CEED Faculty and Staff

Dr. Koty Sharp, Interim Director and Associate Professor of Marine Biology

Dr. Koty Sharp, Director

Associate Professor of Marine Biology 
Dr. Sharp is the Director of CEED and an Associate Professor in Biology, Marine Biology, & Environmental Science. She received her B.A. in Biology at Mount Holyoke College and her PhD from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego in 2006. She has formerly held positions with the Smithsonian Institution, New England Biolabs, and Eckerd College. Her field and laboratory research is centered around the microbial ecology and natural products chemistry of invertebrate-microbial symbioses. Her work focuses on microbiome diversity and dynamics in tropical and temperate corals, identification of bioactive compounds produced by coral-associated bacteria, and exploration of the microbiology of microplastics toxicology in Narragansett Bay. Since 2016, she has co-convened regular workshops to gather researchers and educators who work on the local, temperate coral Astrangia poculata, and together this group is working to establish this coral as a model organism for broad studies of animal-microbe symbioses.
Email: ksharp@rwu.edu

Dr. Tim ScottDr. Timothy M. Scott, Officer of Special Projects, Grants and Innovation

Professor of Marine Biology
Dr. Scott joined Roger Williams University in 1996 as an Assistant Professor of Marine Biology. He served as the Director of CEED from 1999-2022. He is the Forrest C. Lattner Professor of Environmental Science. Dr. Scott earned his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University and spent five years sailing as Chief Scientist with the Sea Education Association of Woods Hole, MA. His past experience includes studies on the genetics and diversity of marine mammals and commercial-scale shellfish aquaculture. Dr. Scott is a member of the Aquaculture Regulatory Working Group of the RI Coastal Resources Management Council and the Professional Advisory Committee of the New York Harbor School. He previously served on the Executive Committee of the Rhode Island Aquaculture Initiative; he was a member of the Bay Trust, a sixteen member commission set up by the RI House of Representatives to assess the economic and environmental development in Narragansett Bay; and he was on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Panel of the Governor’s Narragansett Bay and Watershed Planning Commission. Email: tscott@rwu.edu

Dr. Hisham Abdelrahman

Dr. Hisham A. Abdelrahman,  Aquaculture Extension Specialist

Assistant Professor of Marine Biology
Dr. Abdelrahman joined Roger Williams University in fall 2023 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, Marine Biology, and Environmental Science. Hisham holds dual roles. In addition to his position here, he serves as an Assistant Professor of Aquaculture Hygiene in the Department of Veterinary Hygiene and Management, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University, Egypt. Dr. Abdelrahman originates from Egypt, and before becoming a part of our department, devoted 11 years to advancing his academic and research journey at Auburn University in Alabama. During his time at Auburn University, Hisham served as a postdoctoral fellow in two distinguished labs: the Crustacean and Molluscan Ecology Lab and the Alabama Fish Farming Center. His academic training includes a Ph.D. in Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences in 2016, complemented by a Ph.D. minor in statistics. Furthermore, he earned a Master’s degree in Probability and Statistics in 2015, all from Auburn University. Dr. Abdelrahman holds a Bachelor's degree in Veterinary Sciences and has also earned another Master’s degree, this one in Aquaculture Water Quality, from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Cairo University, Egypt. In addition to his academic achievements, Dr. Abdelrahman has a diverse teaching background, having taught in Egypt, Vietnam, and the United States. He has been awarded the Distinguished Future Faculty Certificate from Auburn University. Since 2007, he has contributed significantly to research and academia. He is the author of more than 45 original scientific research articles. Hisham is very passionate about fisheries ecology, aquatic biology, aquaculture, statistical analysis, and teaching. Dr. Abdelrahman is a member of the Quahog Commission, a 13-member special legislative commission set up by the State of Rhode Island House of Representatives to study and provide recommendations on the issues relating to the reduced catch of quahogs in Narragansett Bay. 
Email:  habdelrahman@rwu.edu

Dr. Robert J. Holmberg, Assistant Professor of Biology – Shellfish Aquaculture and Hatchery SpecialistDr. Robert J. Holmberg,  Shellfish Aquaculture and Hatchery Specialist

Assistant Professor of Biology
Dr. Holmberg joined the Roger Williams University faculty in 2023. No stranger to RWU, Dr. Holmberg is a Class of 2012 alumnus, earning his B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Marine Biology. He continued collaborating with RWU on his dissertation research while attending graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Boston, earning his Ph.D. in Marine Science & Technology in 2020. Afterwards, Dr. Holmberg completed a postdoc and served an additional two years as a research scientist at the Downeast Institute in rural Maine, where he designed and built a specialized lab for studying ocean acidification and warming impacts on larval bivalves. Now coming full circle and returning to RWU, Dr. Holmberg manages the research program in CEED’s Luther H. Blount Shellfish Hatchery. His research interests include shellfish aquaculture, climate change impacts on bivalve larvae, porewater carbonate chemistry monitoring on tidal mudflats, seawater buffering for enhancing shellfish production, and the development of instrumentation for high-accuracy seawater carbonate chemistry analysis.
Email: rholmberg@rwu.edu

Dr. Andrew Rhyne, Professor of Marine BiologyDr. Andrew Rhyne

Professor of Marine Biology
Dr. Rhyne joined RWU in 2008 and holds a joint appointment as a Research Associate with the New England Aquarium. He has a B.S. degree in marine biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and both a M.Sc. degree and Ph.D. in biological sciences from the Florida Institute of Technology. He has numerous publications and his research interests include the biodiversity and conservation of marine invertebrate species commonly traded in the marine ornamental industry, the commercial scale production of marine copepods as larval food, and reproductive ecology and population biology of peppermint shrimp. Dr. Rhyne splits his time between RWU and NEAq and is responsible for the growth and development of our program in marine ornamental research.
Email:  arhyne@rwu.edu

Dr. Galit Sharon, Director of the ADLDr. Galit Sharon, Director of the ADL

Associate Professor of Marine Biology 
Dr. Sharon joined the faculty in the summer of 2022 as a researcher and Director of the Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory (ADL), which provides fish and shellfish diagnostic services to the aquaculture community in the northeast U.S. Dr. Sharon has a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Kosice, Slovakia. She completed a M.Sc. thesis and a Ph.D. in Fish Health at the Institute of Desert Research, Department of Agriculture and Biotechnology, Ben Gurion University, Israel. Dr. Sharon is also a Certified Aquatic Veterinarian, CertAqV, by the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association, and a Certified Fish Medicine Specialist, by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Veterinary Services, Israel. Dr. Sharon was an attending veterinarian and Head of the Department of Pathobiology and the Green-Keiser Fish Health Center, Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research Ltd., National Center for Mariculture, Eilat, Israel, in which she directed novel research projects and provided aquatic veterinary services. She is a member the World Aquaculture Veterinary Medical Association, European Association of Fish Pathologists and is the Veterinarian of record for the RWU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). She is recognized for her research and long-standing interest in the disease and pathology of fish Invertebrate and shellfish, aquatic animal diagnostics, fish health and welfare and Immunology of aquatic organisms.
Email: gsharon@rwu.edu

Dr. Roxanna Smolowitz, Honorary RetireeDr. Roxanna Smolowitz, Honorary Retiree

Associate Professor of Marine Biology and Director of the ADL
Dr. Smolowitz joined the faculty in the summer of 2009 and developed the RWU Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory. She became an Honorary Retiree in 2022!!  But, she is still very involved in ADL diagnostics and conducting grants.  Dr. Smolowitz has a B.A. from Indiana State University and a D.V.M. degree from Purdue University. She completed a residency in veterinary pathology at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, Boston, MA in 1984. She was a Bang Fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory where she studied disseminated neoplasia in soft shell clams and viral diseases in shrimp.  Dr. Smolowitz provided aquatic veterinary services and was a researcher at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA for several years.  She then served as the lead Veterinarian for the New England Aquarium until 2009 when she came to RWU and established and led the Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory.  The ADL provides fish and shellfish diagnostic services to the aquaculture community in the northeast U.S.   She is a member of the Rhode Island Biosecurity Counsel, was a member of the World Aquaculture Veterinary Medical Association and has served as the Veterinarian of record for the RWU, MBL and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  She has a long standing interest in the disease and pathology of fish and shellfish and is widely recognized as one of the leading veterinary diagnosticians and researchers in this field. Her research interests involve various diseases of bivalves, including the study of QPX disease and neoplasia in quahogs.  She also had published the pathological descriptions of various shell diseases in lobsters. She is the author of over 50 original research articles and book chapters and has taught in the prestigious AQUAVET Program (www.vet.cornell.edu/aquavet) for several years.
Email: rsmolowitz@rwu.edu

Alex Brothers HeadshotAlex Brothers, Assistant Aquatic Diagnostic Technician

Alex obtained her B.S. in biology from The George Washington University and then went on to obtain her V.M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Following veterinary school she completed a general rotating veterinary internship. After her internship, she decided to pursue an interest in pathology and aquatic research.  While working at RWU, she completed AQUAVET II: Comparative Pathology of Aquatic Animals and is enjoying learning about diseases of aquatic invertebrates and finfish. When not in the ADL you can find her assisting Dr. Sharon with necropsies and eagerly learning bivalve histology. She hopes to one day become a veterinary pathologist. Email: abrothers@rwu.edu

Shawna Chamberlain, Microalgae ManagerShawna Chamberlin, Microalgae Manager and Marine Biology Camp Director

Shawna  is a RWU graduate (2013) with a major in Marine Biology and a double minor in Spanish and Aquaculture & Aquarium Science. While at RWU, Shawna worked in the CEED Marine Lab as a Research Assistant, with a focus on microalgae and copepod culture. While at RWU she completed research on the population growth of Parvocalanus sp. copepods in relation to culture volume and algal density, which she presented at the World Aquaculture Society meeting in 2013. Post-graduation Shawna worked in various aquaculture facilities throughout the Northeast, with both fish and shellfish, before landing most recently in the Hatchery at Island Creek Oysters. During her six years at ICO she assisted with building their microalgae program, as well as all things shellfish-related, from spawn to seed. Shawna joined the CEED team in early 2022 to oversee and develop the Microalgae Culture Facility.
Email: schamberlin@rwu.edu

 Lena Fitzgerald, Marine Ornamentals Operations ManagerLena Fitzgerald,  Aquaculture & Aquarium Science Lab Manager

Lena is an RWU alumni (2019) double major; B.S Marine Biology and B.A in Chemistry with a minor in mathematics. After graduating, she worked for the Mystic Aquarium as a Research Aquaculturist. Lena recently earned her M.A. in Education, with a certificate in Secondary Chemistry from Sacred Heart, and she completed a teaching internship at the Marine Science Magnet High School. She then returned the aquaculture world with a position as a FinFish Assistant at HPU Oceanic Institute, working on Yellow Tang larvae and other marine aquarium fish culture.
Email: lfitzgerald@rwu.edu

Allex Gourlay, Marine Ornamental Research Associate

Allex Gourlay, Aquaculture & Aquarium Science Research Associate II

Allex is a 2015 RWU graduate of Marine Biology with a double minor in Mathematics and Aquaculture and Aquarium Science. While at RWU she worked as a Research Assistant in the CEED Marine Lab, and completed a senior thesis to determine the effects of social dominance on sexual allocation of recruiting juvenile Catalina gobies (Lythrypnus dalli) through behavioral observations and histological analysis of gonads under the direction of Dr. Andy Rhyne. Following graduation, Ms. Gourlay returned to the CEED Marine Laboratory for a year as an Aquarist that worked both on campus and at the local Audubon Society of Rhode Island maintaining their aquatic exhibits before receiving her Masters in Biology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on the skin mucous proteome of the Clark’s clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) associating with various sea anemone species. She has been a RI NSF-EPSCoR Undergraduate Research fellow and is PADI SCUBA certified. Allex is responsible for the oversight of the research initiatives, and day-to-day operation of CEED’s Marine Ornamental Hatchery. Email: agourlay@rwu.edu

Shubham Mathur headshot

Shubham Mathur, Aquaculture and Aquarium Science Aquarist

Shubham attended the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric science for both his undergraduate and graduate studies. It was at UM that a lifelong interest in marine life was focused into a passion for aquaculture. Working with professors Dr. Daniel Benetti and Dr. John Stieglitz at the University of Miami Experimental Hatchery (UMEH), Shubham gained experience managing students and working with high- value marine food fish species including cobia, mahi- mahi, Nassau grouper, American red snapper, Japanese olive flounder, hogfish, yellowtail snapper, tripletail, and almaco jack. After studying and working as staff at UMEH, Shubham took a position at Spring Genetics, a Nile tilapia genetics program in Homestead, FL where he supervised logistics, farm infrastructure projects, and production. Shubham is excited to bring his experiences and interests to the program here at RWU! Email: smathur@rwu.edu

Finn Morrissey Marine Facilities Technician HeadshotFinn Morrissey, Marine Facilities Technician

Finn Morrissey has spent his entire adult life working on the water. While attending college for Marine Sciences, Finn was a deckhand on Stony Brook University’s research boats. At the same time, he assumed the role of a first mate aboard the Celtic Quest charter fishing fleet out of Port Jefferson Long Island. When he moved to Rhode Island, Finn worked for the Harbor Master of South Kingstown. In the off season, he contracted out carpentry and painting services. Going back to the world of recreational for-hire fishing, Finn then spent two years aboard the Frances Fleet out of Point Judith as the carpenter’s mate. This entailed working on deck during the season and carpentry and fiberglass repairs on the four boats in the fleet when he was not fishing. Finn was hired by the RWU’s CEED department as the Marine Facilities Technician in April of 2023. He is responsible for maintaining the sea water infrastructure, building any new systems required by the labs, maintaining equipment, and managing the department's small research fleet. Holding a 100 Ton Near Coastal Master’s licenses, Finn is the Captain of the CEED Departments’, USCG inspected vessel, InVinceble Spirit. 
Email: fmorrissey@rwu.edu

Ryan Rubino, Aquarist

Ryan Rubino joined Roger Williams University in the fall of 2023 as an aquarist in the CEED marine lab focusing on ornamental aquaculture.  Ryan obtained his undergraduate degree in Marine Science with a minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut in 2017.  After graduating, Ryan worked for the state of CT marine fisheries division’s trawl project for two seasons.  In the offseasons, Ryan taught scuba diving in Thailand and worked as a ski photographer in Colorado.  After this, Ryan obtained his M.S. in Fisheries and Mariculture with the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, where he researched oyster aquaculture and its effects on seagrass ecosystems, fish assemblages, and fish behavior. After graduate school, Ryan worked as an aquarist for the Texas State Aquarium where he specialized in jellyfish and epaulette shark aquaculture, fisheries research, and scientific diving.  Ryan continued to expand on his aquaculture experience in Hawaii where he worked as a Finfish Research Assistant at the HPU Oceanic Institute culturing Yellow Tang, Blue Tang, assorted Angelfish, and developing methods to culture a variety of other ornamental and food fish. Ryan is excited to bring his aquaculture knowledge and experiences to RWU! 
Email: rrubino@rwu.edu

Abigail Scro, Aquatic Diagnostic TechnicianAbigail Scro, Aquatic Diagnostic Lab Molecular Research and Lab Manager

Abbey is an RWU alum with a double major in Marine Biology and Mathematics. While at RWU, she completed research on the development of a molecular diagnostic (PCR) for the detection of juvenile winter flounder in blue crab stomach contents under Dr. David Taylor. Following graduation, Abbey started as a diagnostic technician in the ADL. Her interest in marine pathogens continued to grow, eventually leading her to pursue further education. Abbey went on to receive her Master’s of Science in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences with a certificate in Aquaculture and Fish Health from University of Florida. Her thesis research focused on characterizing potential pathogens of the bay scallop, Argopecten irradians, in the Gulf of Mexico. Abbey has since returned to the ADL and is continuing to use traditional diagnostic skills combined with new molecular skills (qPCR, metagenomics, metabarcoding) for the detection of pathogens in marine invertebrates. She has been a RI NSF-EPSCoR Undergraduate Research fellow, as well as a recipient of a AMNH Lerner-Gray Marine Research Grant, and is an AAUS certified diver. 
Email: ascro@rwu.edu

Alicia Schickle, Post-Baccalaureate Research TechnicianAlicia Schickle, Coral/Marine Microbiology Lab Manager

Alicia, an RWU alum (Marine Biology/Visual Arts '18), is currently a Rhode Island INBRE-funded post-baccalaureate research fellow in the Sharp Lab. Before joining the Sharp Lab she had a background in ornamental fish husbandry and is now expanding her aquarium husbandry knowledge outside the realm of fish and into microbial ecology of corals and coral spawning. Alicia has recently managed the building of two new recirculating raceway systems to house Astrangia in the lab and helps care for an Astrangia exhibit at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. She is currently performing experiments on how microplastic-associated microbes impact Astrangia ingestion behavior. When not in the lab, Alicia can be found drawing scientific illustrations or painting surreal works. Email: aschickle@rwu.edu

Michael TorselliMichael Torselli, Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory Research Technician

Michael Torselli graduated from RWU in 2016 with a double major in marine biology and environmental science, and a minor in sustainability studies. While a student, he was a captain of the RWU varsity Track & Field team and studied abroad with the Sea Education Association (SEA) of Woods Hole, MA. At SEA he investigated changes in phytoplankton community structure across varying oceanic water bodes while sailing from Christchurch, New Zealand to Tahiti, French Polynesia. After graduation, he completed his master’s degree at the University of New Haven in environmental science, concentrating in ecotoxicology and geographic information systems (GIS). His thesis research investigated the impact of recycled crumb rubber commonly used in turf fields on the reproduction of estuarine killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus). Other prior research includes the design of a novel aquarium system at the Narragansett, RI branch of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the combined effect of hypoxia and acidification on coastal mysid shrimp (Americamysis bahia). He joined RWU in autumn of 2022 as a Senior Aquarist and Adjunct Instructor.
Email: mtorselli@rwu.edu