Coastal Research Crew

Dr. Tracey Smart, Senior Marine Scientist, Section Coordinator

Dr. Tracey Smart

Tracey is the Coastal Research Section Manager. She oversees the section's fishery-independent Reef Fish and Coastal Trawl Surveys and ensures that the section can continue their long-term research on fish, crustaceans, and sea turtles in the coastal and offshore waters off South Carolina and the southeast region. Tracey also serves as a data analyst, life history reader, and chief field scientist for the section and advises student at the College of Charleston. Her research interests include species distribution and environmental interactions, early life history ecology, and reproductive biology. Tracey joined the section in 2011, initially serving as data manager.

Degrees: B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (University of Arizona), M.S. Biology and Ph.D. Biology (University of Oregon).

Office: 843-953-9226


Dr. Marcel Reichert

Dr. Marcel Reichert

After 19 years of service to the SCDNR, Marcel retired in May 2022. He will be sorely missed. We wish him health, happiness and smooth seas!

Dr. Walter (Wally) Bubley, Associate Marine Scientist, Age-Growth Laboratory Manager

Dr. Walter (Wally) Bubley

Wally is the lead biologist of the survey's age and growth laboratory and the fishery-dependent program. He cooperates and communicates with commercial and recreational fishermen as part of the survey's fishery-dependent program, meaning he organizes sampling efforts to obtain information that either cannot be gained through or supplements our fishery-dependent sampling. He also oversees the diet studies laboratory and acts as a chief scientist aboard Reef Fish Survey research cruises. His research interests include life history, including age/growth and reproduction, fish ecology, and fisheries science/management through the SEDAR stock assessment process. He joined the survey in 2014.

Degrees: B.S. Zoology (Miami University); M.S. Marine Biology (University of Charleston); Ph.D. Animal and Nutritional Sciences (University of New Hampshire)

Office: 843-953-9810


Dr. Julie Vecchio, Assistant Marine Scientist

Julie Vecchio

Julie leads non-traditional research methods in the Coastal Research Section, including analysis of reef fish populations using video camera footage and fish ecology using stable isotopes. She also serves as a data analyst for the section, participating in fisheries stock assessments. She also serves as chief scientist on research cruises. Her research interests include incorporating novel technologies into fishery stock assessments (including stable isotopes, NIRS, video, etc), marine community ecology, and communicating the importance of the field of fisheries to those outside of the field. She joined the survey in 2022.

Degrees: B.A. Biology (Albion College), M.S. Marine Biology (College of Charleston), PhD Marine Resource Assessment (University of South Florida)

Office: 843-953-5680


James Brooks, Logistics and Supplies

James Brooks

James is involved with vessel logistics, the maintenance of gear and field work for the Reef Fish Survey. He assists with age growth, histology, and fecundity lab work. His interests are fishing, boating and being on the sea. James has been with the survey since 2014.

Degrees: B.S. Biology (College of Charleston)

Office: 843-953-0434


Joseph (Joe) Evans, Age-Growth Biologist

Joseph (Joe) Evans

Joe is a biologist in the Reef Fish Survey's age and growth laboratory. He helps process and age many of the life history samples collected by the survey. He also acts as a watch chief on Reef Fish Survey research cruises. Along with working in the age and growth laboratory, Joe lends his services as a diver to the Coastal Receiver Array project. Joe joined the survey in 2012.

Degree: B.S. Marine Biology (Roger Williams University)

Office: 843-953-0773


Margaret Finch, Data Management, Life History Biologist

Margaret Finch

Margaret assists with data management, the processing and ageing of life history samples, and field work for MARMAP. She also enjoys doing data analyses in R and GIS. Her research interests include fish ecology and species distribution modeling of reef fish species. Margaret has been with the survey since 2015.

Degrees: B.S. Biology and Math (University of Mary Washington), M.S. Marine Biology (University of Charleston)

Office: 843-953-7146


Keilin Gamboa-Salazar, Life History Biologist

Keilin Gamboa-Salazar

Keilin is the lead life history biologist for the Coastal Trawl Survey. She is involved in collecting, processing, and interpreting fish age/growth and reproductive histology samples. She assists with data requests and analysis, reports, as well as cruise logistics and gear where needed. Her research interests include life history and behavior of marine life, especially the reproduction aspects. She has been with the Coastal Research Section since 2016, and with the Trawl Survey since 2021.

Degrees: B.S. Biology (Berry College); M.S. Marine Biology (College of Charleston)

Office: 843-953-9002


Homer Hiers, Life History Biologist

Homer Hiers

Homer assists primarily with field research pertaining to gear maintenance and deployment, as well as the collection and processing of life history samples. He also assists with data entry and gear fabrication. His research interests include methane clathrates existing along the U.S. Atlantic coast as well as anthropogenic impacts on sustainable fisheries within the South Atlantic Bight. He has been contributing to the Survey since 2018.

Degrees: B.S. Geology (College of Charleston)

Office: 843-953-0114


Jonathan Jones, Life History Biologist and Section Safety Officer

Jonathan Jones

Jonathan acts as the otolith technician: collecting, processing, and interpreting otolith samples for age growth analysis. He also assists with various aspects of field sampling including: gear and net maintenance, vessel prep, refinishing equipment, procurement, technical troubleshooting, deployment/retrieval of nets, and data collection. He acts as the section Lab Safety Officer conducting chemical inventories and lab maintenance in MRRI. Some of his interests include the status of marine fisheries and biodiversity of the South Atlantic Bight. He has been a part of the survey since 2018, but began his career with the SCDNR in 2017 as a Coastal Resources employee aiding in fisheries and education programs.

Degrees: B.S. Marine Science (Coastal Carolina University)

Office: 843-953-1693


Kevin Kolmos, Life History Biologist, section Safety Officer

Kevin Kolmos

Kevin manages and maintains all aspects of the Marine Resource Division's Histology Laboratories. He focuses on reproductive biology within the Reef Fish Survey, serves as chief scientist on research cruises, and participates in regional stock assessments. Kevin is also a certified Scientific and Rescue Diver and assists with Dive Ops at MRD. His interests include marine ecology, MPA research, fisheries biology, and environmental resource management. Outside of work he enjoys surfing and fishing. He joined the Reef Fish Survey in 2007.

Degrees: B.S. Marine Biology (UNCW); M.S. Environmental Studies (University of Charleston)

Office: 843-953-9100


Wiley Sinkus, Life History Biologist

Wiley Sinkus

Wiley’s work as a life history fishery biologist involves collecting, processing, and interpreting samples from the Reef Fish Survey. His work spans both the histology and age growth labs. His research interests include marine fish ecology, toxicology, and fisheries management. Along with his work for RFS, Wiley is a member of the SC DNR Dive Team, working on a variety of projects involving scuba diving. Wiley has been a DNR employee since 2014. He recently returned to the SCDNR after taking a year long trip traveling the world.

Degrees: B.S. Biology (Wofford College), M.S. Marine Biology (University of Charleston)

Office: 843-953-9019


Kevin Spanik, Diet Studies Biologist, section Safety Officer

Kevin Spanik

Kevin is the lead biologist for our diet studies laboratory, overseeing the collection and processing of diet samples collected by the Reef Fish Survey. He also assists with age, growth, and various other life history studies. His research interests include natural resources management, fisheries ecology, taxonomy, and population dynamics. In addition to the South Atlantic, Kevin has research experience in the Mid- Atlantic, Chesapeake Bay, and Alaska. He joined the survey in 2014.

Degrees: B.S. Biology (Christopher Newport University); M.S. Marine Biology (University of Charleston; in progress)

Office: 843-953-9857


Pearse Webster, Logistics and Trawl Survey Manager

Pearse Webster

Pearse is the chief scientist for field work conducted by the Coastal Trawl Survey. He handles permits, accounting, gear, cruise logistics, taxonomy, and histology. His interests include fabrication of custom gear and application of technology to sampling issues. He joined the survey and started trawling offshore in 1988, but started at MRRI in 1987 monitoring ingress of penaeid shrimp postlarvae.

Degree: B.S. Biology (College of Charleston)

Office: 843-953-9222


D. Byron White

D. Byron White

After 34 years of service to the SCDNR, Byron retired in September 2022. We wish him the most fun hunting and fishing adventures in his well-deserved retirement.

C. Michelle Willis, Data Management, Life History Biologist

C. Michelle Willis

Michelle oversees the Reef Fish Survey's data management team and has a primary focus on database development and archival data/metadata management. She assists with life history studies through age determination of priority species and participates in offshore research cruises. Michelle's interests include the design and implementation of data management strategies, database design, and programming, Darwin Core data standards, as well as early life history of snappers and groupers. She is also the section’s contact for data and sample requests. She has been with the survey since 2010.

Degrees: B.S. Marine Biology (College of Charleston); M.S. Organizational Data Management (Charleston Southern University)

Office: 843-953-9054


David Wyanski, Histology Lead Biologist

David Wyanski

David oversees the reproductive biology aspect of Reef Fish Survey studies of reef fish life history, serves as a chief scientist on research cruises, and participates in regional stock assessments. His other research interests include the taxonomy, movements, and feeding ecology of marine fishes. He has been with the survey since 1989.

Degrees: B.A. Zoology (University of Maine), M.A. Marine Science (Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

Office: 843-953-9065


Amy Zimney, Database Manager

Amy assists with field research, data management, statistical analysis, and the dissemination of project results for the Coastal Trawl Survey. Her research interests include marine ecology and trophic dynamics. In addition to the South Atlantic, Amy has research experience in Hawaii, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest. She has been with the survey since 2015.

Degrees: B.S. Wildlife Ecology (Washington State University); M.S. Marine Mammal Science (University of St Andrews, Scotland)

Office: 843-953-9582