Coastal Conservation and Restoration People

Eric Sparks

Title(s): Director of Coastal and Marine Extension; Assistant Extension Professor; Assistant Director for Outreach; Coastal Ecology Specialist
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Email: eric.sparks@msstate.edu
Hometown: Allgood, Alabama
Education: Ph.D., Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama and Dauphin Island Sea Lab, 2014; B.S., Marine Biology, Troy University, 2008
Focus area(s): Coastal conservation, restoration, ecology, estuaries, wetlands, living shorelines, marine debris, stewardship, citizen science
Favorite quote: “Live action!” – Turtle man
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Mentoring and helping a great group of people do amazing work!
CV

 

Amanda Jefferson

Title(s): Extension Associate; Marine Fisheries Specialist
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Email: amanda.jefferson@msstate.edu
Hometown: Ellicott City, Maryland
Education: M.S., Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama and Dauphin Island Sea Lab, 2017; B.S., Marine Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 2013
Focus area(s): Marine fisheries ecology, coastal ecology, coastal restoration, outreach and education
Favorite quote: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.” - Walt Whitman
Favorite aspect of working with this group: We're all super passionate about science and love what we do, so it's a positive and fun working environment!​

 

Sara Martin

Title(s): Extension Associate; Wetland Specialist
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant; Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative
Email: sem729@msstate.edu
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Education: M.S., Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, 2015; B.S., Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, 2013
Focus area(s): Living shorelines, wetland plant communities, coastal conservation, environmental education and outreach
Favorite quote: "In this world, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." - Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey
Favorite aspect of working with this group: There is always something new to learn!

 

Mandy Sartain

Title(s): Extension Program Associate; Marine Debris Specialist
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Email: amanda.sartain@msstate.edu
Hometown: Jefferson City, Missouri
Education: B.S., Marine Biology, Southeast Missouri State University, 2016
Focus area(s): Coastal ecology, wetlands, marine debris, marine education, citizen science
Favorite quote: “I don’t know how many years on this earth I’ve got left, but I’m going to get real weird with it.” – Frank Reynolds
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Constant motivation and always having other biology nerds to geek-out with!

 

Renee ColliniRenee Collini

Title(s): Extension Associate; Program Coordinator
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant; Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative
Email:
r.collini@msstate.edu
Hometown: Arlington, TX
Education: M.S., Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama, 2012; B.S., Biology, University of Texas at Dallas, 2008
Focus area(s): Sea-level rise, integrating climate science into decision-making, climate change, coastal observing, long-term monitoring and observing
Favorite quote: "Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men." - FDR
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Working with hardworking dedicated people getting things done to improve the world around us.

 

Nigel Temple

Title(s): Ph.D Student; Research Assistant
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: 757nigel@gmail.com
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Education: Ph.D., Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University (in progress); M.S., Biological Sciences, University of Alabama; B.S., Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech
Focus area(s): Coastal restoration, conservation, ecology, wetlands, living shorelines project design and implementation, Arduino, DIY environmental sensing 
Favorite quote: “The answer is 42” - Douglas Adams
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Transferring historical knowledge and new technical approaches to stakeholders to solve pressing, real-world problems.

 

Alyssa Rodolfich

Title(s): Extension Program Assistant
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: aer331@msstate.edu
Hometown: Biloxi, Mississippi
Education: B.S., Geography, University of Southern Mississippi, 2018; A.A., History, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, 2017
Focus area(s): Mississippi Gulf Coast history, human-environment interactions, coastal conservation, environmental education
Favorite quote: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” – Plato
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Being able to do something different everyday and being surrounded by so many different people to learn from.

 

Jessica Gooch

Title(s): Undergraduate Intern
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; University of Southern Mississippi
Email: jgooch9811@gmail.com
Hometown: Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Education: B.S., Environmental Biology, University of Southern Mississippi (in progress)
Focus area(s): Environmental studies, conservation, environmental education
Favorite quote: “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese proverb
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Working with a diverse group of people where there is always something new to learn and discover. 

 

Matthew Virden

Title(s): Extension Program Assistant
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: mfv24@msstate.edu
Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama
Education: B.S., Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, 2018
Focus area(s): Wildlife conservation, ecology
Favorite quote: “I’m not superstitious but I’m a little stitious” – Michael Scott
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Getting to work with a team and exploring the field of coastal conservation!

 

Jessi James

Title(s): Extension Associate
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: jaj322@msstate.edu
Hometown: Biloxi, Mississippi
Education: B.S., Psychology, The University of Southern Mississippi, 2019; B.S., Marine Biology, The University of Southern Mississippi, 2015; A.A., Bachelor of Science Prepatory, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Focus area(s): Coastal ecology, marine debris, environmental sustainability, citizen science, science communication
Favorite quote: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't” – Bill Nye (The Science Guy)
Favorite aspect of working with this group: I am excited to be able to work with people from diverse backgrounds on collaborative efforts in making Mississippi more environmentally conscious and sustainable.

 

Anthony Vedral

Title(s): Ph.D. Student/Extension Associate
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: anthony.vedral@msstate.edu
Hometown: Yonkers, New York
Education: Ph.D., Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University (in progress); M.S., Marine Science, University of Alabama; B.S., Biology, Spring Hill College
Focus area(s): Marine debris, microplastics, water quality, wetlands, estuaries, coastal ecology, environmental conseravation and restoration, education, and stewardship
Favorite quote: “Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is lnog, and in the end, it's only with yourself” – Mary Schmich (more famously Baz Luhrmann)
Favorite aspect of working with this group: The passion to have a positive impact on our local environment and communities.

 

Sonia Vedral

Title(s): Extension Associate; Education Coordinator
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative; Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Email: s.vedral@msstate.edu
Hometown: Boston, MA
Education: M.S., Marine Biology, Nova Southeastern University, 2014; B.S., Biology, Northeastern University, 2012
Focus area(s): Sea-level rise, education
Favorite quote: “The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Bringing science research and education to a younger generation.

 

Mikaela Heming

Title(s): Extension Associate; Project Coordinator
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant; Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative
Email: m.heming@msstate.edu
Hometown: Boston, MA
Education: B.S., Environmental Science, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 2016
Focus area(s): Communication, sea-level rise
Favorite quote: "I'm not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different than yours." - Lewis Carroll
Favorite aspect of working with this group: People who love what they do and care about its impact!

 

Brianna Andrews

Title: Extension Program Associate

Affiliation: Mississippi State University; Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Email: TBD

Hometown: Slidell, LA

Education: M.S., Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University (in progress); B.S., Environmental Biology, William Carey University
Focus area: Coastal ecology, marine aquaculture

Favorite quote: "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." -Dr. Seuss

Favorite aspect of working with this group: Working with a group of people as passionate about what they do as I am. There is never a day that is the exact same as the one before or after it and there is always an opportunity to learn something new each day.

 

Abigail Johnson

Title: Undergraduate intern 

Affiliation: Mississippi State University; University of Southern Mississippi

Email: abigail.e.johnson@usm.edu

Hometown: McCool, MS

Education: B.S., Marine Biology, University of Southern Mississippi (in progress
Focus area: Marine debris; microplastics; marine biology, marine conservation

Favorite quote: "If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sun beams, and you will always look lovely." - Roald Dahl

Favorite aspect of working with this group: I get to meet many wonderful like-minded people who all share my passion for keeping the Gulf's coastalines beautiful and full of life for years to come. 

 

Skylar Liner

Title: Undergraduate intern 

Affiliation: Mississippi State University

Email: srl265@msstate.edu

Hometown: Gray, LA

Education: B.S., Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University (in progress
Focus area: Coastal ecology, restoration, and Extension

Favorite quote: "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I know I'm doing it really well." - Andy Dwyer, Parks and Rec

Favorite aspect of working with this group: The ability to work in an environment that I hold near to my heard and meeting new people along the way!

 

Keith Chenier

Title: Intern

Affiliation: Mississippi State University

Email: kjchenier@yahoo.com

Hometown: Thibodaux, LA

Education: B.S., Biology, Nicholls State University
Focus area: Coastal ecology, restoration, and Extension

Favorite quote: "I am spanish moss on a live oak tree." - Paul Ott

Favorite aspect of working with this group: Getting the chance to lead and help develop coastal projects.

 

Shelby Harrier

Title: Undergraduate Intern

Affiliation: Mississippi State University

Email: sharrier@bulldogs.mgccc.edu

Hometown: Alma, Michigan

Education: B.S., Marine Sciences, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (in progress)
Focus area: Coastal ecology, restoration, and marine debris

Favorite quote: "Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore" - Andre Gide

Favorite aspect of working with this group: Learning new things and being able to be part of something that has so much impact!

 

Shardeja English

Title: Undergraduate Intern

Affiliation: Mississippi State University, Tuskegee University

Email: senglish5252@tuskegee.edu

Hometown: Montgomery, AL

Education: B.S., Biology, Tuskegee University (in progress)
Focus area: Coastal ecology, restoration, and marine debris

Favorite quote: "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." - Proverbs 31:25

 

 

 

Jaden Akers

Title: Undergraduate Intern

Affiliation: Mississippi State University

Email: jea259@msstate.edu 

Hometown: Saucier, MS

Education: B.S., Conservation Biology, Mississippi State University (in progress)
Focus area: Coastal ecology, restoration, microplastics, conservation

Favorite quote: "America!" - Will Ferrel as Detective Allen Gamble, The Other Guys

Favorite aspect of working with this group: The diversity of learning I'm able to be a part of. 

 

Zehra Mohsin

Title: Undergraduate Intern

Affiliation: Mississippi State University; University of Southern Mississippi-Gulf Park; Gulf Coast Research Lab

Email: zehra.mohsin@usm.edu

Hometown: Shawnee, Kansas

Education: B.S., Marine Biology, University of Southern Mississippi (in progress)
Focus area: Marine chemistry, water quality, coastal ecology, conservation, community outreach, chemistry education

Favorite quote: "Where we're going, we don't need roads." - Dr. Emmettt Brown

Favorite aspect of working with this group: Common interest of protecting and preserving our waters, and every organism that resides in them.

 

Gaelyn Gros

Title: Intern

Affiliation: Mississippi State University

Email: gmg142@msstate.edu

Hometown: Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Education: B.S., Marine Biology, Minor, Geography, University of Southern Mississippi, 2018
Focus area: Ecology, environmental education, oceanography, trophic interactions

Favorite quote: "Hakuna matata" 

Favorite aspect of working with this group: High quality science and high quality pals.

 

Ellie Mallon

Title: Extension Program Assistant/M.S. Student

Affiliation: Mississippi State University

Email: TBD

Hometown: Carmel, Indiana

Education: M.S., Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University (in progress); B.S., Marine Biology, Springhill College, 2018
Focus area: Marine debris, litter abatement, stewardship, coastal conservation

Favorite quote: "No matter where you go, there you are" - Confucius

Favorite aspect of working with this group: Chance to continually learn new things from awesome people who are passionate about the work they are doing.

 

Alumni

 

Andrew Lucore

Title(s): Extension Program Assistant
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: ael219@msstate.edu
Hometown: Waveland, Mississippi
Education: B.S., Conservation Law Enforcement, Mississippi State University, 2018
Focus area(s): Coastal ecology, wetland ecology
Favorite quote: “There are two things that interest me: the relation of people to each other, and the relation of people to land.” - Aldo Leopold
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Working outdoors and meeting new people.

 

Antonette DeSilva

Title(s): Undergraduate Intern
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: aad340@msstate.edu
Hometown: Biloxi, Mississippi
Education: B.S., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mississippi State University (in progress)
Focus area(s): General sciences
Favorite quote: “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life” – Marcus Mosiah Garvey
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Being able to work with a team conducting research aimed at the sustainability of our coastal environment.

 

Haley Moss

Title(s): Undergraduate Intern
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: hbm115@msstate.edu
Hometown: Gulf Breeze, Florida
Education: B.S., Biological Engineering, Mississippi State University (in progress)
Focus area(s): Coastal conservation, restoration
Favorite quote: “Great things never came from your comfort zone.” - Unknown
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Getting to meet new people and learn new things.

 

Allie Blanchette

Title(s): Intern
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: ablanchette912@gmail.com
Hometown: Eldersburg, Maryland
Education: B.S. Environmental Science, University of California Los Angeles
Focus area(s): Living shorelines, marine debris, outreach and education
Favorite quote: "I cannot distinguish between the love I have for people and the love I have for dogs" -Kurt Vonnegut
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Learning about environmental outreach and working in the beautiful Gulf Coast wetlands.

 

Daniel Firth

Title(s): M.S. Student; Research Assistant
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: dcf72@msstate.edu
Hometown: Hattiesburg, MS
Education: B.S., Marine Biology, University of Southern Mississippi, 2013
Focus area(s): Coastal ecology, living shorelines, estuarine fauna
Favorite quote: "You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals" - Paul McCartney
Favorite aspect of working with this group: A brilliant team, willing to challenge themselves and others to conserve our ecosystems.

 

Loren Roman-Nunez

Title(s): Intern
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; University of Southern Mississippi
Email: ler359@msstate.edu
Hometown: Port Orange, FL
Education: B.S., Environmental Biology, University of Southern Mississippi
Focus area(s): Conservation, wildlife ecology, endangered species management
Favorite quote: “How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else” – R. Buckminster Fuller
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Having the opportunity to make a difference in local conservtaion efforts and meet new people.

 

Payton Billingsley

Title(s): Extension Apprentice
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: pb653@msstate.edu
Hometown: Rockland, ME
Education: B.S., Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering concentration, Mississippi State University (in progress)
Focus area(s): Coastal restoration, environmental engineering, wave climate mapping, community engagement
Favorite quote: “Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life!” – L.K. Fish
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Working outdoors with a passionate team of people to make the world a better place.

 

Sarah Cunningham

Title(s): Extension Program Assistant
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: sc2892@msstate.edu
Hometown: Round Rock, TX
Education: B.S., Environmental Science, University of Texas
Focus area(s): Coastal conservation, wetlands ecology, stewardship, outreach
Favorite quote: "You think we need one more?" - George Clooney as Daniel Ocean, Oceans 11
Favorite aspect of working with this group: The diverse research interests and opportunities.

 

Aaron Macy

Title(s): Extension Program Associate
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: amacy@disl.org
Hometown: Charleston, IL
Education: Ph.D., Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama (in progress); B.S., Oceanography, Florida Institue of Technology, 2008
Focus area(s): Coastal ecology, wetlands, estuaries, climate science, stewardship, education
Favorite quote: "Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actiions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny" - Frank Outlaw
Favorite aspect of working with this group: We are focused on helping to build thriving coastal communities. We start empirically.

 

Pamela Clevenger

Title(s): Extension Associate
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: pclevenger@southalabama.edu
Hometown: El Dorado, AR
Education: M.C.S., Mississippi College; M.Ed., Mississippi State University; B.S., Mississippi State University
Focus area(s): Environmental education
Favorite quote: "A good song should give you a lot of images; you should be able to make your own little movie in your head to a good song." - Tom Petty
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Water!

 

Gillian Palino

Title(s): Undergraduate Intern
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; University of Florida
Email: gmp128@msstate.edu
Hometown: Bradenton, Florida
Education: B.S., Environmental Engineering, University of Florida (in progress)
Focus area(s): Environmental engineering, GIS, coastal restoration
Favorite quote: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better. It's not." - The Lorax
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Getting to learn a lot about Extension and coastal research.

 

Wayne PorterWayne Porter

Title(s): Senior Extension Apprentice
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: wayne.porter@msstate.edu
Hometown: Ocean Springs, MS
Education: PhD, North Carolina State University; M.S., Mississippi State University; B.S., Mississippi State University
Focus area(s): Coastal conservation, wetlands ecology, stewardship, outreach
Favorite quote: “You may be right, I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for?” – Billy Joel, 'You May Be Right'; Glasshouses album
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Learning something new.

 

Abby Schell

Title(s): Intern
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: abbycschell@gmail.com
Hometown: Acworth, GA
Education: B.S., Environmental Science, Kennesaw State University
Focus area(s): Environmental studies, conservation
Favorite quote: “Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.” – Unknown
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Gaining experience in the field I'm passionate about and meeting new people.

 

Rory McCollum

Title(s): Undergraduate intern
Affiliation(s): Macalester College
Email: amccollu@macalester.edu
Hometown: Mount Vernon, Iowa
Education: B.A., Biology, Macalester College (in progress)
Focus area(s): Aquatic ecology, conservation
Favorite quote: “Be brave, stay wild.” – Coyote Peterson
Favorite aspect of working with this group: The atmosphere encourages asking questions and ensures that everyone understands not only each step of the process but also the reasoning behind it. The people make it a great experience because they care deeply about the work and one another.

 

Emily StolzEmily Stolz

Title(s): Undergraduate intern
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: ecs315@msstate.edu
Hometown: Diamondhead, MS
Education: B.S., Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University (in progress)
Focus area(s): Coastal ecology, wildlife conservation
Favorite quote: "Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, ascrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do." -Pele
Favorite aspect of working with this group: Working with and getting to learn from people who are just as passionate about conservation as I am.