Austen Elizabeth Stovall grew up on the barrier islands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina in Kill Devil Hills. As a child she loved fishing, swimming and romping through the waves. She could always be found at the beach or exploring the sound-side with nets and buckets to collect her “samples”. She then moved from the coast to the foothills to attend college at Wake Forest University and after her freshman year, she spent a summer with the School for Field Studies in Turks and Caicos. It was on South Caicos that she solidified her passion for marine conservation and being in the water all day, every day. Attending class at Wake alongside pre-med majors, Austen focused her studies on tropical reef ecology, conducting studies on anemones, algae & herbivorous fish and taking trips to ecologically rich places like Belize. Additionally, her free time in college included late-night Cookout runs, walks through Reynolda Gardens, and any events with free food. As a recent graduate of Wake Forest University with a B.S. in Biology, Austen hopes to pursue a career in coral reef ecology and marine resource management. Her other interests include coffee, books, tv, and good music. She is thrilled to be in Key Largo on a new island and is ready to dive into this adventure with REEF!
Colin Howe: With his Mother and Father from Dominica and Trinidad respectfully, Colin has grown up next to tropical waters. In addition to his Caribbean heritage, coming from a military family, Colin had the opportunity to travel and experience various marine ecosystems from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia to Waikiki waters in Hawaii. He graduated in December from Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Marine Biology concentration. In school, Colin founded the first Marine Biology Student Association at Old Dominion University and worked with many students and professors on various activities ranging from community service to shore line restoration events. Through the MBSA Colin and his board members helped facilitate interactions between professors and students by, helping students attend marine biology conferences and also host movie nights, 5K Run and beach cleanups near campus. In 2012 he traveled to Belize to study Tropical Marine Ecology at IZE, South Water Cay. The following months he worked as an Intern in Long Key Florida for Dr. Mark Butler and his graduate students as an AAUS certified diver. During his REEF internship he plans on volunteering with multiple groups and associations to better diversify his learning experiences. Lastly, he plans on attending graduate school to continually satisfy his curiously and passion for the tropical marine ecosystem.
Zoe Sanchez was born and raised in the sunshine state. In college, Zoe’s most enjoyable and fulfilling class was a 6 credit course held in the summer called Field Problems in Marine Biology. Learning hundreds of marine species names, snorkeling in the Dry Tortugas, and living on a small island off Cedar Key solidified her goals of pursuing marine biology. After graduating from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Zoology, Zoe interned at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys, worked as an assistant laboratory animal technician at UF, traveled to the Red Sea as a field assistant conducting cetacean population research with HEPCA, and was accepted into a graduate program in New York City. Currently, Zoe is completing her Master’s degree in Animal Behavior and Conservation, and is thrilled to be a REEF intern! When not underwater, Zoe enjoys rugby, photography, traveling, and thunderstorms.
Catie Alves is from the lovely beach town of Narragansett, Rhode Island. She grew up exploring the salt marshes and beaches along the coast of "The Ocean State" and always dreamed of being a mermaid. This past May she graduated from Connecticut College with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences. Right after graduation, Catie hit the road from Rhode Island to begin a new adventure: working with REEF! Initially considering a career in medicine, she tried her hand at working in the lab. She has conducted research in molecular oncology at Tufts Medical Center and studied the population genetics of copepods through an NSF-funded REU internship at San Francisco State University. However, Catie always missed being outside, and especially being by the ocean. Last spring, she spent a semester in Bonaire with CIEE's Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation study abroad program. While in Bonaire, she conducted research on the importance of herbivory on coral reef ecosystems and found her passion for coral reef conservation. Catie comes to REEF eager to combine her scientific background with her interest in marine conservation. She also enjoys dancing, playing the flute, and traveling.
Alexis Balinski thought she was going to be a marine biologist when she was a little girl growing up in Southern Maryland. The daughter of a former commercial diver and underwater engineer, Alexis developed a deep love of all things marine. Despite a childhood filled with scuba diving and sea turtle conservation volunteerism, she followed her academic strengths into the fields of journalism and graphic design, which lead her to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. However, after her freshman year of college — when she studied abroad in the Turks and Caicos Islands with the School for Field Studies — her passion for the ocean was rekindled and Alexis declared a minor in Marine Science. Now she is dedicated to promoting marine conservation with the journalism and graphic design skills she has developed through intensive coursework at UNC-CH. A rising senior, Alexis was beyond ecstatic to land her dream internship here at REEF! She hopes the experience will help her learn and grow both as a design professional in the field of marine conservation, and as a citizen scientist.
Alex Kattan is from Jupiter, Florida (not the planet!). After nearly 3 years of business school at the University of Florida, he decided decided to explore other options. An eye-opening class in Environmental Science as well as a part-time job working as an Outdoor Recreation Assistant at the University's beautiful Lake Wauburg steered Alex down the path of the natural sciences. He graduated with a BS in Forest Resources and Conservation, a BA in Political Science, and a minor in Sustainability Studies in May 2012. Wanting to combine his exposure to research with an interest in diving, Alex set out on a post-graduate mission to work towards a career in research diving. Towards this end, he worked as a summer Outdoor Adventure Leader in the Lower Keys and Dry Tortugas, leading snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing trips for young teens; earned his PADI Divemaster certificate in Utila, Honduras (where he became hooked on lion-fishing); volunteered with REEF on invasive lionfish research; and is currently working as a REEF intern. Alex will be beginning a masters degree program in marine science in the fall (on the Red Sea!) and is excited to bring his experience with REEF into the curriculum. His other interests and hobbies include the great outdoors, travel, soccer, biking, reading, and hanging out with his crazy dog (Izzy).
Ellie Splain Despite being born and raised in landlocked Illinois, Ellie developed a passion for the underwater world at a very young age. She grew up on a small lake, and experienced her first breath underwater in a cold and dark quarry. However, her live aboard and dive trip to the Florida Keys set her on a path towards marine conservation. She is now 21 years old and a senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is studying Natural Resource and Environmental Science with a concentration in Fish and Wildlife Conservation and minoring in Anthropology. She recently spent 3 months using her dive skills on South Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands. Through the School for Field Studies on South Caicos, Ellie participated in population monitoring research of green and hawksbill sea turtles as well as juvenile lemon sharks. She also conducted her own research on the often unregulated and rapidly depleting spiny lobster and queen conch fisheries. Ellie has also spent 4 years working at children’s camps teaching about the environment and marine life. She is excited to be at REEF this summer, so she can combine her interests of research diving with education and outreach, and continue to pursue a career in marine conservation.
Benjamin Barker: spent his whole life living in Ohio, mostly in a small town near Cleveland. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology at The Ohio State University, which shaped his future in two ways. The first was attending a class at a research station on Lake Erie, called Stone Laboratory. His experiences during his Field Zoology class, and as a laboratory assistant, captured his interest in marine biology. Second, Ben’s interest in research was sparked while working as a lab assistant for OSU’s Medical Entomology Lab, where he spent 7 days a week raising African mosquitoes and experimenting on their olfactory abilities. These two experiences forever changed his career path. After graduating, he decided to pursue his Master’s degree in Marine Biology at Nova Southeastern University. He now hopes to complete his thesis project on the invasive lionfish. Ben is looking forward to all the opportunities he will have as a REEF intern, especially the opportunity to help out with research projects and teaching others about marine conservation. In his spare time, Ben enjoys many outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, wakeboarding, golf, and other sports. He is also an avid sports fan, strongly supporting all of his Ohio teams.
Anne Benolkin: Anne is from in Eagle River, Alaska where she froze solid for the first 18 years of her life. She then spent her first year of university thawing out at Florida International University(FIU) and the next 2.5 years were spent alternating between Florida and Alaska. In December 2012, Anne graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Communications from University of Alaska Southeast. Anne has had a variety of opportunities to expand her scientific skills. She has volunteered with USGS in Alaska participating in week long research tours to monitor habitat recovery from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She spent a summer in the San Juan Islands doing abalone restoration with Shannon Point Marine CenterShe also assisted with a seagrass ecosystem structure experiment at FIU. Most of these projects involved SCUBA diving, an activity that she has enjoyed since she was seventeen. She is currently certified as a scientific diver by AAUS and a rescue diver by PADI. Anne loves the spineless critters of the sea, and hopes to one day do research on cephalopods. Eventually Anne would like to be in a position to do both teaching and research, possibly at a university. She comes to REEF excited about diving and spreading the message of conservation and science.
Mackenzie Brooke: was born and raised on the sandy shores of Long Beach, New York (not California). She learned at an early age how important it is to preserve the natural beauty of coastal and marine environments. After high school, she found herself heading south to attend the University of Miami for the next three and a half years. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Health Science with minors in both Ecosystem Science & Policy and Chemistry. Mackenzie had planned to work in the medical field. But, after spending one year as an office manager for a psychologist and after many documented hours of shadowing medical professionals, she realized spending her days in an office or hospital setting would not be ideal. She became SCUBA certified in the spring of 2012 in Koh Tao, Thailand, which ultimately altered her perspective on what she wanted to pursue as a career. After diving the tropical waters of the South Pacific, the Florida Keys, and Grand Cayman Islands, she found passion in conserving and exploring the beautiful coral reef environments. Outside of the water, Mackenzie also enjoys yoga, music, reading, and making new friends.
Danielle Perez: Originally from Kentucky, Danielle grew up in Louisville and decided she wanted to be a marine scientist after her father took her to the Newport Aquarium when she was in the sixth grade. Danielle attended Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina and participated in a Maymester program on coral reef ecology in Discovery Bay, Jamaica. There she conducted her own research project on sponge distribution, wrote a paper, and presented her findings to the Discovery Bay Marine Lab at the University of the West Indies. While diving and studying reefs in Jamaica, Danielle discovered her love for conservation ecology. She graduated in May with not only a Bachelor's degree in Marine Science, but also minors in both Environmental Science and Spanish. Danielle then interned in the fall with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama. She worked in the Fisheries Ecology lab assisting with both field work and lab work for the graduate students and researchers there. Danielle plans on moving to Seattle at the end of the summer and is incredibly excited to be pursuing her dreams of working in marine conservation with REEF.
Kayla Ripple: Is a recent graduate from the University of Tampa where she studied Marine Biology and Environmental Sciences. Born in Naples, Florida she grew to love the ocean and its creatures. When Kayla moved to Georgia at age 10, all she wanted to do was come back to Florida. The weather, the ocean, the lifestyle were all things she couldn’t stand to be away from. While she adores the ocean and its many amazing ecosystems, her passion truly lies with the coral reefs. Some of her past experiences include being an intern for the Georgia Aquarium in the Tropical Diver exhibit, as well as a volunteer with the Molluscan Fisheries department at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. She’s also had the amazing opportunity to travel and dive in Roatan, Honduras as a travel abroad course with her Coral Reefs class. Kayla plans to go to grad school sometime in the near future to study tropical ecology and conservation. She can’t think of a better career than diving, traveling, and doing research that will help save one of the most important ecosystems on our planet!
Elizabeth Underwood: Is from Atlanta, GA and her passion for marine biology really took off when she was a senior in high school and conducted a year-long research project on the whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium. In May 2012 she graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina with a BS in Biology. Davidson doesn’t offer a degree in marine science so she satisfied her need to learn about the ocean by participating in a semester long study abroad program in the Turks and Caicos Islands with fellow intern Keri Kenning. After that, there was no doubt in her mind that this is what she wants to do with the rest of her life. She has a strong interest in the lionfish invasion and really looks forward to working with REEF this semester. She also has an interest in herpetology and was very involved with the herpetology lab at Davidson her senior year. She hopes to combine her love of both research areas one day. In a year or two she plans to go to graduate school to earn a PhD in marine science. Elizabeth loves doing anything outside, especially if it involves the ocean!
Marcie Orenstein: grew up in Ohio and Michigan but enjoys living in coastal locales. She graduated from University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. As an undergraduate, her interest in learning more about the marine environment led her to study at both the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and the Duke University Marine Lab. She took courses in multiple areas of marine science while integrating fieldwork, including time spent monitoring and tagging leatherback sea turtles in Trinidad. Since graduating, Marcie has studied medicine in England and Grenada in the West Indies where her interest in the marine environment increased. She is excited to be working with REEF this fall, learning about nonprofit management and engaging in conservation efforts. She hopes to combine an interest in medicine and marine science as a graduate student next fall. In her spare time, Marcie enjoys art, jewelry making, SCUBA diving while looking for invertebrates (especially nudibranchs), traveling, cooking ethnic food, and running.
Keri Kenning: was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, and spent the first two decades of her life there, entirely too landlocked. Thankfully her loving father, Jerry, is a passionate diver and underwater photographer, and he had Keri in the water in no time. Keri became fascinated with the ocean at age 10 during a fish identification presentation at a REEF Field Station in Bonaire. At 14 she began diving, and recently she celebrated her 225th dive! Keri lived, researched, and played on South Caicos Island with the School for Field Studies during the spring of 2011 with fellow intern Elizabeth. It was there she finessed her marine binomial nomenclature and first tangoed with the invasive lionfish. After graduating from the University of Kansas in 2012 with a degree in biology, she left beloved Lawrence, Kansas, for lower latitudes. First, a REEF lionfish expedition in Belize; second, a REEF lionfish derby and research project in the Bahamas; and finally, the REEF internship in Key Largo. In her spare time Keri enjoys all forms of the great outdoors, flyfishing, playing tennis, boating, biking, snow skiing, cairn terriers and westies, community outreach, and volunteering. You can find her any given game day in crimson and blue cheering on the Jayhawks. Rock Chalk!
Jana Huebner: Fled the landlocked state of Missouri to live among and study the beautiful water of the tropics. She is currently obtaining her bachelor's of Marine Science at the University of Tampa. Her passion for the ocean was born during live aboard summer camps in the Caribbean learning how to SCUBA dive, Sail and about the marine environment. She loves to travel and being outdoors either hiking, camping, kayaking, or simply just playing around! Though her future is undecided, she hopes it leads in the direction of scientific research on fish!
Jessi Doerpinghaus: Originally from Austin, Texas, Jessi has always had a love for the ocean and all things marine. She received her B.S. in Marine Biology with a minor in Ocean and Coastal Resources from Texas A&M University at Galveston while working as a marine science instructor for Sea Camp. Currently, she is a second year's masters student at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the UCSB where she is focusing in Coastal Marine Resource Management and Pollution Prevention and Remediation. Jessi hopes to take all of her education and her experience working with REEF and find a career in marine conservation and fisheries management. In her free time, she is a huge baseball fan, loves watching Texas A&M Football, and enjoys scuba diving, baking, and traveling.
Jessica Levy: Jess hails from North Carolina and is a self named coral-geek passionate about tropical coral reef conservation. Her interest began in 2008 while studying abroad at James Cook University (JCU) in Australia situated only a stone’s throw away from the Great Barrier Reef. From her first dive on the GBR she was hooked on corals! Since then she has spent her time traveling to destinations like Curacao, Bermuda, and California following her interest in reef conservation. In 2011 she found herself back at JCU pursuing a Masters degree in Tropical Conservation with a special focus on incorporating climate change modeling into Marine Protected Areas. She hopes to one day find a home in the Caribbean working in the fields of reef conservation and outreach.
Joel Barnes (A.K.A. Paco Benito Juarez) was raised as an underwater enthusiast throughout the United States with family that hails from Puerto Rico and Florida. Joel is currently attending Eckerd College as a student of marine science with a focus on biology. Recent adventures with lionfish in Honduras spiked special interests in tropical invasive species management, which led him to discover REEF. His terrestrial hobbies include Parkour, extreme sports, languages and trailblazing.
Lucy Davis: Lucy was born and raised in Texas and has spent the past few years traveling around the world. In 2009, she lived in New Zealand assisting with various research projects using her underwater skills as a diver and driving boats. She recently went backpacking through Southeast Asia where she was able to dive and see lionfish in their native habitat. Lucy is focusing on environmental education and would like to teach and travel with her husband. Her interests and hobbies include diving, biking, kayaking, riding her scooter and playing with her dog, Rocky. In the near future, Lucy would like to travel to South America and become more fluent in Spanish.
Brandon Lenderink: Brandon is a Colorado native and a recent biology graduate whose passion for wildlife and conservation has led him to pursue a career in marine biology. From 2007-2009 he worked as an aquarist for the Denver Downtown Aquarium, promoting conservation and working with animals such as endangered turtles and Sumatran tigers. In 2010 and 2011, Brandon worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the Aquatic Nuisance Species program, producing scuba protocol manuals and educating people about invasive species such as zebra/quagga mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil. Brandon’s future goals are to become a research diver and scuba instructor. Some of his favorite non-diving activities include motorcycle riding, going on roller coasters, getting involved in the science community, and drinking a great-tasting milkshake.
Originally from Belgium, Laura is a recent BS in Biology graduate from Ithaca College in upstate New York. Laura decided she wanted a career in marine conservation and management after an adventure as a research assistant at the the extremely remote Wakatobi National Marine Park Research Station in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia last summer. Gladly leaving behind snowy winters, she has moved down to the Keys to learn more about marine conservation non-profits and brush up on her fish identification, before heading off to graduate school next fall.
Mollie recently graduated in May 2011 with a BS in Biology from Wake Forest University in North Carolina. After an internship last year with the Bermuda Zoological Society’s Department of Conservation Services, she decided to continue her career in marine sciences down in the Keys. While originally from Pittsburgh, PA, she much prefers warmer climates and was eager to move back south. She is interested in ecosystem monitoring and ecology and is currently in the process of applying to graduate school for marine biology with a focus on coral reef ecology.
Nicole Fabian and Stephanie Dreaver
Marsissa Nuttall and Paige Switzer
Isla Turner and Jennifer Arakaki
Fall & Spring 2004-2005