Sarasota Bay with Ringling Bridge

Technical Advisory Committee

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) provides technical peer review and input to SBEP for various projects and programs. TAC members include local and regional  environmental managers and researchers who are familiar with  the Sarasota Bay estuarine system. The TAC initiates technical studies, assists SBEP with restoration and management plans, and reviews projects recommended by the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) and other groups. Following the bios of the current active members is a list of additional technical advisors.

(Presented in alphabetical order)

Rob Brown – Manatee County

Rob BrownRob has worked for Manatee County 23 years and is currently the Environmental Protection Division Manager for the Natural Resources Department. He is responsible for overseeing activities in water resources management, air resources management, pollutant storage tanks, water well permitting, and phosphate mining. Rob received a B.S. Degree in Chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University and a M.S. Degree in Oceanography from Old Dominion University. He worked previously as a Senior Chemist at Mote Marine Laboratory, where he studied the fate and effects of toxic chemicals in the marine/estuarine environments. He also conducted research on the effects of airborne red tide toxins on aquatic and terrestrial organisms. Rob has been involved in over 40 research projects, authored more that 45 publications and has participated on many state and regional environmental advisory committees. He is on the Management Board of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, serves as the Local Government Co-chair of the Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium and also provides support as a representative on the TAC for the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.

Wendy ConnWendy Conn – MSC Environmental Services, LLC

Wendy is a Senior Scientist and Co-Owner of MSC Environmental Services. She earned a B.S. Degree in Marine Biology in 1995 from the University of New England. She has over 20 years experience as a professional in marine science, environmental regulation and wetland ecology. Her background consists of working in the public and private sectors including Mote Marine Laboratory, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Sarasota County Resource Protection & Public Works, Atkins (formerly PBS&J), and Scheda Ecological. Wendy has a comprehensive understanding of current regulations related to wetlands, surface water, and sovereign submerged lands. Her current projects involve construction oversight relative to wetland and surface water impacts, habitat enhancement and restoration design, environmental permitting, land management, wetland delineations, wildlife surveys, and stormwater system improvements.

Frank Courtney – Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Frank CourtneyFrank is an Assistant Research Scientist in the Fisheries Independent Monitoring Program where he assists in assessing Bay and tidal creek fish assemblages. He began working for the Institute in January 1985 after completing his M.S. Degree at the USF’s College of Marine Science. His first 10 years were focused on developing a Marine Habitat Research and Restoration Program, which was responsible for many restoration projects in cooperation with the SWFMD and DEP, as well as seagrass restoration and research. He has worked in the Fisheries Dependent Monitoring Program assisting in the National Recreational Fisheries Statistical Surveys and data collection for a Charter Boat survey. He also worked for seven years at the Stock Enhancement Research Facility, at Port Manatee, where he helped to manage a salt marsh pond designed to treat hatchery effluent. This salt marsh pond has provided more than one million Spartina alterniflora plants to Bay area marine habitat restoration projects and was recognized by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Florida Association of Environmental Professionals. Frank currently serves on the Management Board and also regularly attends Tampa Bay TAC, Habitat, and the Southwest Florida Seagrass Working Group meetings. He serves on the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Habitat Subcommittee. Frank attended the College of William and Mary and graduated with an Interdisciplinary Degree in Biology and Anthropology. He has been married for almost 34 years and has 2 children in Florida colleges.

Dr. L. Kellie Dixon – Mote Marine Laboratory

Dr Kellie DixonA graduate of Emory University and the University of South Florida where she received her Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography, Kellie has been at the Laboratory since 1978 and is presently a Senior Scientist, heading the Chemical Ecology Program. She and her group, in addition to studying the impacts of excess nutrients, wastewater, and stormwater in estuarine environments, have quantified atmospheric deposition of nutrients at regional scales, have developed methods to investigate the minimum flow requirements of riverine systems, have determined light requirements for seagrasses along the west coast of Florida, and have demonstrated the significant role that epiphyte growth on seagrass blades and the resulting attenuation of light plays in restricting the depth expansion of seagrass. Present research foci include the spectral modeling of submarine light to refine seagrass light requirements, the use of spectrofluorescence algorithms to track anthropogenic contaminants (oil, optical brighteners) in the presence of naturally fluorescent background dissolved carbon, and quantifying the nutrient regimes and sediment nutrient flux in the support of blooms of the harmful red tide algae, Karenia brevis.

Pamela Fetterman – EcoGENESIS, LLC

Pam FettermanPamela is the Managing Member and Principal Scientist of EcoGENESIS, LLC, an environmental consulting firm based in Sarasota. Pamela has 30 years of experience in environmental and ecological resource management, permitting, and water use regulations. Her primary areas of expertise are wetland science, hydrology and restoration. She has extensive experience in the evaluation of impacts to wetland structure and function using various functional assessment methods, delineation and verification of wetland and surface water boundaries jurisdictional to Florida and the U.S., and large scale wetland restoration and mitigation banking design and permitting. Her experience also includes large-scale ecological restoration, natural lands management, and conservation banking. Pamela holds a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of South Florida, and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from New College. Her industry associations include: Society of Wetland Scientists, National Mitigation Banking Association (Board Member), Sarasota County Environmentally Sensitive Lands Advisory Board, and the SBEP TAC. Pamela is also an accomplished percussionist, playing with several local, all original bands and providing percussion on several recording projects over the last 25 years. Pamela is ordained as a Minister of Universal Worship and regularly conducts services at Rising Tide International in Sarasota. Pamela spends her free time playing music, pursuing esoteric studies, supporting or participating in humanitarian projects, and enjoying the natural environment through hiking, kayaking, bird watching and exploring our state, local and national parks and wild lands.

Ed Hughes – CSA International

Ed HughesEddie received his B.S. Degree from the University of Miami in marine science and during that time, spent two semesters abroad on exchange at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. He earned his M.S. Degree while attending the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, focusing on the distribution and abundance of the Atlantic sea scallop in areas that were open or closed to bottom fishing gears, and participating in a number of offshore cruises assisting with research efforts on Georges Bank. Eddie has worked in the environmental industry for over 15 years, and has been with CSA for five years. He’s been involved in marine related projects both domestically, around Florida, throughout the Keys, and the Gulf states, as well as internationally, including work throughout the Caribbean, off South America, and off Sakhalin Island, Russia. Efforts have included benthic habitat mapping, water and sediment quality studies, coastal restoration efforts, including stony coral and seagrass relocation, mitigation design and monitoring, and most recently, mesopelagic/bathypelagic fish and invertebrate surveys in the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Eddie lives in Temple Terrace and enjoys swimming, fishing, and goofing off with his wife Jackie and their 6 year old daughter, Meghan.

Kris Kaufman – Southwest Florida Water Management District

Kris KaufmannKris is a Staff Environmental Scientist with the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder earning a B.A. Degree in both Environmental Studies and Political Science. Kris is currently a graduate student at the University of Southwest Florida working towards a M.S. Degree in Integrative Biology. At the District, Kris manages SWIM’s seagrass mapping and monitoring program that produces data utilized by many resource management agencies. In addition to seagrass and vegetative mapping projects, her work focuses on estuarine restoration and water quality and she represents the District as a technical advisor to multiple advisory committees. Kris enjoys traveling internationally and heads out west every chance she gets.

Ray Leary – Sarasota County

Ray LearyRay is a Senior Environmental Scientist with the Sarasota County Stormwater Environmental Utility Division. He earned a B.A. in Marine Science from Florida Gulf Coast University. A native of Long Island, New York, Ray moved to southwest Florida in 1999. Previously, he worked for Florida DEP within their Watershed Management Section as a TMDL sampler; in the Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA), Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves office as their Data Manager/Analyst and QA Officer; as the Assistant Coordinator of the Water Quality Priority Issue Team within the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA); and as an Environmental Consultant in both the Watershed Assessment Section and the Aquatic Ecology and Quality Assurance Section. Ray has authored or co-authored many publications including the 2014 Integrated Water Quality Assessment for Florida, White Paper on Gulf of Mexico Water-Quality Monitoring, and several data comparability studies and water quality status and trends reports. He has been involved in seagrass monitoring and shellfish monitoring and restoration. His current focus is on designing, planning, and coordinating water quality monitoring projects for Sarasota’s Water Quality Section. He’s a member of the Florida Association of Benthologists and the National Oyster Restoration Workgroup. Ray enjoys fishing and traveling, especially with his wife Spring and their two sons, Aiden and Rowan.

Dr. Jay Leverone – Sarasota Bay Estuary Program

Dr Jay LeveroneJay became the senior environmental scientist for the SBEP on October 1, 2008. He served previously as a research scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory for 28 years, where his main focus was on the ecology of west Florida bays and estuaries. His research centered on characterizing estuarine habitats and how they are impacted by physical disturbances, such as dredging and contaminated sediments, and water quality degradation, such as low dissolved oxygen and eutrophication. Jay is also an expert in the identification and taxonomy of marine invertebrates. His recent focus includes the restoration of local shellfish populations, particularly scallops and oysters. Working with state and private research partners, Jay has developed improved techniques for enhancing populations of bay scallops along the Florida Gulf coast. Recent increases in local scallop populations have coincided with his restoration efforts in Tampa and Sarasota Bays. Jay has also led the way in restoring important oyster habitat for the SBEP. In 2007, he received his Ph.D. Degree from USF College of Marine Sciences where he studied the effects of red tide on early life stages of local shellfish. His current focus has been the coordination of numeric nutrient criteria development for the estuarine waters of Sarasota.

Julie Neurohr – Florida DEP

Julie NeurohrJulie is an Environmental Specialist with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection South District Office. She attended Daemen College in Buffalo, NY where she earned her B.S. Degree in Biology. Julie earned her M.S. Degree in Environmental Science at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers where she examined physiological effects of climate change on estuarine crab physiology. She was also involved in oyster reef ecology, health, and restoration. In her current position, Julie is focused on water quality and estuarine restoration. Julie provides technical assistance to the Department’s Water Quality Restoration Program including development of Total Maximum Daily Loads and Basin Management Action Plans. She is also a member of the South District’s Outreach Team. Julie enjoys paddleboarding, fishing and traveling.

Dianne Rosensweig – Scheda Ecological Associates, Inc.

Dianne RosensweigDianne is a Senior Scientist and the Sarasota Branch Manager at Scheda Ecological Associates, Inc. She obtained a B.S. Degree in Biology at Roanoke College in Virginia and a Masters Degree in Public Health with a concentration in Environmental Health at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Dianne has more than 25 years of experience as an ecologist. She has worked at Scheda for over 20 years as a project manager for projects involving environmental data collection, wetland jurisdictional determinations, threatened and endangered species, environmental permitting for wetland impacts and water use permits. Scheda has been fortunate to be the Wetlands Coordinator for the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) since 1997 and Dianne has assisted with and/or managed over 20 wetland habitat restoration projects including three oyster habitat restoration projects throughout the Sarasota Bay Watershed. A large component of improving ecological conditions in Sarasota Bay is to address water quality, water quantity, flood protection, and natural systems in a holistic manner. Dianne has provided environmental consulting services for several projects that meet these criteria in Sarasota County. She has been a member of the TAC for eight years.

Steve Schield – Town of Longboat Key

Steve SchieldSteve is a Planner with the Town of Longboat Key. He has worked for the Town for over 22 years and served in the planning, building and public works areas. He grew up in Kissimmee and attended the University of Florida where he received a B.L.A. Degree in Landscape Architecture. He is a licensed Landscape Architect, Building Plan Examiner, Building Inspector, Certified Floodwater Manager and member of AICP (American Institute of Certified Planners). He has worked in Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Plant City. Steve is a former Hillsborough County Planning Commissioner and past member of the Plant City Planning Board. He has managed a number of grant application and restoration projects on Longboat Key, including Quick Point Nature Preserve, Joan M. Durante Park, Lyons Lane and Bayfront Recreation Park. He has served on the TAC for over 20 years. He has also served on committees that drafted manatee protection, tree protection, recycling and LID rules for the Town and the counties. Steve and his wife, Doreen have lived on the north end of Longboat Key for over 17 years and have raised 3 children there. He enjoys boating and travel.

Dr. Jennifer Shafer – Shafer Consulting, LLC

Dr. Jennifer Shafer

Jennifer is a Principal and Senior Scientist at Shafer Consulting in Sarasota. Jennifer is a broadly trained marine ecologist with M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees from the University of Hawaii Manoa. Her research and teaching have taken her to the San Blas Islands of Panama at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Station, to the Puget Sound of Washington at the National Marine Fisheries Service and to remote locations of the Hawaiian Islands such as Hanalei Bay, Kauai and Waimanu Valley, Big Island. Specializing in integrated data solutions in ecology and environmental science, Jennifer’s current interests are in modeling the effects of sea-level rise on coastal ecosystems. She is an Adjunct Scientist in the Center for Coastal Ecology at Mote Marine Laboratory. Jennifer is also an Adjunct Instructor of Environmental Studies at New College, where she leads students in GIS-based research. She is an appointed member of the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee and the Environmental Policy Task Force. Jennifer grew up in Sarasota, where her family has lived, worked and enjoyed Sarasota Bay for over four decades.

Sherri Swanson – HDR Engineering

Sherri SwansonSherri is an Environmental Project Manager at HDR Engineering in Sarasota. She’s a Southwest Florida native and has worked around the Florida Gulf Coast for much of her environmental science career. She has also worked along coastlines in Louisiana and Guam. At HDR, Sherri provides environmentally-sound and sustainable solutions to public infrastructure projects. Her experiences have involved wetland mitigation design, land management, and wildlife surveys, as well as park amenity projects including kayak trails, boardwalks, boat launches, native landscapes, and habitat management. Sherri is a Professional Wetland Scientist and she holds her EnvisionTM sustainability credentials. Sherri received a B.S. in Environmental, Soil and Water Science and a Master’s degree in Global Sustainability. Her interdisciplinary Master’s degree focused on water and sustainability topics including climate, sea level rise, coastal resiliency, water scarcity, and coastal tourism. The program included six-weeks working with the International Sava River Basin Commission in Zagreb, Croatia where she focused on integrating wetland-based tourism as a tool for communities to protect biodiversity and livelihoods dependent on Ramsar wetlands in the region spanning four nations. Sherri enjoys travel and has hiked in Machu Picchu, spelunked in Spain, scootered in Majorca, dove in sea caves in Italy, and chased the Tour du France through the Pyrenees. She’s a backyard beekeeper and enjoys kayaking and sailing. Sherri is a 2015 recipient of a SBEP Blue Dolphin Award acknowledging local champions of Sarasota Bay.

Chris Warn – Environmental Science Associates (ESA)

Chris WarnChris grew up in Sarasota, served in the U.S. Navy after high school, and then earned his degree in Earth System Science and Policy from California State University Monterey Bay. His background is in coastal and watershed studies. Throughout his professional career he has had the opportunity to work across multiple geographic regions and ecosystems having worked along the entire California coast, Gulf Coast, and the Everglades. He was actively involved with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response and NRDA and is now focused on ecosystem restoration efforts across the Gulf Coast. Chris is a member of the American Water Resources Association and the Society of Ecological Restoration. He has been volunteering with the SBEP since 2005 supporting both the TAC and CAC. His tenure includes five years serving as the CAC Chair and Vice-Chair. His hobbies include surfing, standup paddleboarding, and boating.

Dr. Amber Whittle – Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Dr. Amber WhittleAmber received her B.S. Degree in Zoology and her B.A. Degree in English from the University of Florida and her Doctorate Degree in Zoology/Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her research focused on the abundance, distribution, diversity, and ecology of larval fishes. Amber worked as an environmental consultant at Entrix for six years and is currently the Habitat Research Administrator at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. She oversees the Coral, Seagrass, Upland, and Freshwater Plants Groups and serves on many, many committees. Amber’s professional expertise includes watershed restoration, coastal benthic resource assessments, environmental assessments and permitting for large and small scale public and private projects, mitigation design, public water supply, excess freshwater storage, and stormwater management design. An almost native (she moved to Sarasota when she was 3), Amber moved back to Sarasota seven years ago and currently enjoys the beach, hiking, and visiting as many National Parks as possible with her husband and two kids.

Additional Technical Advisors:

  • Ari Nissanka, PhD – Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Tony Janicki – JEI
  • Kelly Westover – Sarasota County
  • Brett Cunningham – Jones Edmunds and Associates
  • Christine Mehle – Jones Edmunds and Associates
  • Dave Tomasko, PhD – Atkins
  • Alan Lai Hipp – Manatee County
  • David Jones – Jones Edmunds and Associates
  • Ed Sherwood – Tampa Bay Estuary Program
  • George Tatge – Sarasota County
  • Greg Blanchard – Manatee County
  • Gary Serviss – Vanasse Hangen Brustlin
  • Howard Berna – Sarasota County
  • Judith Ott – Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program
  • Kathy Meaux – Sarasota County
  • Larry Beggs – Reef Innovations, Inc.
  • Mark Sramek – NOAA Restoration Center
  • Matt Osterhoudt – Sarasota County
  • Michael Marshall, PhD – Private Citizen
  • Michael Solum – Sarasota County
  • Mike Jones – Sarasota County
  • Nathan Brennan, PhD – Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Jim Culter, PhD – Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Rachel Herman – Sarasota County
  • Randy Edwards, PhD – Retired
  • Steven Sauers – Steve Sauers Environmental Management
  • Thomas Ries – Scheda Ecological Associates, Inc.
  • Charles Kovach – formerly Florida Department of Environmental Protection