Research Team

The Lower St. Johns River Basin (LSJRB)
The Lower St. Johns River Basin (LSJRB) Image: Robert Richardson, AWIS Lab, UNF

The Lower St Johns River report has been put together over the last seven years by a team of experts on various different aspects of the river. Use the links on the far right to get details about those that made the report happen.


Peter Bacopoulos, Ph.D.

Peter Bacopoulos, Ph.D.Email:
Phone: (904) 620-1846

Peter Bacopoulos, Ph.D. is a private civil engineer. He was born and raised in Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale and went got his education at the University of Central Florida-CHAMPS Lab in Orlando (1999-2012). His research interests are numerical modeling of coastal and estuarine systems to inform engineering, ecosystem management and social valuation of natural and built environments.

Peter co-authored the water quality section on Salinity.

Gretchen Bielmyer-Fraser, Ph.D.

Gretchen Bielmyer, Ph.D.

Phone: (904) 210-5451

Gretchen Bielmyer-Fraser, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Jacksonville University and has a diverse background in Biology and Environmental Toxicology. She specializes in Aquatic Toxicology, evaluating the effects of pollutants on water quality and aquatic life and has training in Total Maximum Daily Loads as well as Ecological Risk Assessment. Her current research focuses on evaluating the effects of heavy metals on sensitive aquatic species, such as tropical sea urchins and coral, in efforts to improve environmental regulations.

Dr. Bielmyer gathered and evaluated data for, and authored the water quality sections on Dissolved Oxygen, Nutrients, Metals, and co-authored the contaminants section.

Nisse Goldberg, Ph.D.

Nisse Goldberg, Ph.D.Email:
Phone: (904) 256-7322

Nisse Goldberg, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in Biology and Marine Science at Jacksonville University. She updated the Wetlands sections, including a new case studies feature, and she will explore wetland health as a function of environmental variables. She also covered nonnative species in the LSJRB. Dr. Goldberg research interests include temporal and spatial changes of photosynthetic organisms living in terrestrial, intertidal, and marine habitats. As a subtidal ecologist she has studied seaweed diversity in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, Georgia, and is interested in seaweed and diatom diversity in the LSJRB as well. As a terrestrial ecologist she studies changes in plant diversity in the Florida rosemary scrub habitat and LSJR marsh islands, as well as temporal changes in an oak hammock after the devastation of red bays by invasive beetles. She is currently working on mangrove distribution and phenology in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas Estuarine Reserve. At JU she teaches courses in Ecology, Botany, Marine Botany and Conservation Ecology, among others, and incorporates a strong component of service-learning in many of her courses with community partners such as the National Park Service, Tree Hill Nature Center, Arlington Community Garden, and the SJR Riverkeeper.

Dr. Goldberg gathered, evaluated data for, and authored the sections on wetlands, macroinvertebrates, and non-native aquatic species.

An-Phong Le, Ph.D.

An-Phong Le, Ph.D.Email:
Phone: (863) 680-4132

An-Phong Le, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. He writes the Tributaries section. Dr. Le’s research interests focus on three major areas: 1) development of inexpensive sensors for environmental analyses using paper-based microfluidic devices, 2) characterization of the migration of flavor compounds and chemical contaminants in food during storage, preparation, and cooking, and 3) development of inexpensive instrumentation for the instructional laboratory using open-source microcontrollers. Dr. Le has collaborated with or mentored over 20 undergraduate students at Florida Southern in a wide range of projects in biology and chemistry.

Anthony J. A. Ouellette, Ph.D.

Anthony J. A. Ouellette, Ph.D.Email:
Phone: (904) 256-7299

Anthony (Andy) Ouellette is a Professor of Biology at Jacksonville University. His interests focus on using molecular, analytical, and microbiological techniques to understand bacteria in aquatic environments, particularly toxic freshwater cyanobacteria and estuarine Vibrio.  Microcystis is a group of cyanobacteria that includes toxic strains that synthesize microcystins, a group of liver toxins. When these toxic cyanobacteria form blooms, as they sometimes do in the St. Johns River watershed, they can cause ecological and public health concerns.  Vibrio are bacteria that are naturally present in estuarine and marine waters.  With over 100 species, they are a diverse group that play beneficial roles in the environment, however some can be human pathogens, such as Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus.

Dr. Ouellette gathered, evaluated data for, and revised the algal blooms section of the report.

Gerard F. Pinto, Ph.D.

 Gerard F. Pinto, Ph.D.
Phone: (904) 256-7338
Manatee Hotline: (904) 256-7575

Gerard F. Pinto, Ph.D. is an Associate Research Scientist at the Marine Science Research Institute at Jacksonville University. Over the past decade he helped to develop and implement State approved Manatee Protection Plans for Duval and Clay Counties. He is a consultant to the City of Jacksonville Waterways Commission and conducts research to monitor manatee populations in northeast Florida. Gerry has worked to raise public awareness about manatee issues through the Manatee Research Center Online (MARCO) web site, safe boating and speed zone advisory guides, educational seminars, TV and print media. He conducts aerial surveys and manages a manatee Geographic Information System data base of aerial sightings. He has conducted research in habitat mapping for manatees and gopher tortoises, water quality monitoring, ecosystem restoration, vessel traffic and compliance studies, near water surface acoustical studies, and manatee scar patterns. In addition, he has a background in fisheries and aquaculture and has conducted research, teaching or work on commercial fish production systems and marketing in the Caribbean, Kenya and the U.S. His future research interests include fisheries sampling and the impact of freshwater withdrawals, sea level rise and harbor deepening activities on the flora and fauna of the Lower St. Johns River Basin.

Dr. Pinto gathered, evaluated data for, and authored the sections on Submerged Aquatic Vegetation and Federally Endangered & Threatened Species (Manatees, Bald Eagles, Wood Storks, Shortnose Sturgeon, Piping Plover, Florida Scrub-jay and Eastern Indigo Snake). In 2013 he also took over the role as author of the fisheries section of the report.

Radha Pyati, Ph.D.

Radha Pyati, Ph.D. - Co-Principal InvestigatorEmail:
Phone: (904) 620-1918

Radha Pyati, Ph.D. is an Environmental Analytical Chemist and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at UNF. Her research focuses on imaging flow cytometry of fission yeast and its growth poisons, and analysis of soil for lead contamination using atomic absorption.

Radha (along with Lucy Sonnenberg) co-ordinated the overall activities of the River Report project, authored the water quality section on Fecal Coliform and revised the background section.

Brian Zoellner, Ph.D.

Brian Zoellner, Ph.D.Email:
Phone: (904) 620-5852

Brian Zoellner, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Science Education in the UNF College of Education and Human Services. Prior to his university work, he taught biology, integrated science, chemistry, and at-risk science at the high school level. He co-taught (with mathematics instructors) ninth- and tenth-grade integrated math/science courses. He was involved in numerous curriculum development projects that integrated math and science and aligned with state and national standards.

In his current role as the Secondary Science Education Program Head he teaches secondary science methods and education foundational courses, supervises student teaching interns, and oversees the secondary science education curriculum.

Additionally, he is Co-Director of the Northeast Florida Science, Technology, and Mathematics Center for Education (NEFSTEM). The center’s mission is to provide support science teachers and students in the region through professional development activities and science enrichment activities for secondary students on-campus.

His research interests include state and federal education policy related to teachers and their practice, the use of technology to enhance educator professional development, and STEM curriculum development and implementation.

Brian is responsible for the co-development (with district and university personnel) and assistance in the implementation of primary and secondary curriculum that utilizes key aspects of the report. This development activity will include the identification of the report content that is relevant to school curricula, appropriate student age-levels, and aligns with the Next Generation (National) Science Standards, Florida Sunshine State Standards, and local pacing guides.

Previous Contributors


Ray Bowman, Ph.D.

Ray Bowman, Ph.D.Email:
Phone: (904) 210-1918

Ray Bowman, Ph.D. just retired from UNF after 30 years as a faculty member. He was a founding faculty member of the department of Natural Sciences and served in many roles (including department chair) at the university. His research interests fcoused on environment chemistry as applied to St. Johns River. Most recently Dr. Bowman founded the UNF Environment Center bringing faculty from UNF and local enviromental groups together to focus attention on environmental issues.

Dr. Bowman served as an advisor to the River Report Team concerning content and procedures, and was the driving force for making the river report project come to fruition.

Stuart J. Chalk, Ph.D.

Stuart J. Chalk, Ph.D.Email:
Phone: (904) 620-1938

Stuart Chalk, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at UNF. His research focuses on development of remote instrumentation for analysis of enviromentally important chemicals, new stable color reagents, and development of web-based data analysis software. He is also working on a number of projects in the area of Chemical Informatics.

Stuart gathered and evaluated data for, and authored the water quality section on the Lower St. Johns River Tributaries. He also co-ordinated the data collection/analysis of the water quality section, document formatting, and reference collection and organization. Dr. Chalk is also the author/designer of the River Report Digital Archive and the interactive tributaries pages.

Dan McCarthy, Ph.D.

Dan McCarthy, Ph.D. Email:
Phone: (904) 256-7369

Daniel McCarthy, Ph.D., is the Co-Principal Investigator of the project and has, in conjunction with UNF investigators, overseen all research activities associated with the project. Dr. McCarthy is an Assistant Professor of Biology and Marine Science at JU. He is the Director of the JU Marine Science Program and a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. His research interests lie in the areas of marine benthic ecology, nearshore reef ecology, and the reproduction and life-history ecology of marine invertebrates. He has investigated a number of seasonal ecological interactions involving invertebrate, fish, and algal species found within estuarine and marine habitats throughout Florida. He has conducted marine research abroad in the Bahamas and Caribbean Islands, Pacific Ocean, and a number of locations in Europe.

Dr. McCarthy, along with three Investigators and two JU Undergraduate Research Assistants, co-ordinated obtaining, compiling, and reviewing data related to biotic assemblages found in the Lower Basin of the St. Johns River. Dr. McCarthy (along with Dr. Pyati) co-ordinated the overall activities of the River Report project, and authored the Fisheries and Macrobenthic Invertebrates sections.

Dr. McCarthy’s research interestes are marine benthic ecology; nearshore reef ecology; reproduction and life-history ecology of marine invertebrates; biology of sabellariid polychaetes, poriferans and echinoderms.

Heather McCarthy, M.E.M.

Heather McCarthy, M.E.M.Email:
Phone: (904) 635-3766

Heather McCarthy has a broad background in coastal zone management, marine and estuarine science, and environmental policy.  Her technical experience includes habitat conservation planning, environmental assessments, benthic invertebrate and barrier island vegetation surveys, water quality monitoring, management of exotic species, and web design. She focuses on coastal environmental management with concentrations on marine conservation biology and invasion ecology. She specializes in environmental communication, facilitating public meetings, building consensus among diverse stakeholders, and scientific writing.

Heather also gathered, evaluated data for, and authored the sections on Wetlands and Nonindigenous Aquatic Species. She researched and wrote the introductory and background sections for the report, and supplied the conceptual and graphic design for the brochure, which summarizes the full report for the public. She also provided logistical, organizational, and editorial support to the team during the implementation of the River Report project.

April Moore, B.S.

April Moore, B.S.Former Program Manager

April Moore was the program manager for the Environmental Center at UNF (2006-2011).


April provided administrative support for the report team.

Lucinda B. Sonnenberg, Ph.D.

Lucinda B. SonnenbergEmail:
Phone: (904) 256-7332

Lucy Sonnenberg, Ph.D., is a research professor of chemistry and the research director of the Millar Wilson Laboratory for Chemical Research (MWL) at Jacksonville University. Under her directorship, the multifaceted mission of the MWL is to conduct novel research in environmental chemistry, provide rigorous and meaningful environmental research experiences to undergraduate students, and to serve as an environmental chemistry resource to area agencies and institutions. Sonnenberg and her students have conducted research on organochlorine contaminants in water and sediment, bioavailability and bioaccumulation of contaminants, carbon and nitrogen cycling in natural and wastewater systems, and the effects of natural organic matter on pollutant fates and effects. In addition, the laboratory has performed numerous assessments of stormwater management technologies. She is a member of the national American Chemical Society and Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and she interacts regularly with local environmental scientists and engineers, in large part by participation in the Lower St. Johns River Technical Advisory Committee.

Dr. Sonnenberg is the River Report team member responsible for evaluating contamination of the St. Johns River sediments with toxic chemicals and lead author on the contaminants section.  She also authored the water quality sections on nutrients and algal blooms, and provided information on local actions to improve the LSJR ecosystem and various management activities.

Patrick Welsh, Ph.D.

Patrick Welsh, Ph.D.Email:
Phone: (904) 620-2756

Patrick Welsh, Ph.D. is a retired Navy oceanographer and NOAA meteorologist with broad interest in the coastal ocean and atmosphere, particularly the physical flow fields and their physics. He is currently Executive Director of the Advanced Weather Information Systems Laboratory where he works with realtime environmental data systems and geophysical computer models. He has long term interests in mesoscale severe storm structure, Doppler radar signatures from tropical cyclone induced tornadoes, influences of river and sea breezes, Florida tornadoes, and coastal impact of hurricanes and hurricane storm surge.

Pat gathered/evaluated data for and authored the water quality section on Ground Water.

A. Quinton White, Ph.D.

A. Quinton White, Ph.D.Email:
Phone: (904) 256-7766

A. Quinton White, Ph.D. has been active in research concerning the St. Johns River and the impact of man on marine ecosystems. His marine science research has taken him to China, South America, the Galapagos Islands, the Bahamas and Australia. While most of his research is done on the surface of the sea, he has been down to 1,500 feet in the Johnson-Sea Link submersible to do research on deep-sea crabs. Dr. White has written numerous research and technical papers or reports and received grants and contracts to support marine research at JU. Currently he is conducting research on manatees and king mackerel. Dr. White serves as a consultant with the City of Jacksonville Waterways Commission on manatee issues and the Manatee Protection Plan. He also worked with Clay County on their manatee protection plan. In 2006-07 he chaired the Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. study on Energy, Environment and Economy: Sustaining Jacksonville’s Air Quality for the Future

Dr. White served as an advisor to the River Report Team concerning content and procedures.

Water Quality, Fisheries, Aquatic Life, & Contaminants