Science Committee

The Southeast Region Science Committee is comprised of employees from throughout the Service who are working to make scientific information more accessible. Current committee members are listed below including information on their experience and expertise. If you would like to participate or have a question for the science committee feel free to contact us at southeastscience@fws.gov.

M. Forbes Boyle, Botanist

A service biologist wearing a bright orange hat kneeling in tall wetland vegetation.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
maxwell_boyle@fws.gov Job Series: 0430

Expertise

Vegetation ecology Fire ecology Plant community classification Multivariate statistics Habitat restoration GIS Inventory and Monitoring

What does a typical day involve?

First and foremost, I am a plant geek! I am particularly geeky when it comes to bringing issues of vegetation ecology to the forefront of conservation and resource management. I am also passionate about the protection and discovery of rare plants and plant communities. As the botanist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Inventory and Monitoring Branch, I am able to provide scientific capacity to our National Wildlife Refuges concerning matters of plant conservation and management. Through this program, I have worked closely with a diversity of conservation partners to develop scientifically-driven resource inventory and monitoring approaches for implementation on Service lands. Because this position was in its infancy when I joined, I have had the privilege of shaping the focus of vegetation monitoring activities on refuge lands. My efforts have made contributions to understanding patterns of vegetation change along coastal refuges, and by combining this work with geomorphologic analysis of sediment elevation table sites our team has been able to provide better tools for landscape scale conservation in the face of increased rates of accretion and erosion. Throughout my career, I have found it increasingly important to bridge the gap between applied research and resource management.

Field of Study

Before joining the Service, I was a post-doctoral scholar in the Plant Ecology Lab at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (2006-2011). My research aimed at providing effective guidance and tools for ecosystem restoration across the Carolinas, and helped improve vegetation classification models in the southeastern US. Prior to my tenure in Chapel Hill, I attended graduate school within the Forest Resources Department of Clemson University where I received M.S. (2002) and PhD (2010) degrees. My studies focused on determining how autogenic and allogenic factors shape the distribution of southeastern forested ecosystems. My Master’s thesis examined the effects of fire and mechanical fuels treatments on forest pest incidence and host resistance as part of the USDA/DOI Joint Fire Science Program’s Fire and Fire Surrogate Study, while my PhD dissertation focuses on the description and monitoring of vegetation across multiple seral stages of ecological site types within the southern Appalachian Mountains.

What led you to the Service?

I applied for the position because I wanted to utilize my expertise in plant ecology beyond the reaches of academia, and because I wanted to be a part of a new and exciting Service team dedicated to adding scientific capacity to refuge’s biological programs.

Most memorable day on the job

I have had many memorable days over the past five years, but the one that stands out was the day I got to see five federally listed species in flower in the Sierra Bermeja Mountains of Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge.

If you could go back in time to your first day on the job what advice would give yourself?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t let the fear of making them keep you from doing the right thing for conservation.

Laura Brandt, Regional Scientist, Committee Chair

A biologist with a headlamp taking measurements from a captured alligator.

Davie, Florida
Laura_brandt@fws.gov
Job Series: 0486

Expertise

Linking science and management Structured decision making Monitoring and assessment Adaptive management Crocodilians

What does a typical day involve?

I have responsibilities for supporting science excellence in the region and providing science support for landscape conservation, climate change, invasive exotic species, and Everglades restoration by working collaboratively with universities, state, and federal agencies. One of the things I like about my job is that there is no “typical” day! My day varies depending on which aspect of my job I am focusing on ranging from conducting fieldwork, analyzing data, and writing scientific publications to helping Service staff understand our Science policies to working collaboratively with partners to address issues of climate change and invasive exotic species.

Field of Study

I started my ecological career working on alligators and crocodiles while at The Pennsylvania State University studying for a Bachelor’s in biology with a minor in marine science. I was fortunate enough to be able to continue to work on alligators in South Carolina at the Savannah River Ecology Lab where I conducted research on population ecology for my Master’s degree in biological sciences from Florida International University. After my Masters I worked on a landscape scale project examining the effects of citrus groves on fish and wildlife which led to working on a Doctorate at the University of Florida, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. In addition, to working on my dissertation (spatial and temporal changes in tree islands in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge) I worked on the USGS/FWS GAP Analysis project.

What led you to the Service?

While I was working on a post-doc the Sr. Wildlife Biologist position at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge became available. I was recruited by the outgoing biologist, (Su Jewell) who I knew from both my dissertation work, and my previous job at Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. I was hired in 1999 and was responsible for leading the biological program that included inventory and monitoring and dealing with invasive species.

Most memorable day on the job

I don’t really have a most memorable day, but have many days that make me smile when I think about them, many of them revolving around being in the field or sharing what I know with others.

If you could go back in time to your first day on the job what advice would give yourself?

Take advantage of the opportunities the Service offers for learning while making a contribution. Take time to understand the roles and responsibilities of other staff and programs so you can help folks work together.

John Faustini, Regional Hydrologist

Two biologists on a stream bank take a look at a map.

Atlanta, Georgia
John_Faustini@fws.gov
Job Series: 1315

Expertise

Hydrology Fluvial geomorphology Monitoring aquatic resources Hydrologic impacts of climate change

What’s does a typical day involve?

I provide hydrologic expertise to support our field offices, programs, and partners across the Southeast Region, primarily at the landscape to regional scale. These days I spend most of my time in in the office, but I jump at the chance to get out in the field and get my feet wet when I can. I work with the South Atlantic, Appalachian, and Gulf Coast Plain and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperatives to provide expert review and stakeholder input on aquatic conservation data products and decision support tools that they produce. I also assist the Inventory & Monitoring Branch (I&M) to conduct Water Resource Inventory and Assessment (WRIA) at refuges and fish hatcheries, and I serve as the Southeast Region representative on the Service’s National Water Resources Team. I also manage a listserv to facilitate communication and encourage collaboration among Service aquatic resource conservation science and management staff in the Southeast Region, and I am hosting a Southeast Region Aquatic Resource Conservation Science and Practice webinar series in winter and spring of 2016-2017.

Field of Study

Geosciences, including geomorphology, hydrology, and hydrogeology. I became interested in geology as an undergraduate at the University of Puget Sound, where I had the opportunity to spend a summer assisting one of my professors with field work at Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala, and again the following spring at Mt. St. Helens when it became active (just before the big eruption). After earning my B.S. in geology at UPS, I went to the University of Wisconsin - Madison for an M.S. in geology (hydrogeology), and then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to take a job as a hydrogeologist working on characterization and cleanup of soil and groundwater contamination at industrial sites. When that started to become too repetitive after a number of years, I decided to go back to school. I ended up at Oregon State University, where I earned a Ph.D. in geology (fluvial geomorphology), completing my dissertation on the interaction of channel morphology, large woody debris, and peak flows in steep mountain streams in the Oregon Cascades. I subsequently landed a postdoctoral appointment at Oregon State working with researchers in the U.S. EPA’s Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) to assess aquatic habitat condition in wadeable streams at regional to national scales.

What led you to the Service?

I realized that the academic career track was not for me, so I decided to seek a federal job where I could use my science background in a more applied setting. After a few months of searching, I saw a position announcement for a Regional Hydrologist with the USFWS in Atlanta that seemed to be written just for me.

Most memorable day on the job

Wading in Citico Creek in Cherokee National Forest as the leading edge of a spawning run of smallmouth buffalo passed through was pretty cool.

If you could go back in time to your first day on the job what advice would give yourself?

Seize any opportunity to get out in the field. Take full advantage of the many training, detail, and other opportunities the Service provides to expand your horizons. And don’t let perceived obstacles hold you back; most fall away in the face of creative thinking and persistence.

Jeff Gleason, Gulf of Mexico Migratory Bird Coordinator

Lacombe, Louisiana
Jeffrey_Gleason@fws.gov

Field of Study

I received a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD (1992). I completed a Master of Science at South Dakota State University (1997) in Wildlife Management where he studied survival of resident giant Canada geese (Branta canadensis maxima). I authored or co-authored 10 peer-reviewed publications from my Master’s research and/or related waterfowl research. I completed a PhD in Zoology (2003) from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada, where I studied reproductive performance and behavior of breeding Southern James Bay Canada geese (B. c. interior) in the presence and absence of lesser snow geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) on Akimiski Island, Nunavut; supervised by Dr. C. Davison Ankney. To date, I’ve authored 1 peer-reviewed publication and 7 presentations at professional meetings.

What led you to the Service?

My first permanent federal appointment was as a Wildlife Biologist with the Minerals Management Service, Environmental Studies Section in the Alaska Regional Office, Anchorage, AK (2004-2007). The position included review of avian and marine mammal NEPA sections, as well as project management and oversight on 9 agency-funded projects related to seaducks, seabirds, and marine mammals (~$2.9M). In addition, I authored or co-authored 7 peer-reviewed papers on a diversity of topics including beavers foraging on salmon, mallards feeding on salmon, polar bears and sea ice, and glaucous gull distribution in relation to oil and gas infrastructure. After that, I took a position as the Asst. Pacific Flyway Representative for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management in Portland, OR (2007-2008).

After that, I accepted a position as a Wildlife Biologist at the Kulm Wetland Management District in Kulm, ND (2008-2010). As part of a research team, we evaluated the influence of wind energy development on pre-breeding and breeding waterfowl and waterbirds. This effort resulted in 3 peer-reviewed publications and 11 presentations at professional meetings. In addition, I co-authored 2 peer-reviewed papers related to SD resident giant Canada geese. Following the position in ND, I accepted a position as a Biologist with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico Regional Office in New Orleans, LA (2010-2012). In 2010, BOEM funded an eastern brown pelican telemetry project, 1 of the 1st BOEM-funded projects in the GoM in nearly 20yrs. In 2012, I accepted a position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alabama Ecological Services Field Office in Daphne, AL as the GCPO LCC Science Liaison (2012-2014).

Presently, I am the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Gulf of Mexico Migratory Bird Coordinator with the Service’s Migratory Bird and Gulf Programs. I am stationed at the Southeast Louisiana (SELA) National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Lacombe, LA. With these more recent positions, the focus has been on value, relevance, and rigor of monitoring and clear linkages to decision-making. I have been involved with the structured decision making (SDM) efforts of the Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network (GoMAMN); serving as Co-Chair. Even more recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was ‘awarded’ the lead responsible for seabird monitoring, as part of the Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (GoMMAPPS); an effort funded by BOEM. This effort will monitor seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles over the next several years (2017-2020) and this effort will provide much needed data to inform decision-makers related offshore oil and gas development in the GoM.

Robin Goodloe, Supervisory Fish and Wildlife Biologist

Athens, Georgia
robin_goodloe@fws.gov
Job Series: 0401

Expertise

Endangered Species Act

What does a typical day involve?

There is no typical day! On any given day, I could be conducting a site visit to look at a stream restoration project, drafting a research proposal, meeting with partners to plan conservation actions – and better yet, implementing those actions, or working on drudge paperwork. New FY17 office initiatives mean I get to do more fish sampling and to work more closely with NRCS and agricultural producers to improve water quality in one of the Southeast’s most diverse river basins, the Conasauga.

Field of Study

Wildlife.

What led you to the Service?

Pure luck.

Most memorable day on the job

My first time snorkeling the Conasauga, where the water is so clear and the fish community so diverse that it’s like swimming in an aquarium.

I first worked for the Service’s (long-moved-to-USGS) research arm at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, where my division worked to propagate various rare species for release to the wild and managed field stations throughout the country for research on endangered and threatened species. Patuxent sent me back to school as a co-op student (now morphed into the Pathways program), and I’ve worked for the Service full time since 1991, when I finished my doctorate at the University of Georgia. My research at UGA focused on population dynamics of the feral horses of Cumberland Island National Seashore, including evaluation of an immunocontraceptive to manage the herd (it failed miserably). I worked at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, on the Everglades lawsuit for a year, then transferred to Georgia Ecological Services’ coastal office, where I spent the next 5 years working on consultation and recovery actions for sea turtles, wood storks, Eastern indigo snakes, and bald eagles. In 1997, I moved to Athens to open the new north Georgia ES office and entered a whole new world of freshwater fishes and mussels. They are fascinating! I work closely with The Nature Conservancy, USGS, various Georgia universities, Georgia DNR, and other partners to better link science and management.

Todd Jones-Farrand, Science Coordinator

Gulf Coast Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative
david_jones-farrand@fws.gov
Job Series: 0480

Expertise

Conservation Planning Species-Habitat Modeling Decision Support

What does a typical day involve?

These days I’m primarily a computer biologist and people manager. I spend a lot of talking to partners (as individuals or teams) about their science needs and devising processes, data sets or grant applications to fulfill that need. I also spend a lot of time on webinars or conference calls to learn what is going on so I can connect folks to existing science information.

Field of Study

Wildlife Ecology and Landscape Ecology.

What led you to the Service?

After my PhD, I had a postdoc position developing habitat models for a migratory bird Joint Venture. Working at the nexus of science and management was exciting and I abandoned dreams of being a university professor to pursue a more applied conservation career.

Most memorable day on the job

Being in the field with a graduate student working on clapper rails in Grand Bay. Capturing and tagging a secretive marshbird I had heard many times but never seen will not soon be forgotten. The experience was made all the more memorable by the good people involved, the dolphins beside the boat, and the hoards of mosquitoes eating my hands.

If you could go back in time to your first day on the job what advice would give yourself?

Slow down (just a wee bit).

Carrie A. Straight, Fish and Wildlife Biologist

Athens, Georgia
carrie_straight@fws.gov
Job Series: 0401

A female biologist wearing waders walks through a stream.

Expertise

ESA Section 7 Aquatic Species Bats Transportation GIS

What does a typical day involve?

My primary focus at work is assessing impacts of transportation projects to at-risk species and aquatic environments under the authority of the Endangered Species Act and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act. This work involves good communication and development of partnerships with federal, state, and private partners. This work involves a lot of emails, phone calls, meetings, and field visits. As with many others in the Service, we wear many hats. I am also the species and recovery lead for three federally listed granite outcrop plants (Little Amphianthus, Amphianthus pusillus, Black Spored Quillwort, Isoetes melanospora, and Mat-forming Quillwort, Isoetes tegetiformans), serve as an executive committee member of the Robust Redhorse Conservation Committee, participate in several other statewide and landscape scale conservation efforts, and mentor an undergraduate student from the University of Georgia.

Field of Study

Wildlife / Ecology. As a Biology undergraduate, I gained some experience working with bats and birds. I received a Masters at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia studying the foraging behavior of neotropical migrant birds in West Virginia in areas treated for Gypsy Moth. My PhD research involved studying the reproductive behaviors of Robust Redhorse (Moxostoma robustum), an at-risk fish species native to the southeastern United States.

What led you to the Service?

For 13 years I worked as a research professional and conducted inventory and monitoring research on many species of at-risk fish and one invasive species. My work allowed me to develop skills building and maintaining websites, databases, and using GIS for the Georgia Museum of Natural History. My diversity of interests, experiences, and skillsets has made working for the Ecological Services a great choice.

Most memorable day on the job

I don’t have one specific day that has been the most memorable. Some of the most meaningful things I have done in the Service has been related to forming partnerships to help achieve our mission and communicating the importance of what we do and why we do it to the public.

If you could go back in time to your first day on the job what advice would give yourself?

For someone new to the Service or any job really, I would stress the need to be a good communicator. Being able to communicate well among coworkers, with partners, and the public are keys to being successful at the work we do.

William Wayman, Supervisory Fishery Biologist

Warm Springs, Georgia
william_wayman@fws.gov
Job Series: 0482

Expertise

Cryopreservation Reproductive Biology

What does a typical day involve?

I began my work at the Warm Springs Fish Technology Center in Warm Springs, GA, and have been there for the last 18 years. Starting out as a Student Trainee, and progressing to the Center Director. The Warm Springs Fish Technology Center consists of two main branches of research – cryopreservation and genetics. My duties have changed over the years, from being primarily research focused to more of an administrative position. Although I do a considerable amount of administrative work, I still get opportunities to work in the field conducting research projects.

Field of Study

I received a bachelor degree in Marine Biology from Auburn University. After spending a year testing oil well production effluents in a bioassay lab in Louisiana, I decided to go to Louisiana State University for my Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Fisheries and Aquaculture. My Master’s degree was developing sperm cryopreservation techniques for marine sciaenids (red drum, black drum, and spotted seatrout), and yes, I had to hook and line catch all of the broodstock for the project (perils of being a student). My Doctoral work was conducted as part of the Student Career Experience Program (now called Pathways), and focused on developing a cryopreservation repository (sperm bank) for endangered aquatic species.

What led you to the Service?

During my Master’s work, I got to participate on two research projects on endangered species for the Service in Arizona. One was on the Colorado River and included electrofishing at night below the Hoover Dam. The other included a helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon to work on the Little Colorado River. Nearing the end of my Master’s work, I helped conduct a workshop on sperm cryopreservation for the Service. During that workshop, I was introduced to several Fish Technology Center Directors, and became hooked on working for the Service.

Most memorable day on the job

One of my most memorable days (and there are many) was working with Lake Sturgeon in the Black River on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We were capturing adult lake sturgeon at a spawning site to collect sperm for a research project. Capturing a 200+ lb Lake Sturgeon by hand with a dip net in 1-2 feet of water was an amazing experience.

If you could go back in time to your first day on the job what advice would give yourself?

Take advantage of all that the Service has to offer. Through my job, I have traveled all across the country and have been able to work with numerous endangered species. I even traveled to China as part of a Service program. I have done field work in 5 of the 8 Regions and traveled to an additional 2 Regions for meetings (still trying to get to Alaska). The Service offers availability to things that can’t be found anywhere else.

Christine Willis, Energy Coordinator

Atlanta, Georgia
christine_willis@fws.gov
Job Series: 0401

Expertise

Permits Clean Water Act ESA Section 7 FERC NEPA

What does a typical day involve?

My current responsibilities include regional program coordination for large infrastructure projects including Regional support for Army Corps of Engineers’ permits under the Clean Water Act, and permits require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil.

Prior to my current position, I worked in the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (2001-2011), while there I was responsible for the administration of grants to States in the Southeast under the Wildlife Restoration Program, Hunter Education, ESA Section 6 Grants, and the State Wildlife Grant program. I also served on the Regional Review Team for the State Wildlife Action Plans, which included providing technical assistance to southeast states for development of the State Action Plans as well as the national approval of these Plans for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

From 1999-2001, I worked in Headquarters, in the Division of Endangered Species. During my time in Washington I reviewed listing packages, critical habitat designation and provided litigation support. From 1993-1999, I worked in the Honolulu Field Office. My program responsibilities included; NEPA, Clean Water Act, the Service’s Partners Program, and NRCS’s Wildlife and Habitat Incentives Programs. I also served on several State Technical Committees tasked with the development of a State Water Permit Program, State Watershed Focus Groups, and a Water Quality Monitoring Program. I started my career with the Service in 1991 in the Sacramento Field Office where I worked in the Branch of Federal Projects on Bureau of Reclamation water development projects including review and preparation of environmental assessment documents and Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act Reports.