HABS – Panels


Students and early career scientists are usually quite familiar with the academic career path, particularly at doctorate granting institutions.  These career panels are meant to provide attendees with insight into other career opportunities and highlight how different personal experiences and interests can aid in determining a career path.  Panelists will each share a brief description of their positions, an overview of their background, and some key influential experiences. After these introductions, there will be time for questions from the audience!

TUESDAY MAY 25, 2021

3:15-4:00 PM Pacific, Zoom Webinar

Public Careers Working on Harmful Algae

Description: This workshop is focused on career options in public service working for governmental agencies at the federal, state or local level, or with tribal governments.

Panel Moderator: Lesley D’Anglada


Maggie Broadwater, Program Manager, NOAA
Bio: Dr. Maggie Broadwater is a program manager in the Competitive Research Program at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS). She previously worked as a research scientist in the NCCOS Marine Forensics and Marine Biotoxins Programs in Charleston, SC. Dr. Broadwater holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from the College of Charleston, M.S. in Biomedical Sciences, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Medical University of South Carolina.

Mandy Michalsen, HAB Program Coordinator, US Amry Corps of Engineers
Bio: Dr. Mandy Michalsen is the U.S. Army Engineer Research Development Center’s (ERDC’s) Harmful Algal Bloom Program Coordinator, currently stationed in Seattle, WA. Mandy’s research interests have included novel applications of groundwater remediation technologies to accelerate cleanup of explosives- and chlorinated solvent-contaminated aquifers, as well as use of polymeric samplers for measuring freely dissolved contaminants in sediment porewater. Since joining USACE in 2008, Mandy has served as Principal Investigator and lead engineer on field-scale technology demonstrations and full-scale groundwater remedy optimization projects, resulting in multiple peer-reviewed research papers. She received her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA and both her master’s and doctorate degrees in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. Prior to joining ERDC in November 2014, Mandy was Chief of Soils at Seattle District USACE.

Meredith Howard, Environmental Program Manager, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board
Bio: Dr. Meredith Howard received her B.A. in Finance from Lehigh University in 1995, B.S. in Biology from Rutgers University in 2001 and Ph.D. in Ocean Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2007. Dr. Howard joined the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project in 2007 and her research focused on examination of the environmental factors that influence phytoplankton blooms, with a special emphasis on characterizing the effects of anthropogenic nutrient sources on blooms and HABs. Her work has challenged conventional ideas about the impacts of natural versus anthropogenic nutrient sources in coastal California. Her research focused on the transport of cyanotoxins across the freshwater-to-marine continuum and the improvement of monitoring tools that can address the challenges of monitoring inter-connected waterbodies and watersheds. In 2018 she moved into a regulatory and policy making position as an Environmental Program Manager at the Central Valley Water Board. Through this position, she focuses on shaping management discussions and decisions related to anthropogenic inputs and changes to the way that inland and coastal water quality is assessed, monitored, and ultimately regulated. She works with water quality regulatory agencies (federal, state, and local), California Tribes, and the scientific community to develop mitigation and management strategies for HABs.

Chris Whitehead, Environmental Program Manager, Sitka Tribe of Alaska
Bio: Chris Whitehead completed his degree in Environmental Marine Science at the University of Hawaii Manoa where he focused on marine biology, fisheries management, and environmental policy. He has over 18 years of expert experience working with non-profit, city, state, federal, and Tribal government agencies writing and managing grants, designing research projects, establishing water quality programs, developing shellfish aquaculture operations, managing fisheries, building environmental laboratories, and creating large regional networks of researchers, Tribal environmental staff, citizen scientist, and resource managers.


3:15-4:00 PM Pacific, Zoom Webinar

Private Careers Working on Harmful Algae

Description: This workshop is focused on career options in private industry including opportunities with private companies that do research & development, or environmental monitoring and consulting.

Panel Moderator: Stephanie Moore


Sarah Bickman, Senior Scientist, Product Manager, LightDeck Diagnostics
Bio: Dr. Sarah Bickman has worked at LightDeck for more than 8 years as a senior scientist and the product manager for the food and water products. Her recent work has focused on detection of toxins generated by harmful algal blooms including detection in fresh and salt water and shellfish. Additionally, she contributed to the design and understanding of the LightDeck system, optimizing system performance, and statistical analysis. Prior to coming to LightDeck, Dr Bickman worked at Vescent Photonics designing lasers and optics and at the National Institutes of Standards working on developing optical clocks. She has a PhD from Yale University in atomic, molecular, and optical physics and a BS from Amherst College in both physics and anthropology.

Tom Fougere, Senior Engineer, McLane Research Laboratories
Bio: Tom Fougere is currently the Engineering Team Manager in charge of Imaging Flow CytoBot (IFCB) & Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) production at McLane Research Labs. He was born and raised on Cape Cod and as such I have always felt a close connection to the ocean & marine environment. Fougere graduated from of the University of Rhode Island Ocean Engineering program (Class of 2005). He has enjoyed almost 10 years of employment at McLane. Prior to his current employment, he spent 7 years working for General Dynamics in the ship building industry.

Ellen Preece, Senior Limnologist, Robertson-Bryan Inc.
Bio: Dr. Ellen Preece received her M.S. and Ph.D. from Washington State University. Dr. Preece investigates cyanotoxins in freshwater, estuarine, and marine ecosystems and applies this research to determine cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom risks to human health. An important component of her research in to ensure that results are available to local, state and federal groups to sustain the ecological integrity of freshwater ecosystems while protecting human users, especially underserved communities.

Tim Otten, Director Bend Genetics
Bio: Dr. Tim Otten has been involved in harmful algal bloom research since 2007. He first became interested in the nexus between environmental quality and human health while working towards a Master of Public Health degree from George Washington University. He subsequently enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a PhD for work focused on understanding the environmental factors that select for toxigenic strains of cyanobacteria. Afterward, he spent three years as a postdoc in the Microbiology Department at Oregon State University where he learned how to apply metagenomic tools to further investigate toxic algal blooms throughout the West. Recognizing that there was an ever-growing demand for HAB-related analyses, yet relatively few commercial laboratories dedicated to the field, Dr. Otten founded Bend Genetics in 2015 in order to offer customers with rapid and integrated analyses for all aspects of harmful algal bloom monitoring.


3:15-4:00 PM Pacific, Zoom Webinar

Hybrid Careers Working on Harmful Algae

Description: This workshop is focused on career options that do not neatly fit into the categories of public or private, such as NGOs, extension agents, regional observing associations, etc., careers that involve multiple sectors, and academic positions in non-doctorate-granting institutions. 

Panel Moderator: Marc Suddleson


Mary Kate Rogener, Program Analyst, NOAA under CSS-Inc contract
Bio: Dr. Mary Kate Rogener is under contract with CSS-Inc, in support of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Competitive Research Program as a Coastal Ecology Program Analyst. She informs and guides relevant HAB and hypoxia science priorities, policies, and projects through identification and application of stakeholder needs. Prior to NOAA, Mary Kate was a 2018 John A. Knauss Policy Fellow where she was placed with the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy. While with the Oceanographer, Mary Kate participated in many ocean policy groups and served as the science expert on interagency and internal Department of Defense documents relating to ocean observations, climate change, environmental security, science and technology, and research and development. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Ph.D. in marine sciences and a B.A in marine sciences from Boston University. Her doctoral research largely focused on human impacts to the marine ecosystem (Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone, Deepwater Horizon impacted locations, coastal Georgia, and the Arctic Ocean), with emphasis on greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient dynamics, and low oxygen conditions.

Clarissa Anderson, Executive Director, Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System
Bio: Dr. Clarissa Anderson is a biological oceanographer with expertise in ecological forecasting and remote sensing. After receiving a B.A. in Biology and Art History at UC Berkeley and a Marine Science Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara, she completed several postdoctoral appointments before transitioning into a professional research position at UC Santa Cruz. The majority of her research has focused on the prediction of harmful algal blooms and toxins in estuarine and coastal ecosystems as well as the fate and transport of harmful toxins to deeper waters and sediments. During her time as research faculty at UC Santa Cruz, she worked to establish the California Harmful Algae Risk Mapping (C-HARM) system with NASA Applied Science support. She is now at Scripps Institution of Oceanography directing the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) and continuing to conduct research on phytoplankton ecology in coastal California. She is an elected member of the UNESCO SCOR GlobalHAB Scientific Steering Committee, the Science Advisory Team for the CA Ocean Protection Council (OPC), the U.S. National HAB Committee (NHC), and the Steering Committee for the Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring and Alert Program (Cal-HABMAP).

Heather Raymond, Director of Water Quality Initiative, OSU CFAES
Bio: Heather Raymond is the Water Quality Initiative Director for The Ohio State University’s College of Food Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In this role she helps coordinate applied interdisciplinary water quality research that addresses the needs of local, state, and federal partners and integrates research findings into extension outreach. Prior to accepting her position at OSU, Heather served as the State of Ohio Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Coordinator where she led development of the nation’s first HAB monitoring and reporting rules, assisted public water systems and lake managers respond to HABs, conducted applied research on HAB treatment in coordination with U.S. EPA and University partners, and taught webinars and workshops on HAB response. She serves on the National HAB Committee and Great Lakes HABs Collaborative Steering Committee and is a contributing author to state, federal, and international HAB guidance. She has over twenty years of water quality related government experience and earned master’s degrees in science and public administration from Ohio University.

Morgan Steffen, Associate Professor, James Madison University
Bio: Dr. Morgan Steffen is an Associate Professor of Biology at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Her research focus is on microbial interactions in freshwater cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms, with a focus on Microcystis blooms around the world. Currently the lab is trying to understand how heterotrophic bacteria support Microcystis bloom formation and success. JMU is a primarily undergraduate institution, so her lab is mainly comprised of undergraduate researchers who participate in every level of research from field sample collection to manuscript writing.