Research Assistants


Elizabeth Campbell

 

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Biology

Education:  Universidad de Valle de Guatemala

Primary Residence(s): Lima, Peru

Primary Citizenship (s): USA and Peru

Languages: English, Spanish

 

Research Interests:

My future plans include continuing my education with a focus on marine mammals through post graduate work. My long term goal is to aid marine conservation efforts in South America.  My research interests focus on marine mammals interacting with their habitat, response to anthropogenic activities, how global change is pressuring marine mammals.  I am working with Mithriel Mackay studying North Atlantic humpback whales wintering off Puerto Rico, taking the lead in tasks related to publication of data from the Humpback Whale Project and participating in data collection and analysis.


Education:

I graduated from Universidad de Valle de Guatemala in December, 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.  I have always been interested in marine biology which led me to choose electives and programs related to marine mammals. Past field work includes studying humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) off the Pacific Coast of Central America where I learned how boat based surveys were conducted and had an introduction to photo-identification.  I also worked with sexing harp and hooded seals with polymerase chain reaction at Duke University’s Marine Lab. 

 

Personal:

I was born in Dominican Republic and raised in Lima, Peru.  It is a country where Amazonian dolphins and manatees, sea lions, and cetaceans can be observed.  My family is bicultural which helps me when adapting to different circumstances, and traveling.  It also added the benefit of being bilingual.  My hobbies include reading historic novels, cooking sweets, and hanging out by the sea.  



Jacque Cresswell


Degree: Bachelor of Science Marine Biology and Zoology; minor: scientific diving

Education: Humboldt State University

Residency: Arcata, California

Citizenship: American and Canadian

Languages: English, proficient in French


Research Interests:

I am interested in using specialized diving techniques as a means to explore underwater cave systems. Flora and fauna remain undiscovered (but not unaffected by human activity) in unique and interesting ecosystems. Preliminary research suggests there is a connection between species of cave organisms in areas separated by long distances within oceans, yet the link between these populations remains unclear. It is my goal to contribute data to help mitigate the anthropogenic impact to flora and fauna in these fragile ecosystems that are threatened even before they are discovered.


Education:

Through the Scientific Diving Program at Humboldt State University, I became a Scientific Diver, Rescue Diver, and Master Diver. My degrees in marine biology and zoology, coupled with scientific diving and life guarding, helped me affirm my passion for ocean exploration, ecology, and conservation as a diver. My experience as an intern and mentor during winter 2013 with the Marine and Coastal Ecology Research Center (MCERC) introduced me to teaching students from different cultural backgrounds, areas of interest, and level of education. The intern program at MCERC provided me with a bridge between my undergraduate education, scientific diving, and mentoring fledgling biologists and ecologists.  


The experience at MCERC collecting data by air, land, and sea has given me insight into how a research project is put together.  As I apply to graduate school in the USA, I anticipate the preparation from my undergraduate education and internships will give me an advantage and clear expectations as I pursue my passion for marine conservation.


Personal:

I enjoy an active lifestyle that includes scuba diving, swimming, skiing, and being in the great outdoors of Northern California. I’ve traveled to and through Belize, France, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, for internships and pleasure.  I look forward to spending time each year in Canada with my loving and supportive family.



Kristen Dominici


Degree: Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology

Education:  Hawaii Pacific University

Primary Residence: Illinois, Chicago

Primary Citizenship: USA 

Languages: English


Research Interests:

My goal is to obtain research experience and enter a graduate degree program with a focus on marine mammals. I am very interested in marine conservation and ecology, in particular killer whale (Orcinus orca) ecology. I want to look at lesser known killer whale ecotypes and investigate how anthropogenic activities are changing those populations with the goal of determining the best conservation policies for the areas of study.  I am a lead intern for the Humpback Whale Project at MCERC where I am involved in data collection, acoustic analysis, mentoring students participating in the Field Intensive program. I am point for outreach and coordinating funding opportunities.


Education:

I graduated in May, 2011from Hawaii Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. While in school, I worked on a variety of lab studies that include determining the difference in zooplankton abundance between north and south Kaneohe Bay and assessing the size and abundance of parrotfish in marine protected areas and open fishing areas around Oahu. In 2009 I interned at Oceanic Institute in the finfish department during the trial stages of developing aquaculture systems for flame angel fish (Centropyge loriculus), yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), moi (Polydactylus sexfilis) and kahala (Seriola rivoliana). 


Personal:

I am from Chicago, Illinois, and have been island hopping since high school. I moved to San Juan Island, Washington State, for a killer whale naturalist position following college graduation from Hawaii Pacific University.  I enjoyed working as a naturalist, but realized I am happiest in field research. I love what I’m doing and would not be where I am if not for the support and encouragement of my parents.    



Joanna Eames


Degree: Bachelor of Science, marine zoology

Education: Newcastle University

Residency: London, United Kingdom

Citizenship: United Kingdom

Languages: English



Professional Interests:

My passion is igniting the same curiosity and commitment in others to conservation for the marine environment. This led me to complete a marine science degree and participate in research projects. I enjoy passing on knowledge, explaining theories and discovering answers. Field research provides me with the opportunity to further my learning and investigate ideas in a scientific context. MCERC has highlighted the importance of education and public engagement and how it can be connected to marine research, supporting my personal and professional goals.



Education:

I have amazing experience collecting behavioural and acoustic data, working in small international teams and living in field stations. While completing a marine zoology degree at Newcastle University, UK, I participated in a project describing the song of the humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) off the coast of Zanzibar. Internships in Australia and Spain focused on achieving field skills applicable to seismic industry and cetacean research. My education continued at MCERC as an instructor, research assistant and mentor for students from around the world. My skill set now includes education and training, assessment of the impacts of seismic exploration, protected species observer training, and aerial, boat and land investigations.


Personal:

I choose an active lifestyle as sports and keeping fit have always been important to me. I love snorkelling and I am a certified scuba diver preferring the warm waters of the tropics. I enjoy cooking and practicing my culinary skills. My passion for travelling and appreciation for other cultures has developed through visiting many foreign countries and travelling continents. 



Christina M. Goertz


Degree: Bachelor of Science Marine Biology

Education:  Texas A&M University at Galveston, USA

Primary Residence: San Antonio, Texas

Primary Citizenship: USA

Languages: English


Research Interests:

My  research interests include behavioral ecology of marine mammals, in particular, large baleen whales. My professional goal is to obtain a better understanding of the breeding/nursery grounds and mating behaviors of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus).  Other research interests include all interactions between humans and cetaceans.


Education:

I graduated Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology.  I have a background in marine mammal observation, handling and use of theodolite, Raven Pro acoustic computer program, photo-identification skills of species, and use of digital camera equipment.  In 2009 I started as an intern with Mithriel MacKay in the Marine Mammal Research Program at TAMUG then worked with her in Puerto Rico earning my last semester of undergraduate credit hours studying humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) wintering off Puerto Rico. I obtained a position as an intern in Iceland working on a project focused on cetaceans as a direct result of the work at MCERC. Currently, I am working with Smultea Environmental Consulting analyzing data collected from aerial surveys off the west coast of the USA.


Personal:

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas where I graduated from James Madison High School.  Future Farmers of America, orchestra, swimming, and several clubs kept me active throughout high school. I have a large extended family that shower me with love and support as continue to pursue a career in marine biology.


 

Vanessa McGuiness


Degree: Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Conservation & Wildlife Biology (honours)

Education: Murdoch University, Perth., Western Australia, Australia

Residency: Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Citizenship: Australia

Languages: English


Research Interests:

My goal is to work alongside the native Australian wildlife. I carried this passion for the natural environment throughout my three and a half years at Murdoch University in Perth (Western Australia) graduating in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Conservation & Wildlife Biology. I worked as a volunteer with Flatback turtles in the remote north-west of Australia collecting vital data on the location and numbers of sea turtles in the region. I received a scholarship to study abroad at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. It was here that I studied aquatic ecology and participated in marine mammal surveys. 


Education:

In 2013 I extended my studies with an Honours Degree in Environmental Science. My project investigated the current tourism management strategies for popular natural attractions in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Western Australia. I worked with the Department of Parks and Wildlife who helped fund my project.  I volunteered with Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA). Shortly after volunteering I was offered an employment opportunity as a team leader to help conserve the natural environment surrounding Perth and work together with the local communities.   


Why am I here?

There are some opportunities that pass you by in life that you cannot ignore. This internship was one of them. 

I was compiling data for my research last year when I met Mithriel and a team of marine biologists in Shark Bay, Australia. There were many long chats about marine mammals; especially Humpback whales. I realised shortly after, that what these scientists were doing with the marine mammals in Australia, is where I have always wanted to be. I came to understand more about the intensive and exciting research opportunities occurring with marine mammals and their behaviour across the world and applied for MCERC’s internship. 


I am here because I want to be a part of the line of researchers, dedicating their time, to continuously discover more about the ecology of Humpback whales and marine mammal species. I hope to take the vast knowledge and experience that I have gained here at MCERC towards my future career as a marine biologist.  


What I hope to do after this?

I plan to head back home to Australia or New Zealand in the near future but not before taking the time to travel the globe and find more work experience and internships with marine and terrestrial fauna. There is still so much of the world that I want to discover and it is there that I will take my experience from MCERC and share it with the people I meet along the way. 


 

Heidi Malizia

 

Degree: Bachelor of Science Biology; minor: Captive Wild Animal Management 

Education: University of Missouri

Residency: Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.

Citizenship: U.S.A.

Languages: English, limited proficiency in French

 

Research Interests:

My interests focus on behavioral ecology, specifically cetaceans in the wild with an aim at conservation. Traveling is an important part of my career because growing up and studying in Missouri limited opportunities for gaining experience as a field biologist studying marine species.

 

 

Education:

I participated in a study abroad program in Queensland, Australia after my second year at University of Missouri. I developed and conducted three experiments involving the marine ecology along Australia’s east coast. After my study abroad, I was a fish and invertebrate intern at the aquarium in the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska where I enjoyed working with sharks and rays. Following graduation from university I was a research assistant on the Bosphorus Dolphin Project in Istanbul, Turkey where I participated in surveys from land and boat platforms aimed at determining the impact of marine vessels in the Istanbul Strait on three cetacean species.

 

Why I'm Here:

Interning at MCERC is a good fit for my career objectives and personal goals because I see great potential for helping the conservation of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae).  As a research assistant I am able to fully participate in field research from land, boat, and aerial platforms learning methods and studying the behaviors and life history of humpback whales. I am fully involved in training and utilization of Mysticetus Cetacean Observation Platform software for data collection.

 

Personal:

I love being outdoors, especially in warm weather! I can spend hours on the beach snorkeling and SCUBA diving or days camping and hiking in the mountains. I am eager to try new experiences (just about anything) at least once and want to travel as much as possible! 


 

Shelby Noble


Degree: Bachelor of Environmental Science in Marine Science

Education: Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia

Residency: Perth, Western Australia

Citizenship: Australian

Language: English


Research Interests:

I have participated in a number of projects including benthic invertebrates, bivalves, humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) behaviour and habitat use. My current interests are wide and varied from indicator species as a sign of ecosystem health to habitat use by a single organism. My aim is to narrow down my areas of interest through the Marine and Coastal Ecology Centre experience as I would like to return to university to continue my studies.


Education:

I graduated from Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia with a Bachelor of Environmental Science in Marine Science degree in November 2011. While completing my degree I volunteered for the Department of Parks and Wildlife working on benthic invertebrate and bivalve studies. After university I was a lead field scientist in the humpback whale project for Goojarr Goonyool Aboriginal Corporation in cooperation with Western Australia Marine Science Institute and Curtin University during winter 2013. Taking on the role of Research Assistant for the Marine and Coastal Ecology Research Centre is giving me a solid education in cetaceans, behavioural studies, acoustic analysis, photo ID and research techniques. 


Personal:

Born and raised in Western Australia as the daughter of a western rock Lobster fisherman spending 3 months of every year at the Abrolhos Islands, a class A nature reserve, imbued me with a fascination on the world around me and a focus on the marine environment. I enjoy swimming and diving and just generally being active, having participated in group sports throughout my life.


 

Jonathan Reid

 

Degree: Bachelor of Science, Marine Biology & Coastal Zone Management

Education: Lancaster University

Residency: Cumbria, United Kingdom

Citizenship: United Kingdom

Languages: English, Spanish (limited proficiency), French (limited proficiency)

 

Research Interests:

I am interested in the life history of cetaceans and their roles in the ecosystem. I would like to gain more experience in all aspects of marine mammal research as well as coastal and marine ecology, to find my strengths and areas of interest.

 

Education: 

I received my Bachelor of Science in Marine biology & Coastal Zone Management in 2014. I participated in many extracurricular activities including working for an Environmental Monitoring team as well as voluntary land watches for Sea Watch Foundation while at university. I designed a project to study the parameters affecting bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) sightings on the semi resident population in Cardigan Bay collecting data in my second year, analysing the data in third year, and writing the thesis in my final year of university.  The project attributed to valuable experience in theodolite tracking.

 

Personal:

I am from a small village in the North West of England where outdoor activities are a big part of the lifestyle. I enjoy a wide variety of sports and activities with particular interest to those that involve being in the water. I have a passion for exploring different countries around the world and learning new skills along the way.


Felix Smith


Degree: Master of Science in Marine Biology

Education:  University of Southampton, UK

Primary Residence: Cheltenham, UK

Primary Citizenship: USA and UK

Languages: English


Research Interests:

I want to broaden my research experiences to study more cetacean species across the globe though postgraduate work. The Humpback Whale Research Project has provided me with experience in behavioral and acoustic data collection and analysis. I serve as the lead intern for the acoustic analysis data base, serving as a trainer and mentor for incoming students and interns. The wide varieties of foraging techniques displayed by cetaceans around the world fascinate me and I would love to focus future research in this area, especially the social transmission of these techniques between individuals. Other areas of interest include anthropogenic effects on cetacean behavior.


Education:

I graduated from the University of Southampton, England with a Master's of Science degree in Marine Biology July, 2011. This program gave me a solid background in marine science research skills, including tropical and hydrothermal vent ecology. My master's thesis compared the physiological response of related hydrothermal vent and coastal, shallow-water shrimp to the thermal regime experienced at hydrothermal vents. Following graduation, I worked as an intern at the Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Lab at university of Southern Mississippi. I focused on wild dolphin research, including identification of individuals and behavioral studies. I also investigated the effects of shrimp trawler activity on the behavior and associations of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Mississippi Sound, creating a database of trawling activity to facilitate future research in this area.



Personal:

In addition to my marine mammal work, I enjoy keeping active by playing sports including soccer, tennis, running and snorkeling. I also love to travel and have been fortunate to travel to the United States, including Puerto Rico, South Africa and throughout Europe. I am excited to see more of the world as my marine mammal experience grows.



Maria Smithies


Degree: Masters of Science in Marine Biology

Education:  University of Southampton, UK

Primary Residence: Herefordshire, UK

Primary Citizenship: UK

Languages: English


Research interests:

I am interested in gaining experience researching the behaviour and ecology of marine mammals. I am excited to include cetacean behavioural ecology field work with the MCERC team to expand the experience I have already gained in tagging and behavioural research with pinnipeds.  I am among the leads for the Humpback Whale Project. This is positioning me to serve as a mentor to students, collect data, and be involved in the acoustic analysis of humpback whale vocalizations. My main interest lies with behavioural ecology and physiology of marine mammals and I hope to focus my future research in these areas. 


Education:

I graduated from the University of Southampton, United Kingdom July, 2011 with a Master of Science in Marine Biology.  My Master’s thesis examined the effect of visitors at a safari park on behaviours and hormone levels of captive California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).  The main focus of this research was to establish a non-invasive collection technique and obtain a baseline value for salivary cortisol.  Following university I spent three months in the Falkland Islands at Sea Lion Island. I participated in a long term study focusing on southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina).  We examined the possibility of site fidelity by tagging all individuals and attaching satellite tags to a few.   Behavioural observations were also conducted to examine the relationships between sexes and establish if the same males were returning to control the same harem of females each year.


Personal:

I was born in England and have travelled with my family all over the world, living in Belgium and the United States.  This has instilled in me a passion for travel which I have been lucky to incorporate into my research experiences by travelling to exotic locations.  I also hope to continue travelling within my career.   I enjoy snowboarding and horse riding.  When not participating in these sports I spend all my free time walking and training my two border collies, Misty and Sasha


 

Celeste Stout

 

Degree: Bachelor of Science, 

Major in Marine Vertebrate Biology, 

Second Major in Psychology 

Education: Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 

Residency: Rockland County, New York, U.S.A.

Citizenship: U.S.A.

Language: English


Research Interests:

I have always been interested in the behavioral ecology and conservation of marine species. I particularly enjoy learning about and studying shark species, but I am someone who is just fascinated by the ocean and enjoy any kind of marine work. I have done work with jellyfish in Jamaica, cetaceans and poison dart frogs in Costa Rica, sharks in Belize, sea grass communities off the Long Island coast, and sea turtle and marine mammal rehabilitation. All of the work I've done has been fulfilling personally and professionally.  


Why I'm here:

I started at MCERC as a week-long volunteer and I became a research assistant the following week when the MCERC team asked me to stay for rest of the season. They said that they liked my work ethic and positive attitude. I was so excited to be part of the team and to help out with this research for an extended period of time. I am learning so much and will forever be grateful for this opportunity. 


Future Plans:

I will continue to go out and gain experience in the marine science field with the ultimate goal of getting into graduate school.  


 

Shelby Yahn


Degree: MRes Marine Mammal Science (University of Saint Andrews, UK),

               BSc Marine Biology (University of New England)Education: University of Missouri

Residency: Wisconsin, USA

Citizenship: U.S.A.

Languages: English, Moderate proficiency in German


Where I came from:

I am a research assistant from Wisconsin who enjoys global travel. I received my master’s degree in marine mammal science from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, with my thesis focusing on the mathematical algorithms used to build dive analysis software. I earned my bachelor’s degree from the University of New England in Maine where I had the opportunity to rehabilitate seals, porpoises and sea turtles. In 2009 I received the Hollings Scholarship, during which I compared the population structure of killer whales in the Aleutian Islands using acoustic analysis. 


Why I’m here:

I am delighted to be working on the MCERC team and gain experience in baleen whale acoustics and behavior. The research being done through MCERC is particularly rewarding for me as I am increasingly interested in marine mammal behavioral ecology and the physiological origin of behaviors. This internship will also give me an opportunity to share my passion for conserving and preserving the marine environment. I hope to inspire visitors and locals to be better stewards of the ocean and its limited resources.


Where I’m headed:

I am gaining valuable practical experience here at MCERC and sharpening my skills in marine observation and broaden my knowledge base of humpback whale ecology. I am excited to use the network of amazing scientists and resources that I have encountered at MCERC throughout this internship. Ideally this internship will help me to narrow my focus for a PhD and provide a gateway to more research opportunities in this field.


 

Carlye Yancey

 

Degree: Bachelor of Science, Biology

Education: University of Central Oklahoma

Residency: Oklahoma, USA

Languages: English


Research Interests:

I have always had a keen interest in the marine environment. My passion is the study of ecology and evolutionary biology. My immediate goal is to gain a broad knowledge base in marine ecosystem studies with an eye towards working in marine conservation and cetacean anatomy. Long term goals include a master’s degree after narrowing my interests through field experience.


Education:

I earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Central Oklahoma. My research experience includes lab analysis of gopher blood for genetic profiling, and two internships in the Humpback Whale Project in Puerto Rico, USA before returning as a Research Assistant. 


Personal:

I enjoy leading an active, healthy, lifestyle and continue to enjoy competitive sports. I have a craving for new adventures that include travel, outdoor activities, scuba diving, and being immersed in varied cultures around the globe.

 

Clayton Yancey

 

Degree: Bachelor of Science, Marine Biology

Education: Southwestern College, Kansas, USA

Residency: Oklahoma, USA

Languages: English

 

Research Interest:

My interests in marine biology are broad including cetacean behavior, elasmobranch physiology, and marine ecology. I have been focusing on humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) acoustics and fluke matching as a research assistant at MCERC.  

 

Education:

I earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Biology at Southwestern College in Kansas, USA.  Southwestern collaborated with the University of Southern Mississippi where I took field courses that allowed me to study in the Gulf of Mexico.  I gained experience on a research vessel and recording data in the field.  I also took the humpback whale field intensive course though MCERC where I learned how to work in an intense environment.  

 

Personal:

I grew up in Seminole, Oklahoma where I graduated from Seminole High School.  In college, I excelled in the classroom while I also received All-KCAC honors in football.  I enjoy being on the water and being outdoors


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