Jace Tunnell

Jace Tunnell

NERRA Vice President & Manager

Jace serves as vice president of NERRA and video making inspiration for the NERR System. As director of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve in Texas, Jace focuses on habitat protection, conservation, and environmental education and outreach. In 2018, he launched the now global citizen science project, Nurdle Patrol, in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic reaching the oceans.

Jace came to the Reserve from the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program. As director of research and planning, he worked with habitat restoration and water quality initiatives throughout the Coastal Bend region.

Jace has written various scientific publications on plastics, freshwater inflows and ecosystem services, and in 2015 published a book on archaeological sites in the Coastal Bend. 

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Vertebrate Biology and a Master of Science in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. 

Nikki Dix

Nikki Dix

Secretary & Research Director

 

 

 

 

 

Nikki Dix is NERRA’s secretary and the research director at Florida’s Guana Tolomato Matanzas Reserve, where she establishes research priorities and oversees long-term monitoring in the context of regional, state, and national objectives. She also facilitates activities of visiting researchers and works to develop collaborations between scientists, managers, educators, and the public.

Nikki’s research interests involve understanding how estuaries respond to natural and anthropogenic change with the intent of informing natural resource management. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Florida where she was supported by a NERR fellowship to study responses of plankton and oysters to eutrophication in the GTM estuary. 

Jennifer Raulin

Jennifer Raulin

Executive Committee Member at Large & Manager

Jennifer Raulin is NERRA’s Executive Committee member at large and manager of the Chesapeake Bay Reserve in Maryland. There she oversees Reserve operations, natural resource management, and program development in research, education, stewardship, and training.

With a 14+ year history of stewarding natural resources in the Chesapeake Bay, Jenn brings a wealth of experienced in coastal management and government administration to her role at the Reserve. She brings the same measured experience, responsibility, and professional integrity to her work at NERRA. 

Jenn has been with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources since 2008, originally serving as a natural resources planner. She has both her Bachelor’s of Science and Master of Science from the University of Miami, where she studied Marine Affairs & Policy in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Lisa Auermuller

Lisa Auermuller

NERRA Past President & Assistant Manager

Lisa Auermuller has been the Watershed Coordinator for the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JC NERR) in Tuckerton, New Jersey, since 2002. Lisa’s role includes assessing the needs of coastal decision makers and assembling training opportunities through JC NERR’s Coastal Training Program. These programs are designed to better inform decision makers through the use of science-based applied research, visualization tools and best practices. Most recently, Lisa’s primary areas of interest have coastal community vulnerability and resilience as they relate to current and future coastal hazards. Lisa has worked with a variety of partners and stakeholders to develop tools and protocols to help communities understand their risks, plan for those risks and put resiliency, mitigation and adaptation measures into place. Lisa oversees a team of Coastal Resilience Specialists who work one-on-one with municipal staff and elected and appointed officials to assess municipal vulnerability and risk, facilitate a resilience preparedness and planning assessment process and to recommend implementation options at short and long-term scales. Lisa’s work combines natural and social science aspects of the coastal decision making process.

Keith Laakkonen

Keith Laakkonen

NERRA President & Manager

 

 

 

 


As vice president of the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association, Keith is a strong advocate for estuaries and our Reserve System. As director of the Rookery Bay Reserve in Naples, Florida, he is responsible for administration and supervision of the 110,000-acres and more than 30 employees involved in research, education, and coastal stewardship. Keith also serves as the state’s regional administrator for aquatic preserves in Southwest Florida, with oversight for field offices and staff in Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor and Estero Bay.

Keith’s interests include watershed management and restoration, species management, wildlife ecology, prescribed fire management, hydrologic restoration, exotic plant and animal management, and environmental education and outreach. He began his career as an intern conducting research on American alligators with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit in Gainesville.

With 20 years of experience, Keith worked for the Town of Fort Myers Beach, Charlotte Harbor State Buffer Preserve, St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic and Buffer Preserve, and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve. He was also the Stewardship Coordinator at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve from 2005 to 2007. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Florida in 1998 and recently completed his Master’s Degree at Florida Gulf Coast University with a focus on environmental policy. Keith is also an avid birder and fisherman.

Phone: 239-530-5942
Email: keith.laakkonen@dep.state.fl.us

Mike DeLuca

Mike DeLuca

NERRA Chair of Government Affairs & Manager

As chair of government affairs, Mike provides input on the strategic direction of the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association and guidance of strategies to engage federal partners and educate Congress. He also provides executive management and leadership for New Jersey’s Jacques Cousteau reserve and the Aquaculture Innovation and Coastal Exploration Centers at Rutgers University. His work encompasses the design and management of large-scale research initiatives, science education and service programs, government relations, marine and coastal science policy, and major field facilities. Mike is currently leading efforts to address New Jersey’s most critical coastal management issues, including the restoration of coastal ecosystems and communities in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, development of science-based strategies to enhance future resilience of coastal areas, design of innovative approaches to science-based management of coastal systems, management of marine protected areas, and restoration of the Barnegat Bay watershed. He has led initiatives that leverage environmental sampling and sensing networks to inform coastal management and enrich science education and advance aquaculture in the Mid-Atlantic region. Mike is chair of the Public Policy Committee and President-Elect of the National Association of Marine Laboratories, and he has served as NERRA president, chair of the Science and Technical Advisory Committee for the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program, and member of the Heinz Center Panel on Innovations in Coastal Zone Management.

Executive Committee