By Natalie Strom
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is more than just a great place to enjoy one’s day and learn about our areas ecosystems. Guest speakers, art exhibitions and outdoor exploration are all a part of the great experience that is RBNERR. The facility’s main focus, however, is on research.
Research staff study myriad subjects within the 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters protected by the reserve, including water salinity, mangrove health, fish sampling and much more. As such, RBNERR is always looking for qualified scientists to assist and coordinate in said research. This is where newly hired Kevin Cunniff comes in.
As the new Research Coordinator, Cunniff’s responsibilities will include managing research projects and programs being conducted within the reserve, overseeing work activities of five staff biologists, data management and research results analysis and reporting, all while establishing new collaborative research partnerships with university, state, federal and private sector entities.
According to a press release sent out by RBNERR, “Cunniff is a marine and wetlands scientist with over 14 years of experience working in coastal and estuarine ecosystems, designing hypothesis-based experiments and monitoring research studies and managing complex large data sets… He has worked with Florida International University, the South Florida Water Management District and various other state and federal entities.”
Cuniff will receive help from the new System-wide Monitoring Program Manager, Julie Drevenkar. With a Bachelor of Science in Biology (with emphasis on Ecology and Marine Biology) from Coastal Carolina University, Drevenkar makes the perfect fit for the position which will consist of coordinating much of the research activities. One of her main responsibilities will be to manage the laboratories and the water quality data. Drevenkar will also coordinate the field and laboratory activities associated with the water quality monitoring program as well as coordinate the water quality internship program and the volunteer-based harmful algal bloom monitoring.
If interested in an internship or volunteer position, Drevenkar can be reached at Rookery Bay’s new phone number, 239-530-5940.
Rookery Bay and its staff is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Office in cooperation with NOAA.