Riley Zoldi graduated from North Carolina State University in the spring of 2019 with dual majors in Environmental Science and Marine Science with a concentration in Biological Oceanography. She grew up in central New Jersey, where she spent all of her summers at the Jersey Shore, which initially sparked her love for the ocean. While in college Riley interned at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, did research in a Plankton Ecology Lab for a marine science professor, and spent a summer in South Queensland, Australia studying its natural resources. During her time in Australia she participated in beach clean ups, hiked through rainforests, searched for animals in the outback, and studied the Great Barrier Reef. For the past couple of years Riley has also worked for New Logic Marine Science Camp, where she leads outdoor environmental education programs that encourage children in New Jersey to love and appreciate their local marine environments. When she’s not working, Riley loves to travel and explore the outdoors with activities such as hiking, running and paddle boarding. With REEF, Riley is excited to learn about non-profit management and to engage with the public through education, outreach, and citizen science to spread marine conservation awareness.
Maya Ganapathy moved a lot as a child but attended high school and college in Michigan. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2019 with a B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience and a minor in Anthropology. While in college Maya interned at a zoo, did Ecology research for a biology professor, and took a semester off to intern at the South African Shark Conservancy which solidified her desire to become a Marine Biologist. During her internship she participated in White Shark surveys, learned how to measure and tag a shark, and assisted in an experiment that dealt with the behavioral and physiological responses of catsharks. Along with working in the lab she was also able to observe a White Shark necropsy, dive with Blue Sharks (diving in the ocean is way different than the pea-soup like lakes of the Midwest!) and snorkel at Seal Island. After graduating in the spring Maya interned in the Fishes Department at Shedd Aquarium, which she says allowed her to learn about a wide variety of fish and the different diseases that occur in marine environments. Maya is extremely grateful for the opportunity to intern at REEF and is excited to dive, learn about non-profit management, and create/ participate in community outreach and education events.
Lara Noren first fell in love with the ocean when she was growing up in Minnesota and went to visit the Shedd aquarium in Chicago. Deciding to follow this love of the ocean in her collegiate career, she moved to North Carolina to pursue a degree in Marine Biology, with a Concentration in Conservation, at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). While attending UNCW, Lara was involved with a research group studying Caribbean coral reef mesophotic ecosystems. This experience lead Lara to a deep love and appreciation for the fragility of coral reef ecosystems, which evolved into a determination to positively impact marine conservation initiatives in coral reef regions. In addition to Lara’s interests in coral reef ecology, she is also interested in working with environmental non-profits. She gained experience in the non-profit field through a Plastic Ocean Project, where she conducted plastic marine debris research and outreach programs. She also interned for the past four months at the Bald Head Island Conservancy, a non-profit centered in the preservation, education, and conservation of barrier island ecosystems. This spring she is looking forward to working with the public through outreach programs, working with another environmental non-profit, and hopes to gain more experience in SCUBA diving and marine conservation!
Evan Wilson grew up in Sarasota, FL, where time spent on and in the water has developed his passion for the marine environment. Since becoming a certified diver in 2009 he has seen the complexities of marine ecosystems and the need for conservation efforts. With a degree in Business Finance from the University of South Florida, he hopes to provide a unique perspective to marine research and conservation. Since graduating, Evan has spent much of his time on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Working as a guide for an Alaskan eco-tourism company, he has further sparked his interest in the natural world, and sharing all that it has to offer through environmental education. As an Intern with the Central Caribbean Marine Institute on Little Cayman, he had his first formal experience working for a marine research organization. During his time at CCMI, Evan was involved with a variety of projects including the tracking of invasive lionfish, coral restoration, and the filming of a live underwater lesson broadcasted to students throughout the Cayman Islands. Evan is excited for the opportunities in community outreach, and honing his marine science skills during his internship with REEF.