FIU experts available to discuss the water crises the world faces

Faculty, students and staff in FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education work across a variety of disciplines on water-related research and education throughout the world.

Our researchers are addressing sea level rise, the environmental and economic realities of climate change, management strategies for sustainable fisheries, and providing the science to ensure marine animals, aquatic plants, coral reefs and the places they all call home remain healthy.

Mike Heithaus, Ph.D.
Marine Ecologist and Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education
FIU Institute of Environment
Heithaus is well-known internationally through his research on the ecological role of large sharks both in Australian and Florida waters. He currently conducts research using cutting-edge technology, including cameras worn by animals, to unravel the lives of hard-to-study marine creatures from whales and dolphins to sharks, seals and turtles.

Todd Crowl, Ph.D.
Executive Director
FIU Institute of Environment

Crowl is an internationally recognized researcher in the fields of ecology, urban stream ecology and aquatic ecosystems. He is the principal investigator on an NSF-funded project (CREST CAChE) focused on aquatic chemistry and water contamination.


Jayantha Obeysekera, Ph.D.
Research Professor and Director of Sea Level Solutions
FIU Institute of Environment
Obeysekera previously served as chief modeler at the South Florida Water Management District, where he had a leading role in modeling of the Everglades and Kissimmee River and Everglades restoration projects. He was co-author of the sea level rise projections report published by NOAA for the National Climate Assessment. He also co-authored a report on regional sea level projections for Department of Defense facilities across the globe. He has extensive media experience, including print and broadcast.

Henry Briceño, Ph.D.  
Research Professor
FIU Institute of Environment
For over 15 years, Briceño has been leading water quality monitoring efforts at FIU. He focuses on how our changing climate is impacting our waterways and the impacts that people and nature have on our ecological systems. Briceño leads the institute’s Water Quality Monitoring Network. Briceno can discuss the equipment, methods and models FIU uses to gather data on the Florida Keys and Biscayne Bay’s environmental health. He can speak about the data being collected, its meaning and the history of South Florida’s water quality. He is fluent in Spanish.

Evelyn Gaiser, Ph.D.
Endowed George M. Barley Jr. Eminent Scholars Chair 
Professor of Biological Sciences
FIU Institute of Environment 
Gaiser is an aquatic ecologist. Her research focuses on algal communities, particularly the unusual microbial mats of karst wetlands around the world. Her lab uses surveys, experiments and paleoecological studies to address the mechanisms of community assembly over long temporal and broad spatial scales. Results are often directly incorporated into ecosystem assessment and restoration. She is the principal investigator on the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program.

John Kominoski, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
FIU Institute of Environment
Kominoski is an ecosystem ecologist and biochemist. He studies how changes in water chemistry affect the rates of organic matter processes and the net effects on carbon storage in terrestrial, aquatic and coastal wetland ecosystems. He is a co-principal investigator on the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program.

Assefa Melesse, Ph.D.
Professor of Earth and Environment
FIU Institute of Environment
Melesse specializes in hydrological modeling, which allows him to look toward the future to find ways to safeguard precious water resources. He has conducted groundbreaking research on the Blue Nile and gathered critically important data on the hydrology of the upper river basin. He is fluent in Amharic.

Rene Price, Ph.D.
Professor of Earth and Environment
Center for Aquatic Chemistry and the Environment
FIU Institute of Environment
Price conducts research in chemical hydrogeology, ecohydrology, stable isotope hydrology, saltwater intrusion and sea-level rise. Her research involves using chemical tracers, including the isotopes of oxygen, hydrogen and major ions, to identify water sources, groundwater flow paths and groundwater-surface water interactions. She has investigated water-rock interactions associated with seawater intrusion into coastal carbonate aquifers. She’s conducted research extensively in south Florida, the Yucatan of Mexico and Mallorca, Spain.

Jennifer Rehage, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Earth and Environment 
FIU Institute of Environment 
Rehage is a coastal and fish ecologist. Rehage studies how hydroclimatic variation affects fish and the recreational fisheries they support in the Everglades and throughout South Florida.

Michael Ross, Ph.D. 
Professor of Earth and Environment
FIU Institute of Environment
Ross is an ecologist whose research includes environmental controls on plant community compositions and structure, the involvement of these controls in the successional process and implications of these dynamics for resource management. The majority of his research is directed toward restoration of the mixture of herbaceous coastal wetlands of the greater Everglades ecosystem.

Leonard Scinto, Ph.D. 
Chair and Associate Professor of Earth and Environment 
FIU Institute of Environment 
Scinto is a biogeochemist who studies the effects of land use and water management on nutrient dynamics in aquatic systems. His research focuses on the biogeochemistry of phosphorus, carbon and nitrogen in wetland and lake environments.


Heather Bracken-Grissom 
Associate Director, Coastlines and Oceans Division
FIU Institute of Environment
Bracken-Grissom’s research interests include evolution, phylogenetics, ecology, taxonomy, systematics, biogeography and conservation biology of marine invertebrates, especially decapod crustaceans.

Mark Bond
Research Assistant Professor
FIU Institute of Environment 
Bond’s research focuses on improving the understanding of the ecology of endangered marine wildlife, and the design and implementation of tools and management strategies, to conserve and recover species. His work is a mix of applied field research and international policy work. Current field projects aim to improve the conservation of oceanic whitetip sharks, smalltooth sawfish and great hammerheads sharks.

Kevin Boswell, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences 
FIU Institute of Environment 
Boswell is a marine ecologist, with general interests in the ecology and behavioral dynamics of coastal and marine nekton and surface oriented vertebrates. His research program broadly focuses on the interacting factors that mediate the distributional patterns, behavior, habitat use and natural ecology of coastal and oceanic animals, including the implications of ecosystem variability, particularly for rapidly changing environments. To address these questions, he applies advanced sampling techniques to non-invasively examine ecological patterns at varying temporal and spatial scales.

Mark Butler
Walter and Rosalie Goldberg Professor of Tropical Ecology and Conservation
FIU Institute of EnvironmentFor more than 30 years, Butler has studied marine ecology in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. He has published more than 150 scientific articles on tropical marine ecology. Recently, he has researched and published studies on how Caribbean King Crabs can be a key partner in helping corals stave off algal invasions and how some animals, particularly the Caribbean Spiny Lobster used social distancing as a means of controlling the spread of a deadly viral disease.

Diego Cardeñosa
Distinguished Postdoctoral Scholar
FIU Institute of Environment
Cardeñosa uses DNA detective work to uncover the mysteries of the global shark fin trade. He’s led groundbreaking research to trace fins back to their source. With funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Cardeñosa also created a portable, easy-to-use DNA testing toolkit that gives customs officials and inspection personnel the power to identify illegal species on-site and have the proof to prosecute crimes. The tool is being used in Hong Kong and Peru with great success. He is fluent in Spanish.

Jose Eirin-Lopez, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
FIU Institute of Environment
Eirin-Lopez studies the links between global change stressors and epigenetic mechanisms that allow marine species to adapt and survive. He received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL): Epigenetics program to investigate the epigenetic modifications happening in coral. His research integrates disciplines from molecular biology to physiology and genetics.

Jeremy Kiszka, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
FIU Institute of Environment 
Kiszka’s research lies broadly in the ecology, behavior and conservation of large marine vertebrates, including whales and dolphins, sea turtles and sharks. He is interested in understanding how changes in their abundance and behavior, as well as fisheries and human activities, may affect the structure and function of their ecosystems. Kiszka conducts research in the western Indian Ocean, South Pacific and the Caribbean. He is fluent in French.

Yannis Papastamatiou, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor, Marine Sciences Program
FIU Institute of Environment
With close to 90 research publications, Papastamatiou is one of the world’s leading shark behavioral ecologists. Papastamatiou’s use of new tag technologies on species ranging from pelagic oceanic whitetips to home-ranging reef sharks has advanced the field of predator ecology and led to evidence-based marine protected area zoning. Most recently, he discovered that some sharks form long-term social bonds.

Environment and Economics

Mahadev Bhat, Ph.D.
Professor of Natural Resource Economics
Departments of Earth and Environment & Economics
FIU Institute of Environment
Bhat’s research focuses on economic and policy issues relating to natural resources management, including water resources, coastal and marine resources, ecosystem services valuation and agriculture.