Sarah E lester, PI

Sarah is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at Florida State University (FSU). Her research interests include marine conservation and protected areas, natural resource management and policy, marine spatial planning and ocean zoning, sustainable seafood, fisheries management, and biogeography.  Ongoing research projects focus on understanding the effectiveness of marine protected areas, applying tradeoff analysis to marine spatial planning, designing ocean zoning and fisheries management around small island states, and understanding offshore aquaculture siting and development – she applies an interdisciplinary lens to all of these research topics. She received her PhD in marine ecology from the University of California Santa Barbara, and prior to coming to FSU, was the Research and Program Director of the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UCSB. 


Rebecca Gentry, Post-Doctoral Scholar

Becca’s research focuses on spatial ecological and socio-economic questions related to marine aquaculture development.  She is particularly interested in the interactions between aquaculture and other uses and values in the marine environment (such as fishing and conservation), sustainable management of marine aquaculture, and in understanding aquaculture’s effect on global food security.  Becca recently completed her PhD at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara.  As a post-doctoral researcher, she is investigating global patterns of marine aquaculture development in order to better understand how and when aquaculture expands, and the drivers (environmental, social, and economic) that most often lead to this expansion.

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Jennifer McHenry, PhD Candidate

Jenn is interested in complex interactions, feed-backs, and dependencies between human and coastal marine systems. In particular, she is interested in the many ecosystem service benefits provided by coastal habitats to people and how human interventions might influence their persistence in the face of environmental change. Her dissertation focuses on quantifying spatial dynamics of ecosystem service delivery in seagrasses meadows along the Florida Gulf Coast, in order to understand the potential outcomes of seagrass restoration.  Jennifer earned a B.Sc. in marine sciences and a double M.Sc. in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. Before starting her PhD, she also worked for NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and in the joint lab of Drs. Sarah Lester and Andrew Rassweiler (Biological Sciences) at FSU.

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eLIZABETH "BESS" rUFF, PhD Candidate

Bess uses GIS and participatory mapping techniques to inform and design comprehensive marine management strategies that address both conservation objectives and human activities. She has conducted survey work for a variety of marine spatial planning projects in the Caribbean and, prior to FSU, provided research support as a graduate fellow for the Sustainable Fisheries Group. Bess graduated from Washington & Lee University with a B.A. in economics and earned a master’s degree from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California Santa Barbara, where she specialized in conservation planning as well as coastal and marine resource management.



 Hayley Lemoine, PhD Student (Starting fall 2019)

Hayley is an incoming PhD student to the Lester Lab. She received her Bachelor's in biology from Vassar College and her Master's in Environmental Management from Yale University. Hayley is interested ecological and socio-economic questions related to the development of aquaculture, particularly in regard to interactions with other ocean user-groups. For her PhD, she anticipates studying interactions between potential offshore aquaculture farms and wild fisheries in Florida. Prior to graduate school, Hayley spent a couple of years studying fish communities on artificial reefs in North Carolina.


Carly Voight, PhD Student (Starting fall 2019; Co-Advised in Pau Lab )

Carly’s research interests include spatial prioritization, prediction, and ecosystem service valuation modeling. She anticipates conducting her research on incorporating climate change into regional spatial conservation planning in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Carly holds a B.S. in Ecosystem Management from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a master’s in Tropical Conservation and Development – Latin American Studies from the University of Florida. She has over 10 years of experience working for non-profit conservation organizations. As a GIS Analyst for The Nature Conservancy, Carly co-led a spatial conservation planning project for marine migratory species which involved determining migration corridors and priority conservation areas for the Gulf of Mexico. As a GIS Specialist at a community-based NGO in Belize, she conducted forest cover change analysis, deforestation prediction modeling, and spatial prioritization modeling. At Rainforest Trust, she developed and managed geospatial projects in terrestrial and marine ecosystems in over 40 countries.



Ally is interested using statistics to research a wide spectrum of topics including marine biodiversity and how it is changing over time due to environmental change and population dynamics of reef fish species. Ally has B.A. in Theater Arts from Florida State University and a B.A. in Mathematics from George Mason University. She received an M.P.S. in Marine Conservation from University of Miami studying the invasive lionfish population in the Dry Tortugas National Park.  




Tyler Lynn, M.S. in Geography

Tyler is interested in utilizing remote sensing techniques and tools to address environmental concerns, specifically those in coastal environments. While in the Lester Lab, he completed his thesis research focusing on creating comprehensive maps of seagrass cover in the Florida Gulf Coast region to better understand the spatial and temporal changes that have occurred. Previously, Tyler served as a center lead for NASA DEVELOP’s Mobile County Health Department location after graduating from Auburn University with a B.S. in natural resources management in 2015. Tyler is now a PhD student at the University of Georgia, focusing on remote sensing and disturbance ecology in salt marshes.