As the Science Advisor and Coordinator for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council) I work with teams of scientists from Federal and State agencies working in the Gulf of Mexico to write science, data management, monitoring, and restoration plans.

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.  My research used plasma metabolites and mark-recapture modeling to study the stopover ecology of near-arctic breeding shorebirds.

Living in coastal Louisiana, arguably the front line of environmental issues facing our nation, has afforded me a unique perspective on the importance of advocating for the protection of wild places. 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 educational levels has developed my passion to inspire and educate others in both academic and public outreach settings on the importance of conservation and biodiversity.

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.