Project Manager

 

April Cook (M.S., 2012)
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Position: 
Project Manager for DEEPEND
Research Scientist

Education:
2012 M.S. Marine Science, College of William & Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)

2000 B.S. Marine Science, Coastal Carolina University

Research Interests:
I am currently the Project Manager for the DEEPEND Consortium (www.deependconsortium.org), which is a three year project funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. As Project Manager, I organize field sampling activities, administrate program subawards, and organize consortium meetings and reporting activities. I also serve as a Research Scientist, assisting with deep-sea fish identification and distributional analyses. My main area of interest focuses on a group of deep-sea fishes called the swallowerfishes (Family: Chiasmodontidae). Their common name reflects their ability to swallow prey larger than themselves as shown in this image. My current work on this family focuses on the taxonomy, distribution, diet, and reproduction of the species collected from the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Publications:
Burdet, E., C. Fine, T.T. Sutton, A.B. Cook, and T. Frank (2017) Geographic and depth distributions, ontogeny, and reproductive seasonality decapod shrimps (Caridea: Oplophoridae) from the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Bulletin of Marine Science 93(3):743-767.

Judkins, H., A.B. Cook, T.T. Sutton, and M. Vecchione (2016) Diversity of midwater cephalopods in the northern Gulf of Mexico: comparison of two collecting methods. Marine Biodiversity DOI: 10-1007/s12526-016-0597-8.

Kenchington, T.J., R. Benjamin, M. Best, A. Cogswell, A. Cook, S. DeVaney, C. Lirette, B. MacDonald, K. MacIssac, P. Mallam, T. McIntyre, A. McMillan, H. Moors-Murphy, G. Morton, L. Paon, S. Roach, E. Shea, D. Themelis, E.L.R. Kenchington (Submitted) Field Methods of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Surveys of Meso-and Bathypelagic Micronekton in the Gully.

Vecchione, M., T. Falkenhaug, T.T. Sutton, A.B. Cook, A. Gislason, H.Ø. Hansen, M. Heino, P.I. Miller, U. Piatkowski, F. Porteiro, H. Søiland, and O.A. Bergstad (2015) The effect of the North Atlantic Subpolar Front as a boundary in pelagic biogeography decreases with increasing depth and organism size. Progress in Oceanography 138: 105-115.

Cook, A.B., T.T. Sutton, J.K. Galbraith, and M. Vecchione (2013) Deep-pelagic (0–3000 m) fish assemblage structure over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the area of the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone. Deep Sea Research Part II Topical Studies in Oceanography 98:279–291. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.09.003

 

 

Research Associates and Graduate Students 

 

Nina Pruzinsky (M.S., 2018)
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Position/Major: 
Research Associate/Oceanic Ecology Lab Manager, DEEPEND Consortium

Education: 
2018 M.S. Marine Biology, Nova Southeastern University
2015 B.S. Environmental Science with minors in Marine Science and Spanish, University of Delaware

Thesis: Identification and spatiotemporal dynamics of tuna (Family: Scombridae; Tribe: Thunnini) early life stages in the oceanic Gulf of Mexico

Research Interests:
I am interested in researching poorly-studied species/communities because my goal is to provide information to the public and conservation/management efforts to help maintain populations and overall large ecosystems. For my thesis, I examined the identification, faunal composition, and spatiotemporal distributions of larval and juvenile tunas (Family: Scombridae) in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM) from 2010 to 2017. Since the Gulf of Mexico is a major spawning area for tuna, it is crucial to investigate the population dynamics of their early life stages in the area affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

During my thesis, I developed a synthesis of the morphological characteristics used to identify the taxonomically challenging larval and juvenile tuna life stages. My thesis also increased the existing knowledge on the identification of juvenile tunas by identifying further resolution of species-specific body ratios of this life stage. Species-specific environmental preferences (e.g., salinity, chorophyll a, etc.) and seasonality were identified as the main drivers of tuna spatial distributions across the epipelagic GoM. Before starting at NSU, I interned in Dr. Mark Warner’s Algal Physiology Research Lab at the University of Delaware where I studied the growth patterns of various coral symbiodinium.

Currently, I am the Lab Manager in Dr. Sutton’s Oceanic Ecology Lab at NSU. I am continuing to work with the DEEPEND Consortium, investigating both tuna early life stages and deep-sea organisms. I helped Dr. Sutton lead DEEPEND’s DP06 research cruise in July (GoM, 2018) and a DEEP SEARCH cruise in September (Atlantic Ocean, 2018). I also manage the DEEPEND and NOAA NRDA ONSAP databases, manage sample collection/processing/storage, write and collate cruise reports, and participate in outreach/education activities. I am also mentoring the lab’s graduate students and volunteers

Achievements/Awards:
Invited Speaker at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference (2019)
Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) Scholar (2017)
Research Grant from the Southern Florida Chapter of the Explorers Club, Inc. (2017)
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) Graduate Student Travel Grant (2017)

NSU Pan Student Government Association Professional Development Grant (2017)

 

Vanda Carmo (M.S.)

Position/Major:
Ph.D. candidate at the University of the Azores
Marine Biology

Publications:
Carmo, V., T.T. Sutton, G.M. Menezes, T. Falkenhaug, and O.A. Bergstad (2015) Feeding ecology of the Stomiiformes (Pisces) of the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge. 1. The Sternoptychidae and Phosichthyidae. Progress in Oceanography 130: 172-187.

 

Carmo, V., M. Santos, G.M. Menezes, C.M. Loureiro, P. Lambardi, and A. Martins (2013) Variability of zooplankton communities at Condor seamount and surrounding areas, Azores (NE Atlantic). Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 98: 63-74.

Santos, M., M.T. Moita, I. Bashmachnikov, G.M. Menezes, V. Carmo, C.M. Loureiro, A. Mendonça, A.F. Silva, and A. Martins (2013) Phytoplankton variability and oceanographic conditions at Condor seamount, Azores (NE Atlantic). Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 98: 52-62.

Estella Malca (M.S., 2014)
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Position/Major: 
Ph.D. candidate at Nova Southeastern University

Senior Research Associate at the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami

Education:
2014 M.S. Marine Science, University of Miami, RSMAS
2004 B.S. Biology, University of Miami, CAS

Research Interests:
My recent research encompasses the dynamics of the distribution, abundance, and larval growth of pelagic species, such as tunas and billfishes, in the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent ecosystems within the Atlantic Ocean.

Recent Publications:
Suca, J.J., L.K. Rasmuson, E. Malca, T. Gerard, and J.T. Lamkin (2018) Characterizing larval swordfish habitat in the western tropical Atlantic. Fisheries Oceanography, 1-13.

Malca, E., B.A. Muhling, J. Franks, A. García, J. Tilley, T. Gerard, W. Ingram Jr, and J.T. Lamkin (2017) The first larval age and growth curve for bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) from the Gulf of Mexico: comparisons to the Straits of Florida, and the Balearic Sea (Mediterranean). Fisheries Research 190: 24-33.

Carrillo, L., J.T. Lamkin, E.M. Johns, L. Vásquez-Yeomans, F. Sosa-Cordero, E. Malca, R.H. Smith, and T. Gerald (2017) Linking oceanographic processes and marine resources in the western Caribbean Sea large marine ecosystem subarea. Environmental Development 22: 84-96.

Malca, E., L. Vásquez-Yeomans, C. Gonzalez, V. Gudiel-Corona, F.E. Sosa-Cordero, L. Carrillo, and M.J. González (2015) Capacity building in Marine Protected Areas and Connectivity in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System: larval fish recruitment. Proc. 67 Annual GCFI, 277-283.

 

 

Natalie Slayden
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Position/Major: 
Research Assistant, DEEPEND Consortium  
M.S. Marine Biology

Education:
2016 B.S. Biology: concentration in Marine Biology, Old Dominion University

Research Interests: 
I am interested in understanding the life history of deep-pelagic fishes. My thesis focuses on the age and growth of deep-pelagic fishes, with case studies of meso- and bathypelagic species from the Gulf of Mexico. Before starting at NSU, I received my B.S. in Marine Biology from Old Dominion University and worked in Dr. Mark Butler’s Marine Ecology Lab studying the effects of climate change on the PaV1 disease in juvenile Caribbean Spiny Lobsters.  

Achievements/Awards:
Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) Scholar (2019)
NSU Pan Student Government Association Professional Development Grant (2019)

 

 

Drew Mertzlufft
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Major: 
M.S. Marine Biology

Education:
2015 B.S. Marine Science, Biology Minor, Florida Gulf Coast University

Research Interests: 
I am interested in the taxonomy and classifications of fishes. Taxonomy is an ever-changing field, yet it serves as the groundwork for building various types of models used to monitor ecosystems. Classification methods/dichotomous keys are available for easily accessible species unlike deep-sea fishes and more specifically, juveniles. For this reason, I will be examining juvenile scorpaenids in order to create a dichotomous key for these undescribed life stages and will further investigate their spatial distributions for my thesis. Before studying at NSU, I interned at the FWRI satellite location in Port Charlotte, FL. I examined the diet composition of the common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) from two different populations in Charlotte Harbor. 

 

 

 

Brandon Brule
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Major: 
M.S. Marine Biology

Education: 
2017 B.S. Marine Biology, Marine Ecology Minor, Nova Southeastern University

Research Interests: 
I am interested in the ecology and conservation of fish in the mesopelagic and bathypelagic zones. My focus is studying the possible reasons for asynchronous diel vertical migration in mesopelagic fishes and how those reasons may interact with one another.

 

 

 

Rachel Eckley
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Major: 
M.S. Marine Biology

Education: 
2016 B.S. Marine Science and B.A. Spanish, Coastal Carolina University

Research Interests: 
My interests lie within trophic interactions among deep-sea fishes in hopes of obtaining a better understanding of the ecology and structure of deep ecosystems. My thesis will include an in-depth analysis of diet and food web dynamics for an understudied order of deep-sea fishes.

 

 

Ryan McGonagle 
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Major: 
M.S Marine Science: concentration in Marine Biology 

Education: 
2017 B.S. Double major: Marine Science and Biology with a concentration in Integrated Organismal Biology, East Stroudsburg University

Research Interests: 
I have several interests in the field of ichthyology which include but are not limited to morphology, ecology, and taxonomy of fishes. For my thesis, I plan to study the trophic ecology and functional morphology of  Scaleless Black Dragonfishes. I will be examining feeding morphology and relating this to prey composition and predator preference. Before beginning my M.S. at NSU, I conducted undergraduate shark research in Assateague, VA surveying seasonal abundance of shark populations with Dr. Dominique Didier of Millersville University.