Marine and environmental scientists at Florida Atlantic University are available to discuss toxic algal blooms like Microcystis (green bacteria) and Karenia brevis (red tides), as well as non-toxic blooms such as the red drift macroalgae blooms that make water unsafe for humans as well as marine animals and marine ecosystems. FAU’s research expertise spans avian ecology, wetland and marine ecosystems, seagrasses and seaweeds, coral reef ecology, marine mammal and human health, microalgae such as Sargassum, and water quality.

Dale Gawlik, Ph.D., professor and director of FAU’s Environmental Science Program within the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, has expertise in avian ecology, wetland and coastal ecosystems, and restoration ecology that includes the study of habitats of wading birds in South Florida. Wading birds have been used as indicators of the health and function of the Everglades ecosystem.

Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D., research professor and director of education at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, is an expert on marine ecosystem health. His research interests are in marine plants, especially seagrasses and seaweeds, and coral reef ecology. Hanisak leads the Indian River Lagoon Observatory programs, which includes a network of monitoring stations that continuously collect water-quality information, which is posted in real-time at

Brian Lapointe, Ph.D., research professor at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, is an algal physiologist and biochemist with research expertise in seagrass and coral reef ecology, marine bio-invasions, harmful algal blooms and marine conservation. He researches the causes and consequences of excessive nutrients and algal growth in freshwater and marine environments, using techniques that identify the nutrient(s) fueling the growth, which aids identification of sources and solutions. He studies the macroalgae Sargassum and the complex ecosystem it hosts in the Gulf of Mexico, Sargasso Sea and Caribbean region. 

J. William Louda, Ph.D., research professor in FAU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry within the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, has expertise in environmental biogeochemistry, chlorophylls, carotenoids, phycobiliproteins and sunscreen pigments, microalgal community assessment and water quality.

Malcolm McFarland, Ph.D., a research associate at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, studies the dynamic processes that determine the distribution, abundance and diversity of marine phytoplankton populations and communities. He develops and applies in situ optical methods to resolve phytoplankton characteristics over various spatial and temporal scales in the ocean.

Adam Schaefer, M.P.H., research coordinator and epidemiologist at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, studies the relationships between marine mammal, human and environmental health, embodied by the idea that illness in dolphins can shed light on environmental problems that may affect other species including humans.

James Sullivan, Ph.D., executive director of FAU’s Harbor Branch, is an expert on marine ecosystem health and researches the ecology and physiology of phytoplankton (commonly called algae), and in particular, the algae that create harmful algal blooms (HABs) and their negative effects on ecosystems and human health (toxins, hypoxia/anoxia, wildlife kills, etc.).



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About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit