Danielle Keller

Grauduate Student

Justin Ridge

Graduate Student

Martin Benavides
Graduate Student

Shelby Ziegler
Graduate Student

Ian Kroll
Graduate Student

Danielle Keller
Graduate Student

Martin Benavides
Graduate Student

Shelby Ziegler
Graduate Student

Principle Investigator

Researchers / Lab Managers

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Dr. Joel Fodrie is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Marine Sciences (UNC-CH), where he studies the population and community ecology of coastal fishes, shellfish, seagrasses, and saltmarshes. Dr. Fodrie has worked along all three major U.S. coastlines, examining: 1) linkages between coastal habitat quality and fishery production; 2) landscape ecology; 3) novel approaches for habitat restoration; 4) marine population connectivity; and 5) effects of harvest pressure and climate variability on long-term population trends of fishery species (using multi-decade data sets). Dr. Fodrie earned his Ph.D. from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (2006) and was a post-doctoral researcher at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. He has contributed ~60 peer-reviewed articles and manuscripts that explore mechanisms of population variability for fishery species. These articles appear in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ecology, and Bioscience.

Abigail Poray
Abigail (M.S.) serves as a lab administrator, and is also participating in the seagrass fragmentation study.

M.S., 2009, Cal
B.A., 2004, UMass
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Post-Doctoral Researchers

Stacy Zhang
Stacy (Ph.D.) leads an NSF-funded project examining (multi-scale)biogeographic patterns and drivers of estuarine fish diversity and species turnover.


Ph.D., 2019, Duke Univ
B.S., 2012, UNC-CH
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Graduate Students

Shelby Ziegler
Shelby is interested how both abiotic and biotic factors influence food-web linkages and dynamics across biogenic habitat boundaries. Specifically she is interested in how tidal inundation and habitat structure mediate the movement of energy from terrestrial to marine systems across the salt marsh-tidal creek boundary.


B.S., 2013. Col Will Mary
Martín Benavides
Martín (M.S..) is primarily interested in coastal shark ecology, with a particular focus on the ecological drivers of shark distribution and abundance operating across different levels of organization (e.g. organism, population, community). His research combines analysis of the 40+ year dataset from the UNC-IMS longline shark survey with acoustic tracking and drone surveys of bonnetheads (Sphyrna tiburo) in estuarine waters.


M.S., 2012, SUNY Stony
B.S., 2008, UNCW
Amy Yarnall
Amy is interested in habitat degradation and loss effects on various faunal responses including recruitment, growth, predation mortality and density-dependence. She intends her research to spur and advise focused restoration efforts to improve fishery production and ecological services of critical coastal habitats.

B.S., 2016, Penn State
Owen Mulvey-McFerron
Owen is broadly interested in fisheries issues as he begins his graduate work at UNC.
Becca Gaesser
Becca is broadly interested in the role of sound in the life history and ecology of fishes. Her research utilizes passive acoustic methods to address questions related to the ecology and soundscapes of temperate hardbottom habitats, including natural and artificial reefs.
Jon Lucas
Jon is broadly intersted in estuarine ecology and habitat conservation/restoration. He is participating in the New River Estuary Oyster Highway project.

B.S., 2007, Bryan College
Jeff Plumlee
Jeff is broadly interested in marine food webs. Hi research focuses on the role marine fishes play in energy transfer across landscapes and how they can facilitate connectivity among individual habitats. His past research has allowed him to explore feeding ecology and community structure of elasmobranchs as well as other marine fishes.

B.S., 2015, TAMU
M.S., 2018, TAMU
Zofia Knorek
Zofia is interested in how invasive species and local pests alter community dynamics and function. Her current research concerns the boring sponges Cliona spp.'s impacts on oyster reefs, particularly in the context of restoration.

M.S., 2018, University of Oregon

B.A., 2015, Hendrix College
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Savannah Swinea
BS: UNC-CH (2019)

Savannah is a technician working primarily on the effects of the DWHOS on GOM fishes.
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Dr. Jim Morley, 2017-2019 (Post-doctoral researcher); Research theme: “Ecosystem effects of shellfish mariculture”. Transitioned to: Assistant Professor at East Carolina University


Dr. Matthew Kenworthy, 2015-2019 (PhD Student); "Movement ecology and of large estuarine fishes"; Transitioned to: Post-doctoral researcher at Savannah State University 

Dr. Chris Baillie, 2018 (Post-doctoral researcher); Research theme: “Shellfish mariculture planning”. Transitioned to: Post-doctoral researcher at East Carolina University


Max Tice-Lewis, 2016-2018 (Masters Student); "Natural and anthropogenic drivers of oyster reef community dynamics"; Transitioned to: Oregon First Nations Oyster Biologist

Dr. Danielle Keller, 2013-2018 (PhD Student); "How the structure and spatial components of habitat affect estuarine communities"; Transitioned to: USACE Biologist

Dr. Justin Ridge, 2012-2017 (PhD Student; co-advised with AB Rodriguez); “Landscape connectivity influences growth and accretion in temperate biogenic reefs and adjacent saltmarshes”; Transitioned to: Post-doctoral researcher at Duke University

Dr. Ian Kroll, 2012-2017 (PhD Student); “Assessing estuarine-scale population connectivity and dynamics for the management of commercial marine fisheries”; Transitioned to: Scientist, NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)


Dr. Michelle Brodeur, 2009-2016 (Masters and PhD Student); Research theme: “Consumers mitigate effects of heat stress and nutrient enrichment on eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) communities at its southern range limit” and “Interspecific competition and predation control euhaline oyster reef distribution”. Transitioned to: Communications Lead, North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve

Dr. Lauren Yeager, 2013-2014 (Post-doctoral Researcher); Research theme: “Landscape ecology of NC seagrass meadows”. Transitioned to: Assistant Professor, University of Texas


Sara Coleman, 2011-2014 (Masters Student); “Effects of boring sponge on oyster soft tissue, shell integrity, and predator-related mortality”; Transitioned to: staff researcher with The Nature Conservancy, Rhode Island


Marianna Miller (UNC-CH) 2018-2020; Transitioned to: NCDEQ biologist

Grace Roskar (UM & FAU) 2019-2020; Transitioned to: Knauss Fellow

Mary Conroy (RWU) 2018-2019; Transitioned to: NEFMC biologist

Jade Danford-Klein (UNC-CH) 2019; Transitioned to: UNC undergraduate student

Cori Lopazanski (UNC) 2017-2019; Transitioned to: UCSB graduate student

Andrew McMains (UWM) 2018-2019; Transitioned to: NCDMF biologist 

Eliza Schlein (UVA) 2018; Transitioned to: NEU graduate student

Rich Mahoney (UWSP) 2015-2018; Transitioned to: UCF graduate student

Lauren Clance (UNC-CH) 2017-2018; Transitioned to: Graduate student

Francesca Peay (UNC-CH) 2017-2018; Transitioned to: Cape Lookout National Seashore guide

Emory Wellman (GU) 2018; Transitioned to: ECU graduate student

Owen Mulvey-McFerron (Stockton) 2017; Transitioned to: UNC graduate student

Molly Bost (UNC-CH) 2016-2017; Transitioned to: UNC graduate student

Tessa Pfeifer (UNCW) 2017; Transitioned to: CofC graduate student

Lexie Weber (UNC-CH) 2017; Transitioned to: Researcher

Julie Geyer (Cornell) 2015-2017; Transitioned to: Researcher at Cornell, then UNC graduate student

Carson Miller (UNC-CH) 2016-2017; Transitioned to: UNC graduate student

Quin Walker (UNC-CH) 2015-2016; Transitioned to: NOAA researcher

Mariah Livernois (NEU) 2014; Transitioned to: DISL graduate student

Gray Redding (UNC-CH) 2013-2014; Transitioned to: CBL graduate student

Stacy Zhang (UNC-CH) 2013-2014; Transitioned to: Duke graduate student

Laura Alexander (UDel) 2010-2014; Transitioned to: Scientist with NC Coastal Federation

Alexia Pool (URI) 2012-2014; Transitioned to: UNCW graduate student (in education)

Chris Baillie (UNC-CH) 2010-2012; Transitioned to: NEU graduate student

Kenny Namkoong (UNC-CH) 2012; Transitioned to: NCSU graduate student (in medicine)

Erin Voigt (St. Mary’s) 2011-2012; Transitioned to: SDSU graduate student

Sara Gutekunst (U Miami) 2011; Transitioned to: Undergraduate student

Josh Hancock (UNC-CH) 2011; Transitioned to: UNC graduate student (in accounting)

Sam Fuller (NCSU) 2010-2011; Transitioned to: United States Coast Guard Rescue Diver

Xan Chandler (UNC-W) 2010; Transitioned to: Undergraduate student

Olivia Rhoades (Brown) 2009-2010; Transitioned to: UC-Davis graduate student


Rachel Bouchillon, 2012 (UF)

Riley Brady, 2013 (USC)

Taylor Burns, 2014 (LUNO)


UNC-CH Undergraduate Independent Research (IE Field Site):

Ruslan Grigoriev, 2009

Allison Davis, 2010

Kelsey Ellis, 2011

Parker Ellis, 2012

Madelyn Roycroft, 2013

Danielle Doucett, 2014

Matthew Dwinell, 2014

Kayla Pehl, 2015

Marianna Miller, 2016

Lexie Weber, 2016

Lily Olmo, 2017

Connor Albretch, 2017

Savannah Swinea, 2018

EmmaLi Tsai, 2018

Rachael Rankin, 2019

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Abigail Poray

Abigail (M.S.) serves as a lab administrator, and is also participating in the seagrass fragmentation study. M.S., 2009, Cal Northridge B.A., 2004, UMass