CEED Faculty and Staff
Dr. Timothy M. Scott, Director
Dr. Scott joined Roger Williams University in 1996 as an Assistant Professor of Marine Biology. Since 1999 he has served as the Director of CEED and is also 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; 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 was on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Panel of the Governor’s Narragansett Bay and Watershed Planning Commission.
Dr. Skylar Bayer, Assistant Professor of Biology; Aquaculture and Extension Specialist
Skylar joined the Department of Biology, Marine Biology and Environmental Science in 2020. Her research interests are within the areas of marine ecology & conservation, invertebrate reproduction, shellfish aquaculture and fisheries, and science communication & policy. Skylar holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from Brown University, a M.S. in Biological Oceanography from the MIT-WHOI Joint Program, and a Ph.D. in Marine Biology from University of Maine. Prior to Roger Williams University, she completed post-docs with the NOAA NEFSC Milford Laboratory and the Downeast Institute, and a Knauss Fellowship working for the United States Senate. Her research to date has focused on population dynamics, reproduction, and environmental impacts of bivalves. She specializes in developing field methodologies that combine classic techniques of measurement and analysis with modern tools including environmental DNA analysis and nutrient analysis. She enjoys cooperative research, having collaborated with both fishermen and aquaculturists during her career. She has cultivated a strong background in science communication as a scientist, and is a producer for the non-profit, The Story Collider. She is a co-editor for the forthcoming book, Uncharted: how scientists navigate health, research, and bias, published by Columbia University Press. Her writing and voice have appeared in Scientific American, Maine National Public Radio, AGU’s Sharing Science, among other nationally recognized outlets. In 2013, she appeared on The Colbert Report in the case of the missing scallop gonads.
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. Koty Sharp, Associate Professor of Marine Biology
Dr. Sharp joined the RWU faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2015. 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. Roxanna Smolowitz, Associate Professor of Marine Biology
Dr. Smolowitz joined the faculty in the summer of 2009 and developed the RWU Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory. 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 and 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 and has served as the lead Veterinarian for the New England Aquarium. Since joining CEED in 2009, she has established and led the Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory which 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, the World Aquaculture Veterinary Medical Association and is the Veterinarian of record for the RWU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). 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 researchers in this field. Her research interests 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 attracted the prestigious AQUAVET Program (www.vet.cornell.edu/aquavet) to our campus.
Bradford Bourque, Marine Laboratory Manager
Captain Bourque joined CEED as the Marine Laboratory Manager in 2001. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Aquaculture from the University of Rhode Island, a Master’s degree in Fisheries Aquaculture from Auburn University, and he recently earned his 50-ton Coast Guard Master License. Mr. Bourque oversees student activity in the Marine Lab, teaches several science labs each year and is actively involved in numerous research projects. He was co-PI with Dr. Skip Pomeroy (RWU Faculty Emeritus) on the grants that established the ornamental fish research program, and a co-founder of the production company, New England Marine Ornamental, Inc.
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.
Zachary Forbes, Assistant Aquatic Diagnostic Technician
Zachary graduated from RWU in 2021 with a degree in biology and minors in chemistry and mathematics. He worked as a research assistant in the Aquatic Diagnostic Lab for three years before graduating and stepping up as assistant technician. While there, he completed a Thesis with Distinction entitled “Examining the gut microbiome of sea turtles Caretta caretta, Lepidochelys kempii, and Chelonia mydas.” He also participated in the RI NSF-EPSCoR SURF program, where he developed effective methods for DNA extraction from turtle fecal samples. He is interested in animal health, veterinary medicine, and conservation. He is a PADI certified diver and amateur nature photographer. He plans to pursue graduate school after gaining more experience in the scientific community.
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.
Robbie Hudson, Shellfish Hatchery Manager
Robbie joined CEED in 2017 and is responsible for the operation of the CEED Shellfish Hatchery. He holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management (2017), Graduate Certificates in GIS and Remote Sensing as well as Community Planning (2017) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology (2007), all from the University of Rhode Island. Prior to joining RWU, he was the Restoration Ecologist for Save The Bay for 12 years. Some of his work includes restoration, monitoring and research with eelgrass, bay scallops, oysters, quahogs and ribbed mussels. Rob has also worked at URI’s Coastal Resource Center (CRC) and RI Sea Grant as a Fisheries and Aquaculture Graduate Research Assistant and continues to serve as a Coastal and Restoration Consultant. He is a member of the Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program of Mystic Aquarium; is a Licensed US Coast Guard Captain (100 Gross Tons, Inland Waters, with Towing Endorsement), a Certified SCUBA and CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor. Mr. Hudson is an adjunct professor for various Biology and Aquaculture courses and has extensive field research experience.
Susanna Osinski, Research Associate/Shellfish Technician
Susanna recently joined the CEED team in 2021 and helps with the various shellfish projects. She concentrates on field work, extension, outreach, and shellfish nursery care. She has a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Cornell University focused on Biology and Business (2020). She recently finished an ORISE Researcher Fellowship with the U.S. EPA in Narragansett, RI. She also has an extensive background in oyster farming from growing up on her family's farm, Widow's Hole Oyster Co. in Greenport, Long Island.
Alyssa Leonardi, Marine Ornamental Aquarist
Alyssa is a 2021 RWU graduate with a double major in Marine Biology and Aquaculture & Aquarium science. While at RWU she worked in the CEED Marine Lab and successfully bred Scarlet Striped Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata grabhami) while restarting the marine ornamental shrimp production in the lab. VP scuba club PADI-scuba
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.
Alicia Schickle, Post-Baccalaureate 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.