Principal investigator

Dr Alastair Harborne (email)

I am originally from the UK, and after graduating I worked for Coral Cay Conservation. I then completed my PhD within the Marine Spatial Ecology Lab at the University of Exeter, and subsequently became a NERC Independent Research Fellow. I then moved to the University of Queensland, Australia and was an ARC DECRA Research Fellow. I became an Assistant Professor at Florida International University in 2016, and started the Tropical Fish Ecology Lab.

Post-doctoral researchers

Dr Robby Fidler (email)

I am a marine biologist and conservationist, with a focus on coral reef and fisheries management.  I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia and my graduate work at the Florida Institute of Technology, where I also served as a U.S. Student Fulbright Fellow in the Philippines. Broadly, my research examines the impact of marine protected areas (MPAs) on biodiversity and fisheries in coral reef ecosystems, primarily in Southeast Asia.  I am particularly interested in understanding how MPAs alter fish community structure, population demographics, and life-history evolution, and how these shifts may affect larger metapopulations. At FIU, I am utilizing a range of data to investigate the ecological and social factors that underlie the successes and failures of community-based resource management efforts aimed at preserving coral reefs in Indonesia. 

Post-graduate students

Drew Butkowski (PhD student) (email)

I am originally from North Carolina, and completed my undergraduate studies in marine science and biology at the University of Miami. My time at the University of Miami helped foster my enthusiasm for marine research and reef fish ecology. After graduating, I worked as a research assistant at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute in Little Cayman, Cayman Islands. While working in Little Cayman, I primarily studied the reproduction and movement ecology of invasive lionfish. I have also been engaged in several other coral reef related research projects with topics including benthic monitoring, reef herbivory, and larval ecology. Now that I am beginning my PhD at FIU, I hope to continue using technology to explore the ways in which tropical fishes move and utilize marine habitats, and ultimately to inform coral reef fisheries management.

Lanie Esch (PhD student) (email)

I am originally from Michigan, and completed my undergraduate studies in Marine Science at Coastal Carolina University. During this time, I was able to grow my passion for tropical reefs by conducting research on species richness and diversity of fringing reefs in Jamaica. After graduating, I worked for the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas as a research technician. My project looked at the experimental relocation of juvenile green sea turtles in order to investigate foraging site fidelity, and I also collected data on a project evaluating seagrass biomass around the island. My research interests now focus on the ecological trade-offs of tropical reef fish. As a PhD student in TFEL, I aim to investigate how the structural complexity of coral reefs influences the interaction between predator and prey reef fish.

David Kochan (PhD student) (email)

I am from Virginia, and obtained my Bachelor’s in Biology in 2015 from Virginia Commonwealth University. My research experience includes chemical ecology of macroalgae and hard coral on fringing reefs in Fiji, trout stream connectivity and restoration in West Virginia, living shoreline, salt marsh ecology and ecosystem services in coastal North Carolina, and recreational angler surveys in rivers in Virginia. I am interested in the effects of coral reef degradation and resulting non-consumptive effects on herbivory, and the role of habitat connectivity on reef fish settlement and community structure. I also hope to introduce aspects of ecosystem services valuation into my research, utilizing my first undergraduate degree in Economics from the College of William and Mary.

Matthew Marrero (PhD student) (email)

I am originally from Miami, where I grew my love for the ocean. I completed my undergraduate studies at The Ohio State University. During my time there, I worked in several labs and on multiple projects. At the Aquatic Ecology Lab, I worked on a project looking at the size of zooplankton across seasons. At the Bennett Lab, I worked as a lab assistant on many projects, but my main focus was a meta-analysis focusing on herbivory and plants. Finally, I worked at the Hamilton Lab, where I mainly focused on mathematically modeling fishermen and market behavior on a floodplain model. As a PhD student in TFEL, I intend to investigate coupled human-natural systems of marine environments.

Paula Pabon (PhD student) (email)

I am a Fulbright Scholar from Colombia. I am a biologist from the National University of Colombia where I did a Masters in Marine Biology. I have been working in the Caribbean since I was a volunteer at the "Corales del Rosario" National Park and the Tayrona National Park. My undergraduate thesis addressed the trophic ecology of the invasive lionfish and with this research project I won a scholarship to be a “Young Researcher” of the Colciencias' National Marine Fauna group. I also won a scholarship to do a Masters where I worked with the population genetics of two Caribbean grunt species. After graduating my daughter was born, and since then I have been taking care of her and worked in the Marine and Coastal Research Institute - Invemar, in the program "Biodiversity of Marine Ecosystems”.  As part of the TFEL, I am interested in working with the influence of seascape on predator-prey relationships of reef fishes.

Sara Schoen (PhD student) (email)

Originally from Virginia, I received my bachelor’s and masters from James Madison University. During this time, I conducted research on the Limnonectes kuhlii complex, a cryptic species of Southeast Asian stream frogs. My goal was to determine a statistical method for refining the morphometric characters to distinguish and delineate between candidate species. This led to the creation of a novel character measurement to remove the male-biased sexual dimorphism and subsequently increase sample size by allowing the inclusion of female specimens. At FIU, I am co-advised by Dr. Alastair Harborne and Dr. Demian Chapman to investigate and analyze the Global FinPrint data. I’m excited to explore a large data set and continue to utilize statistics to answer biological questions and aid in the conservation of species.

Harborne PhD committee memberships (FIU)

Aarin Allen (email)

Major supervisor: Dr Jeremy Kiska

Serena Hackerott (email) (website)

Major supervisor: Dr Jose Eirin-Lopez

Dr Mark Barton (defended summer 2018)

Major supervisor: Dr Kevin Boswell

Courtney Knauer (email)

Major supervisor: Prof. Mike Heithaus

Casey Butler (email)

Major supervisor: Prof. Mark Butler

Sarah Luongo (email) (website)

Major supervisor: Dr Yannis Papastamatiou

Alexandra Pfeiffer (email)

Major supervisor: Dr Jeremy Kiska

Sara Casareto (email)

Major supervisor: Prof. Mike Heithaus

Dr Alain Duran (defended spring 2018)

Major supervisor: Dr Deron Burkepile

Brendan Talwar (email)

Major supervisor: Prof. Mike Heithaus

Nicholas Evans (email)

Major supervisor: Prof. Mark Butler

William Sample (email)

Major supervisor: Prof. Mike Heithaus

Frances Farabaugh (email)

Major supervisor: Prof. Mike Heithaus

Erin Spencer (email) (website)

Major supervisor: Dr Yannis Papastamatiou

Joshua Farmer (email)

Major supervisor: Dr Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty

Allison White (email) (website)

Major supervisor: Dr Kevin Boswell

Will Wied (email)

Major supervisor: Dr Justin Campbell

Peter Flood (email)

Major supervisor: Prof. Joel Trexler

Carissa Gervasi (email) (website)

Major supervisor: Dr Jennifer Rehage

Kelsey Yetsko (email)

Major supervisor: Dr Jose Eirin-Lopez

Co-supervised PhD students (non-FIU)

Anna Bakker (email)

Lead supervisor: Prof. Sam Purkis, University of Miami

Marie Seraphim (defended summer 2020) (email)

Lead supervisor: Dr Kath Sloman, University of the West of Scotland

Thesis: "Factors affecting the establishment of fish assemblages on restored coral reefs"

Dr Rob Yarlett (defended fall 2018) (email)

Lead supervisor: Prof. Chris Perry, University of Exeter

Lab alumni

Dr Matthew Mitchell (Post-doctoral researcher) (email)
Rachel Zuercher (Post-doctoral researcher) (email) (website)
Elizabeth McNamee (Masters student) (email)
Shalimar Moreno (Masters student) (email)