Board of Directors
Henri has spent most of his adult life associated, in various degrees, with universities of the Caribbean, Spain and Canada. His strong interest in the natural sciences led him to pursue a BSc in Biology at the University of Oviedo (Spain), an MSc in Natural Resource Management at the University of the West Indies (Barbados) and a PhD in Biology at McGill University (Canada). A few years ago Henri worked as a technical advisor to the Haitian government in issues pertaining to the development of fisheries and he is now a full-time Lecturer in Ecology at the University of the West Indies (Barbados) and an associate researcher within the FORCE project. As part of this diverse background, Henri is fluent in Spanish, French, English and Haitian creole. His post-graduate work focused on investigating settlement and post-settlement dynamics of coral reef fishes and in improving the methods we use to study the transition that most reef organisms make when moving from the open sea as larvae to the reef. Although still very much interested on issues pertaining to the population dynamics of reef organisms, Henri’s main line of research over the past few years has steered toward issues more directly related to improving the management of coral reef resources. He is currently working on the identification and development of simple indicators of the status of reef fish communities for ecosystem-based fisheries management in the Caribbean.
Joanna is the Marine Resources Officer for the Bermuda Government’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, a post she has held since 2008. Prior to that, she worked at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), formerly the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. Her research experience has covered everything from the ecology and health of seagrasses, mangroves and corals (including contributing to the CariCoMP Program / GCRMN) to the biology, ecology and management of both coral reef and pelagic fishes, as well as assessments of marine protected areas and the recreational fishery in Bermuda. In addition to working on topics relevant to the development of management plans for various local commercial fishery species, her recent reaserch has focused on the dynamics and management of grouper spawning aggregations and the biology, ecology and control of the invasive lionfish in Bermuda. A native Bermudian, Joanna has a B.Sc. from Southampton University in the U.K., and a Ph.D. from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.
LeRoy Creswell is a retired Sea Grant Marine Extension Regional Agent at the University of Florida. His extension responsibilities included education and outreach programs in fields related to marine resource utilization, including tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, aquaculture, coastal zone management. As a retired Florida Sea Grant agent Mr. Creswell assisted in the establishment of the St. Lucie County Marine Center, a collaborative project with the Smithsonian Institution and several public and private educational organization.
For over 17 years, Mr. Creswell was an associate research scientist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Inc. His research focused on the development of aquaculture technologies for tropical marine invertebrates, including bivalve and gastropod molluscs, and several species of crustaceans, such as the Caribbean spiny lobster. He also conducted studies on the larviculture and nutrition of ornamental marine fish and invertebrates. He holds two patents, a trademarked line of ornamental fish feeds, and has authored a book in the field of aquaculture.
Mr. Creswell served on the Board of Directors and was two-term president of the Caribbean Aquaculture Association, and editor of The Caribbean Aquaculturist for ten years. He was a Director of the World Aquaculture Society for 12 years and its president in 1995. He has also served on the Executive Committee of the National Shellfisheries Association and Past-president of NSA. He currently the Editor of the NSA quarterly newsletter and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Shellfish Research.
Mr. Creswell has been on the Board of Directors of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute for over 20 years. For those two decades he has served as the Executive Secretary of GCFI and the Senior Editor of the GCFI Proceedings.
Mel Goodwin, PhD
Formally trained as a marine biologist, Dr. Goodwin is responsible for operations, program development, and implementation of a nonprofit information services organization devoted to sustainable development. Major activities include development of public information programs to communicate information on sustainable development issues and approaches, developing professional training programs in sustainable development for design and building professionals, incorporating sustainability principles into public school buildings and curricula, anddevelopment of neighborhood-based land use plans for the cities of Charleston and North Charleston. He worked for fifteen years as Projects Director on sustainable development initiatives in the Eastern Caribbean sponsored by public and private organizations including the Canadian International Development Agency, Caribbean Conservation Association, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Inter American Foundation, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, U. S. Agency for International Development, and World Wildlife Fund – U.S. Recent activities include authoring more than 100 outreach lesson plans for middle school and high school classes dealing with NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program, National Ocean Service, and the Aquarius Project
Bob is the Principal Investigator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissions’ Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s queen conch research and restoration program in Marathon. His research interests are in stock restoration, essential habitat, larval recruitment, endocrine disruption, marine fishery reserves, and stock structure. He has worked extensively on molluscan aquaculture for both commercial and restoration projects. In 1994 he received the first Florida Jaycees Outstanding Young Environmentalist award and in 2006 he was the first marine recipient of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Fishery Biologist of the Year.
Bob is also the Principal Investigator on a number of climate change adaptation projects. He developed the KeysMAP (Florida Keys Marine Adaptation Planning) program which uses scenarios to develop climate adaptation strategies, identifies triggerpoints for implementing the strategies, and develops monitoring program to identify when the triggerpoint is attained. He is the leader of the Florida FWC climate change Research and Monitoring workgroup. He also serves as the chair of the Monroe County Climate Change Advisory Committee whose objective is to make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on how best to adapt to a changing climate in the Florida Keys. In 2016 he received the Leadership Award Honorable Mention of the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy.
Assistant Executive Director
Fadilah Ali is an ecologist with a specialty in invasive species biology, control and management. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, she received an M. Env. Sci. in Biodiversity and Conservation as well as an M. Phil in Ocean and Earth Science from the University of Southampton. During her time in Southampton she conducted research on biological indicators for water quality as well as the distribution and impact of marine debris on British coastlines. She is currently the Project Manager for the Caribbean Node of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter which GCFI is a co-host of together with UN Environment. Fadilah was previously heavily involved in research on the lionfish invasion within the Dutch Caribbean with a focus on their general and feeding ecology. To date she has analysed the stomach contents of more than 12,000 lionfish and has conducted research and worked as a consultant in many islands throughout the Caribbean.
Fadilah first became involved with GCFI in 2011 where she won the student award for best oral presentation and has served on the GCFI Board of Directors since 2014.
Alejandro works for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in Marathon. He is the team leader and research coordinator for the FWC/SFRL finfish program in the Florida Keys. His interests include fish biology and community ecology, especially the relationships between habitat structure and the distribution, abundance and connectivity of reef fishes. His work has examined tropical reef fisheries, community structure, fish spawning aggregations and stock assessment of reef, mangrove and estuarine fishes. He is actively involved in an annual multi-species visual censuses and juvenile seine surveys in near shore waters of the Florida Keys. Alejandro is actively involved in regional programs in the Caribbean region. Previously he has work in Venezuela and in the Pacific. Alejandro has been Chairman and Vice-chairman of GCFI and has been the Chair of the Program Committee for the last 8 years
Alfonso Aguilar-Perera is a marine science professor since 2006 with the Departamento de Recursos Marinos Tropicales of the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, in Mérida, Yucatán, México. He teaches Coastal Conservation and Management, Conservation of reef fishes, Marine protected areas design, and Science Communication. He received his MSc and Ph.D. from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, and he did a postdoc in UPRM supported by the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute. His research addresses the conservation biology of grouper (Epinephelidae) aggregations in the Mexican Caribbean, and recently in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, he investigates the invasion of the red lionfish off the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Southern Gulf of Mexico. He is member of the IUCN groupers and wrasses specialist group and the Science for Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations (SCRFA). He has been active member of the GCFI Students Award since 2009. For further information on his research and teaching interests see https://sites.google.com/site/aaguilarperera/
Dalila Aldana Aranda
Dalila Aldana Aranda is Profesor at CINVESTAV-IPN (Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional), a Research Center in Mexico. My research is mainly in nutrition, reproduction and aquaculture of marine Molluscs. I have been working extensively in conch of the genus Strombus (S. gigas, S. costatus, S. pugilis), also in an endemic conch from Yucatan Peninsula, and oyster Crassotrea virginica. I received my Ph.D. in Biology Oceanography and Aquaculture from University of West Bretagne, Brest, France, with Honorific Mention. In 1993, I received a second Ph. D. in populations Biology, at University de Marsella, France, receiving also an honorific mention. I have written over 70 scientific papers in my field, and I have produced 6 books of environmental education related to protect marine species. I have supervised 4 Ph. D., and 10 Master students. From 1997 to 2001, I coordinated the Iberoamerican Network of mollucs aquaculture from Iberoamerican Program of Science and Technology for Development (CYTED). In 2002, I was chair-woman of the Marine Laboratories Association in the Caribbean. In 2006, the Institute of Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries nominated me as their chair person, becoming the first woman in this Institute that received this nomination. Since June 2008, I am chair-woman of the Mexican Academy of Science (Southeast).
Christopher Corbin is a senior Programme Officer with the Ecosystems Division of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He is based at the Secretariat for the Cartagena Convention in Kingston, Jamaica, which covers all the countries of the Wider Caribbean Region. Chris is responsible for the Secretariat’s Marine Pollution and Communications Sub-Programmes and oversees activities on marine litter management among others.
Chris, a Saint Lucian national, has over 30 years of programme and project management experience. His technical training is in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment and he has been recently involved in the development and implementation of multi-country projects on wastewater management, solid waste management and integrated coastal zone and watershed management.
He was responsible for the development of the “Regional Action Plan for Marine Litter Management in the Caribbean” and is currently leading the preparation of a Regional Caribbean Marine Litter Strategy.
Emma was previously Vice Chair of GCFI and is in her second term as a GCFI board member. She joined GCFI’s board in 2013 at GCFI66 and was the founding chair of GCFI’s Communications Committee. Emma coordinates ‘MPAConnect’ – a learning network of 32 marine protected areas in 11 Caribbean countries and territories that is managed through a partnership between GCFI and NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program. Emma is also Senior Advisor to the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) on marine protected areas and biodiversity monitoring, Technical Advisor on marine protected area management to Sustainable Grenadines Inc. and a member of the Board of Directors of Ocean Spirits Inc. in Grenada. She has worked in international environmental cooperation and grant management in Latin America and the Caribbean for 18 years. Emma is Australian, she studied coastal zone management at Sydney University and has a Master of Science in environmental management from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Charlotte is a research associate at the University Antilles-Guyane in Guadeloupe. In collaboration with Ifremer in Martinique, she works on the contamination of fishes and crustaceans by pesticides in the Lesser Antilles. She studies the transfer of molecules of pesticides along marine food webs, in mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reef ecosystems. Her interests are also the food partitioning among herbivorous fishes and their role in the algal regulation on coral reefs. She used to study the trophic niches of Scaridae and Acanthuridae during her PhD, achieved in 2013. She teaches biogeography, animal physiology and marine ecology at the University Antille-Guyane since 2009. She participates to the GCFI since 2008 and she is member of the board of director since the 67th GCFI in 2014.
Luis Orlando Duarte
Luis Orlando has been a Lecturer and Research Scientist since 2006 at the University of Magdalena (Colombia). His research interests include ecosystem modelling, marine ecology, fisheries management and small-scale fisheries. He teaches Ecological Modelling, Aquatic Ecology, Limnology and Academic Writing. After his graduation from Jorge Tadeo Lozano University (Colombia) with a degree in Marine Biology, he has been involved in more than 30 scientific projects (14 of them as Principal Investigator) carried out (coordinated) in Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Germany, Chile, Denmark and Peru, studying topics like impacts of fishing on aquatic ecosystems, bottom trawl by-catch reduction approaches, temporal and spatial variability of structure and functional diversity in fish communities, trophic ecology, ecological indicators for fisheries management, participatory management in small-scale fisheries. As a result, he has published over 50 items, including scientific papers, books and book chapters. For further information on his research see https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Luis_Orlando_Duarte.
Graciela García-Moliner has been a scientist with the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (http://www.caribbeanfmc.com) in Puerto Rico for the past 25 years. Graciela works with fishers, government officials and scientists to develop management plans for the fishery resources of the US Caribbean. She helps coordinate the biological, environmental, social and economic information that is used to evaluate the fisheries and interacts with managers to develop fishery management strategies. Fisheries interests include: deep water snappers and fish in general, recreational fisheries and boating, oceanographic features (eddies and fronts) and their impacts on fisheries, fish spawning aggregations and sex changing fish. Her interest in remote sensing include the use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to characterize and assess deeper water fish and coral communities and the use of satellite data to assess oceanographic features and changes in chlorophyll-a patterns in the surface waters. Graciela has a long history of service to GCFI, including Board membership from 1995 through 2015, serving as Chair of GCFI from 2013 – 2015, and returning Board member in 2017. She is a member of various work groups such as Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program-Reef Resources Work Group (SEAMAP-Caribbean; http://www.seamap.org/ ), the Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing System for the Caribbean and the Regional Association for the Caribbean (CariCOOS; https://www.caricoos.org/board-of-directors ), among others.
Christy Pattengill-Semmens is the Director of Science for Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), a grassroots marine conservation non-profit organization based in the United States but with programming world-wide. REEF’s Volunteer Fish Survey Project is the largest and longest-running ocean citizen science program, facilitating divers and snorkelers to collect marine fish and invertebrate distribution and abundance data in oceans around the world. Christy has been part of REEF’s programs since inception and has been at the helm of the Volunteer Fish Survey Project since 1998, overseeing the implementation and expansion of program and facilitating the use of REEF data for science and management. Along with her husband, Brice Semmens, and colleagues from Oregon State University and Cayman Island Department of Environment, she is a lead scientist for REEF’s Grouper Moon Project, studying one of the last and largest known spawning aggregations of the endangered Nassau Grouper. Christy attended University of Southern California, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Marine Sciences. She then conducted her dissertation research on fish assemblages at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico, and received her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. Christy’s first started attending the annual GCFI conference in Key West in 1999.
Maria Pena’s interests are in the biological and socio-economic aspects of marine resource management. She is Project Officer at the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, Barbados. In this capacity she has been involved in, assisted with, implemented and managed numerous externally funded marine resource management projects in the wider Caribbean including socio-economic monitoring at marine protected areas (MPAs) and coastal sites; fisheries management planning; MPA management effectiveness evaluation; marine resource governance; climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture; and more recently, gender in small-scale fisheries. She is the current Regional Socio-economic for Coastal Management (SocMon) Coordinator for the Caribbean, responsible for promoting and supporting the use of SocMon in the region.
Maria co-organised the 67th GCFI conference in Barbados in 2014 and has co-organised the special Gender in Fisheries poster session at GCFI since 2016.
Dr. Ruth Perry joined Royal Dutch Shell as a Marine Scientist and Regulatory Policy Specialist in 2014. Ruth integrates marine science and ocean technology into regulatory policy advocacy and decision-making in the areas of marine sound, marine spatial planning, renewable offshore energies, ocean observing, and marine mammal and life science for Shell’s offshore energy projects in the Americas. Ruth is also responsible for Shell’s U.S. public-private science and data collaborations to improve energy industry and the communities’ knowledge of the offshore marine environment. In addition, she advises on environmental permitting strategy and is currently supporting Shell’s US offshore wind projects in this capacity. As part of these responsibilities, she works with other ocean users to create collaborative and cooperative partnerships to advance regional research and monitoring. One recent partnership is serving as a founding member of an independent organization dedicated to providing for and advancing regional research and monitoring of fisheries and offshore wind interactions in federal waters – the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance.
Ruth has nearly 15 years of ocean technology research and system implementation, environmental permitting advising, and ocean policy and regulatory analysis and advocacy. She has a number of peer-reviewed, book chapter and media publications, including Popular Mechanics. She also serves as a member of many offshore national scientific steering committees and Boards, a few including the National Academy of Sciences Ocean Studies Board and recently the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Science Advisory Board, Integrated Ocean Observing Science Advisory Committee and Consortium of Ocean Leadership Board of Trustees. She earned a doctorate in Oceanography from Texas A&M University in 2013 and worked for Texas A&M University on developing their autonomous ocean observing programs and the Gulf of Mexico Ocean Observing System in building the Gulf’s autonomous program and increasing private industries’ involvement in ocean observations prior to joining Shell.
Brice Semmens is an Associate Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. Prior to joining the faculty at Scripps, Brice was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Brice’s research centers on fisheries science and quantitative tools in fisheries and conservation. He is currently the Director of the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI), and a co-PI for the Center for the Advancement of Population Assessment Methodologies (CAPAM). In the Caribbean, Brice coordinates the Grouper Moon Project, a cooperative long-term spawning aggregation monitoring program in the Cayman Islands, jointly run by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) and the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (CIDOE). Brice joined the GCFI Board of Directors in 2015 and has been involved with GCFI since 2003 (when he won a student presentation award), and gave the keynote address for the 69th GCFI Cayman Islands conference in 2016.
Michelle Schärer-Umpierre is a marine biologist with expertise in fisheries science. Her specific areas of interest include fish spawning aggregations, marine ecosystems, endangered species and passive acoustic research. Dr. Schärer graduated from the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico with a PhD in Biological Oceanography and an MS in Biology. During the last decades she has led multiple scientific research for local and federal resources agencies in Puerto Rico as wells as within academia. Many projects have been designed through non-governmental organizations such as debris assessment and removal, marine protected area compliance as well as education and outreach. Some results of research projects include a review of marine protected areas for fisheries in the US Caribbean, the evaluation and management of fish spawning aggregations, fisheries-independent sampling of deep-water snappers and groupers, an assessment of the social-ecological system of La Parguera, the description of novel techniques to assess spawning aggregations of grouper with passive acoustic signals, global fin print shark and ray study, coral reef monitoring, the landscape ecology of marine habitats and their importance for fish connectivity, characterizations of critical habitats and essential fish habitat for commercially important species, and developing biological criteria to determine coral reef condition in the Caribbean. She has been involved in fieldwork directly conducting multiple dives at research sites with a variety of colleagues. Her experience in the development of artisanal fisheries in Brazil and Puerto Rico has led to a better understanding of the sustainability needs in order to harvest stocks of important marine resources. A member of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute since 2001 (54th conference in the Turks and Caicos Islands) she has been involved as a student, presenter and now as a board member.
Manoj Shivlani is the program manager for the Center for Independent Experts (CIE), which has been organizing and conducting independent peer reviews of NOAA Fisheries assessments and programs since 1998. He holds a PhD from Florida International University, where he did his dissertation work on long-term changes in Florida Keys commercial fishing communities, and a master’s degree in marine affairs and policy from the University of Miami. His research interests are in the human dimensions of coastal and marine management, especially in fisheries, tourism, and marine protected areas. Shivlani has conducted research in the western Atlantic and Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the South Atlantic, including the development of the Bahamas spiny lobster fishery management plan, fisheries costs and returns studies in the US Caribbean, socioeconomic valuation of marine protected areas and fishery spawning closures in Puerto Rico, a commercial fisher characterization study towards the development of the Dry Tortugas Ecological Reserve, central Florida red snapper fisher surveys on social networks, long-term monitoring of commercial fishery uses in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, a characterization of Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative area stakeholders, and evaluation of water quality perceptions of Biscayne Bay.
Shivlani’s teaching experience at the Division of Marine Ecosystems and Society (MES) at the University of Miami includes graduate seminars in ocean policy, marine scientific methods, international ocean law, and marine protected areas theory and management.
Eric is an interdisciplinary social scientist at Oregon State University in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences. Eric’s research primarily looks at human-environment relationships in coastal and marine ecosystems and how the coupled feedbacks and drivers contribute to the sustainability of fisheries resources. He looks at the decision-making strategies of stakeholders, the behaviors of resource users in response to changes in the ecosystems, and how stakeholders operationalize coastal and marine systems. He has explored this relationship across the region, in Jamaica, Belize, Panama, and St. Lucia. Eric earned his Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a Master’s in Fisheries Science from Oregon State University. Eric has previously worked for the Belize Fisheries Department, Oceana Belize, and the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Eric first became involved in GCFI in 2017, where he won a student award. He joined the board of GCFI in 2020.