Alumni Board

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Sandra St Hilaire

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.

Peter Chaibongsai

Peter Chaibongsai, B.A. ’00, M.A. ‘07

Immediate Past President

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 leads the science and advocacy divisions of TBF and has developed an intern program that regularly hires RSMAS students. 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.

Lauren Ordway

Lauren Ordway, B.A. ’08, M.A. ’09

Vice President

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., then worked for The Nature Conservancy as an Associate Director of Philanthropy, and Dream in Green as the Executive Director. Now she is a Senior Program Officer at Institute for Sustainable Communities. She is actively engaged in Miami’s environmental community, and sits on the Board of Surfrider Foundation’s Miami Chapter.

Brendan Mackesey

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.

Board Members

Andrew Baker

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

Laura Bracken, M.A. ’07

Laura is the Senior Program 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. She also runs the consortium’s outreach efforts, communicating science through videos, presentations, and citizen science activities. 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

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 at Frost Science Museum. He directs the Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program which focuses on studying and protecting marine resources shared by Cuba, Mexico and the US in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean. He is also Director of the Museum’s MUVE project which has engaged 8,000 Miami volunteers in restoring 25 acres of coastal urban habitat.

Dan DiNicola

Dan DiNicola, M.P.S. ’14

Dan graduated with a Master of Science degree in Marine Affairs and Policy in 2014, and immediately went to work for The Billfish Foundation, producing a variety of multimedia projects to increase membership and participation for citizen science projects. He was then the Outreach Coordinator for RECOVER, a Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Consortium based at RSMAS, dedicated to understanding how oil spills affect fish and their potential for recovery. Dan moved to Seattle and looks forward to connecting with the northwest RSMAS alumni.

Lainey Grossman

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 has served as the Program Coordinator at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center and a Development Associate at Miami Children’s Health Foundation. Lainey now resides in New Jersey but remains an avid Canes fan.

Gerard loisel

Gerard Loisel, B.S. `76

Gerard worked as a research assistant at RSMAS from 1972-1976 and received his BS in 1976. He taught undergraduate marine biology and oceanography for 26 years at NSU, earnning the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2008-2009. Gerard was President of the Hurricane Club in 1999 and is currently the Immediate Past President of the UM Sports Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the UM Alumni Council from 2014-2017. Gerard was inducted into Iron Arrow this past spring and is currently the owner and director of Marine Biology Camp, Inc.

kelly montero

Kelly Montenero, M.S. ‘13

Kelly Montenero obtained her Bachelors of Science at the University of Wisconsin studying limnology and conservation biology, and Masters of Science in Marine Affairs and Policy at University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School, where she conducted fisheries and marine reserve research in Dry Tortugas National Park, while also working in a coral research laboratory.  She has worked as a marine science instructor on Catalina Island, California and in the British Virgin Islands, as a fisheries field technician in Alaska, and as whale naturalist and a marine conservation and outreach coordinator on Maui, Hawai’i. She’s done coral and fisheries research in Panama, the Bahamas and Florida, was a NOAA Coral Management Fellow for the state of Florida, and is now a Research Associate with CIMAS in NOAA AOML’s Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division.

dave suslow

David Ortiz-Suslow

Dave is a research associate in Department of Meteorology at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. His research focuses on the physical interaction between the atmosphere and upper ocean and using observational techniques to better understand the transfer of energy across the air-sea interface. He received a Ph.D. in Applied Marine Physics from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science under the mentorship of Professor Brian Haus. He received a B.S. in Physics in 2012 from UCSD. He lives in San Diego with his wife, son, and little terrier.

Erica Towle, B.S. ‘10, Ph.D. ‘15

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. She was a 2016 Knauss Sea Grant Legislative Fellow in Washington, D.C. and then served as a Program & Policy Analyst for NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. Erica is now the NOAA National Ocean Service Program Coordination Officer.

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.


Patrick Rynne

Patrick Rynne, PhD

Dr. Patrick Rynne is a marine scientist, ocean engineer and science outreach specialist. He completed his undergraduate education in Material Engineering from Brown University, earned a Master of Science degree in Ocean Engineering from Florida Atlantic University, and a Ph.D in Applied Marine Physics from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. His research interests include the hydrodynamics of near-shore and riverine systems including tidal inlets, bays, and estuaries and their role in maintaining healthy water quality and ecology. Towards this goal he is also engaged in developing engineering solutions that facilitate the fieldwork efforts in these environments. In 2011, he founded Waterlust, a Miami-based company that specializes in the creative communication of ocean science topics through online film, photography, and advocate apparel. He currently serves as Waterlust’s CEO & Creative Director.

tracy nolan

Tracy Nolan, MPS ‘16

Tracy holds an MPS degree from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. She specializes in the issue of plastic pollution and has spent the last four years building Debris Free Oceans, of which she is Education Director. In addition, Tracy is a naturalist at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center where she educates children on Florida’s tropical marine ecology and conservation.