The North Carolina Sea Grant Advisory Board consists of representatives from state agencies, industry, local government and nongovernmental stakeholders. The board members bring their expertise to bear in support of Sea Grant’s priority needs. These include identifying program research and outreach investment priorities, communicating program impacts and needs to a broad constituency, and supporting program development initiatives to continue to deliver program excellence.
Evan Ferguson, Media Coordinator, Cape Hatteras Secondary School
- Media Coordinator, Cape Hatteras Secondary School
- Buxton, NC
Evan Ferguson joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2021. She is the media coordinator for Cape Hatteras Secondary School, serves as a National Junior Honor Society Advisor, and leads the CHSS Materials Technology Advisory Committee. She previously served as a Career and Technical Education teacher at CHSS and has advised student environmental organizations.
She was one of the first recipients of NC Sea Grant’s Community Collaborative Research Grants; her project presented opportunities for adding cape shark to school lunch menus. Ferguson is also a popular speaker at the NC Coastal Conferences and a guest writer for Coastwatch magazine.
Ferguson grew up on Hatteras Island, NC and has a master’s in library science and a bachelor’s in communications from East Carolina University. She lives in Buxton, NC with her husband, a maritime engineer and commercial fisherman, and two sons.
Adam Gold, NC/VA Manager for Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds, Environmental Defense Fund
- NC/VA Manager for Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds, Environmental Defense Fund
Adam Gold joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2023. He is the NC and VA manager for the Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds team at Environmental Defense Fund. In this role, he leads interdisciplinary research projects focused on flood mitigation and works to promote science-based policies that make communities more resilient to flooding.
Before joining EDF, Gold was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment and a graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill. His research focused on coastal watershed hydrology, water quality, and recurrent flooding in North Carolina.
Gold holds a doctorate and master’s degree in ecology and a bachelor’s in environmental sciences, all from UNC Chapel Hill. Read about Adam’s work in Coastal Review and Star News Online as well as on EDF’s blog.
James Hargrove, Owner, Middle Sound Mariculture
- Owner, Middle Sound Mariculture
- Wilmington, NC
James Hargrove joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2021. He owns and operates Middle Sound Mariculture, a family-owned and -operated oyster company in Wilmington, North Carolina. He is an active member of the NC Oyster Trail. In addition, he works as a marine scientist and project manager at Dial Cordy and Associates Inc.
Previously, he served as an environmental consultant for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In this position, he studied the effects of water quality issues on oyster populations across the Gulf of Mexico.
Hargrove has a master’s in marine science and a bachelor’s in marine biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Sharon Harker, Commissioner, Town of Beaufort
- Mayor, Town of Beaufort
- Beaufort, NC
Sharon Harker joined the North Carolina Sea Grant Advisory Board in 2021. She is mayor for the Town of Beaufort, in Carteret County, and previously served as a town commissioner. Harker has worked in health care for over 25 years and is an administrator and neurodiagnostic Clinical Educator at Carteret Health Care.
Living in a coastal community, Harker believes education and partnerships are critical components in protecting our coast. She previously chaired the North Carolina League of Municipalities’ Advancing Municipal Leaders advisory board.
Harker holds a bachelor’s in Theology, is a Licensed Polysomnographer with the NC Medical Board, and is a Licensed Respiratory Therapist. She lives in the beautiful coastal town of Beaufort, NC, where she met her husband, Perry, 40 years ago. Together, they raised three children and are the proud grandparents to two outstanding grandchildren.
VeQuain Joyner, Director of Business Development, CliniSpan Health
- Director of Business Development, CliniSpan Health
- Durham, NC
VeQuain Joyner joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2021. He is the director of business development for CliniSpan Health, a software platform working to diversify clinical trial recruitment. Prior to that, Joyner was the unit director for the New Bern Boys & Girls Club, a program of the Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Plain.
He also maximizes community and educational partnerships, including several Sea Grant projects in recent years that have looked at recovery and resilience for New Bern neighborhoods with repeated flooding. Joyner has had advanced training in risk management.
VeQuain is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. After graduation, he continued to supervise a diverse intramurals program for students, faculty, and staff and had an early role with the Boys & Girls Club of Lenoir County.
Amanda Martin, Chief Resilience Officer, State of North Carolina
- Chief Resilience Officer, State of North Carolina
Amanda Martin joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2021, not long after beginning her tenure as the state’s chief resilience officer, a role within the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency. Known as NCORR, the office was established by Governor Roy Cooper in the wake of Hurricane Florence. She leads climate resilience efforts through policy and planning and had been the state’s deputy chief resilience officer for two years prior.
Prior to joining NCORR, Martin served as the director of the Southeast & Caribbean Disaster Recovery Partnership and principal planner for the state of Rhode Island.
Martin holds a doctorate in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She has a master’s in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s from Harvard University.
Tancred Miller, Policy and Planning Section Chief, NC Department of Environmental Quality
- Policy and Planning Section Chief, NC Department of Environmental Quality
- Morehead City, NC
Tancred Miller joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2022. He is the policy and planning section chief at the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Coastal Management.
Earlier in his career, Miller was a conservation organizer with the Sierra Club in Raleigh. He then joined the NC DCM as the coastal and ocean policy manager. From there, Miller’s interests in resilient communities and ecosystems led him to his current role, where he leads departmental efforts to respond to coastal communities impacted by climate change.
Miller has a master’s in environmental management from Duke University and a bachelor’s in business administration from Morehouse College. He resides in Morehead City, NC.
Todd Miller, Founder and Executive Director, North Carolina Coastal Federation
- Founder and Executive Director, North Carolina Coastal Federation
- Ocean, NC
Todd Miller joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2021. In 1982, he founded the North Carolina Coastal Federation, a nonprofit focused on protecting and promoting the health of the state’s coastline. He continues to serve as its executive director, and has been a partner with Sea Grant in various roles for nearly 40 years.
His advocacy work has earned him numerous accolades, including the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Southern Environmental Leadership Award in 2000 and the “Hero of the Seas” award from the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards. In 2013, he was named a distinguished alumnus by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition, Miller is a founding board member of Restore America’s Estuaries and serves on the Board of Visitors for the UNC Institute for the Environment and on the Leadership Committee for the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership.
Miller is a native of Carteret County and resides there in the community of Ocean. He holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Ricky Moore, Founder and Chef, Saltbox Seafood Joint
- Founder and Chef, Saltbox Seafood Joint
- Durham, NC
Ricky Moore joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2021. His decades of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry led him to found Saltbox Seafood Joint in Durham, NC in 2012, where he is also its chef, with a focus on providing customers tasty meals and information about N.C. seafood.
In 2019, Moore published the Saltbox Seafood Joint Cookbook. In addition to its numerous recipes, he shares his lifelong experiences in the seafood industry, from his time as a cook in the U.S. Army to serving as a chef in restaurants across the globe and finally settling back down in his home state before opening Saltbox Seafood Joint. He has been featured in Garden & Gun, Our State, and Travel + Leisure and been nominated for and received numerous awards.
Moore is a native of NC, born and raised in New Bern. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast in 2022.
Trish Murphey, Executive Assistant to Councils, NC Division of Marine Fisheries
- Executive Assistant to Councils, NC Division of Marine Fisheries
- Morehead City, NC
Trish Murphey first joined the North Carolina Sea Grant Advisory Board in 2015, serving two terms before rotating off in 2021. She is the executive assistant for councils for the NC Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), representing the division director on the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, which manages ocean fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone from North Carolina to the Florida Keys. She is also vice-chair of the Council.
Previously she was the watershed manager for the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership (APNEP) where she assisted with the implementation and development of the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan. Before APNEP, she was the Southern District Manager for DMF and oversaw the development of various fishery management plans. She also worked for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Beaufort, N.C., and for S.C. Division of Natural Resources.
Murphey earned a bachelor’s degree in marine sciences from Florida Institute of Technology.
John Nicholson, Chief of Staff, Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4
- Chief of Staff, Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4
- Atlanta, GA
John Nicholson joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2022, not long after beginning his tenure as chief of staff in the Office of the Regional Administrator for the EPA’s Region 4 (Southeast) in Atlanta, which serves eight states (including North Carolina) and six tribal nations. Before that, he served as chief deputy secretary at the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality for five years where he was actively engaged in coastal and marine fisheries issues impacting the state.
Nicholson is a retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, having been active duty for twenty-eight years. Additionally, he served two North Carolina Governors as their military affairs advisor and on the board of directors for the NC Heroes Fund as their outreach coordinator, helping the organization communicate their efforts in assisting 9/11 veterans.
He holds master’s degrees in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College and in military studies from the USMC Command and Staff College as well as a bachelor’s in political science from San Diego State University.
Michael Piehler (Chair), Director, UNC Institute for the Environment
- UNC Institute for the Environment
Michael Piehler directs the UNC Institute for the Environment. He also serves as professor at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, holding joint appointments in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Marine Sciences and the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Environmental Science and Engineering.
Piehler received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering from UNC. His research concentrates on the ecology and biogeochemistry of land-water interfaces, in particular on understanding the connection between human activity and the function of natural systems. His recent studies have explored land use impacts on coastal stream carbon and nutrient loading, the effects of oyster reefs on nutrient dynamics, and denitrification in tidal marshes.
Piehler advises a variety of scientific panels for governments, non-government organizations, and industry, and a diverse portfolio of federal, state, and regional sponsors have funded his work, including North Carolina Sea Grant. His Sea Grant activities have involved leading core research projects and minigrants, as well as mentoring student fellows. He also was one of the first recipients of a Community Collaborative Research Grant, a successful partnership with the City of Jacksonville. He joined North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in Summer 2018.
Haley Plaas, Ph.D. Student, UNC Chapel Hill
- Ph.D. Student, UNC Chapel Hill
- Chapel Hill, NC
Haley Plaas joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2021. She is a Ph.D. student at UNC Chapel Hill in the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, and her work is primarily concentrated at UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, NC.
In 2019, she was the recipient of the North Carolina Sea Grant and Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership Fellowship. During her fellowship, Plaas mentored an undergraduate science communication intern and forged an ongoing collaboration with community scientists from the Chowan Edenton Environmental Group.
Plaas has a bachelor’s in Biology and Marine Science from the University of Miami. Her research is focused at the intersection of water and air quality, specifically investigating the impact of harmful algal blooms on air quality to better understand this potential threat to human respiratory health.
Alan Rebar, Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation, NC State University (retired)
- Vice Chancellor
- Research and Innovation, NC State (RETIRED)
- Raleigh, N.C.
Alan Rebar was the vice chancellor for research and innovation at NC State. He retired on Dec. 31, 2018.
Prior to joining NC State, Rebar was the senior associate vice president for research, executive director of Discovery Park and professor of clinical pathology at Purdue University. He is internationally recognized for his work in clinical laboratory medicine.
Rebar is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, a former member of the Council of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, past president of the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology, former editor of the journal Veterinary Clinical Pathology and current editor of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association.
He has authored or co-authored 120 refereed publications and eight textbooks, and has made nearly 300 invited lectures at workshops and conferences in the United States and around the world. He has served as a scientific advisor to numerous federal agencies and companies.
Rebar has won a number of awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology and the Award of Merit from the American Animal Hospital Association.
Mary Watzin, Professor and Dean Emeritus, NC State University
- Professor and Dean Emeritus, North Carolina State University
- Raleigh, NC
Mary Watzin joined the North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board in 2022. Now professor and dean emeritus at NC State, she first came to the school in 2012 and served as the dean of the College of Natural Resources until 2019. Prior, she spent 22 years at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont; from 2009-2012, she served as the dean while concurrently directing the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Program covering Vermont and New York.
Over the years, she has received numerous awards, from the University of Vermont’s Kroepsch-Maurice award for teaching excellence to the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation award and the Ibakari-Kasumigaura Prize for her collaboration with colleagues in Albania and Macedonia to address transboundary water management. She is also an AAAS Fellow, cited for her contributions to marine and watershed ecology, interdisciplinary team science, and bringing science into public discourse.
Watzin holds a doctorate in marine sciences from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s in marine sciences from the University of South Carolina.