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Science Seminar: Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

April 6-8, 2011
Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium

Agenda | Participants | Speakers | Media Gallery
Resources | Presentations | Partners


Benjamin Alexander-Bloch is a reporter with The Times-Picayune in New Orleans where he has been since October 2007. He currently covers the seafood industry and St. Bernard Parish. Prior to this he worked for The Toledo Blade in Ohio. In 2009, the New Orleans Press Club honored him with top and second prizes in deadline news, general news and feature writing, and in 2010 he received honorable mention in the Louisiana Press Club feature writing category. He graduated from Yale University in 2006 with a degree in cultural anthropology.

David Biello is an award-winning journalist and associate editor for environment and energy for Scientific American, where he has been since November 2005. He has written on subjects ranging from astronomy to zoology for both the Web site and magazine. He is host of the 60-Second Earth podcast, a contributor to the Instant Egghead video series and author of a children's book on bullet trains. Biello also writes for Good and Yale e360, speaks on radio shows such as WNYC's The Takeaway, NHPR's Word of Mouth, and PRI's The World, and is working on the PBS documentary on energy, "Beyond the Light Switch." He has reported all over the world, has been a Jefferson Fellow of the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, and a summer fellow at the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Biello has won several journalism awards, including one of the inaugural Earth Journalism Awards handed out in Copenhagen. Biello has a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University, earned in 1995, and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University, earned in 2004.

Susan Buchanan is a New Orleans-based freelance writer, specializing in business, environment, maritime matters, agriculture, energy and construction. She has covered the BP oil spill and its impact on fisheries and air and water quality since April 2010. She writes mainly for The Louisiana Weekly, and most of her articles in that newspaper have also appeared as blogs on The Huffington Post. She is a former Dow Jones Newswires reporter in New York City, where her beat was tropical commodities. At Dow Jones, she covered the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on U.S. Gulf agriculture. Buchanan has traveled throughout Africa, Europe and the southern U.S. on work-related assignments. She is a member of the Press Club of New Orleans and the Louisiana Press Association. She won ACE awards at Dow Jones Newswires for her coverage of sugar, ethanol and coffee companies and markets, and placed third in business reporting in the 2010 Press Club of New Orleans Awards. Buchanan has a B.A. cum laude in urban and regional studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's in agricultural economics from Cornell University.

Nikki Buskey has worked as environment and health reporter at the Houma Courier and Thibodaux Daily Comet, sister papers serving Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes in Louisiana, since February 2007. Her coverage focuses on wildlife, fisheries, hurricane recovery, coastal erosion and levee building efforts in the area. She covered the 2010 Gulf oil spill and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which caused significant wind damage and flooding in the communities in 2008. Buskey was selected to participate in a Poynter Institute seminar focusing on long-term coverage of the Gulf oil spill in August 2010. She received a first-place award from the Louisiana Press Association in 2009 for her coverage of the dying fur trapping industry in south Louisiana, which has caused an explosion in population of the invasive and destructive nutria rat population. She received a first-place award in 2008 and a third-place award in 2007 for her ongoing coverage of construction of Terrebonne's controversial, multi-billion dollar U.S. Army Corps of Engineers levee project. Buskey is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in English and government. She worked as a news editor and reporter at the university's student-run Daily Texan newspaper for three years.

Nicole Cotton is the university education coordinator and marine education instructor for Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. In 2008 she was appointed state commissioner for the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center. She has served on numerous planning and advisory committees in Terrebone Parish and is currently participating in the Applied Environmental Education Program Evaluation workshop at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens-Poin. The wetlands of south Louisiana have been her home and classroom for over thirty years. In 1999, Cotton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Nicholls State University. In 2002, she received her Master of Science degree in coastal sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi while studying larval flyingfishes and serving as research assistant at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, MS. While completing her Master's degree, she was biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Rosa Flores Dee covers investigative, enterprise and breaking news stories at WDSU-TV, the NBC affiliate in New Orleans. She covered the Gulf oil spill from just about every small town along the Louisiana coast. Dee has contributed news reports at the national, state and local levels. Before moving to the Crescent City, her news reports aired at KHOU-TV in Houston, the fourth largest city in the country. In 2005 she joined KWTV in Oklahoma City and covered breaking news stories from the ground and from the air via helicopter. Covering weather in tornado alley gave Rosa tremendous exposure; her reports appeared on CNN, The Weather Channel and CBS National Radio. In November of 2010, Rosa published her first book, Progreso, which celebrates the history of her hometown through 200 historic photographs. Dee was a Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution Fellow, recipient of the Francis C. Moore Medical Journalism Excellence Award, a Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation Fellow and co-founder of the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She completed her undergraduate and graduate work at The University of Texas at Austin, earning a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism, a bachelor's in business administration and a master's in accounting.

Alexa Elliott is the creator and series producer of the public television series Changing Seas, currently in its third season. Produced at WPBT2 in Miami, the ocean science series airs on about 82% of public television stations in the U.S., as well as in several countries overseas. Elliott came to WPBT2 in 2006 to produce episodes for the nature series Wild Florida. Prior to her current job in Miami, she worked as a radio reporter and television producer at public stations WGCU in Fort Myers and WUFT in Gainesville, Florida, and WMKY in Morehead, Kentucky. She has won two Suncoast Regional Emmy awards, a Society of Environmental Journalists award (3rd place), and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, among others. She was a Fellow at the CPB/PBS Producers Workshop at WGBH in 2009, at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 2008, and at the Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting in 2004. Elliott holds two degrees in broadcast journalism, a bachelor's from Morehead State University and a master's from the University of Florida.

Shari Ellis is project director at the Center for Informal Science Education at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, FL. The Center partners with agencies, nonprofits, scientists, and others on projects that support public understanding of and engagement in science. Ellis has also worked as a senior advisor on early childhood science for the Office of Head Start in Washington, DC. She has held posts as an assistant professor of psychology at both the University of Florida and Virginia Commonwealth University. She was also a post-doctoral fellow in the psychology department at Carnegie Mellon University. Ellis is a member of the National Science Teachers Association and the Society for Research in Child Development. She earned a B.S. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, in 1977; an M.S. in developmental psychology from the University of Utah in 1980; and a Ph.D. in developmental and cross-cultural psychology from the University of Utah in 1987.

Melissa Gaskill is an Austin-based writer who has been freelancing for 17 years. Her reporting focuses on science with a particular interest in oceans, wildlife, and outdoor travel. She has written for Nature, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, National Wildlife, Wildflower, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Co-op Power Magazine, and many other publications. She is also the author of Best Hikes with Dogs: Texas Hill Country and Gulf Coast. Gaskill was a 2009 Ocean Science Journalism Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and is a member of the National Association of Science Writers, American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Society of Environmental Journalists. She received a B.S. in zoology from Texas A&M University College Station and a master's in journalism from The University of Texas, Austin.

Jarrett Grimm is a community education specialist at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her main responsibility is to coordinate the GlaxoSmithKline's Science in the Summer program in North Carolina, a large-scale program that occurs in nine different counties and allows children to attend science classes at their local library for free. Grimm has traveled around the state of North Carolina as an educator for the PLANETS program, giving portable planetarium shows to classes of typically elementary-aged children. She also traveled to Washington, DC, in October 2010 for the USA Science and Engineering Festival. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Jim W. Harper is a freelance writer in Miami ( and jack-of-all trades. He is a college writing instructor, swimming coach, and marine ecosystem educator. He's a regular contributor to Swimmer magazine and a double Biscayne Times columnist for Going Green, on environmental issues, and Park Patrol, a rating system for parks. This year he completed Cooper Fellow Training for climate communicators at the University of Miami. In 2006 he was selected for the Scripps-Howard Seminar for Environmental Journalism and he traveled across Paraguay in 2002 as part of a Traveling Fulbright Program for educators. A member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, he has taught in three countries overseas and traveled to six continents. He holds a masters degree in communications from the University of Florida and a literature degree from Columbia University.

Dorothy Kendrick has been a documentary and special projects producer for Louisiana Public Broadcasting for ten years. She produced two documentaries on the hardships the people of New Orleans suffered after Hurricane Katrina, Surviving the Storm and Katrina's Smallest Victims. She has also done indepth reporting on childhood obesity, including Kids: Trying to Trim Down. Kendrick has been honored four times by the Louisiana State Medical Society for her coverage of medical issues. She is also a national Emmy finalist for her program Living With Cancer. She was a commercial television news producer for 20 years before shifting to public television, working for WLOX-TV in Biloxi and WAFB and WBRZ television stations in Baton Rouge. Kendrick earned a B.A. in journalism from Southern University and has done graduate work at Louisiana State University.

Miranda Kerr has been working at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago as a science educator in the Student and Teacher Programs section of the Education Department since August 2010. She develops and implements innovative and immersive programs that equip learners with the knowledge and skills to investigate science. Previously, she was was an education specialist at Florida Oceanographic Society, creating and teaching marine science programs to children and adults. She was awarded the Florida Marine Science Educators Association Teacher Trust Fund Scholarship to attend the FMSEA Conference in 2010 as a presenter. Kerr earned her master's of science degree in biology at Florida Atlantic University, with thesis work on zooplankton under her research adviser Dr. Edith Widder. During her undergraduate career, she conducted research projects with Duke University, University of Maryland, and Wittenberg University faculty. She graduated with university and departmental honors from Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH, with a bachelor's of science degree in biology, with minors in chemistry and marine science.

Kathy Kowalchick has worked in the environmental education field for ten years, with the past eight years in the aquarium field. She has been an education programs instructor at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, SC, since 2004. Prior to this, she worked for the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C., the Greenbrier Learning Center in Arlington, VA, and the YMCA Camp Surf in Imperial Beach, CA. Kowalchick is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation. She holds a B.S. in marine biology and a masterís of science in environmental studies, both from the College of Charleston.

Kevin Kurtz is a children's book author who has also been an environmental educator for over 11 years. He has two published children's books, A Day in the Salt Marsh, a finalist for both the 2008 Florida Publisher's Association Picture Book of the Year award and the 2009 Chickadee Award, and the recently published A Day on the Mountain. He was the education officer on the research vessel the JOIDES Resolution during an expedition in the South Pacific in the winter of 2010-2011. Prior to that he was the education director of the Science Factory Children's Museum in Eugene, Oregon, and an educator at the South Carolina Center for Birds of Prey, the South Carolina Aquarium and the South Carolina Marine Resources Research Institute. Kevin is an active member of the South Carolina Marine Educators Association and currently serves as their newsletter editor. Kevin holds a master's degree in elementary education from the College of Charleston in South Carolina and a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University at Buffalo in New York.

Adam Lau is currently interning as a staff photojournalist at The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is an associate editor at Previously he worked for the Associated Press and The San Francisco Chronicle. His freelance work has appeared in publications worldwide, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Outside Magazine. In 2008 and 2009 he traveled to Antarctica for four months, documenting "whale wars," the ongoing conflict between radical environmentalists and Japanese whalers. Prior to his work as photographer and videographer, Lau assisted in the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies and the Aquarium of the Pacific, and has been a research diver for University of California, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica Baykeeper. Recognitions include Pictures of the Year International, Best of Journalism, College Photographer of the Year, and the Eddie Adams Workshop, among others. While holding a B.S. in marine biology and psychobiology from UCLA, he considers himself a perpetual student in visual and multimedia journalism.

Micah Maner currently serves as an informal science educator at McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Before settling in Birmingham in 2008, she spent most of her time travelling the Atlantic coast. She taught marine science in the Florida Keys, studied Georgia's estuarine and marine ecology and was an intern at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland. Maner graduated from Georgia College & State University in 2006 with a bachelor's of science degree in psychology.

Molly Peterson is the environment and energy reporter for KPCC in Los Angeles. She came from New Orleans, where she lived for three years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. She interned for Nina Totenberg during the Clinton impeachment hearings. In between, she worked at National Public Radio in Washington, DC, and in Culver City, CA, at KQED's California Report in San Francisco, and at American Routes in New Orleans. With Eve Troeh and through WWNO and KRVS, Peterson made a nationally-aired radio documentary about New Orleans called Finding Solid Ground. She is the Los Angeles Press Club's current Radio Journalist of the Year and has won awards from Society of Environmental Journalists, Public Radio News Directors Inc., AP Television & Radio Association, and Radio and Television News Association of Southern California. Her story about faulty pumps at outfall canals in New Orleans after Katrina was a finalist for an Investigative Reporters and Editors award. Peterson studied international politics and the environment at Georgetown University and has a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Caitlin Reilly is currently working for the Louisiana State University AgCenter as an extension associate. She is working on the AgCenter's Oil Spill Response and Recover Taskforce and does wetland education and restoration projects in coastal Louisiana. Before coming to the AgCenter in 2010 she worked as a volunteer coordinator with Common Ground Relief in the Lower Ninth Ward from 2007 to 2009. Reilly is a Fellow of the 2009 Loyola University Institute for Environmental Communication. She holds a BA in religious studies from Manhattan College where she graduated in 2005.

Summer Rohe is a marine education specialist with the University of Southern Mississippi at Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, MS. She teaches informal education to students ranging from fourth grade to college. Before moving to Mississippi, she worked as a camp counselor for the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Texas, from June to August 2010. Prior to that, she was an instructor at SeaCamp/Newfound Harbor Marine Institute on Big Pine Key in Florida, where she taught skin diving and informal education for a year. In December 2008, Rohe graduated with her bachelors in marine biology from Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri.

Chance Sanford is the director of education at the Houston Zoo, overseeing the operations and providing direction for the Zoo's education and volunteer programs. Prior to coming to the Houston Zoo, Chance was an education manager for camp programs for seven years at SeaWorld San Antonio. He is an active member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and in 2010 AZA awarded one of the Zoo's education programs with the Diversity Award. Sanford has a bachelor's of science in marine biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston, and his master's of education in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University in Austin.

John Upton covers utilities, water and the environment for the Bay Citizen, a nonprofit news service that launched last year to cover news in the San Francisco Bay Area. The organization has raised $15 million from foundations, philanthropists and readers and it employs roughly 20 journalists. Upton is a science graduate who has won environmental- and engineering-related journalism awards for coverage of San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge eyebar repairs, the Cosco Busan oil spill in San Francisco Bay and military weapons tests involving depleted uranium in the Central Valley. He is enjoying the flexibility of working at a nonprofit startup and has been experimenting recently with multimedia journalism.

Cathy Williamson is education coordinator at Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science Center, located in the Caddo Parish Schools, where she has been employed since 1980. Prior to her current position, which she has held for ten years, she taught high school biology at several area high schools. At the recent National Science Teacher's Convention in San Francisco, Williamson presented an after-school program on forensic science which she developed and delivered to sixth grade middle school students. She attended the recent orbit insertion of the MESSENGER Spacecraft around Mercury at Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland. The MESSENGER Fellowship is part of the Educational Program Outreach for this NASA mission; Williamson has been a MESSENGER Fellow since 2006. She was named the Distinguished Informal Science Educator for 2010-2011 by the Louisiana Science Teachers Association and was named a Louisiana Regional Teacher-of-the-Year in 1996. In February 2011, Williamson was inducted into Alpha Delta Kappa an international honorary organization of women educators dedicated to educational excellence, altruism and world understanding. She earned her B.A. in secondary science and social studies education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and her M.Ed. from Louisiana State University at Shreveport.

Sarah Wilson is an ocean education manager at National Geographic Society in Washington, DC, where she works with scientists to translate ocean research, policy and management into materials for general audiences. She also manages the National Geographic National Teacher Leadership Academy: Oceans, creating standards for ocean science curriculum, and oversees ocean education partnerships and programs. She produces ocean education videos for outreach use in online, television, informal education settings, and for ocean recreation settings. Wilson was a member of the team honored with the Coastal America 2007 Partnership Award presented by President George W. Bush. Wilson received certificates in Spanish language and culture from the University of Santiago De Compestela, Spain, in 1993. She earned an A.A. in general education from Mira Costa College in 1995; a B.A. in biology with a marine emphasis from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1997; and an M.A. in science education from San Diego State University in 2003.

Amy Wold is a reporter with The Advocate in Baton Rouge where she has worked since 2000. Previously, she worked at The Courier in Houma, Louisiana, for about a year. She moved to Louisiana from Washington State where she worked for the Central Kitsap Reporter in Silverdale from 1996 to 1999, and for the Chinook Observer from 1993 to 1996. Wold graduated from Western Washington University in 1993 with a degree in journalism. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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June 13, 2011