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 | Brittany Parker
| Shaun Swartz | Breege Boyer | Chelsea Conley | Lauren Breza | Darien Bush | Courtney Cox | Tanner Morris

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 is 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...)

Brittany ParkerBRITTANY 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. Brittany is now one of our USCG Master Captains in addition to being a MarineLab Field Instructor.

Shaun SwartzSHAUN 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. He is now taking care of MarineLab's Facebook and Instagram pages.

BreegeBREEGE BOYER, Field Instructor
Breege developed a passion for marine science at a young age, growing up along the New Jersey coastline.  She attended a high school that specialized in marine science.  She chose to come to college and study marine science here in Florida where it is warm year round.  While in school, Breege studied abroad in Baja, Mexico and Roatan, Honduras.  She also developed a passion for teaching while in school and decided she wanted to teach future generations about conserving the ocean.

Chelsea ConleyCHELSEA CONLEY, Field Instructor

Growing up fishing, boating and swimming on the coast of Central Florida, Chelsea quickly grew a love for marine organisms and knew she wanted to become a marine biologist at a very young age. She earned a B.S. degree in Marine Biology from the University of South Florida. During college, she studied brittle star populations in the Tampa Bay, and she studied the dermal denticles, or scales, of the shortfin mako shark. Chelsea also interned at the Florida Aquarium in the Husbandry Department. After graduating, Chelsea has been able to combine her love for marine science and for teaching through different classroom, coaching and outdoor education positions. She has coached gymnastics and worked as a summer camp counselor for over 6 years. More recently, she has worked as a teaching assistant for children with special needs, a marine science instructor at Seacamp, and an environmental educator at Camp Thunderbird. Chelsea has a BS in Biology with a concentration in marine biology.

LaurenLAUREN BREZA, Field Instructor

Lauren Breza is a New Jersey native but has fulfilled her dream of living in the Florida Keys for the past year and a half. During her time in the Keys, she has worked with US Fish and Wildlife monitoring endangered species at the National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge on Big Pine Key, and has worked as an Education Specialist at a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation facility in Marathon. Before moving to the keys, Lauren studied Biology with a focus in environmental education at Elizabethtown College in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Lauren has always loved the water and has found any way to get near the ocean. This includes positions with local aquariums, marine science camps, and even an extended stay in the Turks and Caicos Islands. During her semester at the Center for Marine Resource Studies, Lauren conducted a directed research project on the effects of water quality on juvenile lemon sharks. Lauren is thrilled to be calling MarineLab her new home after first attending Marinelab as a high school student! She credits Marinelab with her desire to teach students about the ocean environment that drew her to a career in marine science so many years ago! 

Darien BushDARIEN BUSH, Field Instructor

Even though she hails from the North, Darien has always had a passion for marine biology.  At 13 years old, Darien received her Open Water diving certification and her interest in oceans and marine life has only grown since then.  She graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI with a B.S. in Biology and soon thereafter moved to the Florida Keys to work at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Tropical Research Laboratory in their Reef Restoration internship program.  She has also previously worked at Seacamp in Big Pine.  When she isn’t exploring the oceans, you can find her crafting away – painting and practicing her calligraphy. 

CourtneyCOURTNEY COX, Field Instructor

Courtney grew up in the northland state of Minnesota. Despite growing up in a landlocked state, she grew up SCUBA diving and on boats, traveling to many different places of the world to do so. She graduated from Eckerd College with a BS in Marine Science (biology) and Psychology in 2014, where she conducted a senior thesis on mother-calf pairs in bottlenose dolphins within Boca Ciega Bay, FL. She has worked with the FWC Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab, Mote Marine Lab Dolphin & Whale Hospital, Eckerd College Dolphin Project, and the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization, to name a few. Courtney has extensive boat driving experience and loves being on and around the water any chance she gets. Before coming to MarineLab Courtney was living in Maui, Hawaii where she was a Marine Naturalist/Team Leader for the Pacific Whale Foundation. She likes to say “An adventure a day keeps the doctor away!” You can find Courtney freediving or rockrunning in her free time, and she loves to adventure and explore!

Tanner MorrisTANNER MORRIS, Field Instructor

Tanner developed a passion for the ocean while attending Arlington High School in which he participated in their Marine Biology club all four years. Through the club, he attended trips down to the Florida Keys to learn about marine science. Tanner participated in various programs throughout the Keys, including some of the programs offered at MarineLab! After high school, he decided to attend Eckerd College and received a BS in Marine Science. Tanner was also one of ten students in his college to be the first group of college students to conduct ecological research with the University of Havana in Cuba over the summer of 2015.  Feel free to approach Tanner with any marine science questions you may have!


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.


Coordinator/Administrative Assistant

Yves just joined the MarineLab team in February 2016. She has an extensive background managing hotel operations for the Air Force as a civilian services professional. Born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany by a German father and Filipino mother, she moved to the US in 2000. She spent 13.5 years in Wyoming and a year in Alaska, and decided to move to south Florida after having to shovel a foot of snow on May 1, 2013. She relocated to the Keys in September 2015. Yves is a photographer, and in her spare time she can be found on a beach somewhere taking pictures of sunrises and sunsets, or traveling around the state of Florida.

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.  



Proud Pro Purchase Partner
Disney Conservation Fund
Grant Recipient



Ocean Reef Conservation Association Grant Recipient