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Our Team

Headquartered at North Carolina State University, we are a multicampus program with offices in Wanchese, Morehead City, and Wilmington.

Email is often best for first contact.

Raleigh | 919-515-9103

As fiscal officer, Mary Beth Barrow manages the budget and oversees technology projects at North Carolina Sea Grant. She received her Certification for Research Administration, or CRA, in 2010. She is a past chair of the Sea Grant Fiscal Officers Network.

From 2005 to 2009, Barrow handled financial and grant-related matters for different departments at North Carolina State University. Before that, she worked at North Carolina Sea Grant in an administrative position.

Originally from Wake Forest, Barrow graduated from East Carolina University with a bachelor of science in political science and a minor in business administration. | 919-515-1686

Focus Areas: Planning, policy, decision-making, climate change, resilience, sustainability, engagement

Cayla Cothron is North Carolina Sea Grant’s coastal planning specialist, located in Raleigh on NC State’s Centennial Campus. The coastal planning specialist works collaboratively to support planning, policy, and decision-making that improves resilience and sustainability of coastal communities and ecosystems to climate impacts and other changing conditions. She connects science-based information to coastal communities, resource managers, and interest groups in North Carolina and the surrounding region, and works with university researchers, communities, and other stakeholders to translate and apply science to policy and decision-making.

Cothron has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Florida State University and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado Denver. Prior to joining Sea Grant, Cothron worked in long range community and environmental planning in both the private and public sectors in the western U.S. She has experience working with communities, government agencies, decision-makers, and other stakeholders to collaboratively address local needs across a wide variety of land use and environmental topics. | 919-515-1092

Dan DiNicola is a science writer/digital content producer, developing engaging content for new and ongoing Sea Grant-funded projects from across the state.

DiNicola began his career in marine policy and species conservation before transitioning to science communication with an emphasis on visual storytelling. Now he uses his background to collaborate with researchers to bring the stories behind their science to life. 

DiNicola was previously the communications manager for the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences as well as the marine biology program for four years. In that role, he transformed the communications for one of the nation’s preeminent fisheries institutions, concentrating on the school’s world-class research and legacy, while also ushering in a new era of marine science at the University by developing recruitment strategies for its nascent undergraduate marine biology program. 

Prior to his experience in Seattle, he was the communications specialist at the University of Miami for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative-funded grant, RECOVER, which investigated the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on coastal and pelagic fishes. While with RECOVER, he built brand awareness, partnered with private companies to amplify outreach goals and developed a free-to-use virtual lab app with lesson plans focusing on emerging oil spill science for students and teachers. 

In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his family and two dogs, hiking, photography, and cooking barbecue. | 919-515-5287

Focus Areas: Nonpoint source pollution prevention and treatment, restoration ecology, stormwater management, stream assessment, sustainable landscaping

Barbara Doll joined North Carolina Sea Grant in 1992. Her current interests focus on repairing degraded stream systems, reducing the impacts of nonpoint source pollution and assessing the effectiveness of restoration practices. She is responsible for leading a multimillion dollar, three-phase project to restore Rocky Branch. This creek runs a mile through the North Carolina State University campus and is a tributary to the Neuse River.

Her recent research focused on the comprehensive evaluation of stream restoration performance. Doll has authored a number of publications on stream restoration and stormwater runoff, including Stream Restoration: A Natural Channel Design Handbook and Stormwater Runoff Best Management Practices for Marinas: A Guide for Operators. She also has been published in Journal of the American Water Resources AssociationJournal of Shellfish Research and Water Environment and Technology.

Doll holds a doctorate degree in biological and agricultural engineering from NC State, where she has a joint appointment with the NC State Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department as an extension associate professor. There she teaches courses and conducts research related to fluvial geomorphology and ecological restoration. Prior to joining Sea Grant, she worked as a staff engineer for Soil and Material Engineers in Raleigh, NC, and as a research assistant in the civil engineering department at NC State. | 919-515-9104

John Fear is deputy director of North Carolina Sea Grant and the Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina system. He focuses on developing and executing research portfolios for the two interinstitutional programs. He works to increasing the links among the research, extension and communication sections of both organizations, with a special emphasis on creating new student engagement opportunities.

Fear worked as research coordinator for the N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve program within the N.C. Division of Coastal Management for nine years. In this role, he conducted original research and facilitated studies by partners at the 10 sites of the NCCR-NCNERR and their respective watersheds. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences.

Fear previously chaired the core management team for the North Carolina Sentinel Site Cooperative, a multiagency partnership established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He also is a member of the Criteria Implementation Committee, which works with the Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources on the state’s Nutrient Criteria Development Plan.

A native of New Bern, NC, Fear holds a doctorate in environmental sciences and engineering from UNC-CH‘s School of Public Health, and a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from UNC-CH. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, family time and tinkering with anything mechanical. | 919-513-0122

Focus Areas: Environmental economics, economic development, natural resource management, public engagement and outreach

Jane Harrison, North Carolina Sea Grant coastal economics specialist, applies economic analysis and other social science methods to meet the needs of coastal stakeholders. She regularly collaborates with city planners and elected officials, private businesses, and residents to safeguard natural resources and make smart, long-term investments in infrastructure.

She leads development of the NC Oyster Trail, which offers unique tourism experiences centered on our state’s tasty oysters. The Trail’s mission is to provide oyster tourism experiences that help sustain and grow N.C. oyster supply and demand, resulting in economic, environmental, and social benefits to the state’s seafood industry and coastal communities.

In addition, Harrison is a graduate faculty member in the College of Natural Resources and an affiliate faculty member in the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department at NC State University. She teaches economic development, a course on the unique development challenges of, and strategies being pursued in, rural and urban areas of North Carolina. | 919-515-3012

Frank López is the extension director for North Carolina Sea Grant and the state’s Water Resources Research Institute. He supervises extension specialists for the programs in Raleigh, Morehead City, Manteo, and Wilmington. The extension team’s portfolio meets the programs’ spectrum of focus areas on the coast and statewide.

López comes to Sea Grant and WRRI from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, where he administered the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve, an integrated research/education program, in Huron for more than 14 years. He has a master’s degree in regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. | 919-515-9102

Debra Lynch provides office support for North Carolina Sea Grant’s director, deputy director and extension director, as well as the extension staff in Raleigh, Manteo, Morehead City and Wilmington. She helps manage a variety of workshops and conferences, along with the N.C. Fishery Resource Grant Program and the N.C. Blue Crab and Shellfish Research Program. In addition to managing a dozen listservs and the mailing lists for the FRG and Blue Crab programs, she plays an integral role in processing the related proposal requests and applications.  | 919-513-1203

Anna Martin is the program coordinator for both North Carolina Sea Grant and the state’s Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI), where she provides technical and administrative support for events and day-to-day operations. Her duties include assisting with Sea Grant and WRRI advisory board activity; the annual call for proposal process; and website/listserv maintenance. Anna also is the key administrator for the North Carolina Water Resources Association, a partner organization.

Anna earned a bachelor’s degree in natural resources, with a concentration in marine and coastal science, from NC State University’s College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. After graduation, she worked with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (formerly the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Land Quality Division. Before joining WRRI in 2007, she was a science educator at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. She currently is seeking state certification in environmental education.

Outside of work, Anna volunteers with programs that help alleviate food insecurity in the Wake County community. She also enjoys attending concerts, traveling, reading and spending time outdoors.  | 919-515-9101

As the public health specialist, Sarah connects coastal communities and the Sea Grant research community. Mehdaova is a member of the extension team and works towards building capacity for health equity in communications during disasters for underserved coastal Latino and Latina communities in North Carolina.

Mehdaova previously worked as a COVID-19 Lead with the CDC Foundation at the Washington State Department of Health in Tumwater, Washington, where she facilitated emergency management programs involving heat waves, flooding, and medication preparedness. She also oversaw the development and progress of multiple cross-departmental projects as a medical logistics and countermeasure coordinator. Additionally, she worked with Ready Responders Inc., in Las Vegas, Nevada, a non-emergency private practice, where she was a project manager and practice administrator.

Mehdaova earned her bachelor of science in public health from East Carolina University where she presented her preliminary research of social determinants of health at a conference at the Brody School of Medicine. She has a master’s degree of public health from the University of Arizona. | 919-513-1152

Focus areas: Collaborative decision making, public engagement, watershed management, green infrastructure

Christy Perrin provides leadership to initiatives that involve multiple sectors and citizens in planning, studying, protecting and restoring water resources in a sustainable manner. She coordinates the statewide NC Watershed Stewardship Network in partnership with UNC Institute for the Environment and many other organizations.

She has special interests in helping public and private organizations to enhance community development while protecting natural resources, particularly in historically underserved areas, and to build citizens’ capacity for collaborative leadership.

Perrin joined North Carolina Sea Grant and the Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina system after managing Watershed Education for Communities and Officials, or WECO, a North Carolina State University Extension program, from 2001 to 2014. She began her career at NC State with the Natural Resources Leadership Institute.

She earned her Master’s in Public Administration with an environmental policy focus from NC State, and has extensive training and experience in community mediation and group facilitation. In addition, Perrin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science, with a wildlife biology minor, and an advanced certificate in corporate sustainability from the University of Vermont. | 919-513-0117

Focus Areas: natural landscapes and green infrastructure, toxic algal blooms, marine debris.

In her role as the coastal resources and communities specialist, Gloria Putnam helps state and local organizations and communities address environmental concerns through research, education, planning and collaboration.

Putnam serves as the lead for the Coastal Landscapes Initiative that aims to foster resilient and sustainable landscapes throughout coastal North Carolina. Gloria has also been engaged with researchers and communities in the Chowan River and Albemarle Sound to better understand algal blooms in that region. Marine debris is another major area of topic for her and she has been an integral part of a team that developed the first NC Marine Debris Action Plan released in 2020, and continues to serve on an implementation committee and participate in projects connected with the plan.

Gloria has co-authored a number of NC Sea Grant publications, including Algal Blooms Things to KnowNC Coastal Landscaping Designs, and the Coastal Grass Beds and Trees and Plants fact sheets of the Sustainability Series.

Prior to joining Sea Grant in 2007, Putnam worked for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Quality as the coastal nonpoint source program coordinator.  She earned a master’s in environmental management and policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and she holds a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University. | 919-513-0116

Dynestie Robinson is the coordinator of the national Community Engaged Internship program. She oversees professional development opportunities, hands-on experiences, and funding resources for 40 undergraduate student interns from underrepresented and indigenous communities across the nation.

Robinson’s background in community engagement includes her work with Passage Home, Wake County’s Community Action Agency. Passage Home provides intentional and accessible resources to lift families out of the cycle of poverty and toward generational self-sufficiency. As Passage Home’s volunteer coordinator, Robinson mentored interns, volunteers, and staff, ensuring their professional development and success. Additionally, she played a pivotal role as the nonprofit’s communications and grant writer, securing vital funding for its initiatives and programs.

Robinson earned her bachelors of social work from University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her masters of social work from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She is also pursuing her doctorate in social work. | 919-621-3933 | he/him

Dave Shaw has worked as an editor and writer for two and a half decades, including a dozen years as executive editor of Southern Cultures, the award-winning journal at UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South. His first book won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction, and his work has appeared internationally in literary magazines and anthologies, as well as on numerous education and science news sites. He joined North Carolina Sea Grant after five years as communication director of UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, where he served on FPG’s award-winning Committee on Race, Culture, and Ethnicity.

For North Carolina Sea Grant, he is a member of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Accessibilty Team and serves as editor of the award-winning Coastwatch magazine, the Currents blog series, and the award-winning Hook, Line & Science series. | 919-515-2455

Susan White is the executive director for North Carolina Sea Grant, the Water Resources Research Institute for the University of North Carolina, and North Carolina Space Grant. All three programs provide targeted research, outreach and education projects to address critical issues in the state and within the region. Sea Grant, with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and WRRI, with funding from the U.S. Geological Survey,  focus on coastal, ocean and water resource topics for ecosystems and communities. Space Grant projects, with funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, include partnerships with the aerospace industry.

In fall 2017, White was named chair of the N.C. Sediment Control Commission by Gov. Roy Cooper. She previously was director of NOAA’s Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, S.C. Formerly the national research coordinator for NOAA’s Estuarine Reserves Division and National Estuarine Research Reserve System, she has served on national and regional steering committees on topics including technology transfer, integrated drought monitoring and early warning, and climate’s connections to health. White earned a doctorate from the University of Georgia and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. | 919-513-1145 | she/her

Erika Young joined North Carolina Sea Grant in January 2022 as the coastal and marine education specialist. She previously served on faculty at the University of North Carolina Pembroke for 13 years, teaching biology and environmental sciences and serving as a research mentor for undergraduates. 

Her STEM education outreach has included programs with NC Science Festival, the Morehead Planetarium, and Boys and Girls Clubs. She especially enjoys working with students in underserved communities, as she grew up in Robeson County and is a member of the Lumbee Tribe.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from the UNCP, a master’s degree from Western Carolina University, and her doctorate from UNC Chapel Hill, where she focused on aquatic ecology with emphasis in estuarine habitats, oyster biodeposition, meiofauna, and sea-level rise.

Northeast Coast (Wanchese) | 252-475-5488

Focus Areas: Coastal community development, collaborative processes, cooperative research, marine fisheries management, seafood marketing, working waterfronts

Sara Mirabilio is a fisheries extension specialist whose work includes cooperative research with, and providing technical training to, North Carolina’s commercial, for-hire and recreational fishermen. She received the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award Program’s Natural Resources Scientist of the Year Award in 2011 for her research with industry to test a modified turtle excluder device in the summer flounder winter ocean trawl fishery. In 2015, Mirabilio received the N.C. Coastal Federation’s Pelican Award for “enthusiastic and inspired leadership with coastal restoration initiatives.”

For more than 10 years, Mirabilio has assisted commercial fishermen and seafood distributors employ market research tools to deliver seafood products desired by consumers. Most recently, she teamed up with colleagues Barry Nash and Scott Baker to create North Carolina market opportunities for spiny dogfish, or cape shark, by assisting industry and restaurant partners in developing high-quality and novel products that resonate with North Carolina consumers’ palates.

Mirabilio’s ongoing work also includes helping North Carolina stakeholders shape state and federal marine fisheries management policies that affect their livelihoods. She contributed to design of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Mediation Program to help disputing marine fishing stakeholders craft settlements in a way that achieves lasting resolutions that are amenable to all parties. Until 2015, she was an instructor for North Carolina State University’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute, or NRLI, on natural resource collaborative processes, particularly those that result in greater trust among user groups and in use of  scientific and traditional ecological knowledge in fishery policy development. Mirabilio is a 2005 graduate of the NRLI program.

Mirabilio currently serves as vice chair for both the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Citizen Science Program Volunteers Action Team and the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island’s Advisory Committee. She also is a member of the executive committee for the Tidewater Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.

Mirabilio holds a master’s degree in marine science from the College of William and Mary’s School of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and a bachelor’s degree in marine science  from Long Island University’s Southampton College, where she graduated summa cum laude and with honors. Prior to joining North Carolina Sea Grant in 2003, Mirabilio served as a John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant Office, and following this, was a program analyst for the NOAA Ocean Service’s Chief Scientist.

Central Coast (Morehead City) | 252-222-6337

Focus Areas: New product development, seafood safety, quality enhancement, marketing

Barry Nash maintains an economic development program for the North Carolina seafood industry that addresses business diversification, seafood safety, quality enhancement and market development. He assists seafood businesses with commercializing new products, regulatory compliance, manufacturing and direct marketing.

Nash’s expertise was instrumental in the development of Carteret Catch, a joint venture between the Carteret County fishing industry and local restaurants to generate greater visibility for local seafood and the heritage of the county’s fishing families through promotion and consumer education. He also collaborated with supply-chain specialists at North Carolina State University and East Carolina University to improve the distribution of local seafood to inland markets across North Carolina.

Nash has authored and co-authored several publications about seafood technology, product safety and marketing, including A Supply Chain Analysis of North Carolina’s Commercial Fishing IndustryReady-to-Sell: Developing Value-Added Seafood ProductsBranding Seafood: Developing a Marketing Plan to Sell Value-Added Seafood Products, and Control Measures for Harvesters to Prevent Scombrotoxin Fish Poisoning.

Prior to Sea Grant, Nash worked as a research and development project manager for GoodMark Foods, Inc., a food technologist for Ralston Purina Company, and as a research scientist for ConAgra, Inc. He holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in food science and technology from North Carolina State University. | 252-222-6314

Focus Areas: Outreach and education, applied research, and technology transfer

Eric Herbst, North Carolina Sea Grant’s coastal aquaculture specialist, works with a diverse group of stakeholders and partners to assess industry needs, identify challenges and develop science-based solutions to advance opportunities in the state’s growing aquaculture sectors that include shellfish, finfish and algae. He also supports workforce development and education programs and coordinates and conducts applied research with academic and industry partners.

Herbst started his aquaculture career on a hybrid striped bass farm in Pinetown, North Carolina. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a master’s degree in fisheries science/aquaculture from Louisiana State University. Prior to joining North Carolina Sea Grant, he worked for Pentair Aquatic Eco-Systems as senior biologist and project engineer and most recently as aquaculture engineering laboratory supervisor. He has expertise in project business, working on cross-functional teams, and establishing relationships with customers and industry partners. He also has experience in design, engineering and commissioning of complex recirculating aquaculture systems deployed in research institutions around the globe; aquaculture workforce development and education; technical training; and development of new products and technologies that provide solutions to aquaculture industry challenges. | 252-222-6307

Sarah Spiegler is the coastal resilience specialist for North Carolina Sea Grant, located at the NCSU Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST) in Morehead City. As an extension specialist, she supports communities and stakeholders in addressing coastal and climate change resilience challenges through planning, facilitation, applied research, education, communication, outreach, and extension.

Sarah has worked on issues related to climate change and coastal resilience for over 10 years, and she has collaborated with an extensive network of partners and stakeholders in North Carolina and nationally. She works closely with the NC Division of Coastal Management on the Resilient Coastal Communities Program (RCCP).

Previously, Sarah was the coordinator of the NOAA-directed NC Sentinel Site Cooperative and a marine education specialist for North Carolina Sea Grant, focusing on the impacts of sea level rise to North Carolina coastal habitats and communities. From 2016 to 2017, she was an outreach specialist for the N.C. Sentinel Site Cooperative, after working for the program as a part-time federal contractor from 2012 to 2016.

An avid outdoor enthusiast, Sarah is an American Canoe Association-certified kayak and stand-up paddleboard instructor. She also is a wilderness first responder and has experience working on sailboats in North Carolina and New Zealand.

Sarah has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Kenyon College and a master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. She lives in Beaufort, N.C.

Read Sarah’s award-winning article from Coastwatch magazine: “Plan, Respond, Recover, Adapt: Building Resilience in Coastal NC.”

Southeast Coast (Wilmington)  | 910-962-2492

Based at the UNCW Center for Marine Science in Wilmington, Scott Baker is a fisheries specialist with North Carolina Sea Grant. Through information sharing, training, and applied research projects, Baker helps members of commercial and recreational fishing communities apply sustainable fishing and best business practices that capitalize on the latest developments in fisheries research, management, and technology.

His longstanding projects include Hook, Line and Science, a weekly science series that features research of interest to saltwater anglers, and Introductory Fisheries Science for Fishers, a six-part, online class each Spring designed to educate the public about the basic concepts behind fisheries science and management.

Baker has served on a wide variety of research projects, including at-sea and dockside fisheries sampling, life history analyses of marine fishes, and testing gear designs to minimize bycatch. He also has evaluated electronic monitoring and reporting technologies in fisheries, seafood marketing, and surveys to understand the behavior and motivations of users and consumers.

Baker, former President of the American Fisheries Society Tidewater Chapter, currently serves as Chair of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Outreach and Information Advisory Panel.

A native of Washington, NC, he holds a bachelor’s in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in oceanography and coastal sciences from Louisiana State University. Prior to joining Sea Grant in 2003, he worked as a research associate at Louisiana State University and as a biological science technician for NOAA Fisheries in Panama City, Florida.  | 910-962-2491

Mariko serves as the coastal processes specialist for NC Sea Grant and is positioned at UNCW Center for Marine Science. In her position, she serves as a resource for coastal processes and hazards including hurricanes, sea level rise, and climate change.

She has expertise in shoreline erosion management, natural and nature-based management, estuary and barrier island ecology, wetland flooding, and sea level rise in North Carolina. Mariko works with managers, organizations, and individual community groups to help generate solutions and best practices to develop communities and habitats that are adaptive, resistant, and resilient. As such, she has a strong personal interest in representation and inclusivity in coastal science, especially in the Southeast US, and socio-environmental issues related to coastal management.

Mariko holds a doctorate from UNC Wilmington in marine biology specializing in ecosystem ecology, focusing on how physical and biological components interact. There, her dissertation focused on analyzing the human and ecological implications of estuarine shoreline stabilization and nature-based management strategies in North Carolina. Her research leverages geospatial technology like high resolution RTK-GPS, lidar, aerial drone technology, and multispectral data to study macro-scale and ecosystem-level topics.

She also holds a Master’s from UNC Wilmington in environmental studies and a bachelor’s in from California State University, Bakersfield in environmental resource management.

In her free time, Mariko enjoys kayaking and block printing.