Greater Everglades Research Initiative

The Greater Everglades Research Initiative (GERI) conceptual model, reflecting the research focus of the Environmental Science Program, is organized around four major human-caused stressors and the associated impacts on environmental resources. The model shows the relevance of FAU’s Environmental Science research to some of the most pressing problems in South Florida and other coastal areas. It is issue-driven and focused on aquatic systems, from their freshwater source out to the coral reefs, where many of these problems are most obvious. Humans are viewed as an integral part of ecosystems rather than separate from them; there are no ecosystems left on the planet that are unaffected by human activities. 

View the White Paper on the Greater Everglades Research Initiative

Ecosystem services

Healthy aquatic ecosystems have direct importance to humans. Although many practitioners of Environmental Science at FAU believe that ecosystems and their components have intrinsic value, defining values relative to humans also leads to good management decisions and the long term sustainability of our natural systems.

Human use

Humans use ecosystems in different ways and for different purposes. Their use is guided by ethics, culture, and economics. The research aimed at understanding these factors can help resolve environmental conflicts and lead to more effective and efficient implementation of conservation projects and resource management decisions. The framework within which the large scale use of ecosystems by humans is governed, involves planning, public outreach and education, and ultimately policy. Understanding this framework is just as critical to effective resource management as is an understanding of biological processes.

Faculty research and education in this area draw heavily on examples from the large scale restoration and management of south Florida ecosystems. Our planning and policy expertise is sharpened by working in a setting where urban planning must be conducive to large scale restoration and management of our wetland ecosystems. South Florida's vast sensitive wetlands are directly adjacent to a large and burgeoning human population that is dependent on the same water, so South Florida is encountering sooner than most areas, unprecedented challenges in balancing human and environmental water needs. However, the evidence is mounting that worldwide water conflicts are on the rise and they will continue. In other words, for many places around the world, it can be said that this is a problem coming to a town near you. Developing tools and expertise to solve such thorny water-related problems, put our faculty and students in a strong position to apply their expertise to other areas around the country, and indeed the globe.

Anthropogenic stressors

Human use of ecosystems can lead to many outcomes. Human activities that negatively affect environmental sustainability are termed stressors. In South Florida and other coastal systems, some of the worst stressors are the (1) destruction of wetlands, (2) hydrologic and climatic changes, (3) increase of contaminants, and (4) introduction of invasive species. Listed under each category are specific examples that are applicable to many areas of the world.

Research topics

The research interests of faculty in the Environmental Science Program reflect our emphasis on freshwater and near-shore marine systems, which dominate South Florida. We are strong in our ability to bring genetic and physiological tools to bear on environmental problems, as well as in our use of ecological models and GIS. We also have a number of faculty with expertise in the ecology and management of rare and endangered species, of which Florida has the dubious distinction of having more than almost any state in the U.S. The list of research topics will change often to reflect the change in our faculty members and their evolving research interests.


The success of the Greater Everglades Research Initiative depends on the diverse and talented faculty doing research in environmental science at FAU. This list is not exhaustive but is rather meant to facilitate contact between our faculty and students, scientists, or agency staff with a common interest in a research topic.


Name Research Interest Department Email Phone Number

Dr. Rindy Anderson

Behavioral ecology, cognition, avian biology, bioacoustics

Biological Sciences (561) 297-5681

Dr. John Baldwin

Associate Director, Center for Environmental Studies Conservation biology and population genetics

Biological Sciences (954) 236-1151

Dr. Brian Benscoter

Plant ecology, linkages between community and ecosystem ecology, influence of natural disturbances on ecological systems

Biological Sciences (954) 236-1141

Dr. Randy Brooks

Behavioral/physiological ecology of marine organisms

Biological Sciences (561) 297-3888

Dr. Xavier Comas

Peatland Geophysics: Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), Resistivity and Induced Polarization (IP) imaging, EM31 

Geosciences (561) 297-3256

Dr. Ken Dawson-Scully

Neurobiology of cellular stress and neuroprotection, using
live-cell imaging, electrophysiology, and behavior genetics.

Biological Sciences (561) 297-0337

Dr. Kate Detwiler

Primate hybridization and speciation, molecular primatology,
primate behavioral ecology, conservation of African monkeys
and their rainforest habitats.

Anthropology (561) 297-1355

Dr. Nathan Dorn

Freshwater ecology, community ecology

Biological Sciences (954) 236-1315

Dr. Niwadiuto

Environmental microbiology, drug resistance, antimicrobials and contaminants

Biological Sciences (954) 236-1128

Dr. Maria Fadiman

Ethnobotany, Latin America, world cultures and environments,
environmental issues, rain forest ecosystems

Geosciences (561) 297-3314

Dr. Evelyn Frazier

Terrestrial Ecology, Conservation Biology, Plant-Insect Interactions 

Biological Sciences (561) 297-4472

Dr. Jerome Haky

Structure-activity relationships in gas and liquid chromatography,
alumina-based chromatographic stationary phases, aluminum
phosphonate complexes in solution and in the solid-state,
organometallic polymers as selective adsorbents, new methods
for the analysis of proteins, peptides, and other biological compounds

Chemistry (561) 297-3338

Dr. Howard Hanson

Atmosphere-ocean interaction, boundary-layer meteorology, 
upper ocean processes, climate system feedback processes, alternative/renewable energy strategies

Geosciences; Center for Ocean Energy Technology (561) 297-2460

Dr. M.D. Hanisak

Ecology and physiology of marine plants

Harbor Branch dhanisak@fau.du (772) 465-2400

Dr. Kristen Hart

Population-level studies of the ecology of herpetofauna and other

U.S. Geological Survey (954) 236-1067

Dr. Tobin Hindle

Ecological Regeneration, Strategies to integrate Science, Society and Nature, Geographical Information Science

Geosciences (561) 297-2846

Dr. Colin Hughes

Evolutionary Genetics and its relationship to conservation

Biological Sciences (954) 236-1156

Dr. Russ Ivy

Transport network analysis, economic and socio-cultural impacts of
tourism, urban revitalization, regional development and planning 

Geosciences (561) 297-3295

Dr. Stephen Kajiura

Functional morphology & sensory biology of fishes

Biological Sciences (561) 297-2677

Dr. Marguerite

Marine botany and nutrient cycling in tropical systems

Biological Sciences (561) 297-3325

Dr. Brian LaPointe

Algal physiology and biochemistry, seagrass and coral reef ecology, eutrophication, marine bioinvasions, marine conservation.

Harbor Branch (772) 465-2400

Dr. William Louda

Spatial and temporal modeling and monitoring of phytoplankton/periphyton/microalgae in marine, estuarine and
freshwater aquatic systems,howard
Lipophilic pigments --> chlorophylls, chlorophyll derivatives, carotenoids

Chemistry blouda@fau.du (561) 297-3309

Dr. Daniel Meeroff

Solid Waste Management, Water Chemistry, Hazardous Waste
Treatment, Pollution Prevention, Water/Wastewater Treatment
Processes, Green Engineering

College of Engineering and Computer Science; Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering (561) 297-3099

Dr. Scott Markwith

Biogeography, geomorphology, population, and conservation genetics vegetation dynamics and disturbance, aquatic systems

Geosciences (561) 297-3250

Dr. Sarah Milton

Physiological responses to environmental stress, primarily the
effects of hypoxia and anoxia on the brain, animal models of anoxia
and hypoxia tolerance, neuroprotective pathways in brain anoxia,
reactive oxygen species and aging

Biological Sciences (561) 297-3327

Dr. Diana Mitsova

Environmental modeling, climate change, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), spatial statistics, land cover change modeling, network analysis, hazard assessment.

Urban and Regional Planning (954) 762-5674

Dr. Jon Moore

Ecology, evolution, and distribution of fishes, the biology of deep-sea animals, conservation and biodiversity of scrub and flatwood habitats in Florida, and herpetology.

Honors College (561) 799 -8025

Dr. Erik Noonburg

Ecological modeling

Biological Sciences (954) 236-1303

Dr. Greg O’Corry-Crow

Marine mammal population genetics, marine mammal movements,
climate change

Harbor Branch (772) 465-2400 x628

Dr. Anton Oleinik

Cenozoic stratigraphy, molluscan paleontology, paleobiogeography and paleoclimates of high-latitude regions

Geosciences (561) 297-3297

Dr. Edward Petuch

The geology, biostratigraphy, and invertebrate paleontology of the
Floridian Peninsula and the Atlantic Coastal Plain

Geosciences (561) 297-2398

Dr. Colin Polsky

Human dimensions of & global environmental & change

Center for Environmental Studies (954) 236-1104

Dr. Charles Roberts

Extracting thematic information from remotely sensed
imagery, reconstruction of past environments using remotely
sensed data

Geosciences (561) 297-3254

Dr. Tara Root

Groundwater chemistry,water-rock interaction, groundwater sustainability

Geosciences (561) 297-3253

Dr. Michael Salmon

Animal behavior, sea turtle biology

Biological Sciences (561) 297-2747

Niel Santaniello


Environmental journalism, news writing, web research for journalism

School of Communication and Multimedia Studies (561) 297-1564

Dr. David Warburton


Environmental geochemistry, especially in interactions between
the terrestrial biosphere and the environment, and possible
regulation of the environment by the biosphere

Geosciences (561) 799-8648

Dr. James Wetterer

Biogeography, ecology, and environmental impact of ants, 
biogeography and ecology of West Indian ants, distribution,
impact, and control of exotic ants, the impact of exotic ants on
hatchling sea turtles in Florida

Honors College (561) 799-8648

Dr. Jeanette Wyneken

Integrative biology, comparative & functional morphology, sea turtle biology

Biological Sciences (561) 297-0146

Dr. Zhixiao Xie

Geographic image retrieval, high-resolution images spatial-temporal GIS analysis, environment health, invasive species.

Geosciences (561) 297-2852

Dr. Xing-Hai Zhang

Plant molecular biology and biotechnology

Biological Sciences (561) 297-1011


Additional Information
The Charles E. Schmidt College of Science offers unparalleled experiential learning opportunities to prepare the next generation of scientists and problem solvers.
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Rd, SE-43
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Fax: (561) 297-3292