CCMI adds to team of professionals at the Little Cayman Research Centre
With a new year and new opportunities on the horizon, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI), Cayman’s coral reef research centre based in Little Cayman, is pleased to welcome new staff members in January and February. Hailing from a variety of backgrounds and locations, they will add to the existing team of professionals, infusing skills and knowledge that continues elevating CCMI in the pursuit of becoming a Centre of Scientific Excellence.
“Since 1998, CCMI has strived to become a region leading marine research institute. Part of that process to achieve high level results is bringing the right people onto the team. We are excited to welcome Dr. Terri Seron and Tom Pegram to Little Cayman at this time. Their unique backgrounds and experiences complement those of our current team, and we are ready to work with them to achieve our vision of a world with vibrant oceans and healthy coral reefs,” stated Director of Advancement, Kate Holden.
Dr. Terri Seron, Education Manager
Dr. Terri Seron is an avid scuba diver and divemaster who has studied corals, sea turtles, and bottlenose dolphins, and she has explored coral reefs all around the world. She grew up in Connecticut, USA, and completed her BS degree in Biology at the University of Connecticut. Terri received her PhD from the University of Florida (UF), where she combined molecular biology with Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Her pre- and post-doctoral research at UF’s Whitney Lab included cloning and expressing genes from marine organisms, including fluorescent proteins from corals.
As a professor for the past 14 years, Terri established a Natural Sciences Department and developed a science curriculum based on coastal environmental science and biology for Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. Dolphin Biology and Shipwreck Ecology in Bermuda are just two examples of courses she created that immersed students in authentic scientific research above and below water. Terri brings her vast experience in scientific research, curriculum development, and teaching to expand and invigorate the marine education programs at CCMI. Her persistent goal in designing and delivering science courses is to encourage the students to think like a scientist by asking questions and seeking data-driven answers. She hopes to inspire all her students to experience the spectacular biodiversity on planet Earth, protect the environment, and bravely do more than they think they can.
Tom Pegram, Field Station Manager
As the new Field Station Manager, Tom Pegram brings his background in marine biology, having graduated from Newcastle University in 2009, and a love of scuba diving and the underwater world to the LCRC team. Prior to his arrival in Cayman in 2021, Tom most recently spent a year in Indonesia as a scuba instructor, managed a dive operation on the remote Pacific island of Niue, and worked two years as a marine biologist in the Maldives, where he managed coral restoration projects.
Tom is a self-proclaimed jack of all trades, having worked with anything from monitoring algae and zooplankton for Anglian Water in the UK to photo identification of humpback whales, manta, and turtles. He has volunteered in nightingale surveys and worked in roles that included servicing dive equipment and compressors. His wide range of talents and skills will come in handy at the field station in Little Cayman.
A keen diver and conservationist, Tom spends his time engaging people with the ocean. As a manager and instructor, he has a strong focus on safety and delivering quality work in whatever he does.
Research Manager will arrive in 2021
In addition, CCMI will also welcome a new Research Manager in 2021 to support of the growth of organisation’s research programme, in particular, the newly created Reef Ecology and Evolution Laboratory (REEL) for the LCRC, which was first announced at Festival of Seas 2019 by Dr Goodbody-Gringley, CCMI’s Director of Research. Projects of REEL focus on understanding how ecosystems function in order to maintain biodiversity. Using a combination of large-scale in situ ecological surveys, small-scale laboratory experiments, and molecular ecology, we examine population structure, reproductive ecology, and genetic connectivity on tropical coral reef ecosystems, ranging from shallow inshore reefs to the mesophotic zone. Both theoretical and applied, the research conducted by the REEL group will advance our understanding of how coral reefs and all the organisms that reside there will not only survive, but thrive, under future environmental conditions. The research manager on site will primarily work to ensure REEL projects are delivered while also offering support to other efforts such as the Women In Ocean Science Award programme and work conducted by visiting researchers at the LCRC.
“The addition of Tom, Terri, and a new research manager to CCMI this year will help progress our efforts as we grow the research programme and continue to offer high quality marine science education experiences to students both locally and from abroad,” states Dr. Goodbody-Gringley. “Cultivating a core team of energized professionals helps us focus on our mission of saving coral reefs for the future.”