Michael Allen. Director of Nature Coast Biological Station.

Dr. Micheal Allen

Mike Allen is a professor of Fisheries and Aquatic Science in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida. His research has focused on population dynamics and ecology of fishes. He uses field studies and computer models to explore population dynamics of fishes that support important recreational fisheries. He has evaluated habitat requirements for fish populations, and identified fisheries management strategies for recreational fisheries in lakes, reservoirs, and marine environments.

Allen received his BS degree from Texas A&M in 1990, his MS from Auburn University in 1992, and his Ph.D. from Mississippi State in 1996. He spent a year teaching at Auburn before joining the University of Florida (UF) faculty in 1997. At UF, he teaches graduate courses entitled “Fish Population Dynamics” and “Field Ecology of Aquatic Organisms“. Allen has had 25 MS students and eight Ph.D. students under his direction thus far at UF.

He has published over 120 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and co-edited three books. Over the past five years he has worked internationally with research projects addressing fisheries management issues Guatemala and Australia. He served as President of the Southern Division American Fisheries Society in 2013, and was given the Award of Excellence by the Fisheries Management Section of AFS in 2011.

Dr. Allen was appointed Director of the Nature Coast Biological Station in 2015, and he is working to build the research, outreach, and teaching programs to improve conservation and management of natural resources in this region.

David Chagaris

David is a Research Assistant Professor at the Nature Coast Biological Station.  He received his BS and MS from East Carolina University and PhD from the University of Florida.  Dr. Chagaris previously worked for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation as a member of the marine fisheries stock assessment group.  His research involves developing population dynamic and ecosystem models that include environmental drivers, trophic dynamics, and habitat interactions.  These models are applied to understand how marine ecosystems, and the valuable fisheries resources they support, respond to fishing and environmental change.  An important contribution of his work is the development of trophic-dynamic models and spatially explicit approaches to inform fisheries assessment and management in the Gulf of Mexico.  His current research focuses on invasive lionfish in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and also on advancing population dynamic models and evaluating policy options in order to better manage the important recreational fisheries along Florida’s Nature Coast.

Dave Chagris.  Nature Coast Biological Station.
Savanna Barry.  Nature Coast Biological Station.

Savanna Barry

Savanna grew up on a small farm in central Virginia and discovered her interest in marine ecology during family vacations to small fishing towns along the Chesapeake Bay. After earning her B.S. in Biology from the University of Virginia, Savanna split her time between Gainesville, FL and Little Cayman Island to earn her M.S. in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences through the University of Florida. While in Little Cayman, Savanna completed her Divemaster certification and co-organized an island-wide effort to remove invasive lionfish from local coral reefs. After completing her M.S., Savanna moved back to Gainesville full-time to continue into a Ph.D. program at UF and plans to graduate May 2016. In February 2016, she relocated to Cedar Key, Florida and began serving the Nature Coast as a Regional Specialized Agent with Sea Grant and UF/IFAS Extension. She is stationed full time at the Nature Coast Biological Station.

Bhawna Thapa

Bhawna Thapa is the Research Administrator at the Nature Coast Biological Station.  She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University. Dr. Thapa's career interest are in sustainable economic development and her prior work focused on integrated research, field work, and capacity building efforts in agricultural extension systems, natural resource management and community development. Her duties for the Nature Coast Biological Station will include writing proposals to secure grant funds for research, community education and outreach. She will also provide administrative support in grant planning, manage funded projects, and facilitate partnerships with faculty, state and federal agency cooperators, and NGOs.


Charlie Martin

Charlie is a Research Assistant Professor stationed full time at the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station. Dr. Martin received his BS in Biology and PhD from the University of South Alabama. Working through the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Dr. Martin’s dissertation work focused on the effects of estuarine invaders in Mobile Bay, AL. More recently, he served as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Louisiana State University studying the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on coastal flora and fauna. Dr. Martin’s research involves examining how biotic processes and anthropogenic activities influence the structure and function of estuarine ecosystems. His current research experimentally assesses how factors such as climate change, invasive species, oil spills, trophic interactions, loss of biodiversity, and hydrology affect Gulf of Mexico ecosystems. Dr. Martin currently serves as Associate Editor for Aquatic Invasions and BioInvasions Records and has written numerous peer-reviewed publications and funded proposals.

Cassandra Key

Cassandra grew up in central Florida. She has always had a passion for nature and wildlife. This passion encouraged her to take Oceanography in high school. Through this course she examined specimens in the classroom, on the East Coast and Gulf Coast beaches of Florida. Later in life she participated in trainings on grassroots, educational outreach, campaign strategies, and knowledge of environmental factors on ecology. Her study interests through these trainings were education on sustainability for oceans and forests. In 2014, Cassandra moved to Levy County, FL. Here she completed her AA at Santa Fe College, and started working for the Levy County Visitors Bureau as the Administrative Assistant. There she gained extensive knowledge in marketing in the tourism industry, as well as knowledge for marketing a nature based destination. Her goal is to help maintain and preserve the quality and originality of the coastline, and help educate communities about the beautiful coastline the NCBS serves. Cassandra brings over eight years of customer service and administrative skills to the team at NCBS.

Cassandra Key
Whitney Scheffel

Whitney Scheffel

Whitney is a Biological Scientist III, working part time for Charlie Martin as a member of the NCBS team. She spends the other part of her time on main campus, working with one of Charlie’s collaborators, Laura Reynolds, in the Soil and Water Sciences department. Whitney grew up in the land-locked state of Kentucky, but always had her heart set on being a marine scientist. Her family traveled to destinations ranging from Hawaii to South Carolina, which exposed her to many different marine environments. She earned her B.S. in Marine Science with a minor in Biology from Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC. Whitney then moved on to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, where she spent time as an intern, technician, graduate student, and project manager. She worked on a variety of projects, including those focused on oyster restoration, juvenile fish and invertebrate communities, and impacts of oil disturbance on salt marshes. She earned her M.S. degree from the University of South Alabama, and her research was concentrated on the effects that black mangrove expansion into northern Gulf of Mexico salt marshes have on associated organisms. Additional research interests include coastal ecology and restoration, biodiversity, and predator/prey interactions. Whitney looks forward to the research opportunities here along the Nature Coast, and is excited to gain a new set of skills.

Emily Colson

Emily is a life-long native of Cedar Key, Florida. She grew up, went to school, and worked on the island until she graduated with her class of only 15 students from the local High School in 2015. In her senior year, she dedicated her time to create a new program (Reel Recycling) for students to earn their community hours by collecting used mono-filament fishing line to be sent to Berkeley College, which was then recycled into tackle boxes. After being heavily influenced throughout her life by art, nature, and technology, she decided to attend Santa Fe College in Gainesville to obtain her A.S. Degree in Graphic Design in 2017. Today, she continues to be an active member of the community, owns two small businesses in Cedar Key and works part-time as Graphic Designer and Multi-Media Communication Specialist at the Nature Coast Biological Station.

Emily Colson

H. Franklin Percival

H. Franklin Percival, Courtesy Associate Professor, UF Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, has a BS from the University of South Carolina and MS and PhD from Clemson University. He began his career with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1973 in Washington, DC and was Chief, Migratory Game Bird Section at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center 1976-81. He was Assistant Unit Leader and then Unit Leader, USGS FL Coop Fish and Wildlife Research Unit from 1981 until retirement January 2015. He worked on many FL issues but alligators and use of small unmanned aircraft for conservation were a mainstay for many years. He worked on shorebird, salt marsh voles, and marsh ecology in the Cedar Keys. His career interests were cooperative, collaborative, and team research on applied problems.

Kenny McCain

Captain Kenny McCain is the Marine Operations Manager for NCBS. This 5th generation Cedar Key local has served as a volunteer at the Cedar Key Fire Station for 20+ years. Captain McCain recently retired from the Lower Suwanee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, and since then has worked with the UF/IFAS. In addition to his duties as a boat captain, he has entertained generations of children and adults with his stories of Cedar Key and Seahorse Key. Kenny works with UF/IFAS faculty and students in the training of new vessel operators, safety protocols for NCBS, and assisting with routine handiwork at the Station.

Captain Kenny