About HBOI

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James M. Sullivan Ph.D.

Executive Director

James M. Sullivan, Ph.D., joined Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in 2015 and was named Executive Director of FAU Harbor Branch in 2018. Prior to this, Sullivan held senior positions in academia and industry, both as research faculty at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, and as a senior oceanographer for the company Sea-Bird Scientific, which manufactures instruments for measuring and monitoring ocean activity. During his career, Sullivan has received funding through most of the major federal science agencies including the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Oceanographic Partnership Program, Office of Naval Research, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Institutes of Health. Sullivan’s research interests include biological and physical mechanisms that control the spatial-temporal dynamics of phytoplankton populations in the coastal oceans, harmful algal bloom dynamics, bioluminescence in the ocean, and the development and use of optical and autonomous sampling instrumentation and analytical techniques needed to study these complex processes. He has developed or co-developed equipment that includes a moored autonomous vertical profiler, a bathyphotometer, an in situ hyperspectral spectrophotometer, and an in situ holographic microscope for 3D characterization of undisturbed particles in the ocean. Sullivan has more than 50 peer-reviewed publications to his credit and has held editorial positions for several international scientific journals. He currently serves as an editor of Optics Express.

Sullivan earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in biological oceanography with specializations in phytoplankton physiology and ecology, as well as bio-optics and biophysics from the University of Rhode Island - Graduate School of Oceanography. FAU is in its fifth decade of working with marine science and technology partners on applied projects that produce positive environmental, societal and economic outcomes. As Executive Director, Sullivan is leading a strategic effort to develop interdisciplinary research by combining expertise across many FAU centers and colleges including: FAU Harbor Branch; the Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE); SeaTech: Institute for Ocean and Systems Engineering; the Florida Center for Environmental Studies; the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honor College and the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Paul Wills

Paul Wills, Ph.D.

Associate Director for Research
Research Professor

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Peter McCarthy

Peter McCarthy, Ph.D.

Associate Director for Education
Research Professor

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Peter McCarthy, Ph.D., is the associate director for education; in this role, he is working on the establishment of a new graduate program in Marine Science and Oceanography. He works closely with the graduate students at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute to ensure that they comply with University rules and regulations and seeks funding opportunities to secure their success. McCarthy is also a research professor at FAU Harbor Branch and has been the head of the Microbiology group since 1996. Projects in his lab cover diverse areas of marine microbiology, from drug discovery to studying potential pathogens in the environment. Recent work emphasizes the discovery of antibacterial agents and the study of bacterial pollution in the Indian River Lagoon. McCarthy was trained as a microbiologist in England, receiving his Ph.D. degree from the University of Kent at Canterbury. Following a two-year post-doctoral appointment with the Smith Kline and French Natural Products Pharmacology group in Philadelphia, he joined FAU Harbor Branch in 1985. He has over 70 publications in the scientific literature and is an inventor on thirteen U.S. patents. He has served as president of the Florida Branch of the American Society for Microbiology and is currently a national councilor for ASM. McCarthy is currently mentoring four graduate students.

Patric Boles

Patrick Boles

Associate Executive Director of Operations

Patrick J. Boles, CPA, is responsible for the operational and financial aspects of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. His career spans more than 30 years of managerial roles in both private and public industry as well as public accounting specializing in not-for-profit businesses, including healthcare. A licensed certified public accountant, Boles is a graduate of Florida State University with degrees in accounting and finance, and has been with FAU Harbor Branch since 2002 when he came on board as its chief financial officer; he was subsequently appointed Harbor Branch’s chief operating officer in 2005. As a member of Harbor Branch’s transition team during its merger with Florida Atlantic University, Boles stepped up to the role of associate executive director of operations and finance, where his responsibilities now include a myriad of FAU Harbor Branch’s functions including finance, accounting, accounts payable, grants management, human resources, traffic & parking, employee health & safety, diving & boating operations & safety, security, general services, Office of Information Technology, and building & grounds operations.

Julie Pettingill

Julie Pettingill

Director, Bus./Fin Aux. Services

Julie Pettingill is responsible for directing the implementation and day to day management of many FAU processes for the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute campus, faculty, staff, students and volunteers and works closely with the associate executive directors and executive director. She is a graduate of the University of Florida, with degrees in psychology and marketing. Her career began over 30 years ago in human resources at the University of Florida where she had roles in recruitment, classification and compensation, and training UF staff in time management, interviewing, performance appraisals, creation of job descriptions, attendance and leave policy and supervision. She continued working in a for-profit company as training manager then HR regional manager before coming to FAU Harbor Branch in 1996 as the HR director, which included the not-for-profit institute and for-profit subsidiaries. She continues HR-related activities at FAU Harbor Branch. Her role has expanded to include management of operations and campus services, and she was part of the transition team when Harbor Branch merged with FAU.

Greg Morgan

Gregory Morgan

Director, Business Services

Cara Perry

Cara Perry

Assistant Vice President of Communication, FAU Northern Campuses

Cara Carlton Perry is the assistant vice president of communication for Florida Atlantic University’s northern campuses, which include Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in St. Lucie County and the John D. MacArthur Campus at Jupiter. She has enjoyed 15 years of service at FAU in various external relations roles, most recently creating new and improved communication departments at both FAU Harbor Branch and Jupiter campuses. Perry has actively participated in a variety of community and business organizations as a representative of FAU, she currently serves on the board of directors for the Palm City Chamber of Commerce and is a member of Leadership Florida. She received her bachelor’s degree in communication from Florida State University and her master’s degree in university administration from the University of Central Florida.

Amanda L. Nickeson

Amanda L. Nickeson

Assistant Vice President, Institutional Advancement

Amanda Nickeson is a dedicated fundraising professional with nearly two decades of experience in cultivating major gifts for non-profit organizations. Amanda grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but she has always felt a deep connection to the ocean and its great wonders. In January 2019, she decided to follow her dream and accepted the position of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s director of development.

Today, Amanda is FAU Harbor Branch’s executive director of development, and she has been instrumental in strategizing and building the Institute’s major gifts program. Amanda also led the planning of FAU Harbor Branch’s spectacular 50th anniversary celebration, as well as the revitalization of key membership and corporate partners programs. Additionally, Amanda currently serves as a founding member of Chief Miami. Chief is the only private membership network focused on helping women executive leaders magnify their positions of power and strengthen their leadership journeys.

Before joining FAU Harbor Branch, Amanda spent more than ten years at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) serving as the director of philanthropy for the Central Appalachians and West Virginia programs. Her efforts to build a new model for fundraising in a wealth-poor region gained attention across the organization. This model now provides an example for programs facing similar challenges. During her time at TNC, Amanda fostered the "One Conservancy" spirit by cultivating major gifts for programs in the Caribbean, Africa and more.

Previously, Amanda was also the director of development at WQED, Pittsburgh's PBS station. Career highlights in that role include spending time with Mister Rogers and earning a Mid-Atlantic Emmy nomination.

Amanda has a Master of Arts in Geography and Regional Planning and a Bachelor of Science in Special Education, both from California University of Pennsylvania. She now lives in Vero Beach with her three dogs, Oliver, Sheldon and Murphy.

If you would like to support FAU Harbor Branch's Ocean Science for a Better World, contact Nickeson to make a generous gift at anickeson@fau.edu.

Norma Gammons

Norma Gammons

Assistant to Harbor Branch Executive Director

Norma Gammons is the Assistant to the Executive Director at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. She provides comprehensive administrative support to the Executive Director and secondary support to the Associate Executive Director.

Before joining FAU in 2011, Norma served as the Executive Assistant to both the VP of Organizational Effectiveness, and, the General Counsel at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. Prior to that role, she served as the Administrative Supervisor to the Chief Bar Counsel at the Alaska Bar Association in Anchorage, Alaska.

Norma received her Associate of Arts degree from the University of Alaska. She has been a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) for over 20 years where she served in many leadership roles and attained her Certified Professional Secretary and Certified Administrative Professional ratings. Norma brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to FAU Harbor Branch assisting the management team to reach their goals successfully.

Gabby Barbarite, Ph.D.

Gabby Barbarite, Ph.D.

Director of Outreach & Engagement

HBOI ocean fish