Harris Holden.  Nature Coast Biological Station.

Holden Harris


For over 10 years Holden’s livelihood has been based on the ocean. As a charter captain, dive instructor, scientist and commercial fisherman, he has developed a multifaceted perspective regarding the marine environment. Holden’s past field work includes research in the British West Indies, the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, coastal Georgia, North East Florida, and offshore in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. At the University of Florida, he studied Zoology and Environmental Science and conducted research on salt marsh ecology under Dr. Brian Silliman. Since graduating in 2009, he has worked for UF’s Aquatic Food Safety Laboratory, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Center for Marine Resource Studies in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). He has concurrently worked in diving and commercial spearfishing and is currently an instructor and captain for the F/V Native Diver II, a dive charter and commercial fishing vessel out of Jacksonville, FL (facebook.com/nativedivercharters). Currently, Holden is a PhD student in UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources & Conservation, under the advisory of Dr. Mike Allen. His dissertation research will evaluate if, how, and where socioeconomically incentivized harvest systems can function as a viable, long-term biological control agent for invasive lionfish. With the Nature Coast Biological Station, Holden’s research seeks to facilitate sustainable economic development in the Big Bend region through integrative assessments of the population dynamics, fishing impacts and management strategies for the region’s most important recreational fish species, spotted seatrout. As a systems ecologist, Holden hopes to ultimately facilitate sound, cooperative management of shared resources: finding ways to use and steward natural resources and the environment in ways that ensure long-term conservation, utility and functionality.

Travis Thomas.  Nature Coast Biological Station.

Travis Thomas


Travis Thomas, a Nature Coast native, grew up on the banks of the Suwannee River where he developed a passion for the local flora and fauna. He received his M.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and B.S. Degree in Natural Resources Conservation from the University of Florida. He is currently a PhD student in the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at UF/IFAS applying fisheries population estimators to better understand aquatic turtle populations. Previously he worked for NCBS where his research was focused on the ecology of several species of aquatic reptiles. Before joining the NCBS team, Travis was a biologist in the Reptile and Amphibian Subsection of the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for 5 years. He has worked on numerous projects concerning reptile and amphibian ecology, spanning many disciplines, including spatial ecology, phylogenetics, population ecology, evolutionary biology, and taxonomy. Travis has published numerous notes, articles, and reports on the ecology and distribution of reptiles, including a paper that described two new species of turtles in the genus Macrochelys.

Grant Scholten


Grant Scholten is a PhD student with UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources & Conservation that assists with research directed by the Nature Coast Biological Station. Growing up on a farm in Iowa, Grant developed a deep appreciation for the notion of growth and harvest making him an avid hunter, angler, and biologist. His research with the Nature Coast Biological Station is focused on Spotted Seatrout population dynamics, stakeholder perceptions of fishing quality, and cultivating partnerships between stakeholders to progress the economic growth in the fishing industry of the Big Bend region of the Gulf of Mexico. Currently, this involves a tagging study to estimate tagging effects and exploitation, followed by a survey to gauge stakeholder perceptions. Other research he is directing for his PhD concentrates on assessing the potential for angling induced effects for Florida Bass, influences on catch rates, and fine-scale spatial effort dynamics of bass anglers.

Grant Scholten.  Nature Coast Biological Station.

NCBS Internships On The Nature Coast

Nature Coast Biological Station is partnering with federal and state agencies with UF students to work on research in the Nature Coast region this summer. The list below includes the intern and their partnered host affiliate, which shows what project each intern will be researching this summer.

Cory Gillis

Meet Cory Gillis, 2016 Summer Intern with NCBS and the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. Cory is one of six NCBS interns that will be placed around the Nature Coast this summer to help our partners with natural resource projects. Cory will be working with Refuge staff this summer on wildlife and habitat monitoring projects around the LSNWR. Congratulations Cory!

Intern Host: Vic Doig and Larry Woodward

Host Affiliation: USFWS Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

Project Title: Lower Suwannee Wildlife and Habitat Monitoring


Jessica Van Vaerenbergh

Meet Jessica Van Vaerenbergh, 2016 Summer Intern with NCBS and Dr. Bill Lindberg with UF's School of Forest Resources and Conservation - Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Jessica is one of six NCBS interns that will be placed around the Nature Coast this summer to help our partners with natural resource projects. Jessica will be working with Dr. Lindberg's lab this summer to collect data from a large-scale experimental network of artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. This data will help improve fisheries management by increasing understanding about reef fish habitat selection. Congratulations Jessica!

Intern Host: Dr. Bill Lindberg

Host Affiliation: UF -Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Project Title: Application of Hatitat Selection Theory and Reef Technology to Fisheries Management

Hannah Van Horn

Meet Hannah Van Horn, 2016 Summer Intern with NCBS and the FL Department of Environmental Protection's St. Martins Marsh and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves. Hannah is one of six NCBS interns that will be placed around the Nature Coast this summer to help our partners with natural resource projects. Hannah will be working with DEP staff this summer to monitor seagrasses and water quality in the Gulf of Mexico in the beautiful Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve. This data helps natural resource managers keep tabs on the status of our valuable seagrass resources. Congratulations Hannah!

Intern Host: Timothy Jones and Jamie Letendere

Host Affiliation: Florida Department of Environmental Protection St. Martin's Marsh and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve

Project Title: Seagrass and Water Quaility Monitoring In Florida's Big Bend


Julia Richter

Meet Julia Richter, 2016 Summer Intern with NCBS and Dr. Mark Clark of UF's Soil and Water Sciences Department. Julia is one of six NCBS interns that will be placed around the Nature Coast this summer to help our partners with natural resource projects. Julia will be working with Dr. Clark and local Cedar Key, Florida residents this summer on a living shorelines demonstration project. This data is important for informing future shoreline restoration and coastal engineering projects. Congratulations Julia!

Intern Host: Dr. Mark Clark

Host Affiliation: UF Soil & Water Sciene Department, Wetland Biogeochemistry and Extension

Project Title: Cedar Key Living Shoreline Demonstration and Canal Water Quality Enhancement Project

Lizzie Mayes

Meet Lizzie Mayes, 2016 Summer Intern with NCBS and the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. Lizzie is one of six NCBS interns that will be placed around the Nature Coast this summer to help our partners with natural resource projects. Lizzie will be working with the Fisheries Independent Monitoring Program out of the Sen. George Kirkpatrick Marine Lab in Cedar Key, FL. The data collected by this program is essential for managing commercial and recreational fisheries in FL. Congratulations Lizzie!

Intern Host: Caleb Purtlebaugh

Host Affiliation: Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Project Title: Fisheries Independent Monitoring