Research Team

SCEMFIS researchers contribute their knowledge of both the technical needs of industry and the challenges associated with competing successfully in the marketplace. Researchers for SCEMFIS include finfish and shellfish biologists as well as experts in marine mammal populations.

SCEMFIS Funded Researchers


Center Director – Dr. Eric Powell presently serves as the Director of SCEMFIS and oversees the primary site at the University of Southern Mississippi. Eric Powell has been an oceanographer/marine biologist for the past 34 years at Texas A&M University, Rutgers University, and USM.  Over that time, Powell has published 239 articles in refereed journals, including leading articles in the fields of meiobenthology, paleoecology and taphonomy, shellfish ecology, marine diseases, population dynamics modeling, and fisheries/resource management.  Powell is the leader or co-leader of several national programs including SSETI (Shelf and Slope Experimental Taphonomy Initiative), the NSF Ecology of Infectious Diseases group focused on shellfish diseases, and the USM/ODU modeling group. Powell is also a member of the NSF Ecology of Infectious Diseases Research Coordination Network.

Dr. Powell is the Chief Science Advisor for the NFI Clam Committee, and serves on a number of fisheries assessment groups including the Southern Demersal Working Group and the Invertebrate Subcommittee of the NMFS-NEFSC. Powell led the oyster assessment team at Rutgers for 17 years, developing the only peer-reviewed sustainable management program in the country for this species. As part of this program, Powell led an oyster restoration program that received the Coastal America 2008 Partnership Award from President Barak Obama for “the successful collaborative efforts between Federal, state, and local governments, as well as nongovernmental organizations and the private sector, in achieving an outstanding environmental victory for the Delaware Bay.”

VIMS Site Director – Dr. Roger Mann, Professor of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and College of William and Mary and the Virginia Site Director of the Science Center for Marine Fisheries. Dr. Roger Mann hails from the United Kingdom where received a BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of East Anglia, and a PhD in Marine Science from Bangor University. After post doctoral and staff appointments at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution he joined the VIMS faculty in 1985. He served as the VIMS Director of Research and Advisory Services from 2003 through 2012. His research interests include fisheries biology, marine ecology and physiology, invasive species biology and climate change. He has published over 130 journal contributions and edited several books. Molluscan Ecology Lab Website


Dr. Alireza Abbaspourrad, Yongkeun Joh Assistant Professor of Food Chemistry and Ingredient Technology, Cornell University. Our research is focused on the rational design and synthesis of emulsions to fabricate multi-compartment emulsion-based vehicles for regulating lipid digestion and bioavailability in gastrointestinal tract. Another theme of our research is to understand the molecular and physical factors that impact bioavailability and stability of lipid and lipophilic food ingredients and develop effective emulsion-based systems and encapsulation technologies to enhance ingredient stability within food matrix.

Dr. Steve Cadrin, Associate Professor of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachussetts and Director of the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute’s Education Program. Steve has a Ph.D. in Fisheries Science from University of Rhode Island, a M.S. in Marine Biology from University of Massachusetts and a B.S. in Marine Science from Long Island University. He was a stock assessment scientist for twenty years with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts Marine Fisheries and New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Steve’s accomplishments include the advancement of stock assessment methods for a wide range of invertebrate and finfish species, development of harvest strategies for regional, national and international fishery resources, and global leadership in evaluating geographic stock structure and modeling spatially complex populations. His teaching and research agendas focus on population modeling, stock identification, fisheries management, collaborative research with fishermen, and application of advanced technologies for fishery science.

David DuVall, Researcher, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, University of Southern Mississippi.  David will be working with Dr. Robert Leaf and funded by NSF Veteran’s supplement through IUCRC.

David is currently in his senior year of an Undergraduate degree at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park, to complete Bachelor of Science in Geography (Geographic Information Technology) specializing in GIS data and Remote Sensing applications including: C++ computer programming, ArcGIS Pro, ArcMap (various ESRI products), ENVI Classic, and multiple spatial data platforms.

Dr. Gavin Fay, Assistant Professor, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth.  Gavin’s research activities include: Management strategy evaluation to test the performance of ecosystem-based fisheries management strategies in the Northeast US; assessing economic effects of fishing scenarios through ecological-economic model coupling; and evaluating ecosystem consequences of ocean acidification.  His research interests include: Developing interdisciplinary modeling approaches to extend the scope of applications for fisheries, ecosystem assessment methods, and testing the performance of decision support tools for living marine resource management.

Dr. Olaf Jensen received a BA in Biology at Cornell University and an M.S. in Marine Science at the University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Lab and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology. Of particular interest to SCEMFIS members is Dr. Jensen’s work in meta-analysis of fishery stock assessments. Data from fisheries represent a tremendous opportunity to learn about the dynamics of populations, communities, and ecosystems as well as fisheries management (what works and what doesn’t). Raw catch data, unfortunately, can be misleading. Stock assessments, however, are often quite informative as they combine numerous sources of information to estimate the current and historical stock size and harvest rate. In collaboration with colleagues at Dalhousie University, the University of Washington, and several other universities and government labs throughout the world, we are building a global database of stock assessments.

Dr. John Klink, Professor Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University Dr. Klinck is the Director of the OEAS Department’s Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO). His research has considered the dynamics of a variety of oceanographic systems including the continental shelf, fjords, submarine canyons, and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, using both analytical and numerical dynamical models. His analysis of the eddy resolving model for the North Atlantic flow considers the most realistic numerical simulation calculation to date. He is also interested in numerical models of bivalves which include environmental variation, as well as predation and disease.

Dr. Josh Kohut Associate Professor Center of Ocean Observing Leadership, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Rutgers, The State University of New JerseyPhysical processes in the coastal ocean are highly variable in space and time and play a critical role in coupled biological and chemical processes. From events lasting several hours to days on through inter-annual and decadal scales, the variability in the fluid itself structures marine ecological systems. My approach is to apply ocean observing technologies that now sample across these important time and space scales to better understand the physical ocean that structures marine ecosystems. Consequently, this new knowledge has relevancy to broader stakeholder communities with interests in the coastal ocean. Working through partnerships across these stakeholder groups, my research is collaborative and supports both science and application. Through these partnerships I am able to frame relevant scientific hypotheses and efficiently translate the output to better management and monitoring.

Dr. Robert Leaf joined GCRL in September of 2012 and has expertise in quantitative methods and computer-intensive modeling approaches. The goals of these analyses are to understand population regulation and appropriate and effective conservation and management strategies. Dr. Leaf received his Ph.D. in Fishery and Wildlife Sciences from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2010, where he studied how phenology of individuals in harvested populations were altered under size-selective fishing. As a post-doctoral researcher in NOAA’s “Fisheries and the Environment” program, Dr. Leaf examined how phytoplankton bloom phenology determined recruitment patterns in northeast Atlantic ground fishes. His current work involves assessment of Gulf Menhaden, Gulf of Mexico Blue Crab, and Mississippi’s Red Drum stock. 

Dr. Travis Miles, Assistant Research Professor, Rutgers University. I am a physical oceanographer interested in understanding how the atmosphere, cryosphere, earth, and ecosystems connect through the ocean across a broad range of temporal and spatial scales. To understand these connections I use and develop ocean observation networks that sample across spatial and temporal scales in combination with process oriented numerical modeling. I am involved with an array of multi-disciplinary projects that involve: 1) Rapid response Teledyne-Webb Slocum glider deployments ahead of coastal storms; 2) investigation of the ice-ocean interactions in the Amundsen Sea and 3) development of novel satellite products in support of wind resource estimates for coastal New Jersey.

Dr. Paula Moreno is a marine ecologist and President of EcoMarine Integrated Analytics, LLC. Her research focuses on understanding how environmental conditions (natural and human-related) drive distribution and abundance of marine organisms using GIS and statistical modeling tools. In 2013 she established an independent advisory team for marine mammal assessments (IAT), which currently includes Dr. Moreno, Dr. André Punt (University of Washington), Dr. John Brandon (independent consultant) and Dr. Doug DeMaster (Marine Analytical Consultants, LLC).  Marine mammal-fisheries interactions are a serious concern of fishery and protected species management in most regions.  The IAT conducts research to understand the impact of uncertainties in key parameter estimates on the efficacy of management, as well as helping to prioritize research needed to address key gaps in managing marine mammal – fishery interactions.


Dr. Daphne Munroe, Associate Professor, Rutgers University. Marine invertebrate populations are connected to one another by dispersal of early life stages called larvae.  On large scales (kms), physical and passive processes operate on mobile larvae, while at smaller scales (cm to m) biological and active processes dominate larval dispersal. My research aims to examine the intersection of these scales and how it translates to population dynamics.  I study spatial and temporal patterns of larval settlement in coastal and marine ecosystems and their influence on invertebrate populations.  My approach to these questions uses a combination of computer modeling, field-based research and laboratory experiments. 

Dr. Genny Nesslage is an Assistant Research Professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. Prior to her appointment at UMCES, she served as Senior Stock Assessment Scientist for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in Arlington, Virginia, and as an Assistant Professor of Vertebrate Ecology at Clarion University in Clarion, Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on assessing fish and wildlife populations, modeling invasive species dynamics, and addressing resource management issues through the use of statistical modeling and estimation techniques. She received her B.S. in Biology from Cornell University; M.S. in Wildlife Biology and Management from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry; and dual Ph.D. degrees in Fisheries & Wildlife and Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology & Behavior from Michigan State University.

Sara Pace currently serves as administrative assistant and researcher for SCEMFIS. After graduating with a Master’s from the University of Southern Mississippi, Sara worked for the MS Department of Marine Resources as a scientist. Her job duties included performing routine sampling of finfish populations, performing quantitative analyses, developing recommendations for changes in regulations related to marine finfish and shellfish fisheries, and sharing this information with the general public and regulatory entities. Her current duties in SCEMFIS Operations are to support and assist the development of the Center under the direction of the directors and participate in research opportunities provided by SCEMFIS.

Karen Reay is the CEO of Baywater Communications and received a B.S. in Biology from Juniata College and an M.S. in Marine Science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary. Karen completed a thesis on the determination of the macrophage chemiluminescent response in Fundulus heteroclitus as a function of pollution stress. She has experience in web design, strategic planning, marketing, data, and information system development and incorporates these skills with her understanding of marine science. Karen has over 30 years of experience working with government, academic agencies and industry. Karen is the SCEMFIS webmaster and provides support within SCEMFIS Operations.

Theresa Redmond earned her B.S. in Marine Biology at the University of New England, Biddeford, ME. She obtained an M.S. in Marine Biology at NOVA Southern University, Dania Beach, Florida where Theresa completed a thesis on long-term stony coral transplantation and assisted in data collection and analysis for benthic monitoring, restoration and assessment of South Florida’s nearshore reef habitats. While a research specialist at VIMS, Theresa is the lead on several bivalve aging and growth studies, created the Molluscan Ecology Archive, and manages and mentors interns, students, and technicians.

Dr. Andrew Scheld is a fisheries resource economist who uses models of human behavior, technology, and markets to better understand resource use, decision-making, and management in commercial and recreational fisheries. He received a B.S. in Resource Economics from the University of Massachusetts, an M.S. in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from the University of Rhode Island, and a Ph.D. in Fisheries Science from the University of Washington. His current areas of research include: valuation and behavioral analyses of recreational fisheries; estimating the economic costs associated with derelict fishing gear; evaluating the impacts of resource variability on commercial fishing fleet structure; and analyzing joint production and selectivity in multispecies fisheries. He teaches classes in marine resource economics, quantitative modeling, and sustainability and serves on the Committee on Economics and Social Sciences of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Dr. Patrick Sullivan, Professor and Department of Natural Resources Chair, Cornell University. As a researcher Sullivan’s objective is to seek a new level of understanding about what drives the spatial and temporal dynamics of natural populations and communities and how they respond to anthropogenic influences. To do this he focuses on patterns in the variance and covariance in these systems that can be used to tease out and identify important factors and processes that define these systems. In addition to this he has an interest in and tries to contribute to other research areas including the practical issues surrounding survey design and analysis, database management, and fisheries stock assessment as well as some more philosophical issues such as identifying what is the nature of good science, determining better ways for communicating and utilizing science and statistics, and clarifying scientific responsibility in issues of governance.