CEED Faculty and Staff
Dr. Koty Sharp, Interim Director
Associate Professor of Marine Biology
Dr. Sharp joined the RWU faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2015, and she is currently serving at the Interim Director of CEED. 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 recent work has focused on microbiome diversity and dynamics in tropical and temperate corals, identification of antibacterial compounds produced by coral-associated bacteria, and exploration of the microbiology of microplastics toxicology in Narragansett Bay. Since 2016, she has co-convened annual 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.
Dr. 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.
Dr. 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.
Dr. Galit Sharon, Associate Professor of Marine Biology and Director of the ADL
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.
Dr. 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.
Liam Brosnahan, Assistant Hatchery Technician
Liam Brosnahan graduated from RWU in 2019 with a B.S in Marine Biology and a minor in Aquaculture and Aquarium science. While at RWU, Liam helped construct the first ornamental fish hatchery in the Dominican Republic. He also conducted a CEED funded research project looking to optimize Artemia production and presented the findings at the World Aquaculture Society in 2019. Liam is also currently the Senior In-House aquarist at Something Fishy Inc. in Warwick RI. Liam joined the CEED team in early 2022 to help with hatchery production.
Shawna 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.
Lena Fitzgerald, Marine Ornamentals Operations 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.
Allex Gourlay, Marine Ornamental Research Associate
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: email@example.com
Aaron Langmuir, Aquarist
Aaron Langmuir recently graduated from RWU in 2022 with a double major in Marine Biology and Aquaculture and Aquarium Science. As a student, Aaron completed a research project that designed an automatic feeder to dispense Artemia nauplii, greatly reducing manual feeding and improve larval shrimp development. His other research projects focus on developing techniques to culture novel invertebrates including Sexy dancing shrimp (Thor ambionensis) and the Blue tuxedo urchin (Mespilia globulus). As the Aquarist, Aaron helps maintain the systems and animals in the CEED Marine Lab along with the exhibits at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island Nature Center and Aquarium. He is working on introducing more invertebrates to the CEED Marine Ornamental Hatchery with research projects on the culturing of the Pederson cleaner shrimp (Ancylomenes pedersoni) and Harlequin shrimp (Hymenocera picta). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sabrina Lyall, Shellfish and Boat Operations Assistant
Sabrina graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 2019 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Business Management. After graduating, she worked for the state of Connecticut at the DEEP Marine Headquarters as a Marine Angler Surveyor, where she collected data on saltwater finfish of Connecticut's waters. In 2019, Sabrina worked as a contractor for Pfizer as a Clinical Consent Administrator. Starting in March 2022, Sabrina worked for Fisher’s Island Oyster Farm, where she led a team of scientists to ensure all stages of grow-out and seed sales were efficient and successful. She oversaw orders of 10,000-40,000 oysters a week that were sent to restaurants and families across the nation. Sabrina joined the CEED team in late 2022 and is excited to obtain her Captains License while working with the CEED team. Email: email@example.com
Susanna Osinski, Research Associate/Shellfish Technician
Susanna joined the CEED team in 2021 as the Shellfish Field and Extension Technician. She manages RWU’s FerryCliffe Shellfish Farm and Nursery systems. She coordinates field work as well as communicates via extension and outreach work with research partners, local aquaculturists, local government, and our own RWU students. She is currently working on getting her Captain’s License to be Roger Williams’ first female boat captain! Susanna has a B.S. from Cornell University (2020) in Interdisciplinary Studies focused in Biology and Business, as well as a double minor in Marine Biology and Agribusiness Management. She recently finished an ORISE Researcher Fellowship in 2021 with the U.S. EPA in Narragansett, RI. Susanna also has an extensive background in oyster farming from growing up on her family's oyster farm, Widow's Hole Oyster Co., in Greenport, Long Island that first sparked her interest in Marine Biology. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristen Savastano, Special Assistant, Shellfish Program
Kristen graduated from RWU in 2022 with a major in Marine Biology and minors in Sustainability and Aquaculture and Aquarium Sciences. While studying at RWU, they worked in the CEED Marine Lab before moving on to the CEED Blount Shellfish Hatchery. Kristen returned after graduating to take on the role of Research Associate/Shellfish Technician where she is a part of all shellfish aquaculture from microalgae culturing to hatchery and farm. They are also currently working on a research project looking at the impact of biofouling on oyster farms in Rhode Island.
Abigail Scro, Aquatic Diagnostic Technician
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: email@example.com
Alicia Schickle, Research Technician
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Torselli, Senior Aquarist
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.
Ben Towne, Assistant Aquatic Diagnostic Technician
Ben is a recent graduate of the University of Rhode Island where he majored in Aquaculture and Fisheries Technology with a focus in marine and microbiology. While there, he worked in the Gomez-Chiarri Aquatic Disease Laboratory performing research on diseases found in shellfish hatcheries, and presented his research on the “Effects of probiotic Phaeobacter inhibens S4 treatment on the bacterial communities of larvae raised in UV treated and Non-UV treated water” at the North East Aquaculture Convention and Exposition. Ben joined the CEED team in the Spring of 2022 as the assistant lab technician in the Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory where he continues to pursue his interest in building sustainable coastal resources.