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Lunch-and-Learn-accordianLearn about an environmental topic, and enjoy a meal, during this Lunch & Learn Lecture at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Lunch is provided. The 2016-2017 series runs January through April on the third Tuesday of the month from noon to 1 p.m.

This year's series focuses on research underway by scientists with Florida International University and will include stories about the Aquarius (an underwater laboratory), acoustic research on fisheries, epigenetics and seagrass ecosystems. See the lecture details in the green bars below, or click the "register" button to reserve your seat.

Lecture is $10 for Friends of Rookery Bay members (please login to website to receive your discounted rate) and $15 for non-members. Pre-registration ise required, as space is limited.


Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Florida International University (FIU) have established a partnership that will serve the students of FIU as well as citizens of Collier County and surrounding areas. This unique educational and research partnership will enhance the environmental understanding of ecosystems in south Florida.

Jan. 17: Aquarius... Under the Sea

FIU's Medina Aquarius Program is dedicated to studying and preserving marine ecosystems worldwide. Tom Potts, Director of Medina Aquarius Program, will discuss the incredible 23-year journey of living and working underwater aboard the Aquarius undersea laboratory.

Tom PottsPotts has been with the Aquarius since it relocated from St. Croix, USVI to Key Largo in 1993. Upon graduating in 1991 with a M.S. in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, he relocated to Key Largo to help launch the National Undersea Research Center's Florida Keys science program. He was and aquanaut on the fourth saturation mission aboard Aquarius after its redeployment on Conch Reef.

He is a certified IANTD Trimix technical diver, NAUI dive instructor, Nitrox divemaster, ARB saturation diver, and Deep Worker single-person submersible pilot. He has a number of science and popular literature publications, including authoring a chapter on manned submersibles and saturation diving in the university-level textbook, Underwater Research.

Feb. 21: Predator-Prey Interactions

kevin bosswellDr. Kevin Boswell received his B.S. degree in Marine Fisheries from the Texas A&M University, Galveston, TX, in 1998, and his Ph.D. degree in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences from the Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, in 2006. He is now an Assistant Professor at the Florida International University, North Miami, FL. He is a marine ecologist, with general interests in the ecology and behavioral dynamics of coastal and marine nekton and surface oriented vertebrates. His research program broadly focuses on the interacting factors that mediate the distributional patterns, behavior, habitat use, energetics and natural ecology of coastal and oceanic animals, including the implications of ecosystem variability for rapidly changing environments. He has authored and coauthored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications, received more than $12 M funding for research in the Gulf of Mexico, sub-Arctic and Arctic ecosystems.

Mar. 21: Epigenetics Revolution

Dr. Jose LopezDr. Jose Maria Eirin-Lopez, Assistant Professor of Biology in Florida International University’s Marine Sciences Program, will enlighten us on marine organisms and their need to respond very rapidly to sharp environmental changes. While the ability to cope with stress depends largely on the information stored in their genes, the modulation of such information in response to environmental signals is governed by epigenetic regulatory mechanisms. Epigenetics is an exciting and relatively new discipline studying of the inheritance of modifications in the function of genes. The present talk aims to introduce audiences to a) the Epigenetics phenomenon, b) its relevance to study how marine organisms adapt to environmental changes and c) its potential application in pollution biomonitoring and conservation in the ocean.

Dr. Eirin-Lopez earned his Ph.D. (Biology, 2005) at the University of A Coruna (Spain) and pursued postdoctoral training at the University of Victoria (Canada) working on chromatin structure and evolution. He joined Florida International University in August, 2013. The work by Dr. Eirin-Lopez has been recognized with multiple national and international awards, most notably a Marie Curie Fellowship (European Union, 2007), a Ramon y Cajal Fellowship (Spanish Government, 2009) and the Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Spanish Society of Evolutionary Biology (2011).

Apr. 18: Green Turtles of the Atlantic

Dr. Jim Fourqurean is Director for the Marine Education and Research Initiative at Florida International University, will share his lecture, "Green Turtles Graze Down Bermudian Seagrass Meadows on the Move to South Florida!" Green turtle conservation measures over the last few decades have been successful in increasing the number of bay green sea turtles hatching and entering the ocean. But, the world these turtles will grow up in is very different than the one that existed even a century ago. Young turtles eventually settle in developmental habits in shallow coastal areas and their diet switches to seagrasses as they mature for 10-20 years before they are old enough to return to their breeding grounds. One of these developmental areas in Bermuda, where the seagrasses that support these young turtles are in rapid decline, driven by the grazing of the developing turtles. And some of the Bermudian turtles return to the home of their parents here in south Florida, where they graze on our seagrasses.

Fourqurean's research is motivated by a desire to understand how man's activities influence the health of the coastal ocean and how the coastal ocean contributes to the sustainability of the planet. He lives in Miami with his wife, Dr. René Price, and his daughter Virginia (20) and sons Robbie (18) and Jimi (12).

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