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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 to research a range of questions relating to the effects of environmental change on reef fishes and how they should be best managed. I received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in June 2022.

Post-doctoral researchers

Dr Meg Malone (email)

I am a fish behavioral ecologist and coral reef ecologist. I earned a Bachelor of Science from the College of Charleston, and graduate degrees from Loyola University of Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago. I use a wide range of research approaches to answer questions about fishes, including ecological theory, biological collections, and observational and experimental techniques. I specialize in foraging behavior and aim to understand how fishes assess tradeoffs between food and safety while foraging on coral reefs. As a postdoc on the FISHSCAPE team, I'm excited to explore how fish forage across seascapes and contribute to management decisions that support fishes and their habitat needs.

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.

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.

Emily Jackson (PhD student) (email)

I spent most of my childhood in the Florida Keys, Mexico, and the Caribbean working with my family’s dive shop. I completed my undergraduate studies at University of South Florida, while I was there I worked with the Karst Research Group. After undergraduate I worked with Florida Department of Environmental Protection and NOAA at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, where I managed water quality monitoring, conducted surveys, and worked with Coastal Training and Education. In California I worked as a research diver to assess kelp habitat with the SONGS Mitigation Monitoring Program and used acoustic ecology to aid habitat surveys at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. After working on Catalina Island and with FWC as an Artificial Reef Biologist, I am happy to start my doctoral program and plan to explore fish behavior and marine protected areas.

Lab alumni

Dr Robert Fidler (Post-doctoral researcher) (email)
Dr Matthew Mitchell (Post-doctoral researcher) (email)
Dr Rachel Zuercher (Post-doctoral researcher) (email) (website)
Dr Lanie Esch (PhD student) (email)
Dr David Kochan (PhD student) (email)
Elizabeth McNamee (Masters student) (email)
Shalimar Moreno (Masters student) (email)
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