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Staff of the Office of Aquaculture

Headquarters Staff

Michael Rubino  |  Susan Bunsick  |  David O'Brien  |   Mike Rust  |  Robert Jones |
Emily Trentacoste  |  Bruce Morehead  |  Kevin Amos

Regional Coordinators

Diane Windham  |  Jess Beck-Stimpert  |  David Alves  |  Laura Hoberecht

Headquarters Staff

Michael Rubino

Dr. Michael Rubino is the Director of the Aquaculture Office in Silver Spring, Maryland. He joined NOAA in late 2004 to lead NOAA’s renewed commitment to marine aquaculture. Dr. Rubino represents the Department of Commerce on the executive committee of the U.S. Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture. Prior to joining NOAA, Dr. Rubino was the manager of New Funds Development for the World Bank's Carbon Finance Group. In the 1990s, Dr. Rubino was at the International Finance Corporation, a private sector affiliate of the World Bank, where he developed renewable energy and biodiversity investment funds. Earlier he was the CEO of an aquaculture R&D company and a partner in a shrimp farm in South Carolina.  Dr. Rubino also served as vice-chairman of the State of Maryland's Aquaculture Advisory Committee. He holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan.  email:

Susan Bunsick 

Susan Bunsick is a Policy Analyst with the NOAA Aquaculture Program, where she leads legislative and regulatory initiatives in support of marine aquaculture. Ms. Bunsick has been supporting NOAA aquaculture activities since 2001, after completing a Master's degree in Marine Policy at the University of Delaware.  While at the university, she co-authored a major study that developed recommendations for a regulatory framework for offshore aquaculture in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.  For most of the 1980s and 1990s, she conducted energy market and industry studies for the Department of Energy.  She began her career as an emergency preparedness specialist and later a budget analyst at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, following completion of an M.A. in Public Affairs from the George Washington University and a B.A. in Public Service from the Pennsylvania State University.  email:

David O'Brien 

David O'Brien serves as the International Coordinator with the  Aquaculture Office.  As a complement to the Program's domestic activities, Mr. O'Brien manages a broad portfolio related to international marine aquaculture management and research activities including working with international partners to exchange information and developing guidelines on sustainable marine aquaculture practices, coordinating exchanges between scientists in the U.S. and abroad, and taking part in the oversight of international treaty obligations. Previously, Mr. O'Brien was the Program Coordinator, a position he held since joining the Program in 2006. A fishery biologist by training, Mr. O'Brien worked for two years as an aquaculture extension agent as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, West Africa prior to joining NOAA in 2000.  Mr. O'Brien has an M.S. in Marine Estuarine and Environmental Science from the University of Maryland.  email: david.o'

Mike Rust 

Dr. Michael Rust is the Science Coordinator for the Aquaculture Office. In this role, Dr. Rust works with NOAA labs and science centers to implement a coordinated aquaculture research strategy across NOAA and in concert with other federal agencies.  This includes coordinating implementation of the NOAA-USDA Alternative Feeds Initiative, the National Aquatic Animal Health Plan, and Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning, among other issues.  Dr. Rust comes to the program from NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center where his research focused on multiple areas of marine aquaculture.  He served as the Program Manager for the Aquaculture Research at the Center, the mission of which is to provide the scientific information and technology needed to create viable, environmentally sustainable marine aquaculture industries and to protect and restore wild fisheries. Dr. Rust has fisheries and aquaculture experience both domestically and internationally, in countries including the Philippines, Haiti, Norway, and Canada. He has degrees from the University of Colorado (environmental biology -- B.S.), University of California, Davis (animal science -- M.S. and international agricultural development -- M.S.) and the University of Washington (fisheries -- Ph.D.).  email:

Robert Jones

Robert Jones serves as the Program Coordinator for the Aquaculture Office.  Prior to joining the Office of Aquaculture, Mr. Jones served as a Foreign Affairs Officer with the U.S. Department of State where he participated in international fisheries negotiations and worked on aquaculture issues.  Mr. Jones has served in diverse roles for NOAA Fisheries over his career, including as an economic analyst for the Gulf Shrimp Fishery and as a Commercial Fisheries Observer in the Mid-Atlantic. He holds a M.S. in Marine Affairs and Policy from University of Miami, where he focused on economic aspects of offshore marine aquaculture of pelagic finfish. email:

Emily Trentacoste

Dr. Emily Trentacoste is the Outreach Coordinator for the Office of Aquaculture. Emily came to the office as the 2014 Knauss Marine Policy Fellow from California Sea Grant. She brings a background and experience in algal research, industry and policy. She received her MS in Marine Biology and PhD in Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego where her dissertation research focused on improving algal biofuels. She is using this background to help build an algae portfolio in the Aquaculture Office. Dr. Trentacoste is originally from the DC area and received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Dartmouth College.


Bruce Morehead 

Bruce Morehead is currently a consultant to the Aquaculture Office.  Prior to joining the Aquaculture Program in 2005, Mr. Morehead worked for the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in a variety of capacities for over 30 years. He held management positions in the areas of fishery development, seafood safety, utilization research, fishery disaster relief and fishery management where he served as Deputy and Acting Director for the NMFS Office of Sustainable Fisheries before retiring from federal service.  From 1995 to 2004, his Sustainable Fisheries Office responsibilities included the coordination of NMFS aquaculture activities. Mr. Morehead holds a M.B.A. from American University and a B.A. from Gettysburg College with a major in Economics. email:

Kevin Amos 

Kevin Amos serves as the Aquatic Animal Health Coordinator for the NOAA Aquaculture Program. Mr. Amos is NOAA’s technical representative on the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture’s Task Force developing the National Aquatic Animal Health Plan in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Recently, he was appointed co-chair of the newly formed working group on the environmental interactions of marine aquaculture (WG-24) under the auspices of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES). Mr. Amos has also served as a consultant to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and as a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee. Prior to his work for NOAA, he directed the Aquatic Animal Health Program for the State of Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. He earned a Master of Science in fish pathology from the University of Idaho. email:


Regional Aquaculture Coordinators (based in NOAA Fisheries Regional Offices)

Diane Windham 

Diane Windham is the Southwest Regional Aquaculture Coordinator for the Aquaculture Office.  She works out of the Sacramento office of NOAA Fisheries Southwest Regional Office in California. Ms. Windham has over 24 years of federal regulatory experience, including 17 years with NOAA Fisheries. Before becoming the Southwest Regional Coordinator, she worked as a Supervisory Fish and Wildlife Biologist at the NOAA Fisheries Sacramento office, working on recovery planning and other Endangered Species Act (ESA) issues. She has an extensive background in the federal ESA regulatory program, including Section 7 and 10 activities, as well as with NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Ms. Windham holds a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.  email:

Jessica Beck-Stimpert

Dr. Jessica Beck-Stimpert has been the Southeast Regional Aquaculture Coordinator for the Aquaculture Office since 2008. She works out of the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office located in St. Petersburg, Florida. As the Regional Aquaculture Coordinator, Dr. Beck-Stimpert works with federal and state agencies, industry, and members of the scientific, academic, and NGO communities on a variety of marine aquaculture issues, including rulemaking for offshore aquaculture operations in Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Prior to this position, she was a Knauss Fellow with the Highly Migratory Species Management Division of NOAA Fisheries. Jessica received an M.S. in Biological Sciences from Florida Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University. Her research focused on feeding behaviors in larval marine finfish and pre-release conditioning of hatchery fish for stock enhancement. Email:

David Alves 

David Alves is the Northeast Regional Coordinator for the NMFS Office of Aquaculture.  He works out of the Northeast Regional Office, located in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Dave works on issues related to fish and shellfish farming, permitting, and policy in the region. Before joining NOAA in 2009, Mr. Alves was the aquaculture coordinator for the State of Rhode Island for 10 years. His expertise included policy, grants and permitting. Prior to that, Mr. Alves was the senior member of the engineering staff at Marine BioTech Inc., in Beverly, Massachusetts. There he designed recirculating aquaculture systems and research animal holding systems for academic and commercial use. Prior to that, Mr. Alves was the aquaculture outreach specialist for the Department of Animal, Veterinary and Animals Sciences at the University of Rhode Island. Mr. Alves received his Masters of Science degree in Zoology at the University of Rhode Island, and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Aquaculture, with a minor in Zoology from the University of Maine-Orono.  email:

Laura Hoberecht 

Dr. Laura Hoberecht is the Northwest Regional Coordinator for the NMFS Office of Aquaculture.  She works out of Northwest Regional Office in Seattle, WA.  Laura has worked in the field of marine science for nearly 20 years.  She received her BS degree in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993 and her MS and PhD degrees in Aquatic and Fishery Science from the University of Washington in 2001 and 2006 respectively.  Dr. Hoberecht’s graduate work focused on population dynamics modeling and marine lipids.  She has worked for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) since 1997, initially participating in research in coastal regions of Alaska, and since 2006 as a Fishery Biologist for the Southwest Regional Office in California.  Her recent work has focused on California aquaculture, San Francisco Bay native oysters, eelgrass mapping, monitoring and mitigation, and benthic community recovery after disturbance.  email: