As the Science Advisor and Coordinator for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) I manage and coordinate teams of scientists from Federal and State agencies focused on Gulf of Mexico coastal restoration to advance science, monitoring, and restoration planning at watershed and regional scales. In this role I also represent the RESTORE Council science staff on interagency working groups and coordination forums that include Federal and State agencies, academic consortiums, and stakeholder committees from around the Gulf of Mexico.

Jessica Henkel with Semipalmated SandpiperMy dissertation research focused on how environmental changes and habitat degradation are impacting the coastal habitats of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and the effects these changes are having on the bird populations that migrate through them.

Living in coastal Louisiana, arguably the front line of environmental issues facing our nation, has afforded me a unique perspective on the importance of advancing the protection and restoration of coastal habitats. In my research I have seen first hand the impacts that environmental and human mediated disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, can have on wildlife, as well as on communities that rely on healthy ecosystems to make their living. This perspective, coupled with my experience working with individuals from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, has developed my passion to facilitate the use of science-based decision-making in the implementation of coastal restoration across state, federal and non-governmental organizations.

Audubon Nature Institute’s Junior Keepers learn about aging a bird according to plumage quality at one of my study site in Dauphin Island, AL.
Audubon Nature Institute’s Junior Keepers learn how to extract shorebirds from mist nets at Dauphin Island, AL.