Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Diver Advisory Council

Sanctuary Advisory Council Members

Click here to download a PDF of the Gray's Reef Council Directory.

Click here to download a PDF of past Gray's Reef Council Members.


Officers

Rick DeVictor (Chair)
NOAA Fisheries Service

Rick DeVictor

Rick DeVictor is a fishery biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in St. Petersburg, Florida. He serves as the plan coordinator for interdisciplinary plan teams responsible for writing fishery management plans by compiling and analyzing environmental, biological, socioeconomic, and other technical data to support the implementation of fishing regulations. He received his BS in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston in 1997 and an MS from Nova Southeastern University in 2002. Following completion of his graduate degree, he served as an environmental scientist with the Florida Department of Transportation by conducting environmental impact assessments for roadway projects in South Florida. From 2001 to 2010, he was employed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in Charleston, SC, where he was lead scientist involving issues related to species in the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Unit.

Michael Denmark (Vice-Chair)
Citizen-at-Large

Michael Denmark

Michael Denmark is a Savannah native who grew up around the inland waters between Wassaw and Sapelo sounds. Knowing his priorities early in life, he owned a boat before he owned a car! Michael is a graduate of the University of Georgia, earning a BS in Zoology with an emphasis in marine physiology. Michael also gained certification in scuba diving while at the university, and attained the level of Dive Master before his graduation. He continued his passion for diving and attained the level of Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Master Scuba Instructor. He has since logged over 4000 dives as a Master Instructor, and hundreds of those dives were logged on Gray's Reef. Michael is also a licensed 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard Captain, and owned a fishing and diving charter business while living in Florida. Michael spent 32 years as an executive with Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation, retiring as Director of their Neuroscience Business Unit, all the while fishing in his spare time. Once retired from corporate life, Michael and his wife Chrissy, moved back to the low country of Georgia, the area they are so fond of. He is currently the Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation Association of Georgia. He and his wife reside on Tybee Island. His hobbies include fishing, diving, kayaking and sailing.

Anna George (Secretary)
Conservation

Anna George

Anna George was lucky to discover her love for water early in life, on a 7th grade field trip to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama. From that point on, her goal was to get underwater to study fish. While earning her BA in Biology from the University of Virginia and PhD in Biology from Saint Louis University, Anna worked in both freshwater and marine systems to study the conservation, ecology, and evolution of fishes. Though her conservation and research programs primarily focus on southeastern rivers and streams, she's studied at biological field stations in three countries, lived on three continents, and traveled to 22 other countries just for fun. Since joining the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) staff in 2006, Anna has led research initiatives in habitat restoration, species reintroduction, and conservation genetics that mirror her passion for collaborative conservation problem-solving. She also organized the first three meetings of the Southeastern Fishes Council, a society for scientists and resource managers, and helped produce publications on prioritizing rivers for fish conservation, best practices for the captive propagation of imperiled fishes, and conservation needs for the 12 most imperiled fish species in the Southeast. Working in rivers far upstream of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, Anna brings a freshwater perspective to the diverse array of inland challenges that flow downstream to marine ecosystems, from nonpoint source pollution to maintaining instream flows. In her spare time, she can be found snorkeling, paddleboarding, and otherwise enjoying the company of fish. Prior to working at TNACI, Anna taught at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Crabtree Farms and the Conasauga River Alliance, and the Advisory Committee of the Southeastern Fishes Council.

Other Non-Government Seat Members

Scott Noakes
Non-living Resources Research

Scott Noakes

Scott Noakes is a Research Scientist at The University of Georgia (UGA) Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS). He received his BS in Petroleum Engineering from Mississippi State University and MS and PhD from UGA in Marine Science. He has been involved with ocean acidification/CO2 monitoring, paleontological and surficial geologic studies at Gray's Reef and surrounding areas for many years. 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 ancient 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 (AAUS) organizational member. Many of the divers currently doing research at Gray's Reef are members of the USG dive program.

Peter Auster
Living Resources Research

Peter Auster

Peter Auster's research focuses on the ecology, conservation and management of marine fishes and their habitats. He is a Research Professor Emeritus in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Connecticut and the Science Director for the University's Northeast Undersea Research, Technology & Education Center. He also has an appointment as Senior Research Scientist at Sea Research Foundation. He has participated as a scientist or chief scientist on over 50 major research cruises and countless day trips to sites worldwide, including shallow coral reefs in tropical waters as well as submarine canyons and seamounts in the deep sea. For the past 25 years, Auster has conducted studies to understand how differences in habitat influence the distribution and abundance of fish communities, the ecological effects of fishing, and the potential role that marine protected areas can play in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity. He has conducted over 1,500 scuba dives and over 500 remote vehicle and manned submersible dives for such studies. In all of his efforts, he emphasizes public education and outreach to stakeholders and policy makers. Among multiple honors for his work he was named as a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation in 1999, presented with a NOAA Environmental Hero Award in 2000 and was promoted to the rank of Fellow of The American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists in 2005.

Warren Hupman
Charter/Commercial Fishing

Warren Hupman

Warren Hupman was raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and has been on the water since he was five years old. He came to Georgia in 1989, and works as a planner at Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Marys, Georgia, with plans to retire in 2015. Then, he says "I can devote all my time to fishing and being a council member for Gray's Reef." Warren has been a charter boat captain for over 20 years and runs two boats out of St. Marys. When not at Kings Bay, Warren spends most of his time on the water fishing and protecting the environment. He became a scuba diver in 1996 and loves to see the fish on the reefs. Warren prefers fishing catch-and-release methods "so the fish come back for another day."

Mary Conley
Conservation

Mary Conley

Mary Conley works for The Nature Conservancy as the Director of Marine Conservation for the Southeast United States. She is the lead on regional marine conservation initiatives, including multi-purpose ocean planning. In this role she is directing the update of the Conservancy's South Atlantic Bight Marine Assessment and is working closely with the South Atlantic Alliance as a member of the Executive Planning Team. In addition, she coordinates marine conservation efforts across four state chapters working to increase regional marine capacity, promote cross-program learning, and expanding efforts to scale-up activities to a regional level. Areas of focus include conservation planning, shellfish restoration, and climate adaptation. Prior to joining TNC, Mary worked with the Maryland Coastal Zone Management Program and the Chesapeake Bay Program. Mary holds a Masters in Marine Science, with an emphasis in benthic ecology, from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology, with a Geology Minor, from the College of Charleston.

Dustin Rhyan
Sport Diving

Dustin Rhyanl

Dustin Rhyan is a 22-year retired U.S. Navy Submariner. He achieved the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer as Sonar Technician Submarines. While on active duty he served aboard four submarines; the USS Sandlance SSN 660, USS Ohio (Gold) SSBN 726, USS Parche SSN 683, and the USS Alaska (Gold) SSBN 732. During his career he and his wife of 21 years have been stationed at six different naval bases encompassing both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. He found his last duty station to be the most rewarding serving as the Senior Sonar Instructor at Trident Training Facility, Kings Bay, Georgia. During his travels around the country and years spent submerged listening to the world's oceans he gained a profound respect for the natural world. As an avid fisherman in all of its forms from the art of fly-fishing, to the thrill of spearfishing, or the strength of an offshore pelagic, boats and water are always close. He now co-owns South Georgia Charter Company, a fishing and diving charter in St. Marys, Georgia, where he captains two boats for hire and claims it is his "retirement" job.

Emily Kroutil
K-12 Education

Emily Kroutil

Emily Kroutil taught open water scuba diving for the University of Florida Academic Diving Program while working on her MS degree in Gainesville, Florida. She received her degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from the University of Florida in 2008. Emily then moved to Savannah, Georgia, to begin a career teaching high school science. Emily has taught high school Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Physical Science, Marine Ecology, Scientific Research II, and Zoology. She was one of the founding science teachers for Islands High School's Biological and Environmental Science Specialty Program. While at Islands, Emily coordinated the recycling program at the school, coached the girls and boys cross country team, and sponsored the robotics club. She also organized bi-monthly field trips to Tybee Island where her Scientific Research II students conducted field research projects. Emily currently teaches science at Savannah Arts Academy and co- sponsors the robotics club. During the summers, Emily participates in a variety of professional development opportunities, including a Teacher-as-Researcher Experience at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, where she worked closely with a staff scientist to create high school lesson plans based on the scientist's research. She also maintains a website for her students and teachers. In her spare time, Emily enjoys running, reading, and gardening with her husband Ryan.

Tim Henkel
University Education

Tim Henkel

Tim Henkel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Valdosta State University. He received his BS in Biology from Rutgers University and his MS and PhD in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Tim is a marine ecologist interested in relationships, primarily interactions like competition, predation, and facilitation that structure marine communities. Over the past 15 years his research and collaborations have taken him underwater, exploring marine communities throughout the Caribbean. Closer to home, he has been studying the distribution and abundance of echinoderms on Gray's Reef, as well as associations with the diverse array of benthic invertebrates at Gray's Reef. On land, Tim is engaged in science education research. As a postdoctoral fellow at Murray State University, he examined the efficacy of professional development for early career biology professors. Tim is also interested in the impact of metacognition on student learning and the use and development of open-educational resources in the undergraduate classroom.

Mark Padgett
Citizen-at-Large

Mark Padgett

Mark Padgett moved to coastal Georgia in 1980 after graduating from Shorter College with a BS in Environmental Science, Biology. He has been a full time resident of Tybee Island for the past 35 years. He worked at Fort Pulaski National Monument as an interpretive ranger and worked for the Coastal Section of the Regulatory Branch of the Savannah District Corps of Engineers where he recently retired after 33 years of Federal service. As a wetland biologist with the Corps he has experience with National Environmental Policy Act guidelines and policies. He has developed and implemented Inshore and Offshore Artificial Reef Regional Permits for the State of Georgia and has coordinated the issuance and revisions to the State Programmatic General Permit for coastal docks. He has a mix of scientific environmental knowledge, educational outreach and interpretation, and personal local coastal ecology. He has addressed coastal issues with multiple stakeholders to include Federal and State agencies, military, environmental consultants, congressional interests, and the general public. Mark developed Corps permit special conditions for endangered species to include the North Atlantic right whale and loggerhead sea turtle. He has reviewed potential offshore oil exploration and alternative energy projects such as wind electric generation. He has been involved in the development and conduction of educational outreach and interpretation for town hall meetings, school programs, organization meetings, local governmental agencies, scoping meetings, and media inquiries. Upon retirement he obtained his Captains license from the US Coast Guard and formed Caretta Charters LLC. Mark has most recently been chartering environmental trips in the Little Tybee and Chatham County tidal marsh areas. He is a member of the Tybee Island Marine Rescue Squadron, Tybee Island Land Trust and Friends of Ossabaw Island.

Tim Tarver
Sport Fishing

Tim Tarver

Tim Tarver is in the specialty food business in Glennville Ga. He and his wife Donna divide their time between their home in Glennville and Shellman Bluff. Donna is a school teacher and they have three grown children. He was a charter boat owner operator part-time from 1980 until 1995 guiding fishing and diving trips mostly to Gray's Reef. He still keeps an offshore fishing boat at Shellman Bluff, GA for recreation. He has served two consecutive three year terms on the Sanctuary Advisory Council and is returning for another term in 2016. He is a lifetime member of the Coastal Conservation Association and a founding member of the Sapelo Saltwater Fishing Club. He says, "I want to take an active role in ocean engineering. There are a lot of things to be done if we want the ocean to work for us in the future."

Government Members

Patrick Geer
Georgia Department of Natural Resources,
Coastal Resources Division

Patrick Geer

Pat Geer has been with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources since 2002. Initially responsible for the Coastal Resources Division's Commercial Fisheries Program, he spearheaded blue crab management issues during a disastrous four-year drought. Beginning in 2005, he became head of the Division's Research and Surveys Program overseeing all fishery independent and dependent efforts. Pat was then selected in 2010 as Chief of Marine Fisheries. He has been actively involved with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) since the early 1990's beginning with his tenure at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He has served on numerous technical committees and has chaired both the American Eel Technical Committee and the Management and Science Committee. He is currently Commissioner proxy for Representative Jon Burns of Georgia. He has also been involved with various habitat related committees including those with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) and the South Atlantic Alliance. His research interests include survey design development, developing estimates of relative abundance from fisheries independent data sources, shrimp and blue crab population dynamics, and developing and identifying fish habitat designations. Mr. Geer received his BS in Biology from SUNY Oswego and his MS in Biological Oceanography from Old Dominion University.

Suzanne VanParreren
Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve
Ex Officio

Suanne VanParreren

Suzanne VanParreren is the Coastal Training Program (CTP) Coordinator for the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve. She has worked in the field of marine ecosystem management for over 15 years in SC and Georgia. She has conducted research on the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and the diamondback terrapin in the SC estuaries. Her biology internship was spent diving and snorkeling the reefs at Key Largo with the Marine Resources Development Foundation. Currently as the CTP Coordinator for the reserve she works with coastal decision makers in municipal, state and federal governments, elected officials, environmental NGOs, land trusts and conservation organizations, business and community groups. Through her leadership with the CTP she helps provide the most current scientific information to stakeholders to encourage more informed decisions on the management of the natural resources on the coast. This work includes conducting stakeholder and organizational needs assessments to identify and characterize training and information needs; designing science communication and translation processes; identifying the relationship, substance and process aspects of environmental conflict; and designing and developing strategic planning processes for environmental management needs. She received her BS degree in nursing from Florida State University and her biology degree from the College of Charleston. Suzanne is a 2012 graduate from the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her partner and their two girls, kayaking and gardening.

LT Warren Fair
U. S. Coast Guard, Ex Officio

Warren Fair

LT Warren Fair was born and raised in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He and his family moved to the United States in 1986 and from then on called Texas home. He enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in Corpus Christi, TX and graduated boot camp from Cape May, NJ in 1999.
Upon graduation, LT Fair reported aboard the CGC MUNRO (WHEC-724) home ported in Alameda, CA, where he served on the Deck Force conducting Fisheries Patrols in Alaska and drug interdiction patrols off the Coast of Mexico. After the events of September 11, 2001, LT Fair focused his career towards Law Enforcement, and was selected in 2004 as a Plank Owner Instructor at the Maritime Law Enforcement Academy in Charleston, SC. In 2007, he was selected to attend Officer Candidate School. Upon receiving his commission he reported to Sector Houston-Galveston as an Enforcement Duty Officer where he led law enforcement operations. His next tour was at Coast Guard Headquarters at the Office of Boat Forces. During his tour, he championed the first ever Coast Guard standardized formal ice rescue training program.
In July of 2013, LT Fair reported to Marine Safety Unit Savannah as the Response Department Head. He directed the execution of Maritime Homeland Security operations for two ports, conducted security operations, conducted Fisheries Enforcement and ensured all hazard response missions to over one hundred miles of ecologically sensitive coastline and national wildlife refuges.
LT Fair is married to the former Sarah Cook, and has three beautiful children Mackenzie (16), Jackson (10), and Brenden (8).

Bob Lynn
Georgia Department of Natural Resources,
Law Enforcement Division, Ex Officio

Bob Lynn has served in the capacity of Captain with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Law Enforcement Division since 2011. In this capacity, he oversees the law enforcement activities of officers in nine counties and Georgia's coast. Prior to being promoted to the rank of Captain, he served as a Field Sergeant Supervisor for 7 years. He was selected as the National Boating Safety Officer of the Year and James R. Darnell Award in 2003. He is a member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Law Enforcement Advisory Panel and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Law Enforcement Committee. He has an Associate Degree from Thomas University and is a graduate of the Professional Management Program and Law Enforcement Command College.

Kevin Mitchell
NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Ex Officio

NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (NOAA OLE) protects living marine resources through enforcement. Working with the US Coast Guard and state fish and wildlife enforcement agencies NOAA OLE conducts patrols and performs investigations into alleged violations, including any National Marine Sanctuary violations. Kevin Mitchell has been an Enforcement Officer with NOAA OLE since 2012 where he started in Astoria, Oregon. Kevin was transferred to SC in 2015. Prior to his start with NOAA OLE, Kevin was a Corporal with SC Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement.

Susan White
NOAA Sea Grant, Ex Officio

Susan White

Susan White is the executive director for North Carolina Sea Grant and the Water Resources Research Institute for the University of North Carolina. Both programs provide targeted research, outreach and education projects to address critical coastal, ocean and water resource issues in the state and within the region. Prior to Sea Grant, White was the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, S.C., from 2010. She had provided research vision and organizational management, including strategic planning with the partner agencies and universities. She previously served as deputy director, responsible for budgets and administration, with a focus on accountability and performance measures. The interdisciplinary facility provides science and technology research on coastal ecosystems, with an emphasis on linkages between the condition of coastal environments and human health and wellbeing. White also was the national research coordinator for NOAA's Estuarine Reserves Division and National Estuarine Research Reserve System where she worked closely with reserves across the nation to develop and support research activities and link science to education initiatives. She has served on national and regional steering committees on topics including technology transfer, integrated drought monitoring and early warning, and climate's connections to health. White earned a doctorate from the University of Georgia, and graduated from Duke University with a bachelor's degree in biology.

Jene Nissen
U.S. Navy, Ex Officio

Jene Nissen

Jene Nissen is a retired U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer, 1984-2005. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Citadel and a MS in Applied Science (underwater acoustics) from the Naval Postgraduate School. During his Naval service, Mr. Nissen served on the USS ROBERT E. PEARY (FF 1073), USS WISCONSIN (BB 64), USS BRISCOE (DD 977) and USS CARON (DD 970). His shore tours included managing the Ship ASW Readiness Effectiveness Measuring (SHAREM) program, Current Operations Officer at U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) and the Aircraft Carrier Training and Readiness Officer at COMNAVAIRLANT. Since April 2005, he has worked in the Environmental Planning Directorate (N465) at U.S. Fleet Forces Command as the Acoustics Policy Manager overseeing environmental compliance regarding Navy activities that introduce sound into the water. Jene has also served as the project manager for the Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar Training (AFAST), the Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR) and the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing AFTT) Environmental Impact Statements.


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