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Meet our staff!

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

Sarah Egner, Director
Billy Norfolk | Darien Bush |Tanner Morris | Rachel Carlson | Maria Laukaitis |
Madalen Howard | Patrick Malloy | Anna Simmons | Emily Volkmann | Emma Thomson

Ginette Hughes, CEO | JoAnn Smenda, Business Manager & Treasurer

Sarah Egner

Sarah Egner, Director
BS Biology, Wake Forest University
MS Marine Science, University of South Florida

Sarah is responsible for the content of our curriculum, and spends much time keeping up with current research to ensure that MarineLab's discussions and labs are always up to date! She is also responsible for developing new programs. Sarah is published in various scientific journals. 

Billy Norfolk
Billy Norfolk,
Lead Field Instructor,
Undersea Laboratory Education Specialist

Darien Bush
Darien Bush,
Lead Field Instructor,

Tanner Morris
Tanner Morris, Field Instructor

Rachel Carson
Rachel Carlson, Field Instructor

Maria Laukaitis
Maria Laukaitis, Field Instructor

Maddie Howard
Madalen Howard, Field Instructor

Patrick Malloy
Patrick Malloy, Field Instructor

Anna Simmons
Anna Simmons, Field Instructor

Emily Volkman
Emily Volkmann, Field Instructor

Emma Thomson

Emma Thomson,
Field Instructor

Emma has been water obsessed since she was born, learning to swim before she even learned to walk.  She was a competitive swimmer for over ten years, all the way up to college when she SCUBA dived for the first time. Diving introduced her to an incredible new world, and as she learned more about the aquatic world, she learned how much help our waters need to stay healthy and knew she would dedicate her life in support of ocean conservation. She studied in Australia for 6 months and was able to dive the Great Barrier Reef, an experience that ignited her love for all things coral reef related. Emma combined her passions for coral reefs and SCUBA diving in an internship with the Coral Restoration Foundation in Key Largo just after graduating. After spending over a year at CRF, Emma sought to expand her knowledge of not only the Florida Keys reef tract, but the entire Florida Keys ecosystem by becoming an instructor with MarineLab! She is very excited to continue to learn every day, and be able to live and work with the environments she is most passionate about.

GinetteHughesGinette Hughes, CEO
B Business Administration, Florida Int'l Univ.

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. Ms. Hughes was recently promoted to Chief Executive Officer and will expand her duties in long range planning and fundraising as President Ian Koblick phases into retirement. 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 racing and cruising sailor.

JoAnn SmendaJoAnn Smenda, Treasurer & Business Office Manager
AA Business Administration, Univ. Cincinnati

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.



ColumbiaMarineLab is a proud participant in the Columbia ProPurchase Plan. Our staff members depend on their Columbia shirts and outerwear for protection against the elements in the course of their daily jobs!


Emily Volkmann grew up in Wisconsin where she spent her days building sandcastles and exploring the banks of Lake Michigan. She attended Smith College and enjoyed a transformative junior year with the School for Field Studies in Turks and Caicos and the Williams-Mystic Maritime program. These hands on experiences helped solidify her interest in marine ecology and conservation and hooked Emily onto a life filled with diving, teaching, and all things ocean related. They also led her to the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures program where she taught for a summer in Belize. After graduating in May 2016 with a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Science and Policy, Emily enjoyed an internship with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation where she discovered MarineLab. In her free time Emily enjoys diving, playing volleyball, card games, and spreading her love of the ocean!
Anna was born and raised in landlocked Indiana, fostering her passion for nature and wildlife at Lake Michigan and surrounding national park. She earned her BS in Biology from Ball State University. As an intern at the John G. Shedd Aquarium, Anna expanded her knowledge of the natural history and biology of fresh and saltwater fish species, utilizing that knowledge as a volunteer diver for the Shedd’s annual fish collection trip in the Bahamas. Anna followed her passion for marine life to Key Largo, working as an intern and intern leader with REEF Environmental Education Foundation. Her experience garnered through REEF led Anna to Belize, where she led lionfish surveys for a nationwide lionfish management program with the non-profit, Blue Ventures. Anna continued to work with them as a field scientist for their expeditions program, training volunteers in coral reef ecology and research. Anna is excited to work with MarineLab and gain more experience teaching middle school and high school students and sharing with them her love for the ocean!
Patrick grew up in Cleveland, Ohio but moved to Florida to attend Florida Gulf Coast University because he was drawn to its strong focus on environmental sustainability. He first realized his love for Marine Biology when he took a summer class sponsored by the Florida Institute of Oceanography in which he traveled to five different coastal universities around Florida to participate in research and field work. After graduating from FGCU with a B.S in Environmental Studies and a Biology minor, he worked as a Marine Science Instructor at Seacamp in Big Pine Key, FL. Patrick also worked this past summer at Sanibel Sea School in Fort Myers, and most recently as a Park Ranger at Lovers Key State Park.
Madalen grew up in Tennessee and has enjoyed taking advantage of opportunities to have fun and spend time outside. As a kid she spent lots of time hiking and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains. She is the third of four kids and swimming has been a part of her family’s life since before she was born (her parents met at their local pool)! She is very comfortable and content in the water, serving as a lifeguard and swim instructor for 7+ years. She attended the College of Charleston in South Carolina where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. Outside of class, she volunteered as a camp counselor at the Knoxville zoo, which led to a zoo aide internship at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. After graduation she interned at Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida where she worked with sharks, fishes, invertebrates, birds, and dolphins! Throughout these experiences she learned about animal training, husbandry, conservation, rehabilitation, and research, and developed a passion for education and conservation. She is a self declared science nerd and is excited to share and explore ocean ecosystems as a MarineLab Instructor.
Since Rachel grew up in Wisconsin far away from the ocean, she really developed a strong interest in marine life during her first trip out to the coral reefs down in Key West. Since then she spent a summer as a Camp Counselor at SeaWorld and traveled to Australia to work for Sea Turtle Foundation. After earning her B.S. in Biology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Rachel started working for Newfound Harbor Marine Institute in Big Pine Key then went on to teach the summer camp programs at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. She started with MarineLab in September 2016.
Billy grew up in Northern Virginia where he spent most of his time in the pool as a competitive swimmer. He swam for the University of Mary Washington where his aquatic lifestyle quickly developed into a passion for marine biology. Following undergraduate work, he attended George Mason University where he studied disease dynamics of Caribbean coral reefs. While completing his graduate research, Billy interned with the Coral Restoration Foundation working to cultivate and restore critically endangered coral species throughout the Florida Keys. In addition to coral research, Billy has worked as an environmental science instructor as well as a competitive swim coach for many years. On his days off, you can find Billy diving the local reefs, kayaking through the mangroves, or preparing for his next big swimming race.
Maria grew up in Bethesda, Maryland as a very active and outdoorsy child, so it was no surprise to her or her family that she naturally headed towards an environmental science career through high school and into college. While in school, during the summers she worked various internships, including the opportunity to research the political issue of marine debris at the Environmental Protection Agency and the chance to raise and work with sea ducklings at the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge. Maria spent one semester studying abroad in New Zealand where she fell in love with its amazing variety of ecosystems as she learned and explored, and of course indulged in some thrills (climbing deep through glow worm caves, snowboarding down a volcano, and jumping out of a plane)! After graduating with her BS in Biology from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, she spent 7 months working for Newfound Harbor Marine Institute (Seacamp) down in Big Pine Key, where she became hooked on the idea of sharing her love of the natural world with students of all ages while working out in the sun and the waves.
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!
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.