Coral Reef & Molecular Ecology Team

jvossProject Lead - Joshua D. Voss, Ph.D.

Associate Research Professor

Dr. Joshua Voss is the Executive Director of NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology and an Associate Research Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute . His primary areas of interest include shallow and mesophotic coral reef ecology, coral health and disease, molecular ecology, marine conservation and management. Through Harbor Branch’s Robertson Coral Reef Program and CIOERT he works to discover, characterize, and protect coral reefs ecosystems. Voss is a certified technical diver and scuba instructor who has completed over 1500 scientific dives and led more than 35 scientific expeditions primarily in the Bahamas, Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas , Belize , Cuba, and Gulf of Mexico with additional investigations in Panama, Curacao, Bonaire, Dominica, USVI, and St. Eustatius. Voss teaches undergraduate courses in the Harbor Branch Semester by the Sea Program, graduate courses in the FAU Department of Biology , and molecular workshops for high school students. He also serves on various committees including the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council Coral Advisory Panel, Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative Team and as co-lead of their Technical Advisory Committee, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Technical Advisory Committee, the South Florida Marine Research Hub, and FAU’s Diving and Boating Safety Committee . After growing up on the beaches of central Florida, Voss attended Elon University in North Carolina and completed a B.S. in Biology along with minors in Philosophy and Chemistry. He earned his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at Florida International University in Miami, and was a member of the Marine Science faculty at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg before joining FAU Harbor Branch.

Graduate Students

eckert.ryan Ryan Eckert

Ryan is a Ph.D. Student who recently completed his Master's in the lab in July 2019. Ryan’s thesis research focused on the coral species Montastraea cavernosa at several sites within two marine reserves on the Belize Barrier Reef. He used microsatellite markers and next-generation sequencing to examine how M. cavernosa populations and their assemblages of endosymbiotic algae (family Symbiodiniaceae) varied across a gradient from shallow to mesophotic depths. He received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Florida State University. Prior to starting at HBOI he worked as a researcher at NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, starting in 2009. While at FGBNMS he coordinated offshore field logistics for scientific diving missions and Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) expeditions. He also ran quarterly long-term monitoring water quality sampling cruises and maintained long-term water quality sampling instrumentation.


sturm.alexis Alexis Sturm

Alexis is a Ph.D. Student who joined the lab in August 2017. Her thesis research will focus on the characterization of mesophotic and shallow coral reef communities off the coast of Cuba, Mexico, and the Florida Keys. She will be utilizing a combination of molecular techniques to improve the understanding of the ecology, genetic connectivity, and associated symbiont assemblages of populations of the coral Montastraea cavernosa. She is a graduate of the University of Miami with dual degrees in Marine Science and Biology. Prior to her graduate work at HBOI, she worked in education and outreach and policy development for the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and Office of Protected Resources. As an undergraduate NOAA Hollings Scholar, she led coral health impact and human use surveys in Tumon Bay, Guam. She also worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Cnidarian Immunity Lab, focusing on wound healing processes in the coral, Pocillopora damicornis.


Caroline Haymaker Caroline Haymaker

Caroline is a Master's Student who joined the lab in August 2019. For her master's thesis, Caroline is developing new eDNA markers for target coral species through CIOERT to enhance ocean exploration and monitoring capacity. She received a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Conservation Leadership from Old Dominion University. In her senior year, she became an Undergraduate Independent Researcher with the Barshis Lab. During her time there she managed the second half of a long-term independent study to determine the genotypes of Goniastrea retiformis and their endosymbionts (family Symbiodiniaceae) sampled from American Samoa. Once she graduated from ODU in 2017, she began a four-month internship at the University of Western Australia in the McCulloch Lab. There she aided in a long-term coral acclimatization experiment (Acropora aspera and Dipsastraea sp.) under the mentorship of a post-doctorate fellow, Verena Schoepf. After returning home to Virginia, she worked as an adjunct instructor at Tidewater Community College for the 2018 school year.  


Allison (Allie) Klein Allison (Allie) Klein

Allie Klein is a Master’s Student who joined the lab in August 2020. She received a B.S. in Marine Biology and a B.A. in Environmental Chemistry with a minor in Sustainability from Roger Williams University. Throughout her four years at RWU, Allie was an outstanding research student in Dr. Koty Sharp's Lab and an INBRE-SURF fellow in both 2018 and 2019. Her senior thesis research focused on characterizing and assessing dynamics  in the microbiome of the northern star coral, Astrangia poculata. Her work used florescent in situ hybridization (FISH) techniques to localize and identify key bacterial taxa of interest within the corals’ tissues. In 2018, Allie studied abroad for a semester at the BIOS station in Bermuda, scientific diving and conducting research in the Sargasso Sea. As a member of the Voss lab and the FAU Biology masters program, Allie plans to focus her thesis research on coral health and the recent stony coral tissue loss disease outbreak. She will be a key member of our dive team and contribute to FDEP and NOAA funded projects. 


Ashley Carreiro Ashley Carreiro

Ashley joined the lab in January 2020 as a technician, and in January of 2021 became a Master's student. She received a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology from Florida State University. As a tech, Ashley assisted with samples from the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas to better characterize population connectivity throughout the Florida Reef Tract and Gulf of Mexico and also analyzed 3D models to better assess the impacts of stony coral tissue loss disease ​(SCTLD) on corals in Southeast Florida. As a graduate student, Ashley hopes to explore the relationship between nutrients and SCTLD. Prior to joining the lab, she worked as the science coordinator at Marine Conservation Philippines where she led the long-term monitoring project of coral reefs used to assist in MPA management decisions in Negros Oriental. She also did an extensive amount of technical diving in the Philippines assessing the feasibility of monitoring mesophotic reefs. 


Haley Davis Haley Davis

Haley Davis is a Master’s student who joined the lab in June 2021. She obtained a B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Biology from Baylor University in the spring of 2020. During her undergraduate studies, Haley was heavily involved in research both at Baylor and as a NOAA Hollings Scholar. As an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Cole Matson’s lab, she spent time studying the fate of nanoparticulate metals in freshwater ecosystems, and the impacts of PCBs on embryonic development of Fundulus grandis. She used this ecotoxicology experience later in her research with Dr. Cheryl Woodley where she investigated the effects of a systemic pesticide on stony corals and several other marine invertebrates. As a Master’s student Haley hopes to use her experience in ecotoxicology and coral stress-responses to better understand the ways in which corals respond to locally pertinent stressors. She will be involved in the Voss lab dive team and will contribute to coral monitoring and disease management efforts.


Sydney Bell Sydney Bell

Sydney Bell is a Master of Science student and joined the lab in June 2021 where she plans to focus her research thesis on stony coral tissue loss disease. Most recently, Sydney was a Coral Reproduction and Adaptation Intern at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration. During her internship at Mote and under the direction of Dr. Hanna Koch, Sydney performed controlled crosses of white band disease-resistant Acropora cervicornis, gamete collection during coral spawning, and an epigenetics study on the heritability of white band disease resistance. Additionally, Sydney attended a study abroad internship in the Cayman Islands at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute during the summer of 2019 where she researched the ideal benthic habitat for Acropora cervicornis nursery-reared outplants. Sydney received a B.S. in Marine Vertebrate Biology with a minor in Ecosystems and Human Impact from Stony Brook University in 2021 and was an Undergraduate Independent Researcher in the Padilla Lab studying ocean acidification levels within Long Island harbors


Gabrielle Pantoni Gabrielle Pantoni

Gabby Pantoni joined the lab as a Coral Research Technician in March 2021, and in January 2022 became a Master's student. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in May 2020 with a BS in Marine Biology. In 2019 she was a RI C-AIM Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow working with Dr Carol Thornber and Dr. Lindsay Green-Gavrielidis to study benthic community ecology. Her research observed changes in benthic habitats related to abundance of kelps and rockweeds   t hroughout Narragansett Bay. She conducted benthic video surveys on scuba to observe kelp and rockweed habitats, and used historical data comparisons to determine changes in abundance of these habitat forming seaweeds. In 2018, she studied abroad for a semester at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), where she began research diving and conducting coral reef research. As a tech, Gabby has helped with the coral outplanting and restoration project and aids in research diving for the lab. She will continue to work on the outplanting and restoration project as a graduate student by looking at survivorship and growth over time of the outplanted colonies as part of her thesis research. 


Erin Shilling Erin Shilling

Erin is currently the Lab Manager who joined the lab as a Master's student in August 2018. After graduating with her degree in December 2020, Erin stayed on to help coordinate some of the lab's ongoing projects with stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD). Erin's thesis research involved comparing the success rates of various coral disease intervention methods for SCTLD, as well as analyzing any impacts these treatments may have on coral mucus microbial communities. Her work is part of a collaborative effort to save corals in the southeast Florida Reef Tract that are affected by SCTLD  . Erin has been named an FAU Provost Fellow and been awarded an Indian River Lagoon Fellowship. Prior to FAU, she graduated in 2017 from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Biology, focusing on Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Throughout her undergrad career, she interned with several non-profits and volunteered at the Misha Matz Lab at UT, where she examined potential biomarker genes in Acropora millepora. Erin also took a study abroad course while at UT which included a three-week field course in Akumal, Mexico, and led surveys to assess potential human influence on coral reef community structure. She took part in UT’s Semester by the Sea program, spending a semester in Port Aransas, TX enrolled full time in field courses and labs. 

HBOI ocean fish