Joan is FWRI's Curator of Collections. She oversees a vast
reference collection of preserved biological specimens and
associated ecological databases.
B.S. Animal Science, College of Agriculture,
University of Florida
M.Ed. Science Education and Curriculum, College
of Education, University of Florida
Ph.D. Zoology, College of Liberal Arts and
Sciences, University of Florida
The above degrees, plus marine science coursework at the
University of South Florida and Friday Harbor Labs (University of
Ten years of postdoctoral experience teaching at the University of
Florida (UF) (courses included all 4 introductory biology courses
offered by UF and marine biology)
Ten years of seasonal underwater archaeology/paleontology work
with the Aucilla River Prehistory Project of the Florida Museum of
Natural History, acted as a diver and dive master, directed
outreach and education, developed a virtual exhibit that is still
online, coedited and laid out their newsletter
Taught summer programs/classes for Center for Precollegiate
Teaching and Education and Marine Biology/UF, Biology and Marine
Biology/USF, and Marine Biology/GCRL (USM)
Worked for several years with the Florida Museum of Natural
History on various projects, including a number of paleontological
digs (manatee ancestors in Jamaica, Pleistocene echinoids near Ft.
Pierce, FL, raninid crabs near Panacea, FL), and as a research
associate in the Invertebrate Paleontology Division
Worked two years as a marine exhibits consultant on the design and
construction South Florida People and Environments Hall at the
Florida Museum of Natural History.
What are you working on now?
Our most recent project is called "Historic Patterns of
Biodiversity in Florida's Coral Reefs". We are summarizing the data
on all the coral reef related specimens acquired during the five
decades that collections has been in operation.
We are also working on species identification and specimen
preservation for the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment
Program (SEAMAP). And, we are collaborating with a number of
outside researchers and programs including the Consortium for the
Barcode of Life.
How is this information beneficial?
The information from the biodiversity on coral reefs will provide
a baseline on the species and communities historically found on
Florida's coral reefs. This information can be used to guide
restoration and species replacement efforts. Working with the
SEAMAP program allows us to operate more efficiently by keeping
most of the work in-house at FWRI. Collections also gains access to
thousands of specimens, many of which we can lend to scientists for
additional research. It is important to get the most research value
possible from the specimens that are preserved in the course of
Was this your original career interest? Why or why
Yes, I grew up on the water in St. Petersburg and have always been
fascinated by marine life.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
My work with the Aucilla River Prehistory Project and on the South
Florida People and Environments exhibit. They were both huge
endeavors that required tremendous teamwork and that resulted in
products of which we were all very proud.
What do you like most about your career?
Scuba diving, working with students, and encountering animal
species that I have never seen before
What do you like least about your career?
Paperwork and administrative tasks
What are some of your biggest challenges?
Searching for funding
What advice would you give to someone interested in
pursuing a career in your field?
Gain as much early experience as you can. And, the further you go
with your education, the more options you will have in deciding
your future career path.