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.

Current SBEP TAC Members

Presented in alphabetical order

Rob Brown

Rob Brown

Environmental Protection Division Manager, Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department

Rob has worked for Manatee County 23 years. 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 Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership.

Ashlee Edwards

Ashlee Edwards

Environmental Specialist III, Sarasota County

Environmental Data Scientist, Stormwater Environmental Utility

Ashlee Edwards is a recent addition to the Stormwater Environmental Utility Division of the Sarasota County Public Works Department. As an Environmental Data Scientist, Ashlee Edwards gathers and organizes water quality data in support of the County’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. Ashlee manages collection of sampling data, the structuring of the internal County database, and uploads to the Sarasota Water Atlas and the Watershed Information Network (WIN). She is the technical lead for the pollutant loading model (SIMPLE-monthly) and works with consultants to manage model updates and upgrades, assemble complex results, and report the meaning of calculated load estimates to drive water quality decisions. She provides technical support for special projects, monitoring plans regulated by Planning and Development Services of the Sarasota County Environmental Protection Division, and for compliance with TMDL priority water bodies through sampling, investigation of pollution sources, data analysis, and annual report writing.

Dr. Emily Hall

Dr. Emily R. Hall

Staff Scientist, Mote Marine Laboratory

Manager of the Ocean Acidification Program and the Chemical and Physical Ecology Program

Dr. Emily Hall joined the staff at Mote Marine Laboratory in the Chemical Ecology Program in 2005 where she was most involved with research and monitoring of nutrient patterns in relation to harmful algal blooms in the west-central coast of Florida, and investigating sources of nutrients in aquatic systems. Dr. Hall currently manages the Chemical and Physical Ecology Program and the Ocean Acidification Program where she developed ocean acidification and climate change experimental systems (in the Florida Keys – CAOS  and in Sarasota - OASys) to study the effects of global and local variables on coral reef ecosystems as well as on other marine organisms. Ocean acidification (OA) and climate change are occurring due to the increased rate of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere and the ocean. Understanding the effects of these global problems on marine organisms is a top priority. The implication and evidence are that increases of pCO2 along with increased temperatures (and combined with other environmental variables) will affect multiple critical biological components of marine ecosystems. Dr. Hall is also focusing her research on unique coastal and marine habitats that may be able to withstand or alleviate the effects of global changes on organisms like corals, such as within seagrass beds or offshore deep holes.

Kris Kaufman headshot

Kris Kaufman

Marine Habitat Resource Specialist, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Restoration Center

SBEP TAC Co-Chair

Kris Kaufman is a Marine Habitat Resource Specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries, Restoration Center.  Kris assists partners with developing and implementing habitat restoration projects throughout the state of Florida for the protection and sustainability of managed and recreational fisheries. Prior to joining the NOAA Restoration Center in the Southeast Region, Kris was a Senior Environmental Scientist with the Southwest Florida Water Management Districts’ Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program. While at the SWIM Program, she spent more than 13 years leading nationally recognized seagrass mapping programs for five coastal estuaries in Southwest Florida and the Springs Coast region of the Gulf of Mexico. As a technical expert in landscape-scale seagrass geospatial mapping, she established program standards and analyzed trends in seagrass distribution.

Meagan Schrandt

Dr. Meagan Schrandt

Associate Research Scientist, Fisheries Independent Monitoring Program

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Meagan is an Associate Research Scientist in the Fisheries Independent Monitoring program where she focuses on data analysis of long-term fisheries monitoring data. She has over 10 years of experience collecting and analyzing fish ecology data from various ecosystems including coral reefs, oyster reefs, coastal, and estuarine environments. Meagan began working for the institute in 2016, after completing her M.S. Degree in Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, followed by her Ph.D. in Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama. Meagan has worked on projects related to coral reef fish behavior and how it’s associated with the local habitat, population structure and dynamics of small coastal pelagic fishes, and how oysters and oyster reefs are affected by oiling from oil spills. She currently attends Tampa Bay TAC matting and is part of their subcommittee for Open Science. She also leads an R-Users group at the institute.

Amber Whittle

Dr. Amber Whittle

Director of Conservation, Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation

SBEP TAC Co-Chair

Amber Whittle, Ph.D., is the Director of Conservation at The Florida Aquarium, Center for Conservation and she leads all the conservation initiatives at FLAQ, primarily focusing on coral, sea turtles, sharks/rays, and sustainability. The coral program is the leader in sexual reproduction of Florida corals for restoration efforts and the sea turtle program rehabilitates and releases turtles back into the wild. Amber previously worked as an environmental consultant and as the Habitat Research Administrator at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute where she oversaw the Coral, Seagrass, Upland, Coastal Wetlands, and Freshwater Plants groups. She received her BS in Zoology and her BA in English from the University of Florida and her Doctorate in Zoology/Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology from the University of Hawaii at Manoā. Her research focus was on the abundance, distribution, diversity, and ecology of larval fishes. Amber is a Sarasota native: she attended Booker Elementary and then Pine View, where her children now attend. She grew up on Sarasota Bay and fell in love with its rhythms and secrets, enough to devote a lifetime to it.

  • Chris Anastasiou, SWFWMD
  • Corey Anderson, FWC
  • Greg Blanchard, Manatee County
  • Nathan Brennan, Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Angela Collins, Florida Sea Grant Manatee County
  • Wendy Conn, VHB
  • Jim Culter, Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Kathleen Davis, Manatee County
  • Randy Edwards
  • Lizanne Garcia, SWFWMD
  • Susan Hochuli, City of Bradenton
  • Ed Hughes, CSA
  • Tony Janicki, Janicki Environmental, Inc.
  • Ari Nissanka, Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Candie Pedersen, City of Sarasota
  • Thomas Ries, ESA
  • John Ryan, Sarasota County
  • Justin Saarinen, ESA
  • Ryan Schloesser, Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Christine Sciarrino, ESA
  • Paul Semenec, Sarasota County
  • Jennifer Shafer, Shafer Consulting
  • Mark Sramek, NOAA
  • Sherri Swanson, HDR
  • Dave Tomasko, ESA
  • Armando Ubeda, Florida Sea Grant Sarasota County
  • Mike Wessel, Janicki Environmental, Inc.