Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef Expedition 2012
Mission Information

Participants in this Expedition

Christine Addison Buckel

Christine Addison Buckel
NOAA National Ocean Service

Christine Buckel is a biological technician and technical diver at the NOAA lab in Beaufort North Carolina. Since 2001, she has worked on several projects examining live rock and coral reef habitats off North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Navassa National Wildlife Refuge. She holds a MS in marine science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and specializes in studying anthropogenic and natural impacts to marine habitats.

Chris Briand

LTJG Chris Briand
NOAA Corps / Vessel Operations Officer
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

As a NOAA Corps Commissioned Officer, Chris reported to Gray's Reef in January, 2011 to begin his three year shore tour. As Vessel Operations Coordinator he works with Chief Scientists to schedule the vessels for their operational needs, accounts for the marine operations budget and as well as maintenance of the vessels.
Originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, Chris joined the U.S. Air Force after high school and traveled to various bases around the world as an aircraft mechanic. After his Air Force tour he attended college at University of Massachusetts, Boston and received a B.S. degree in Geography with a GIS Certificate. While attending college, Chris found his love for the water by working as a deck hand for a tug and oil response team in Boston harbor. After college Chris joined the Vermont Army National Guard and served as a crew chief on Blackhawk helicopters. He deployed to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Medavacs and ironically found out about NOAA while operating in the desert. After his Iraq tour, Chris returned to Boston to work on the water again and acquired his 100GT USCG License.

Risa Cohen

Dr. Risa Cohen
Associate Professor
Georgia Southern University

Risa is an Associate Professor of Biology at Georgia Southern University. She received her B.S. degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Tufts University in 1996, and earned her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003. Her research interests include aquatic community structure, nutrient dynamics, disturbance ecology, restoration ecology, and macrophyte physiological ecology. She has a number of ongoing projects in coastal systems. Examples of these projects include collaborative efforts in Georgia, studying the Altamaha River and southeastern coastal plain, and in California investigating food web interactions and salt marsh restoration in the San Francisco Estuary. She is focused on investigating how changes in aquatic environments affect organisms, communities, and ecosystems, and how information about these ecosystems can be used to address applied issues, including monitoring, conservation and restoration.

Sarah Fangman

Sarah Fangman
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region

Sarah is the Program Coordinator for the Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region and works out of the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary headquarters. Originally from Minneapolis, MN., Sarah moved to Vermont to complete her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Studies and Biology at Middlebury College. She completed her Master of Science in Marine Affairs at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash. During the completion of her Masters, Sarah had an internship with NOAA and then was awarded a place in NOAA's Presidential Management Fellowship Program. She has worked with NOAA ever since. She is also a NOAA Advanced Working Diver and Divemaster, and has been a certified diver since college.

Danny Gleason

Dr. Danny Gleason
Georgia Southern University

Danny is Professor of Biology at Georgia Southern University. He received his B.S. degree in Biology from Furman University in 1980, and M.S. (1984) and PhD (1992) degrees, also in biology, from the University of Houston. He has conducted research in a variety of marine ecosystems, including salt marshes, coral reefs, and temperate hard-bottom reefs. A couple of highlights of his research career include a two-year stint at the West Indies Laboratory in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands to study mechanisms by which Caribbean corals deal with environmental stress. He lived underwater for 10 days in the Aquarius Undersea habitat to initiate studies of the effects of ultraviolet radiation on coral bleaching. He has been conducting research in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary since 2002, and currently serves on the advisory counsel for the sanctuary. His goal on this mission is to continue monitoring species diversity and percent cover of bottom-dwelling invertebrates, such as sponges, corals, and sea squirts, that encrust the rocky outcrops.

Kelly Gleason

Dr. Kelly Gleason
Maritime Heritage Coordinator
Papāhanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

Kelly Gleason is the maritime heritage coordinator for Papāhanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Following an undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame, Kelly pursued a master's in Nautical Archaeology at St. Andrews University in Scotland and a Doctorate at East Carolina University in North Carolina. In 2004, she began working for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in Honolulu, Hawaii as part of the Pacific Islands Region and became the maritime archaeologist for the Papāhanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the fall of 2007. In addition to her experience working on sites in the Main and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, she has worked on shipwreck sites in Scotland, North Carolina, Northern California, the Great Lakes and the Caribbean. Kelly enjoys diving really deep, swimming really far and playing lacrosse in Kapiolani Park.

Laura Kracker

Dr. Laura Kracker

Laura is a Geographer with NOAA working at the Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston, SC. Before moving south ten years ago, she completed her PhD in Geography and GIS at the University of Buffalo and conducted research in the Great Lakes. For her, a geographic or spatial perspective provides an excellent framework for studying aquatic environments or seascapes. She has wondered about how things interact in the natural world since the time she built her first 'closed ecosystem' of a nearby creek when she was in third grade. Today, applying this perspective underwater allows her to think about the integration of factors that influence a place and how processes occurring in a place define it. She has ventured into the world of underwater acoustics, GIS and fisheries simultaneously. In her current research, acoustic technology serves as the data collection tool, GIS provides a way to map and visualize the information spatially, and fisheries and aquatic systems motivate her to ask why. At NOAA, she applies these tools to coastal water quality issues, as well as marine mammal and fisheries studies. She has been working with researchers at Gray's Reef for several years, using acoustic survey methods to help quantify biological resources and habitat use within the Sanctuary.

Greg McFall

Greg McFall
Research Coordinator / Deputy Superintendent
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

Greg is the Chief Scientist on this research effort, and as such is responsible for the project's overall success. He currently works as the Deputy Superintendent and Research Coordinator for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, where he coordinates scientific investigations into the ecology and oceanography of hard-bottom reefs typical of those found elsewhere in the South Atlantic Bight. He serves as the Line Office Diving Officer for the National Ocean Service.
Prior to coming to NOAA 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 chemical ecology of tropical sponges. Prior to that, 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. Before his 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.

Debbie Meeks

Debbie Meeks
Financial & IT Coordinator / Webmaster
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

Debbie Meeks serves as Financial and IT Coordinator and Webmaster for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. She joined the staff in June 2005. As Financial Coordinator, she is responsible for providing operations support for all financial operations of the organization, along with procurement, and monitoring of sub-awards. As IT Coordinator, Debbie is responsible for the maintenance and security of the work stations, server and network infrastructure in the Gray's Reef offices. As the Gray's Reef Webmaster, she is responsible for the design, development and maintenance of the organization's website. Debbie's prior information technology experience locally includes 15 years with Union Camp as a Systems Analyst and Project Manager and two years with H.O. Systems as a software developer for wireless communications. She also has experience as an entrepreneur, having co-owned and managed The Monogram Place, a custom embroidery and monogram business/retail shop.
Debbie, who moved to Savannah in 1984, is a Georgia native. She holds a BBA in Finance and Banking/Accounting, a Microcomputer Specialist Degree, and has completed work towards a MS in Computer Science.
She is usually creating graphics and setting up mission sites for the Gray's Reef expeditions and workshops each year from "home port", but will be experiencing first hand what happens during the expeditions and will be updating the mission blogs from aboard the ship. She's excited to be part of the team and looks forward to gaining more valuable experience in the field.

Roldan Muñoz

Dr. Roldan C. Muñoz
Research Fishery Biologist
National Marine Fisheries Service

Roldan's interests include reproduction, community and behavioral ecology of reef fishes. Recent research topics include a comparison of hogfish reproduction from fished versus protected areas, dietary study of the invasive red lionfish on continental shelf hard bottom reefs, and community characterization of North Carolina hard bottom reefs.

Victoria Price

Brittany Poirson
Graduate Student
Georgia Southern University

Brittany is a graduate student at Georgia Southern University working with Dr. Daniel Gleason. She received her B.S. in Biology from Western Washington University in 2007 and has been working a variety of jobs around the country for the past several years. Her research interests include marine ecology and invertebrate community development. She hopes to use the time aboard the Nancy Foster to place tiles at sites within the sanctuary to measure recruitment.

James Price
Georgia Southern University

Todd Recicar

Captain Todd Recicar
Marine Operations Coordinator
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

Todd is the Vessel Captain for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. He started full time with Gray's Reef in June of 2007. After receiving a B.S. in Biology at Florida State University, he completed two Marine Education Internships; one at Newfound Harbor Marine Institute in Big Pine Key, Florida and the second at the University of Georgia's Marine Education Center and Aquarium in Savannah. After the completion of these internships, he worked as a research technician at the University of Georgia's Shellfish Research Laboratory in 1999. Prior to becoming a Gray's Reef employee he worked for 5 1/2 years as second mate on the 92 foot Research Vessel Savannah which is operated by the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Todd is a NOAA Working Diver and carries a 100GT USCG license.

Randy Rudd

Randy Rudd
Team Ocean Diver
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, 2011 Volunteer of the Year
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, 2011 Volunteer of the Year

Randy joined the Gray's Reef Team Ocean Volunteer Scientific Diving Program in 2010. After completing his training and certification in record time, Randy became an important asset within his first two weeks as a volunteer diver. He has also taken the initiative to identify ways the program could operate more effectively. After observing many sidetracked missions were due to a short-handed crew, he spent his own money to earn a U.S. Coast Guard license to operate the Gray's Reef small boats.
Following Randy's selection as the 2011 Gray's Reef Volunteer of the Year, his name was submitted to The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF), and was subsequently selected as the NMSF 2011 Volunteer of the Year. Randy received this award for his leadership and dedication. NMSF presented the award to Randy at it's ninth annual Leadership Awards Dinner on June 7, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Randy has been a resident of Savannah, Georgia for 34 years. He retired from the Savannah-Chatham County School System after 26 years as a School Social Worker. His diving experiences began in the mid 1960's in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Fla. His official diving certification came in 2003, and he has pursued subsequent certifications. Randy is an avid underwater photographer and believes in documenting undersea life. Being retired gives Randy the chance to support NOAA's underwater research efforts.

Jenny Vander Pluymr

Jenny Vander Pluym
Research Technician
NOAA Center for Coastal Fisheries & Habitat Research

Jenny is a research technician NOAA's Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, NC. I do a little bit of everything! Our research focuses on habitat mapping, ecology, and restoration which means I assess different marine and coastal habitats by collecting data in the field using SCUBA, photographic, and wading techniques. Once the data is collected, I enter, analyze, and summarize the data to be included in reports and scientific publications detailing our research results. I also serve as divemaster for many of our science missions.


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