SERL Personnel

Jim Fourqurean - Principle Investigator

Dr. Fourqurean is a marine and estuarine ecologist with a special interest in benthic plant communities, food webs, and nutrient biogeochemistry. He developed a love of seagrass ecosystems while doing his dissertation research in Florida Bay. He has specialized in the application of elemental and stable isotopic composition of organisms as indicators of ecosystem processes. He is an expert in carbon storage and fluxes in coastal ecosystems, and the importance of these ecosystems to climate regulation and mitigation. He has current research interests the Florida Keys, the Gulf of Mexico, in Mexico, Panama and Bermuda, the western Mediterranean and Australia.

E-mail: | CV

Tom Frankovich - Faculty


Sara Wilson - Lab Manager

I am interested in working with adaptive seagrass monitoring programs that are capable of detecting trends in seagrass cover and condition across various scales. I'm also interested in the use of geographical information systems and database design and management for ecological and environmental research applications. My duties at SERL include coordinating field work and overseeing day to day operations in the lab. I also work as a liaison between FIU and Rookery Bay NERR.

E-mail: | CV

Susie Escorcia - Research Staff


Jason Howard - PhD Candidate

I am interested in how ecological and environmental conditions shape net CO2 production and carbon storage in coastal ecosystems. I like science communication, ecosystem ecology, the carbon cycle, and bicycles.

E-mail: | Website | CV

Sonja Smith - MS Candidate

My Master's research focuses on how a cross-ecosystem subsidy of seagrass wrack can link marine and terrestrial systems, affect the biogeochemistry and microbial community of Everglades mangrove soil, and the implications for local and global carbon cycles. I use microbial respiration rates calculated from CO2 concentrations; determine sources of microbial respiration using C stable isotopes of solids, liquids, and gases; complement them with CNP nutrient analysis; and code my analysis in R. I am also passionate about educational curriculum materials and enjoy editing documents.


Chris Lopes - MS Student

My research interests include multidisciplinary studies of seagrass and coral reef communities, encompassing genetics, ecology, chemistry and biology. I have a particular interest in nutrient dynamics across altering seagrass and coral reef biotypes, and how this affects community structure.


David Barahona - Undergraduate Technician


Kai Lopez - Undergraduate Technician

I am interested in marine conservation and ecology, especially in anthropogenic impacts on an ecosystem scale. I recently completed an Undergraduate Thesis through FIU's Advanced Research and Creativity in Honors (ARCH) on the topic of spatial and temporal trends in productivity of Florida Bay Thalassia testudinum with respect to salinity. I am also interested in designing sustainable agricultural systems that mimic natural ones.

E-mail: | CV

Kaya Carrion Banuchi - Undergraduate Technician

Research topics that interest me are toxic phytoplankton, eutrophication, ocean acidification, and rising sea temperatures. Working in this lab has been a wonderful way to launch my research career and prepare for graduate school; and I love the fieldwork! Recently, I have been developing a technique to understand factors that control decomposition rates in seagrass sediments. The amount of organic carbon stored in seagrass soils rival those of forests, though as anthropogenic pressures on seagrass ecosystems increase, there is concern that these historically strong sinks for atmospheric CO2 and organic carbon could shift to carbon sources.


The Seagrass Ecosystems Research Lab is currently looking for ecology-focused individuals interested in research and learning lab techniques.
Contact Sara Wilson for details.

SERL Alumni

Claire Burgett MS Student, 2012-2017
Jennifer Sweatman Ph.D. Student, 2010-2016
Alex Perez Lab Technician 2010-2014, Lab Manager, 2014-2015
Philip Matich Lab Technician, 2014-2015
Bryan Dewsbury Ph.D Student, 2004-2014
Darrell Herbert Post-Doc, 2008-2013
Capt. Dave Ward Field Support, 2008-2013
Rachel Decker Lab Manager, 2011-2013
Amanda Bourque Ph.D Student, 2005-2012
Justin CampbellPh.D. Student 2006-2012
Elizabeth Lacey Ph.D Student, 2007-2012
Glauco Puig-Santana Lab Technician/male model, 2005-2012
Pamela Parker Lab Mangager, 2007-2012
Jeana Drake Lab Technician 2009-2010
Rebecca Bernard MS Student 2007-2010
Zayda Halun Ph.D Student 2003-2011
Anna Armitage Post-Doc 2003-2006
Dorothy "Dottie" Byron MS Student 2000-2006
Virginia "Ginny" Cornett MS Student 2000-2006
Kevin M. Cunniff MS Student 1999-2006, 2013
Braxton Davis MS Student 1995-1998
Bryan Dewsbury MS Student 2003-2006
Meredith Ferdie MS Student 1999-2002
Patricia Mumford MS Student 1996-1999
Bradley Peterson Post-doc 1998-2002
Luz Romero MS Student 1996-1999
Craig D. Rose Ph.D. 1996-2002
Sergio Ruiz MS Student 2003-2006
Leanne Rutten MS Student 1999-2002
Maureen Water MS Student 1996-1998

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