Meet our staff!

MarineLab is very proud of its staff. They're the best part of MarineLab!

Jessica Pulfer, Education Director | Sarah Egner, Research Director | Chris Olstad, Habitat Operations Director
| Lizzie McNamee | Tommy Paige | Christopher Driver | Sarah Kazarnowicz | Ryan Stolee
Brittany Parker | Ellie Splain | Shaun Swartz

Ginette Hughes, Senior Vice President | JoAnn Smenda, Business Manager & Treasurer
Liz Wood, Administrative Assistant
| Dan Shingledecker, Maintenance Director

Jessica began her MarineLab career in 2005 as a Marine Science Field Instructor. Now the Director of Education, she is ultimately responsible for the day to day MarineLab operations, including overseeing our dive program. (more...)

Director, Research & Development
Sarah recently became Director in charge of our Research & Development programs. Sarah is also an Assistant Director for MarineLab and is in charge of our curriculum, in addition to standing in when Jessica is not available. (more)

Habitat Operations Director
Chris is our Habitat Operations Director but also takes a turn now and again in our MarineLab program as an instructor. Chris has been with MarineLab the longest, having started in 1985. (more...)

LizzieLIZZIE MCNAMEE, Field Instructor
Lizzie started diving when she was 12 years old. During college, she interned at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Right after college, Lizzie moved to the Turks and Caicos Islands where she worked as a divemaster and research assistant at the School for Field Studies. Since then, she acquired her SCUBA Instructor’s certification and worked at Ocean Divers in Key Largo, FL. She took a short hiatus to work for Sail Caribbean, a teen sailing/marine science program based out of Tortola, British Virgin Islands, where she captained the boat and taught sailing and marine biology. Lizzie has a BA in Marine Science from Boston University and is originally from Massachusetts.

TommyTOMMY PAIGE, Field Instructor
After graduating college in 2008, Tommy has worked in several different places in the Keys and the mountains. First he worked at Newfound Harbor Marine Institute (NHMI) as an instructor, but then he moved back to the mountains to teach at The Mountain Institute. He camped with students for at least a week in the Monongahela National Forest. The Keys called him back, however, and he came back to work on a dive boat in Key West. He also had a job as a tropical fish collector, capturing and transporting fish, sharks and stingrays throughout North America. Most recently, he was the SCUBA Director at NHMI/SeaCamp before landing here at MarineLab. Tommy has a BS in Environmental Science from Davis & Elkins College. He hails from West Virginia.

Chris DriverCHRIS DRIVER, Field Instructor
While in college, Chris served in many internships and labs through his school. He studied oceanography at the University of Southampton in England, worked with Sea Turtles at Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital and Rehab Center in Topsail Island, NC, and participated in research projects under his professors.  Chris worked as a lifeguard and a swim coach for many years. After graduation he guided children as a field instructor and a summer camp counselor through one of South Carolina’s National Forests. He introduced them to their first-time experiences with barrier islands, marine life, and boating activities. It was through these experiences that Chris decided to educate students about their local marine ecosystems. Chris has a BS in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina - Wilmington.

Sarah KazarnowiczSARAH KAZARNOWICZ, Field Instructor
While in college, Sarah developed a love for the ocean during her undergraduate work in the Deep Sea Marine lab where she was able to study deep sea coral and tubeworm communities. Sarah also studied abroad in Australia where she was able to see some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world! After graduation, Sarah headed down to Big Pine Key to educate young students about the local Florida environments. Sarah helped students cultivate a love for the ocean as passionate as hers. Sarah has a BS degree from Temple University's Honors Program in Biology.

Ryan StoleeRYAN STOLEE, Field Instructor
Ryan brings a unique perspective to MarineLab's staff. After graduating Calvin College with a degree in International Relations/Political Science with a minor in Environmental Studies, Ryan set off to continue his experiences in different countries and environments from what he grew up with in Minnesota. Settling in the Bahamas for around 7 years, he worked at an educational environmental field station on Andros Island, leading marine and terrestrial programs as the Education Director. It was in the Bahamas that Ryan began scuba diving (and snorkeling, for that matter), and received his Divemaster certification - allowing him to experience and lead dives on one of the largest barrier reefs in the world. He also had the opportunity to take off some summers to work with a teen volunteer organization leading groups in the British Virgin Islands on development projects for the community there. Most recently, he worked with an organization in Costa Rica as a Research Assistant for a leatherback turtle nesting project.

Brittany Parker BRITTANY PARKER, Field Instructor
Brittany is another instructor who hails from a landlocked state, this time in Ohio. However, she went to school at the University of Tampa and holds a BS in Marine Biology & Biology. She has studied in Roatan and worked for Newfound Harbor Marine Institute on Big Pine Key and for the Sanibel Sea School in Sanibel, FL. She helped create a nature center at their Captiva campus.

Ellie Splain ELLIE SPLAIN, Field Instructor
Ellie graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a BS in Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Her SCUBA diving career began at age 15 and sparked her interest in marine science. She completed a semester with the School for Field Studies in South Caicos, Turks & Caicos Islands. Ellie was an intern with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation for the past six months before joining MarineLab as a marine science instructor. She continues to work with a researcher in the Turks & Caicos on a lemon shark population monitoring study.

Shaun Swartz SHAUN SWARTZ, Field Instructor
Shaun has a BS in Biology from Hampden-Sydney College. He grew up surfing in Virginia and North Carolina, and studied in Australia on the Great Barrier Reef. He has worked as a marine educator for several organizations, including the Sanibel Sea School. Shaun is also very interested in photography and social media.

Senior VP, Program Services
MarineLab Coordinator

Ginette has been with MarineLab almost since its inception in 1985. She joined in 1986 as the "booking secretary" and has since expanded her duties, and title, to include overseeing all Marine Resources Development Foundation operations, not just the MarineLab program. Currently, she is responsible for coordinating the day to day activities of the Foundation, including computer resources, human resources, and marketing/public relations, in addition to supervising the program development, planning, and coordination for all programs. She is also responsible for long range program planning for the Foundation, including financial forecasts and budgets. She attended Ohio Wesleyan University before earning her Bachelor's of Business degree from Florida International University. Ginette is a native of New Jersey but has been in the Keys for longer than she was in NJ. She is a diver and a racing and cruising sailor.

JoAnn JOANN SMENDA, Treasurer & Business Office Manager
Ms. Smenda joined the Foundation in 1989, after a succesful 16-year tenure with AT&T in Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio. Currently Treasurer and Business Manager, her past job functions at the Foundation have included Assistant to the President as well as Coordinator of the TEEC facility in South Carolina. Currently, she is responsible for all accounting and payroll functions, expense control, employee benefits, donations, and is instrumental in the overall day to day business operations of the Foundation. JoAnn earned her AA in Business Administration from the University of Cincinnati.  A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she is an avid Indians and Browns fan.


Administrative Assistant
Liz joined the team in 2008. As the MarineLab administrative assistant, she is responsible for billing, collecting forms, and coordinating the cafeteria and housekeeping services needed by MarineLab programs. Liz is a native of Texas but has lived all over the West and Midwest.

Director of Maintenance

Dan is responsible for MarineLab's entire facility, including our boats and motors! He is an experienced maintenance supervisor and trained electrician and Mercury service technician. Dan supervises a staff of two maintenance workers. He is a native of Michigan but moved to Florida long ago.