Coastal Conservation and Restoration People

Eric Sparks

Title(s): Assistant Extension Professor; Extension Program Leader; 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
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Email: amanda.jefferson@msstate.edu
Hometown: Ellicott City, Maryland
Education: M.S., Marine Science, 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 & 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 Programs Associate
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
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 Programs Assistant; 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.

 

Mikaela Heming

Title(s): Extension Associate; Project Coordinator
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; 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 realisty 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!

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Andrew Lucore

Title(s): Intern
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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Alyssa Rodolfich

Title(s): Undergraduate Intern
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University; University of Southern Mississippi
Email: alyssa.rodolfich@usm.edu
Hometown: Biloxi, Mississippi
Education: B.S., Geography (in progress), University of Southern Mississippi; 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.

 

 

Alumni

Matthew Virden

Title(s): Undergraduate Intern
Affiliation(s): Mississippi State University
Email: mfv24@msstate.edu
Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama
Education: B.S., Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science, Mississippi State University (in progress)
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!

 

 

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