Peter Chaibongsai, B.A. ’00, M.A. ‘07
Peter Chaibongsai is the Director of Conservation Programs for The Billfish Foundation (TBF), a non-profit organization, solely dedicated to the conservation of billfish populations worldwide. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs and Policy with a concentration in Aquaculture from UM in 2000 and came back, as a RSMAS fellowship recipient, to receive a Master’s in Marine Affairs and Policy in 2007. In addition to serving on the RSMAS Alumni Board, Peter is also on the RSMAS Master of Professional Science External Advisory Council.
Erica Towle, B.S. ’10, PhD '15
Immediate Past President
Erica is a double alumna of RSMAS, earning her B.S. in Marine and Atmospheric Science in 2010 and her Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Ecology in 2015. Her Ph.D. research was completed in Chris Langdon's lab, and focused on identifying indicators of resilience to climate change stress in corals of the Florida Reef Tract. Erica served as the President of the RSMAS Alumni Board from 2012-2015, and now sits on the board as the Immediate Past President. She has been selected as a 2016 NOAA Knauss Fellow in Washington, D.C.
Lauren Ordway, B.A. ’08, M.A. ’09
Lauren participated in the accelerated Marine Affairs and Policy 5 year BA/MA program. After graduation, she spent over two years working for the Environmental Stewardship department at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., where she coordinated the corporation’s relief effort to Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, oversaw the pilot project installation of a novel exhaust gas scrubber, and managed the Ocean Fund, the company’s charitable giving-arm to marine conservation. Ordway currently works for The Nature Conservancy as an Associate Director of Philanthropy, concentrating on major gifts fundraising. She is actively engaged in Miami’s environmental community, and sits on the Board of Surfrider Foundation’s Miami Chapter.
Lainey Grossman, B.A. ’07, M.A. ’11
Lainey earned her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Marine Affairs and Policy from the University of Miami. She is a Development Associate at Miami Children’s Health Foundation. Previously, she serves as the Program Coordinator at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center. Lainey is also an active member of the Junior League of Miami and avid Canes fan.
Brendan Mackesey, B.B.A. '07, J.D. '12, M.P.S. '13
Brendan is a "triple-Cane" with a B.B.A., J.D., and M.P.S. from the University of Miami. After graduating from RSMAS, Brendan completed a fellowship with the Interior Branch of the White House Office of Management and Budget, where he helped secure funding for the Everglades Tamiami Trail Next Steps Project. He is a member of the Florida Bar and currently represents the Pinellas County Natural Resources and Parks and Conservation Resources Divisions as an Assistant County Attorney. Brendan specializes in NPDES Regulation and Coastal Zone Management.
Andrew Baker, Ph.D. ’99
Andrew is a Professor in the Department of Marine Biology & Ecology at RSMAS. His research focuses on the biology, ecology and conservation of coral reefs, with a focus on the impacts of climate change on these ecosystems. Andrew received his undergraduate degree from Cambridge University, before coming to the US on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1993, and receiving his Ph.D. in Marine Biology from RSMAS in 1999. He worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society from 1999 to 2005, where he was also a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia University, before returning to the University of Miami.
Laura Bracken, M.A. ’07
Laura is the Outreach Manager for the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE), a research group based at the University of Miami dedicated to predicting the fate of oil spills. Previously, she managed the Rosenstiel School’s outreach programs, including the Alumni Association. Laura has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Arts degree in Marine Affairs & Policy from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School.
Fernando Bretos, M.A. ’06
Fernando holds an M.A. in Marine Affairs and Policy from the Rosenstiel School and a B.S. in biology from Oberlin College. Fernando, a marine biologist and environmental educator, is Curator of Ecology and Field Conservation at Miami Science Museum. He is a Research Associate at The Ocean Foundation, where he co-directs its Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Project. He is also Director of the Museum’s Reclamation Project, a community based participatory eco-art project that empowers South Florida residents to restore urban coastal ecosystems such as mangrove wetlands and coastal forests.
Dan DiNicola, M.P.S. ’14
Dan graduated with a Master of Science degree in Marine Affairs and Policy in 2014. He is now the Outreach Coordinator for RECOVER, a Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Consortium based at RSMAS, dedicated to understanding how oil spills effect fish and their potential for recovery. Previously he worked for The Billfish Foundation, producing a variety of multimedia projects to increase membership and participation for citizen science projects.
Rachel Silverstein, Ph.D. ’12
Rachel received a Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Fisheries in 2012. Her research focused on the effect of climate change on reef corals, for which she used genetic methods to answer ecological questions. She is now the Executive Director & Waterkeeper for Miami Waterkeeper. Prior to joining MWK, Rachel was a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow and Professional Staff for the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard in Washington, DC.
Sandra St. Hilaire, B.A. ’08, M.A. ’11
Sandra earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Miami in Marine Affairs and Policy. Since graduating with her Master’s Degree in 2009, she has taught science to middle and high school students in New York City, worked for the New York/ New Jersey Baykeeper conducting oyster reef research, and is now the Program Director at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center on Key Biscayne. Sandra loves stand up paddle-boarding and sharing her passion for conservation and marine science with children.
Elizabeth Wheaton, B.A. ’05, M.A. ‘07
Betsy graduated from UM in 2005 with a B.A. in Marine Affairs, minoring in Anthropology and Economics, and in 2007 with a M.A. in Marine Affairs & Policy. She is an environmental and sustainability planning professional that is dedicated to fostering the community's environmental stewardship, protecting natural resources, adapting to climate change, and improving overall sustainability. She has worked for the City of Miami Beach's Division of Environment & Sustainability since 2009 and serves on the Board of Directors of Friends of the Everglades.
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