is working with Dr. Roger Mann, VIMS as well as graduate student Chase Long, learning how to age bivalves using a technique to count growth rings in cut and polished shells. His eventual goal is to obtain a Ph.D. and become a professor of biology. Khalil was also selected as a W&M 1693 Scholar and is using his time at VIMS during the summer to better understand solutions to problems within the fishing industry.

Read more about Khalil in "Fish Story with a Twist: One Who Didn't Get Away" as well as the Education Spotlight



Jason Trumble: Veteran Research Supplement student at the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Jason Trumble
Jason Trumble, University of Southern Mississippi

Jason M. Trumble is a second-degree seeking student at The University of Southern Mississippi - Gulf Park, pursuing a B.S. in Biological Sciences (Licensure), with a minor in Mathematics. He is working with Dr. Powell at USM's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory as part of the National Science Foundation's Veteran Research Supplement program, helping to determine the age of samples Atlantic surfclams in order to determine the impact of climate change on extant populations. A 13 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force as a weather forecaster, observer, and curriculum developer,  Jason holds a B.S. in Geosciences (cum laude) with a concentration in Operational Meteorology from Mississippi State University, and an A.A.S. in Weather Technology from the Community College of the Air Force.

Read more about Jason in the Education Spotlight

High School Students

Emma McKee, Chesapeake Bay Governor's School

Emma McKee is a high school senior at Chesapeake Bay Governor's School for Marine and Environmental Science and an intern in Dr. Roger Mann’s molluscan ecology laboratory at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. In addition to helping with current projects in Dr. Mann's lab, she is studying the cycles of growth in the long lived individual ocean quahog, Arctica islandica for her senior research project at CBGS. Through this internship she hopes to gain a knowledge of how a marine science laboratory works, how to properly write a research paper which uses data analyses, and how to operate various scientific tools used in research.

Congratulations to Emma for winning a 2019 Chesapeake Bay Governor's School Science Symposium Outstanding Presentation Ribbon as well as second place in the Virginia Junior Academy of Science Overall Presentations for the Commonwealth of Virginia! She is excited to be attending William & Mary in the fall of 2019.

ESS Pursuit
F/V ESS Pursuit


Sara Pace and Chase Long
Above: Sara Pace and Chase Long next to the clam dredge "Christy" and Below: the fishing vessel "Jersey Girl" and at right "ESS Pursuit"
The F/V Jersey Girl

SCeMFiS wishes to thank the captains and crew of the fishing vessels: Pursuit, Betty Sue, Jersey Girl and Christy for their long days and nights of hard work on the Atlantic Ocean.