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 five 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:

Cook, A.B., Bernhard, A.M., Boswell, K.M., Bracken-Grissom, H., D'Elia, M., deRada, S. et al. (2020). A multidisciplinary approach to investigate deep-pelagic ecosystem dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico following Deepwater Horizon. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:548880. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.548880

Frank, T.M., Fine, C.D., Burdett, E.A., Cook, A.B., & Sutton, T.T. (2020). The vertical and horizontal distribution of deep-sea crustaceans in the Order Euphausiacea in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:99. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00099

Moore, J.A., Fenolio, D.B., Cook, A.B., & Sutton, T.T. (2020). Hiding in plain sight: Elopomorph larvae are important contributors to fish biodiversity in a low-latitude oceanic ecosystem. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:169. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00169

Richards, T.M., Gipson, E.E., Cook, A., Sutton, T.T., & Wells, R.J.D. (2018). Trophic ecology of meso- and bathypelagic predatory fishes in the Gulf of Mexico. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 76(3):662-672. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsy074

Burdett, E.A., Fine, C.D., Sutton, T.T., Cook, A.B., & Frank, T.M. (2017). Geographic and depth distributions, ontogeny, and reproductive seasonality of decapod shrimps (Caridea: Oplophoridae) from the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Bull. Mar. Sci. 93(3):743–767. https://doi.org/10.5343/bms.2016.1083

Judkins, H., Vecchione, M., Cook, A., & Sutton, T. (2017). Diversity of midwater cephalopods in the northern Gulf of Mexico: comparison of two collecting methods. Mar. Biodiv. 47(3):647-657. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12526-016-0597-8

Mohan, J.A., Sutton, T.T., Cook, A.B., Boswell, K.M., & David Wells, R.J. (2017). Influence of oceanographic conditions on abundance and distribution of post-larval and juvenile carangid fishes in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Fish. Oceanogr. 26(5):526-541. https://doi.org/10.1111/fog.12214

D'Elia, M., Warren, J.D., Rodriguez-Pinto, I., Sutton, T.T., Cook, A.B., & Boswell, K.M. (2016). Diel variation in the vertical distribution of deep-water scattering layers in the Gulf of Mexico. Deep-Sea Res. PT I. 115, 91–102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2016.05.014

Judkins, H., Cook, A.B., Sutton, T.T., & Vecchione, M. (2016). Diversity of midwater cephalopods in the northern Gulf of Mexico: comparison of two collecting methods. Mar. Biodiv. https://doi.org/10-1007/s12526-016-0597-8

Vecchione, M., Falkenhaug, T., Sutton, T.T., Cook, A.B., Gislason, A., Hansen, H.Ø. et al. (2015). The effect of the North Atlantic Subpolar Front as a boundary in pelagic biogeography decreases with increasing depth and organism size. Prog. Oceanogr. 138(A):105-115. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2015.08.006

Cook, A.B., Sutton, T.T., Galbraith, J.K., & Vecchione, M. (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 Res. Pt. II 98:279–291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.09.003

 

 

Research Assistants and Graduate Students 

 

Nina Pruzinsky (M.S., 2018)
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Position/Major: 
Research Assistant, Oceanic Ecology Lab, Seascape Ecology Lab, and Marine Microbiology & Genetics  Lab
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. 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 a Research Assistant and 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. In Dr. Rosanna Milligan's Seascape Ecology Lab, I am continuing to conduct statistical analyses on DEEPEND data and researching life history traits used to identify solutions for creating functional groups of deep-sea fishes for ecosystem management purposes. Additionally, as a member of Dr. Joe Lopez's Marine Microbiology & Genetics Lab, I manage The Photosymbiotic Hub's database, sample collection and preservation, and shipment/tracking of our specimens for the Aquatic Symbiosis Genomics Project.

Achievements/Awards:
Featured in Nova Southeastern University's newspaper, NSU leads research hub in symbiotic genome project (2020)
Biography included in the Twenty First Century Book, Into the Deep: Science, Technology, and the Quest to Protect the Ocean (2020)
Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) Scholar
 (2019)
Invited Speaker at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference (2019)
DEEPEND Consortium/Rock the Ocean Travel Grant (2019)
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)

Publications:

Pruzinsky, N.M., R.J. Milligan, and T.T. Sutton (2020) Pelagic habitat partitioning of late-larval and juvenile tunas in the oceanic Gulf of Mexico. Frontiers of Marine Science. 7:257. doi: 103389/fmars.202000257.

Cook, A.B., A.M. Bernard, K.M. Boswell, H. Bracken-Grissom, M. D'Elia, S. Derada, C.G. Easson, D. English, R.I. Eytan, T. Frank, C. Hu, M.W. Johnston, H. Judkins, C. Lembke, J.V. Lopez, R.J. Milligan, J.A. Moore, B. Penta, N.M. Pruzinsky, J.A. Quinlan, T. Richards, I.C. Romero, M.S. Shivji, M. Vecchione, M.D. Weber, R.J.D. Wells, and T.T. Sutton (2020) A Multidisciplinary Approach to Investigate Deep-Pelagic Ecosystem Dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico following Deepwater Horizon. Frontiers in Marine Science. 7:548880. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.548880

Berger, A.J., P. Blackwelder, T. Frank, T.T. Sutton, N.M. Pruzinsky, N. Slayden, and J.V. Lopez (2021) Microscopic and Genetic Characterization of Bacterial Bioluminescent Symbionts of the Gulf of Mexico Pyrosome, Pyrosoma atlanticum. Frontiers in Marine Science-Microbial Symbioses 8:606818. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.606818.

 

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)

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.

 

Ashley Marranzino (M.S., 2016)
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Position: 
Research Assistant, Nova Southeastern University 

Education:
2016 M.S. Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Rhode Island
2013 B.S. Biology, Regis University

Research Interests: 
My research focuses on examining the morphology of sensory systems in deep-sea fishes. I am interested in understanding how fishes living in extreme environments, like the light-limited midwaters of the deep sea, interact with their environment. By studying the morphology and functional capabilities of sensory systems, we can infer how different species behave (i.e. find food, locate mates, and avoid predators).

Achievements/Awards:
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2013 – 2016)
Frederich H. Stoye Award for Best Student Oral Presentation in Genetics, Development and Morphology – Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (2016)
Lerner-Gray Memorial Fund (2014)
URI Enhancement of Graduate Research Award (2014)

Publications:
Marranzino, A.N.
, Kenaley, C.P., Psaltis, J. and Webb, J.F. (in prep). Density and proposed function of the numerous minute photophores in stomiiform fishes.

Marranzino, A.N., Sutton, TT, and Webb, JF (in prep). A comprehensive identification guide to the fishes in the genus Cyclothone.

Marranzino, A.N. and Webb, J.F. (2018) Flow sensing in the deep sea: the lateral line system of stomiiform fishes. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.183: 945 – 965. doi: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx090

 

 

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 (2020)
NSU Pan Student Government Association Professional Development Grant (2019)
DEEPEND Consortium/Rock the Ocean Travel Grant (2019)

Publications:

Berger, A.J., P. Blackwelder, T. Frank, T.T. Sutton, N.M. Pruzinsky, N. Slayden, and J.V. Lopez (2021) Microscopic and Genetic Characterization of Bacterial Bioluminescent Symbionts of the Gulf of Mexico Pyrosome, Pyrosoma atlanticum. Frontiers in Marine Science-Microbial Symbioses 8:606818. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.606818.

 

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.

 

 

 

Jacob Norry
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Major: 
M.P.S. Marine Biology 

Education: 
2018 B.S. Double major: Marine Science and Biology, Geology Minor, University of Miami

Research Interests: 
I am interested in the morphology, taxonomy, and ecology of deep-sea fishes to further our fundamental understanding of our planet’s last frontier, as well as show the stretch of anthropogenic effects on the ocean. Before starting at NSU, I received my B.S. in Marine and Atmospheric Science from the University of Miami and was a TA for Minerology, and Scanning Electron Microscopy courses. During the last two summers of my undergraduate career, I researched patterns of tooth replacement in fishes at Cornell University under Dr. William Bemis and worked at the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates.

 

 

 

Madeline Eaton
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Major: 
M.S Marine Biology 

Education: 
2017 B.S. Major: Biology, Environmental Studies Minor, Manchester University

Research Interests: 
I am interested in the ecology of deep-sea fishes and their habitat as well as potential conservation efforts. I am studying the spatial distribution of the genus Cyclothone, which are small, bristlemouth fishes, in the Gulf of Mexico. Although these fishes are known for their high abundance in trawls from waters across the globe, their distribution in the Gulf of Mexico is poorly described. Upon analysis of their morphological features and spatial distribution in the water, I aim to provide baseline information in order to observe changes in their distribution and abundance over time. Before attending NSU, I studied at Manchester University where I received my bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies. 

 

 

Kimberly Schmutz
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Major: 
M.S Marine Biology 

Education: 
2018 B.S. Major: Marine Biology and Environmental Studies/Sustainability, College of Charleston

Research Interests: 
I am interested in understanding the trophic dynamics and ecology of deep-sea ecosystems. My thesis focuses on the diet of several anglerfish species by conducting gut content analysis as well as investigating the role lures play in attracting different prey types. In my project I will also be investigating feeding patterns between male and females due to the lack of data while addressing whether males feed at any stage of their life. Before beginning my graduate studies at NSU, I studied at the College of Charleston investigating life history dynamics of coastal estuarine fish under the guidance of Dr. Gorka Sancho and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

 

 

Olivia North-Menthonnex
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Major: 
M.S Marine Science 

Education: 
2020 B.S. Marine Science with a minor in Psychology, Jacksonville University

Research Interests: 
I have many interests within the realm of Marine Science. During my undergraduate career, I focused on various aspects of ichthyology and geology. For my thesis, I am conducting an ecological assessment of the meso-/bathypelagic fish genus Cyclothone (Stomiiformes; Gonostomatidae), putatively the most abundant fishes in the Gulf of Mexico. I am describing their abundance and vertical distribution to gain a better understanding of their presence in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

 

 

Devynne Brown
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Major: 
M.S Marine Biology

Education: 
2020 B.S. Double Major: Marine Biology and Environmental Science, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Research Interests: 
I am interested in the processes of bioluminescence and the luminescent capabilities of various deep-sea organisms including fishes, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. I will be studying light output of luminescent fishes and other deep-water fauna, the distribution of these light sources throughout the water column, and exactly what organs or adaptations these marine organisms utilize to glow! My other interests (and experiences) revolve around sea turtle conservation and the anthropogenic stress inflicted on seagrasses using stable isotope analysis. I received my undergraduate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where I also was a member of the cheerleading squad all four years.