Plenary Session Presenters

Conference Chairs

Nicholas G. Aumen

GEER 2017 Conference Chair
Regional Science Advisor – South Florida
US Geological Survey, Davie, FL

Nick Aumen is Regional Science Advisor for the US Geological Survey (Southeast Region), overseeing the Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystem Sciences program. This program, involving USGS scientists nationwide, provides high quality science in support of Everglades restoration. Nick was an aquatic ecologist for 15 years with Everglades National Park, leading an interagency team of scientists tracking restoration progress. Prior to his National Park Service position, Nick was the Research Director at the South Florida Water Management District, directing a team of 120-plus scientists conducting research in support of ecosystem restoration. Nick received his B.S. and M.S. in biology at the University of West Florida, and his Ph.D. in microbial ecology at Oregon State University. He was a faculty member in the Biology Department at the University of Mississippi, and was a tenured Associate Professor of Biology when he returned to Florida. Nick presently is an affiliate faculty member at Florida Atlantic University (Department of Geosciences), and at the University of Florida (Soil and Water Science Department). He also served five years on the national Board of Directors of the Sierra Club, a 120-yr-old environmental organization with more than 750,000 members, and served two terms as its Vice-President and one as Treasurer.

K. Ramesh Reddy

GEER 2017 Conference Co-Chair
Graduate Research Professor & Department Chair
University of Florida, IFAS, Soil and Water Science Department

Dr. K. Ramesh Reddy is graduate research professor and chair of the Soil and Water Science Department at the University of Florida. He holds a Ph.D. in soil science with specialization in biogeochemistry from Louisiana State University. He conducts research on coupled biogeochemical cycling of nutrients and other contaminants in wetlands and aquatic systems, as related to water quality, carbon sequestration, ecosystem productivity, and restoration. He has worked on Florida’s wetlands and aquatic systems for more than 35 years. Dr. Reddy established an interdisciplinary program on biogeochemistry of wetlands and aquatic systems, through the Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory (WBL) established within the SWSD. Since its establishment in 1987, the WBL has provided a home for graduate students from various disciplines, postdoctoral associates and visiting scientists. Examples of teaching, research, and extension activities of the WBL can be seen at the web site: He has served on numerous advisory committees at state, national, and international levels. He has served on the National Research Council Committee on Soil Science and the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress. He also served on several U.S. Environmental Protection Agency committees including the Science Advisory Board Ecological Effects Committee, Wetland Connectivity Panel, and Lake Erie Phosphorus Objective Panel.

Plenary Session Speakers, Facilitators, and Organizers

(In alphabetical order by presenter last name)

Stephen B. Brandt

Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Dr. Stephen Brandt is a tenured professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. He holds Masters and Doctoral Degrees in Limnology and Oceanography from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Brandt specializes in fish ecology and management of marine and freshwater ecosystems. He has produced over 120 scientific publications, given 250 scientific presentations and led over 80 research cruises and spent over 800 days at sea studying ocean food webs, fish growth and bioenergetics, underwater acoustics, coastal hypoxia and physical/biological interactions in a wide variety of ecosystems including the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, the Adriatic Sea, Eastern Indian Ocean, South Pacific Ocean, Western Atlantic Ocean and Sargasso Sea. As part of the Federal Senior Executive Service, he directed the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory for 12 years and earned the Presidents Rank Award for Meritorious Service. He created and led the NOAA Center of Excellence for Great Lakes and Human Health and served as President of the International Association for Great Lakes Research. Previously, he has held tenured faculty positions in Maryland at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and in New York (Buffalo, Syracuse) and spent 5 years in Australia working on Deep-Sea Biology. More recently, Dr. Brandt directed the Oregon Sea Grant Program and served as a member of the Oregon’s Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC). He is currently chair-elect of the California Delta Independent Science Board.

Dan Childers

Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Dan Childers is a Professor in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. He is the Director of the Central Arizona-Phoenix LTER Program and co-Director of the Urban Sustainability Research Coordination Network, both of which are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). He has also been the Director of the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program. His research focuses on wetland ecosystem ecology, urban ecology, and sustainability science. Dan has conducted research in many different freshwater and estuarine ecosystems around the world, including working for nearly 15 years in the Florida Everglades. In the last decade he has expanded his research portfolio to include urban ecosystems, water dynamics in cities, urban sustainability, and urban wetlands. Dan has published more than 120 peer-reviewed articles, won grants that have totaled over $30 million, and advised more than 30 Ph.D. and M.S. students.

Mike Chotkowski

San Francisco Bay-Delta Science Coordinator
US Geological Survey, Sacramento, CA

Mike Chotkowski has a doctorate in Biology from UCLA. Mike has worked for Department of the Interior bureaus for almost twenty years. He began his career as a research fishery biologist with the US Bureau of Reclamation in the late 1990s, eventually becoming manager of Reclamation’s regional science and water quality programs. From 2011 to 2015, Mike served as Project Leader of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Fish and Wildlife Office. Since 2015, Mike has served the Pacific Region of the USGS as San Francisco Bay-Delta Science Coordinator. The San Francisco Estuary has been a common theme through Mike’s career. His experiences have afforded him the opportunity to see the evolution of science practice and public policy pertaining to contentious resource management issues from the perspectives of a working scientist, a resource manager, and a science program manager.

Peter Frederick

Research Professor
University of Florida/IFAS, Gainesville, FL

Peter Frederick is a Research Professor in Wildife Ecology and Conservation at University of Florida. As a wetland scientist he has studied breeding ecology and ecotoxicology of long legged wading birds in the Everglades and other tropical and subtropical wetlands for over 30 years. His studies of the effects of mercury on wildlife have been both extensive and intensive, and have documented consequences that are integrated from cellular, organ, physiological, individual and population levels. He has been involved in integrating science into restoration and conservation activities throughout Florida, and served for six years as a governor appointee on the Acquisition and Restoration Council, which advises on conservation land management and land purchases for the Florida Forever program. Dr. Frederick has been involved in planning and monitoring Everglades restoration since its inception, and recently served on a 6-member team employed by the Florida Senate to summarize potential solutions to linked problems of water shortage, water pollution, and restoration in south Florida.

The Honorable Robert "Bob" Graham

Former Florida Governor and United States Senator
Miami Lakes, FL

Senator Bob Graham is the former two-term governor of Florida and served for 18 years in the United States Senate. This is combined with 12 years in the Florida legislature for a total of 38 years of public service. Bob Graham retired from public service in January 2005, following his Presidential campaign in 2004.

Bob Graham is recognized for his leadership on issues ranging from education, economic development, healthcare, environmental preservation and his service on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — including eighteen months as chairman in 2001–2002. After retiring from public life, Senator Graham served for a year as a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

In May of 2010, Senator Graham was appointed by the President to serve as Co-Chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. This followed his service as a Commissioner on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and as the Chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. Currently he serves as chairman of the WMD Center, a 501c3 not for profit research organization which continues the work of the Commission.

Senator Graham serves as a member of the CIA External Advisory Board, as a member of the board of directors of several companies and as the chair of the Board of Overseers of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University Florida. He is also the author of several books including “America: The Owner’s Manual,” which teaches the skills of civic participation, and “Keys to the Kingdom,” a novel of suspense which draws upon his background in government and intelligence.

Stephanie Johnson

Senior Program Officer
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC

Stephanie Johnson is a senior program officer with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a non-governmental organization that provides independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation. Since joining the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academies in 2002, she has worked nearly continuously on Everglades-related studies and has served as the study director for all six of the Academies’ congressionally mandated independent reviews of Everglades restoration progress. In this role, she has worked to ensure that the reviews provide useful, science-based guidance to the CERP program to enhance ecosystem restoration progress.

Stephanie has also worked on a wide array of other topics, including studies on Chesapeake Bay nutrient management, Gulf of Mexico restoration monitoring, wastewater and graywater reuse, desalination, coastal risk, and coal and uranium mining. She is the study director of the newly launched Committee on Grand Challenges and Opportunities for Environmental Engineering and Sciences for the 21st Century.

Previously, she worked as a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Stephanie received her Ph.D. in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia.

Jack M. Payne

Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), Gainesville, FL

Jack Payne is the Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida and the Administrative Head for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Prior to his current position he served as a Vice President at Iowa State University, and, previous to Iowa State, he was a Vice President and Dean at Utah State University. Jack also has experience at two other land-grant institutions: Pennsylvania State University, where he served on the faculty of the School of Forest Resources, and, later, at Texas A&M University, where he served as a faculty member in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department.

After leaving Texas A&M University, Payne had a long career with Ducks Unlimited (DU), as their National Director of Conservation. While at Ducks Unlimited, some of his successes included the development of DU’s private lands program with agriculture, the development of a national conservation easement program and the expansion of their Mexican program to Central and South America.

Payne received his M.S. in Aquatic Ecology and his Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from Utah State University and is a graduate of the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University. He is a tenured professor in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida.

Jennifer Rehage

Assistant Professor
Florida International University, Miami, FL

Dr. Jennifer Rehage is a fish ecologist and associate professor in the Earth and Environment Department at Florida International University. Over the past 13 years, Dr. Rehage has been studying how changes to the natural hydrology of the Everglades affect fish communities in the freshwater and coastal reaches of the ecosystem.

Her research examines the interacting effects of water, climate, and management decisions on fish across multiple scales, from their individual behavior to ecological populations and communities, and socioecological scales. Studies by her lab use a variety of tools from tagging studies in the field, to experiments and the use of angler records to better understand how fish are affected by both natural and anthropogenic disturbance.

Recent research integrate human dimensions to better understand how economically-important recreational fisheries such as snook and bonefish respond to variation in hydroclimatic drivers and to ongoing and future Everglades restoration efforts. Her work relies on angler knowledge and involve anglers in citizen science in her research. Jennifer received her PhD from the University of Kentucky, where she specialized in studying fish behavior and the implications of behavior for the functioning of ecological communities.

Fred H. Sklar

Director and Section Administrator
Everglades Systems Assessment (ESA) Section, South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, FL

Fred H. Sklar has a Masters in Oceanography and a Ph.D. in Wetland Ecology. He has been studying, evaluating and managing coastal and freshwater ecosystems of the United States since 1976. Dr. Sklar was the scientific coordinator for the North Inlet Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program at the University of South Carolina from 1987-1993. He is currently the Director of the Everglades Systems Assessment Section of the South Florida Water Management District (District) in West Palm Beach. Dr. Sklar is an Associate Editor for the journal: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment; a member of the National Environmental Advisory Board to the Chief of the US. Army Corps of Engineers; a member of the Louisiana Science and Engineering Advisory Committee for the Water Institute of the Gulf; and an executive member of the steering committee for the Florida Coastal Ecosystem LTER Program.

Dr. Sklar has published 100+ articles and reports on the hydrology, soil, plant and animal processes associated with both the degradation and restoration of wetland and coastal ecosystems. Dr. Sklar became national recognized for his post-doctoral studies in Louisiana, where he was the first person to ever integrate super-computer numeric and graphic processing to simulate wetland evolution and succession as a consequence of sea level rise.

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