Speakers

Please note that all speakers are volunteering their time in a personal capacity, and do not appear on behalf of their respective institutions.

Glen Borchert

Glen BorchertGlen Borchert is an Assistant Professor in Biology and Pharmacology at the University of South Alabama (USA). He has earned degrees from the University of Tennessee (B.S., Biology) and the University of Iowa (Ph.D., Genetics), with postdocs at Illinois State and UC Berkeley. His research focuses on identifying novel genetic regulators and defining their roles in oncogenesis, microbiology and speciation. Since starting his laboratory at USA in 2012, he has secured nearly $3,000,000 in external funding, including a National Institutes of Health R01 research grant and the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER award. Among his many honors, he was named USA Junior Faculty Researcher of the year in 2016. Glen’s lab is home to around 25 undergraduate and graduate students, and he has been recognized as a Top Prof by the Azalea Chapter of Mortar Board three times since 2013. In addition to his research, Glen was a driving force behind USA starting a comprehensive recycling program in 2015, and has been a vocal advocate for sustainability, vaccinations and combating climate change.

Bill Finch

Bill Finch paddles a boat in the Mobile Tensaw delta.Bill is an award winning writer, a botanist and natural historian, and a specialist in landscape interpretation and restoration. His garden columns and environmental reporting have been recognized nationally, his weekly radio and television programs have a large following along the Gulf Coast, and his educational programs at Mobile Botanical Gardens draw enthusiastic crowds. His book Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See is now in its second printing. Bill is a Senior Fellow for The Ocean Foundation and still serves as chief science advisor for the Mobile Botanical Gardens, where he was formerly the executive director. He has also served as Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy of Alabama. Through his consulting business, Earthword Services, Bill is increasingly focusing his skills and efforts on large-scale landscape conservation and restoration efforts, in coordination with the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and the Ocean Foundation.

Leevones Fisher

Leevones FisherLeevones Gillespie Dubose-Fisher holds a Master of Education in Science with a Certification in Administration from the University of South Alabama, and is a retired science and math teacher for Mobile County Public Schools. She currently serves as Executive Director and Housing Coordinator for Bay Area Women Coalition, Inc. Her lifetime record of serving in various communities in Mobile and nationwide has brought her numerous awards for volunteerism. She continues to bring her tireless energy and leadership to extensive community gardening projects, STEM education advocacy, and community-based participatory research. Just a few of the boards she has served on include the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, Mobile Area Water and Sewer Service (chair), and the Board of Regents at Concordia College Alabama.

Kara Gadeken

Kara Gadeken doing field work.We are pleased to welcome Kara Gadeken as one of our event speakers. She is a marine ecology Ph.D. student at the University of South Alabama and works at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Originally from Northern Virginia, Kara graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2014 with degrees in Biology and Marine Science, and she aspires to a career in marine ecological research. Her current doctoral research focuses on discovering how organisms that live in marine sediments respond to rapid, frequent changes in the water’s oxygen levels, a common phenomenon in shallow coastal waters.

Tom Herder

Tom HerderTom Herder is in his 11th year at the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, where he is the Watershed Protection Coordinator. A Marine veteran with Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and having completed coursework towards a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Florida, he has a strong science background, particularly in estuarine biology. He went to work for the NEP after leaving a twenty-year career as a competitive swim coach. He and his wife, Rhoda Vanderhart, a nurse at Mobile Infirmary, live in a midtown Mobile with two Australian Shepherds, three parrots, and a tank of community fish.  Herder’s passion is surfing, which he’s been learning for 46 years.

Kristina Mullins

Kristina MullinsKristina Mullins joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District as the Chief of Staff in August 2013. She also serves as the Program Manager for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa Rivers basin and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Rivers basin. She has a B.S. in chemical engineering from Oklahoma State University, and began her career with Naval Facilities Engineering Command as an environmental engineer working with large SUPERFUND remediation sites in southern California and western Arizona. During her subsequent career with the Corps, she has managed large military construction projects in Europe, provided expertise and resources as part of the theater engineer planning for Operation Iraqi Freedom, served as the Deputy District Engineer for Project Management in Afghanistan, and oversaw construction of two USACE designated MEGA-projects in the Sacramento District with a construction value of over $2,000,000,000.

Seema Singh

Seema SinghSeema Singh is an Associate Professor of Oncologic Sciences at the University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute (MCI). She earned her Ph.D. in bioscience at Aligarh M. University in India, and came to the U.S. in 2001 with her husband Ajay Singh, who is also a research scientist at MCI. The Singhs are now U.S. citizens. Together, in the Health Disparities in Cancer Research Program, they are exploring the molecular factors at play in cancer health disparities. African-American women are more likely to develop an aggressive form of breast cancer and die from it than are Caucasian women. The same can be said of African-American men with prostate cancer — clinical findings that are especially relevant in the Deep South. She says, “We know that there are many factors at work, such as access to health care. However, we believe that not only those factors, but also biological factors, play a role.” Seema’s research on the tumor microenvironment in breast cancer of African-American women is funded by a $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Additionally, her work on skin cancer has resulted in a patent for sunscreen technology using silver nanoparticles.

Tom Ward

Tom WardTom Ward is chair of the History Department at Spring Hill College where he teaches a variety of courses in American history, including American Environmental History.  A native of Annapolis, Maryland, Dr. Ward received his education at Hampden-Sydney College (B.A., 1991), Clemson University (M.A., 1993), and the University of Southern Mississippi (Ph.D., 1999).  He has written a number of articles on African-American history and the history of medicine, including Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South (University of Arkansas Press, 2003), and his most recent work, Out in the Rural: A Mississippi Health Center and its War on Poverty (Oxford University Press, 2017). He has also served for a number of years on the board of the Alabama Coastal Foundation, which is dedicated to improving and protecting Alabama’s coastal environment through cooperation, education, and participation, including four years as board president.