Coast Team

Logistics Team

Laura Givens

Duke University

Laura Givens is a third year PhD student based out of the Schultz lab at the Duke University Marine Lab. Her current research uses molecular techniques to examine effects of ecosystem restoration and degradation across trophic levels. She is passionate about utilizing science communication through multiple avenues in order to reach as many people as possible! She graduated from California State University, Sacramento in 2018 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences specializing in Microbiology. 

Haley Plaas

UNC Chapel Hill

Haley Plaas is a PhD student of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, advised by Dr. Hans Paerl at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences. She received her BS in Biology and Marine Science from the University of Miami in 2019. Her current work investigates spray aerosol formation during cyanobacterial blooms, to evaluate inhalation as an understudied route of human exposure to cyanotoxins in the environment. Alongside her research, she is a passionate advocate for scientific outreach and the use of visual storytelling as an education tool.

Mollie Yacano

UNC Chapel Hill

Mollie Yacano (@MollieYacano) is a PhD student in the Piehler Lab based out of UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, NC. She is currently working on a project looking at the biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen in salt marshes throughout North Carolina, primarily focusing on characterizing how invasive Phragmites australis performs in comparison to its native counterparts.  She graduated from Boston University in 2017 with her Bachelors in Marine Science and a minor in archaeology.

Researcher Recruitment Team

Alayna Mackiewicz

UNC Chapel Hill

Alayna (@AGMackiewicz) is currently a PhD student at UNC in the Department of Biology’s Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Behavior program. She is in the Lohmann lab and her research focuses on understanding how animals are able to detect and use Earth’s magnetic field for navigation and migration, known as magnetoreception. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2018 with a B.S. in Biology and minor in Environmental Science. Alayna is a big advocate for science communication and loves working with younger generations of future scientists.

Chelsea Brown

UNC Chapel Hill

Chelsea Brown is a research technician in the Piehler Lab at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City. She is working on several projects in the Piehler Lab, including the investigation of nitrogen cycling and the role of oysters at the land/water interface, the development of a stormwater management model for the NC coast, a comprehensive analysis of US coastal dredging policy, as well as independent elasmobranch ecology research. She graduated from UNC-CH with a Bachelors in Environmental Science and minors in Marine Science and Geography. 

Ashley Blawas

Duke University 

Ashley Blawas is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Nowacek Lab at the Duke University Marine Lab. Her research aims to understand the relationship between cardiorespiratory physiology and diving in cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). She graduated from Duke University in 2018 with a B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering 

Educator Recruitment Team

Malcolm Barnard

UNC Chapel Hill

Malcolm (@mabecologist) is currently a PhD student in Dr. Hans Paerl’s Lab based out of UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, NC. He is currently working on a trying to understand the environmental factors influencing toxin production in cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, the Chowan River (NC), and Lake Taihu (China). He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2017 with a B.Sc. in Ecology and certificates in Water Resources and Environmental Ethic.

Robin Fail

Duke University

Robin Fail is a second year PhD student in a social science lab at the Duke University Marine Lab. Her research examines the link between healthy marine ecosystems and the health and wellbeing of human communities, with a particular interest in the cultural significance of marine food systems and their contribution to nutritional security. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2009 with a B.A. in Anthropology, and from Duke’s Sanford School in 2015 with a Masters in Public Policy.

Sally Dowd

UNC Chapel Hill





Coast Team Alumni
Austin Allen (Duke)
Charles Bangley (ECU)
Molly Beasley (ECU)
Martin Benavides (UNC)
Molly Bost (UNC)
Rachel Canty (UNC)
Sarah Donaher (UNC)
Adam Gold (UNC)
Heather Heenehan (Duke)
Alexandria Hounshell (UNC)
Alyse Larkin (Duke)
Sarah Loftus (Duke)
David Marshall (UNC)
Carson Miller (UNC)
Owen Mulvey-McFerron (UNC)
Avery Paxton (UNC)
Matthew Price (UNC)
Anastasia Quintana (Duke)
Justin Ridge (UNC)
Morgan Rudd (Duke)
Jeanne Shearer (Duke)
Hillary Smith (Duke)
Jessamin Straub (UNC)
Courtney Swink (Duke)
Ethan Theuerkauf (UNC)
Olivia Torano (UNC)
Bryce Van Dam (UNC)
Erin Voigt (NCSU)
Amy Yarnall (UNC)
Stacy Zhang (Duke)
Shelby Ziegler (UNC)