Love Your Lagoon Event
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HBOIF President & CEO, Katha Kissman and DEP Southeast District Director, Jason Andreotta 
accepting the award for Governor Ron DeSantis


The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation
Presents its 2020 Leadership and Achievement Award to 
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
At Ninth Annual Love Your Lagoon Event

VERO BEACH, FL. (February 10, 2020): At its February 7, 2020 “Love Your Lagoon” event, the Board of Directors of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation (HBOIF) presented its 2020 Leadership and Achievement Award Honoree to Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis.

Ronald "Ron" Dion DeSantis has served as the 46th governor of Florida since 2019. After graduating from Yale University and Harvard Law School, DeSantis served as an officer and attorney in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy (JAG) and then represented Florida's 6th congressional district in Congress from 2013 to 2018. At age 41, DeSantis is the youngest incumbent governor of a U.S. state.

“During his short time in office, Governor DeSantis has ensured a record $625 million in water-related projects for the State of Florida. The Governor’s strong environmental record to date made Governor DeSantis our logical choice to consider for our honor this year,” stated HBOIF President & CEO Katha Kissman on behalf of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Accepting the award on behalf of Governor DeSantis was Florida Department of Environmental Protection Southeast Director, Mr. Jason Andreotta.

Traditionally, HBOIF has named an honoree at each of its previous events. Past honorees have included the Florida environmental pioneer, Nathaniel Reed (2012); The late, great land and lagoon protector, Alto “Bud” Adams, Jr. of Adams Ranch (2013); Vero’s First Lady, Alma Lee Loy (2014); lagoon and oceans advocate, Florida Oceanographic Society’s Mark Perry (2015); the Smithsonian’s early lagoon researcher and champion Dr. Mary Rice (2016); the woman who coined the name “Indian River Lagoon” as well as founding the Marine Resources Council, Diane Barile (2017).  

In 2018 the HBOIF “Love Your Lagoon” honorees were the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University (HBOI) Principal Investigators proudly funded by HBOIF: Matt Ajemian, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor; Steve Burton, M.S., Marine Mammal Stranding Manager; Laurent Chérubin, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor; Fraser Dalgleish, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor; Nick Dickens, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor; Esther Guzmán, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor; Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D., Research Professor & Director of Marine Ecosystem Health Research; Mingshun Jiang, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor; Brian Lapointe, Ph.D., Research Professor; Susan Laramore, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor; Marilyn Mazzoil, B.S., Research Associate; Peter McCarthy, Ph.D., Research Professor & Associate Director for Education; Greg O’Corry-Crowe, Ph.D., Research Professor; Bing Ouyang, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor; Annie Page-Karjian, DVM, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor/Clinical Veterinarian; Shirley Pomponi, Ph.D., Research Professor & Executive Director, NOAA Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research & Technology; John Reed, M.Sc., Research Professor; Marty Riche, Ph.D., Research Professor; Adam Schaefer, M.P.H., Research Coordinator & Epidemiologist; Jim Sullivan, Ph.D., Research Professor; Michael Twardowski, Ph.D., Research Professor; Joshua Voss, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor; Anni Vuorenkoski Dalgleish, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor; Guojun Wang, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor; Paul Wills, Ph.D., Research Professor & Associate Director for Research; and Amy Wright, Ph.D., Research Professor. Their collective and collaborative research and activities have contributed to a healthier Indian River Lagoon for us all. In 2019, former Senate President Joe Negron was honored for his care and commitment to solving problems facing the health of the Indian River Lagoon.

The ninth annual event took place at Oak Harbor on Friday, February 7, 2020, raising critical funding to benefit research and outreach on the Indian River Lagoon by the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at FAU (HBOI). Once again, the work of local graduate students conducting research on the Indian River Lagoon will continue, thanks to proceeds from HBOIF’s highly successful “Love Your Lagoon” event.

Proceeds from the event will fund the 2020 Indian River Lagoon Graduate Research Fellows program, supporting the work of graduate students involved in direct Indian River Lagoon research at HBOI. Each student will be mentored by an HBOI Faculty Member at the HBOI campus. The competitive process will result in support for salary, tuition, travel to present research, and/or necessary materials. Fellows will ultimately present their research at the 2020 Indian River Lagoon Symposium as well as the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Science Graduate Research Day.

In addition, proceeds from this year’s event will support the 2020 Indian River Lagoon Symposium: Reassessing IRL Biodiversity. The Indian River Lagoon Symposium is a multi-institutional, multi-agency effort to provide a forum for discussing Indian River Lagoon science and its application to management of the lagoon. To be held February 13 and 14, 2020 at HBOI, the Symposium is attended by more than 600 over the course of two days.

Sponsors for this year’s “Love Your Lagoon” included: Mangrove Sponsors: Mr. Joseph Z. Duke, III and Mrs. Jennifer Johnson Duke; Mr. Michael O’Reilly and Mrs. Marie O’Reilly. Seagrass Sponsors: Ms. Marjorie Raines and Mr. Harold Baker; Dolphin Sponsors: Mr. Michael Brown, Sr. and Mrs. Mimi Brown; William J. Stewart, Esq. and Mrs. Laurie Kaneb Stewart and the Law Firm of Rossway Swan Tierney Barry Lacey & Oliver, P.L.; Mr. Michael Toner and Mrs. Carol Toner. Manatee Sponsors: Mr. Robert E. Campbell and Mrs. Joan M. Campbell; Florida Power & Light; Dr. Ed Lippisch and Mrs. Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch; Mr. Ed Michelson and the Atlanta Consulting Group; RedSteel Properties; Wells Fargo; Westmark Construction Company. Seahorse Sponsors: Mrs. Boots Carter and The Lucille B. & John A. Carter Family Foundation, Inc.; Dale Sorensen Real Estate; Dr. Joseph Ferro and Mrs. Olivia Ferro; Flare Media; Mr. George Frazza and Mrs. Marie Frazza; Ms. Katha Kissman; Kmetz, Elwell, Graham & Associates, PLLC; Metz, Husband & Daughton, P.A.; The Mikita Foundation; Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums – ORA; Mr. John Papa and Mrs. Barbara Papa; Mr. James Seitz and Mrs. Bonnie Seitz; Mr. Ed Tapley & Mrs. Isabelle Tapley; Vero Insurance; and Adams Ranch.

​   HBOIF Funded 2019 Indian River Lagoon Graduate Research Fellows

The 2019 HBOIF Indian River Lagoon Graduate Research Fellows 
with HBOIF’s President & CEO, Katha Kissman, HBOIF Board Chair Mike O’Reilly 
and FAU Harbor Branch’s Dr. Peter McCarthy



                                                               2012 Nathaniel Reed (deceased)                                                                  
                                                               2013 Alto “Bud” Adams, Jr. (deceased)
                                                               2014 Alma Lee Loy
                                                               2015 Mark Perry
                                                               2016 Dr. Mary Rice
                                                               2017 Diane Barile
                                                               2018 The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute 
                                                                        Principal Investigators
                                                               2019 Former Senate President Joe Negron


About Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation:
The mission of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation is to support Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, a research institute of Florida Atlantic University. Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation (HBOIF) supports marine science and engineering research and education by funding HBOI-FAU efforts to advance understanding of oceans and coastal areas through exploration and scientific inquiry. For more information, visit

About Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute: 
Founded in 1971, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University is a research community of marine scientists, engineers, educators and other professionals focused on Ocean Science for a Better World. The institute drives innovation in ocean engineering, at-sea operations, drug discovery and biotechnology from the oceans, coastal ecology and conservation, marine mammal research and conservation, aquaculture, ocean observing systems and marine education. For more information, visit