Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Data Buoy Science

Meet the Researchers

Dr. Clark Alexander

Clark Alexander

Dr. Clark Alexander is a professor in the Coastal and Marine Geology Department at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Alexander has worked with GRNMS for 19 years, investigating the Sanctuary to better understand the geologic processes that are important to development and maintenance of hardground habitats. He has been actively involved in multibeam and sidescan sonar mapping of the Sanctuary, GIS analysis of long-term sand movement patterns, and erosion and sedimentation studies. He also served on the GRNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council and Research Advisory Committee. For more information about Dr. Alexander's work click here .

Dr. Danny Gleason

Danny Gleason

Dr. Danny Gleason is a professor at Georgia Southern University in the Department of Biology. The research that he and his students conduct at Gray's Reef is focused on the ecology of benthic marine invertebrates, such as sponges and corals. Their goal is to gain an understanding of the roles that biotic (e.g., competition, predation) and abiotic (e.g., temperature, sedimentation, current speed) factors play in shaping the community of benthic invertebrates that occur at Gray's Reef. Obtaining knowledge such as this is critical for implementing appropriate management strategies because these benthic invertebrates provide critical resources that support the vast array of fishes that inhabit these offshore reefs. More information on Dr. Gleason's work is available here and here .

Dr. Ervan G. Garrison

Erv Garrison

Dr. Ervan G. Garrison is a professor in the Geology and Anthropology Departments of the University of Georgia (UGA). He conducts gearcharological and paleontological research at Gray's and J-Y Reefs. Both locales have produced significant research finds that have produced two graduate theses (Littman, 2000 and Weaver, 2003). The geological synthesis of sediment cores and geological mapping since 1996 led to a journal publication, SE Geology (2008). In 2006 subfossil evidence - vertebrae and left lower mandible - of an extinct Atlantic Gray Whale (Eschrichtius robustus) were found and recovered in summer 2008. Publications on this find are in preparation. The whale was dated to 36,000 years BP making it the oldest fossil evidence for this species in the Atlantic Basin. For more information on his work click here and here .

Dr. George R. Sedberry

George Sedberry

Dr. George Sedberry is the Sanctuary Superintendent at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. He has conducted and analyzed surveys of fish community structure and abundance from visual and removal sampling, and participated in surveys of sponges and coral, including measurements of sediment depth in relation to species composition and abundance. He has also participated in tagging and population genetic studies of black sea bass and other fishes at Gray's Reef. For more information on Dr. Sedberry's work please click here .

Greg McFall

Greg McFall

Greg currently works as the Deputy Sanctuary Superintendent and Research Coordinator for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary in Savannah, Georgia, where he coordinates scientific investigations into the ecology and oceanography of hard-bottom reefs. He worked for seven years with Dr. Joe Pawlik in the Chemical Ecology Laboratory of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where he studied the ecology of tropical sponges. He served as the Assistant Science Director for UNCW's National Undersea Research Center for a year after receiving a M.S. degree from UNCW's Marine Biology program.
Prior to graduate work, he obtained a B.S. degree in Biology from West Virginia University. Greg spent five years as a commercial diver before attending college and was trained as a US Navy Diver while serving in the military. He grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas and graduated High School in Duncanville, Texas, and always enjoyed spending lots of time in and around the water.

Dr. Jeffrey Hyland

Jeff Hyland

Dr. Jeffrey Hyland is the supervisory ecologist and branch chief of the Protected Areas & Resources Branch of the Center for Coastal Environemental Health and Biomolecular Research. The Center is a part of NOAA/NOS National Centers for Coastal Science. Dr. Hyland's research emphasis is on marine benthic ecology, ecotoxicology, animal-sediment-pollutant interactions, integrative assessments of coastal ecosystem health, linking ecosystem change to human disturbance, deep-sea coral ecology and stressor impacts. He conducts studies to assess the status of ecological condition and potential stressor impacts throughout sanctuary waters using multiple indicators of sediment-quality, water-quality, and biological condition. Also, he researches the patterns of marine benthic diversity, abundance and their associations with other species. For more information on Dr. Hyland's work please click here . and here .

Jonathan A. Hare

Jon Hare

Jon Hare is the Supervisory Research Oceanographer at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center at the Oceanography Branch, which is a part of NOAA NMFS. The project at GRNMS he and coworkers work on involved a characterization of oceanographic conditions in the vicinity of GRNMS and the relation to fishes in the region. The work resulted in several significant publications including a description of larval fish communities on the Georgia shelf (1), a description of juvenile fish communities on the Georgia shelf (2), and a transport model describing connections among MPAs along the southeast U.S. continental shelf including GRNMS (3). In addition, a catalog was compiled of feeding studies conducted in the vicinity of GRNMS (4) and a classification of fish feeding groups based on a multivariate analysis (5). For more information about Jon's work click here .

Lad Akins

Lad Akins

Lad Akins is the Director of Special Projects at Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). Along with REEF, Lad has conducted fish surveys and education/outreach in GRNMS since 1998. He is on the GRNMS Research Advisory Panel and the Research Area Working Group. He is also currently focusing on early detection/rapid response/control of invasive lionfish. For more information about his work and about REEF as an organization please visit the REEF web site .


Dr. Laura Kracker

Laura Kracker

Dr. Laura Kracker is a geographer with NOAA National Ocean Service at the Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston, SC. The work she is involved in at GRNMS is aimed at developing new survey methods to quantify biological resources within the Sanctuary. Using underwater acoustic technology, we can survey the water column and estimate the abundance and distribution of fish. There are several advantages to using this technology. For instance, we are able to sample the water column ‘remotely' without disturbing or extracting animals. Acoustic surveys are run along transect lines at about 5 knots with a downward looking transducer. Fish are ‘counted' and fish size is estimated based on the strength of the returned acoustic signal. We can provide both a graphical output of fish distribution, as well as quantifiable measures of fish biomass. This information can be used to monitor changes over time, make spatial comparisons, or examine fish distribution in relation to bottom habitats. For more information about Dr. Kracker's work please click here .

Dr. Matt Kendall

Matt Kendall

Dr. Matt Kendall is a marine biologist with NOAA at the Biogeography Program. Their office has conducted a diversity of collaborative studies focused at GRNMS all involving spatial patterns of fish distribution, habitat, and human use within the sanctuary. Beginning in 2002, we mapped seafloor features including the carbonate-cemented sandstone ledges for which the sanctuary is known. We then identified the fish communities associated with the different seafloor types identified in the benthic map. Following that, we looked at the distribution and impacts of human use and marine debris on sanctuary resources. We have also provided analysis and guidance on zoning issues for optimal placement of a research area at GRNMS. Most recently, we have been advising GRNMS and their university collaborators on fish telemetry studies that seek to understand grouper and snapper home range size and movement patterns within the sanctuary. For more information on Dr. Kendall's work please click here .

Dr. Peter Auster

Peter Auster

Dr. Peter Auster is a research associate professor at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Marine Sciences. His work at GRNMS is focused on describing and quantifying the behavioral interactions within and between piscivore species and how such interactions facilitate capture of prey. The linkages between mid-water and demersal fishes are of particular interest. Understanding such interactions are of particular importance for predicting the effects of management alternatives related to conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. For more information on Dr. Auster's work please click here .

Sarah Fangman

Sarah Fangman

Sarah Fangman is the Program Coordinator for the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico Region of the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. She is currently working with Greg McFall, Matt Kendall, Mark Monaco, and C.J. Carroll on a fish telemetry study of the spatial and temporal ranges of fish movement in Gray's Reef. To date, we have tagged red grouper, gag, scamp, and red snapper and are tracing their movements with a passive receiver array placed within the sanctuary. For more information on the project please visit the Gray's Reef acoustic tagging page.



Dr. Scott Noakes

Scott Nokes

Dr. Scott Noakes is a research scientist at the University of Georgia with the Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS) department. Dr. Noakes has been involved with paleontological and surficial geologic studies at Gray's Reef and surrounding areas for the past several years. This work includes the study of fossilized scallop beds, recovery of bone fragments and erosional forces on the reef. In addition to the paleontological and geological studies, he is also involved with ocean acidification research at Gray's Reef. Sensors measuring the partial pressure of carbon dioxide as well as temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen have been placed on the seafloor in an attempt to determine the effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on the reef.
His home department at UGA is involved with marine environmental surveys in estuarine and coastal regions and utilizes isotopic, elemental and organic analytes. CAIS also houses an accelerator mass spectrometer used in carbon dating organic-based samples such as shells and bone fragments, many of which have come from the Gray's Reef area. In addition to his work at CAIS-UGA, he is also the Director and Diving Safety Officer of the University System of Georgia Scientific Diving Program, an American Academy of Underwater Sciences organizational member. Many of the divers currently doing research at Grays Reef are faculty, staff, and students interfacing with NOAA-GRNMS through the USG dive program. For more information about Dr. Noakes' work, click here and here and here.

Wei-Jun Cai

Wei-Jun Cai

Dr. Wei-Jun Cai is a professor at the University of Georgia in the Department of Marine Sciences. His work at Gray's Research focuses on inorganic carbon budget and air-sea CO2 exchange, including a time series CO2 mooring. For more information of Dr. Cai's work please click here .











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