REEF Fest Seminars


 Come learn about the amazing marine environment and the drastic changes that threaten our oceans! All seminars take place at Murray Nelson Government Center, 102050 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo, Florida. All seminars are free, but pre-registration is requested

Click here to register 

Thursday, 9/28

 Welcome to REEF Fest

6:00 - 8:00 PM

Join us at the Murray Nelson Government Center to kick off REEF Fest! REEF will serve beer, wine, sandwiches, and snacks, followed by opening announcements at 7:30pm. Enjoy the stunning sunset from the Murray Nelson Government Center lawn or check out the REEF Fest silent auction and raffle items. 

 Dr. Stephanie Green, Banting Fellow, REEF Affiliate Scientist 

8:00 - 9:00 pm

 Stephanie Green is a Banting Fellow at Stanford University, where she leads international research in to the ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems. She is also an affiliate Scientist with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, where she designs and leads training in marine science and management with international government agencies and conservation groups. Dr. Green's research and teaching has taken her to more than 20 countries bordering the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans. Recent projects include studying the effects of energy development in Pacific Northwest coastal ecosystems and invasive species in deep sea fish communities off South Florida and the impact of fisheries, coastal development, and invasion on endemic marine species in Belize. 


Friday, 9/29

Natalie Barefoot, Executive Director of Cet Law

2:30 - 3:30 PM

Natalie Barefoot is the Executive Director of Cet Law, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to furthering the conservation and welfare of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and their ocean and freshwater habitats through law, policies, processes, and legal education around the world. Prior to Cet Law, Natalie worked with the United Nations Environment Protection in Geneva, Switzerland; as a corporate attorney with Hogan Lovells, LLP in their Miami office; and in international development with Pact, Inc., based in DC and Harare, Zimbabwe. Natalie lives in the Florida Keys, is a PADI dive master, an AIDA2 Freediver, and a lover of everything animal and ocean.

Dr. Scott Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University

3:30 - 4:30 PM

Scott Heppell is an assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. His research interests include the physiological ecology and conservation of fishes, in particular how physiology, behavior, and life history traits affect the interactions between fish populations, their respective fisheries, and the environment. He has worked on bluefin tuna on the Atlantic high seas, Mediterranean, east coast of the United States, on groupers throughout the southeast Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, on rockfish in Oregon and Alaska, on sharks in the Adriatic, on forage fishes in the eastern Bering Sea, and on trout, steelhead, and salmon in Japan and the high deserts of eastern Oregon and Northern Nevada. Basically he loves working with fish wherever they can be found and where interesting scientific questions can be asked and conservation issues solved. He teaches classes in Fishery Biology, the Biology of Marine Fishes, Salmon Management in the Pacific Northwest, Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Skills for Fisheries Wildlife, and Fish Physiology. He earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Washington and a MS and PhD at North Carolina State University. He has worked on the REEF Grouper Moon project for 13 years.

Andy Dehart, Vice President of Animal Husbandry, Frost Museum of Science

4:30 - 5:30 PM

 Andy Dehart is the Vice President of animal husbandry at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Prior to joining the Frost Museum of Science, Andy helped build and open the new Ripley's Aquarium of Canada as the Director of Husbandry. Before moving to Canada he spent much of his career working for the National Aquarium in both their Baltimore and Washington, D.C. locations. Throughout his tenure there her worked in many capacities and left as the Director of Fishes and Aquatic Invertebrates. In addition, he was part of the opening team as an aquarist at the Kingdom of the Seas Aquarium at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. Andy's knowledge of sharks has led him to serve as Shark Advisor for Discovery Channel, and has made a number of high-profile media appearances. Andy has been a REEF Board of Trustees member since 2007.

Saturday, 9/30

Dr. Margaret Miller, NOAA-NMFS, Southeast Fisheries Science Center (Miami)

 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

 Margaret Miller is a Research Ecologist with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center.  She received an undergraduate degree from Indiana University and a doctorate in marine ecology from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill).  She then moved to south Florida and began studying coral in the Florida Keys under a three years post-doctoral position with the University of Miami.  She began work for NOAA in 1997 as the lead benthic ecologist at the Miami Lab and has served as a foundation for its coral reef program.  She is an active field researcher and diver.  Her current research addresses coral early life history, coral restoration, population studies of threatened elkhorn and staghorn corals and their threats. She resides with her husband and 13-yr old son in Miami, FL.

Dr. Kathleen Sullivan Sealey, Department of Biology, University of Miami

 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM


 Lad Akins, REEF Director of Special Projects

 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM

 Lad Akins, REEF's Director of Special Projects, is renowned as a leading expert on invasive lionfish and reef fish identification. Lad helped develop REEF's acclaimed Volunteer Fish Survey Program and has led field research projects around the world. He has discovered and described new species of reef fish, authored more than 20 journal publications and conducted thousands of fish surveys throughout the Tropical Western Atlantic.




Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub