Michael Allen. Director of Nature Coast Biological Station.
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.

Allen Curriculum Vitae 2015

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


 Kate Hellgren


Kate grew up on the rocky coast of Maine and spent much of her youth exploring tidal pools, looking for sea glass, pulling lobster traps and slaloming lobster buoys in Casco Bay.  She received her B.A. in Biological Sciences from Mount Holyoke College and her M.S. in Wildlife Sciences from Virginia Tech.  After graduate school, Kate began her career in environmental education, working predominantly with K-12 youth.  She has run environmental programs for Texas A & M–Kingsville’s John E. Conner Museum, served as Payne County Audubon’s Director of Education in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and directed the Environmental Education Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Environmental Center.   After moving to Florida, Kate served as the Program Coordinator for the Florida Master Naturalist Program.  She joins NCBS as our K-12 Natural Resource Educator.

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
Emily Colson

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. Her first year, Emily gathered 9Ibs of fishing line, gained her required hours to graduate, and selected a successor to ensure the programs longevity. 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 several small businesses in Cedar Key and works part-time as a Graphic Designer at the Nature Coast Biological Station.