Dr. Amanda Southwood Williard


I received my BSc (1993) in Marine Biology from Auburn University, and my MSc (1997) and PhD (2002) in Zoology from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.  I conducted post-doctoral research at the NOAA Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, and joined the faculty in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2005.  My research interests are broadly defined as energetics and thermal physiology of reptiles.

 Current Graduate Students

Susan Barco

susan barcoSue received her BSc from the College of William and Mary and her MSc from James Madison University.  She is currently the Senior Scientist and Stranding Coordinator at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach.  Sue’s  PhD research at UNCW involves use of aerial surveys and satellite tracking to refine current estimates of loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) seasonal abundance and distribution in Virginia and Maryland.  Sue is also using tissue samples to assess health and nutritional status of sea turtles in this region.

Juan Manuel Rodriguez Baron


Juanma is a marine conservationist with a BSc in Marine Biology from Jorge Tadeo Lozano University (Colombia) and MSc from Interdisciplinary Center of Marine Sciences (Mexico).  He is the Scientific Director at the JUSTSEA Foundation ( As a Fulbright Scholar, he is conducting his PhD research on the biology and conservation of the highly endangered East Pacific leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). His research combines surveys, satellite telemetry, and physiological studies to assess the impact of fisheries interactions at the organismal and population level.

Tiffany Yang

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Tiffany received her BSc in Marine Biology from UNCW in 2016. Undergraduate research included a directed independent study on biochemical assays for blood samples collected from diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) and an honors thesis on population dynamics of spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias). MSc research focuses on studying the impact of spatio-temporal overlap of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and longline fisheries, with a focus on utilizing blood biochemistry as a physiological indicator of post-release mortality.

Former Graduate Students

Leigh Anne Harden

Leigh Anne HardenLeigh Anne is a 2007 graduate of Davidson College,  where she received a BSc in Biology.  She worked in the Davidson College Herpetology Laboratory where she focused her research on semi-aquatic turtles.  She received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and conducted her PhD research at UNCW on the spatial ecology and overwintering physiology of diamondback terrapins in southeastern North Carolina.  Please follow this link to Leigh Anne’s website if you would like to read more about her current research.

Stephanie Chavez

Stephanie ChavezStephanie graduated from UNCW in 2012 with a BS in Biology and BA in Chemistry.  As an undergraduate, she gained experience in field survey techniques for reptiles and amphibians during a directed individual study project.  Stephanie developed a special interest in marine and estuarine turtles during her internship at the North Carolina Coastal Reserve at Masonboro Island. Her Master’s research focused on the diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), with an emphasis on physiological and conservation aspects of terrapin interactions with crab pots.

James Casey

james caseyJames graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2005.  His graduate research combined the use of satellite-linked data recorders and stomach temperature pills to document leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) foraging behavior.  James received his MSc in Spring of 2010, and is currently teaching Biology at Barnard College in New York.

Lisa Goshe

2 turtles and Lisa1Lisa received her BSc from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and worked for several years at the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Beaufort Laboratory.  Lisa used skeletochronology to assess age and growth in green sea turtles for her MSc research at UNCW.  She received her MSc in Spring 2009.



Jessica Snoddy

Jess 1Jessica received her BSc from Southampton College of Long Island University.  Jessica investigated the behavior and movements of sea turtles released alive from fishing gear, with the ultimate goal of refining post-release mortality estimates used for fisheries management.  She received her MSc in Spring 2009.