Gulf Benthic Taxonomy Assessment, LLC

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       Richard W. Heard, PhD

Dr. Richard Heard, a professor in the University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Coastal Science (Gulf Coast Research Laboratory), has over 40 years of experience in the taxonomy and systematics of a wide range of invertebrate groups.  He currently is active in researching the crustacean order, Tanaidacea of which he and his colleagues have been involved in the description of numerous new species from nearly all parts of the world.  His legacy as a naturalist and educator also includes the authorship of over 160 publications dealing with marine invertebrates and fishes, including the descriptions of several new genera and a variety of new species of stomatopods, mysids, cumaceans, tanaidaceans, isopods, amphipods, and decapods.  As a parasitologist, he has been involved in describing the life cycles of several groups of marine and estuarine parasites.  Dr. Heard’s 1982 publication “Guide to common tidal marsh invertebrates of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico” became the benchmark for students endeavoring to familiarize themselves with the various estuarine invertebrate groups and is still in wide use today.    

Expertise in:  Crustacea (tanaids, isopods, cumaceans, mysids, decapods), Mollusca (hydrobiid snails), digenean parasite life cycles.


       Sara E. LeCroy

After earning degrees in biology at the University of South Florida (St. Petersburg) and the University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg), Sara entered into a career as a marine biologist at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory specializing in the identification of crustacean groups.  During this tenure she became a preeminent expert in amphipod taxonomy and has described several new species from the Gulf of Mexico.  She is best known for her works on amphipods of the Florida Hour Glass Cruise reports, resulting from her master’s degree work, and her series of identification guides on Florida amphipods funded by the Department of Environmental Protection.  Currently she serves as curator of the GCRL museum, which houses a collection of invertebrates as well as its renown fish collection.

Expertise In:  Crustacea (amphipods, decapods, ostracods)

      Julianne Knight Gray

Julianne is a marine biologist with special emphasis in taxonomy of benthic crustaceans. After getting her BS degree in biology from Missouri State University in 2000, she spent four years as a technician at USM’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory where she immersed herself in the study of tanaids and amphipods under the tutelage of Richard Heard and Sara LeCroy whereby she earned her master’s degree while describing a new species of Tanaidacea from New Zealand. From Mississippi she traveled to Florida to work at Terra Environmental Services (Tampa) and is presently at Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (St. Petersburg). During her Florida tenure she has further honed her skills not only with crustaceans but with diverse groups including echinoderms, hydroids and bryozoans. She recently served as president of the Florida Association of Benthologists (FAB) and has publications in the fields of crustacean taxonomy as well as trophic analyses of various Gulf of Mexico fish species.

Expertise in:  Crustacea (amphipods, decapods, tanaids, cumaceans), echinoderms, bryozoans, Cnidaria (hydroids)


        Guillermo Sanchez

Dr. Guillermo Sanchez is a biologist interested in the interaction among climate variability, weather-related hydrographic regimes and biological productivity along the US Gulf of Mexico over decadal and inter-annual time scales. He is especially interested in the underlying mechanisms that fuel those interactions. After getting his master and doctoral degrees in biological science from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), he spent six years as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at USM’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL, Ocean Springs) and at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources (Athens). During the last two years, he worked as an Associate Research Scientist at the GCRL.

Expertise in:   Fisheries climatology, submerged aquatic vegetation/wetlands mapping and assessment.