Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council

Meet the FLEPPC Officers and Board of Directors


jimmylange Jimmy Lange, Chair
Field Botanist
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Office: 305.667.1651, x 3515
Cell: 954.254.1020
Email: jlange@fairchildgarden.org

Jimmy Lange is a botanist with several years of experience working with South Florida plants and ecosystems. Graduating with honors from the University of Florida with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science, Jimmy began his research career studying effects of time-since-fire on foliar nutrients of scrub palmettos under the guidance of the Mack Ecosystem Ecology Lab. He went on to join the Plant Ecology Lab at Archbold Biological Station where he assisted on a number of research projects on several rare plant populations and scrub habitat. He then worked at the Michigan Tech Research Institute where he conducted ground-truthing surveys of Great Lakes wetland plant communities and worked on mapping the invasive Phragmites australis¬. Jimmy is currently completing a master’s degree at Florida Atlantic University where he has been studying impacts of Melaleuca quinquenervia and management practices on plant communities in the northern Everglades under Dr. Brian Benscoter. Jimmy joined the Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC) in January 2014 working on several projects relating to rare plant research and habitat management, and is a current research associate. During this time he also was a botanist with Keith & Schnars, conducting plant surveys of several mitigation sites. He currently is a field botanist with the South Florida Conservation Team at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden where he continues to work with south Florida plants and ecosystems, primarily focusing on mapping and monitoring of rare species, as well as helping guide management activities that promote native plant diversity.

christenmason Christen Mason, Past Chair
Land Resources Bureau, South Florida Water Management District
Phone: 561-682-2782
Fax: 561-682-5044
Email: cmason@sfwmd.gov

Christen Mason is an invasive species biologist with the South Florida Water Management District. She graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a degree in Biology, focusing on botany. Christen has monitored and treated non-native plants across more than 300,000 acres of the Everglades system. She began her career with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a field biologist, treating non-native plants and supporting invasive plant removal contracts. She then served as the invasive species biologist at the A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Prior to working with invasive plant species, Christen spent six years working with native animals at a wildlife hospital and sanctuary where she raised, rehabbed and cared for hundreds of mammals, reptiles and birds. Christen began work with the District in 2014. Her current job duties include vegetation mapping and monitoring, implementing and managing invasive plant removal contracts, and conducting field trials of herbicides. She sat on the Steering Committee for Treasure Coast CISMA from 2008 to 2011 and has been on the Steering Committee for Everglades CISMA since 2011.

karenbrown Karen Brown, Treasurer
Retired from
University of Florida/IFAS
Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants
E-mail: 2karenpbrown@gmail.com

Karen Brown is the treasurer for FLEPPC. She has a Master's degree in Library and Information science from the University of South Florida. She works at the University of Florida's IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.

aimeecooper Aimee Cooper, Secretary
St. Lucie County, Environmental Resources Department
E-mail 1: aimee.lz.cooper@gmail.com
E-mail 2: coopera@stlucieco.org
Work Phone: 772-462-6440

Aimee Cooper completed her BA in 2005 in Life Science with a concentration in Biology at Otterbein University, a small liberal arts college in Westerville, OH. She worked with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency conducting site inspections and cataloging hazardous waste materials before moving to Gainesville, FL that same year. She took a biological scientist position at the University of Florida’s Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants where she provided assistance for the ecological and biological analyses of numerous invasive plant species throughout the state of Florida. In 2008 she shifted to coordinator for the IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas (IFAS Assessment), a literature-based assessment tool that evaluates the invasion risk of resident non-native species, the invasive potential of new species proposed for introduction, and agricultural/horticultural hybrids, cultivars, and varieties. In 2014 she had the opportunity to transition into a new field at UF’s Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL) working on two projects: 1) examining the efficacy of copepods as biocontrol organisms for mosquito populations; and 2) investigating exotic bromeliads and their ability to provide an ideal breeding habitat for mosquitoes. Aimee recently accepted an appointment with St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department in the Environmental Regulations Division (ERD).

personicon Sherry Williams, Liaison

Sherry Williams is the Natural Resources Program Coordinator for the Seminole County Natural Lands Program in Seminole County, Florida. She oversees the invasives species management program, prescribed fire program and survey/monitoring program on 6,600 acres of county owned lands. She is the current Vice President of the National Association of Invasive Plant Councils, current co-chair of the Florida Invasive Species Partnership, current co-chair and founder of the Central Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and past chair of the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (2014-2016). She earned her Bachelors of Science at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and has been working as a biologist in Florida since 1991.

Board of Directors

2nd Year Board Members

CraigVanDerHeiden Craig van der Heiden

Craig van der Heiden is a conservation biologist and restoration ecologist working as the Fish and Wildlife Director for the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians. He completed advanced degrees at Florida Atlantic University in Environmental Science (MS, 2005) and Integrative Biology - Ecology (Ph.D., 2012) studying the relocation of rhino in a sanctuary in Malawi, Africa, and the distribution and movement patterns of slough crayfish in the Central Everglades, respectively. Craig puts his diverse background into practice through research and applied management projects on rare and endangered flora and fauna as well as ecological restoration projects in Florida’s ecosystems. His work includes invasive species removal, the application of fire within ecosystem management, demographic studies on rare species, and vegetation responses to climate change.

ErickRevuelta Erick Revuelta

Erick Revuelta is a Scientist with the St. Johns River Water Management District. He graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Environmental Science. He has worked in natural resource planning, land resource management and permitting in the public and private sectors throughout the State of Florida. His current work includes performing formal wetland jurisdictional determinations, reviewing environmental resource applications and providing technical support and plant identification trainings to District staff. He has lead graminoid field identification and plant identification workshops in South and North Florida and volunteers with the South Florida Conservation Team at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.

BrianLockwood Brian Lockwood

Brian Lockwood is currently the leader of the NPS Florida/Caribbean Exotic Plant Management Team based in Palmetto Bay. In this position, he oversees hiring/supervision of the team members and a program that provides invasive plant management services to 15 parks in Florida and the Caribbean. Brian assists these parks and numerous partners with technical guidance, data management, contracting and agreements, compliance, training and education activities, and other aspects of running a successful invasive plant management program. Brian is a graduate of the University of West Florida, with a B.S. in Biology. He began his federal career in natural resources management with the NPS at Biscayne NP in 1991 where he worked for10 years. He then held positions with USFWS in the Florida Keys as a Marine Biologist and in Oklahoma as an Assistant Refuge Manager. In 2009 he returned to the NPS at Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas as Preserve Biologist and finally as the Mid-Atlantic Exotic Plant Management Team Liaison in Virginia from 2012 until 2016, before assuming his present duties with the FLC EPMT in 2016.

KatharineMurray Katharine Murray

Katharine Murray has 25+ years of experience in environmental science and planning. She is the owner and CEO of Environmental Quality, Inc. (EQI), founded in 1990. EQI’s focus is environmental consulting and contracting with emphasis on exotic vegetation management, native habitat restoration, water quality, and island ecosystems. Many of her projects include wetland delineation, natural resource assessment, and native plant propagation. EQI has offices in Jupiter/Tequesta FL and Honolulu, HI. Katharine received her degree in Oceanographic Technology from Florida Institute of Technology in Jensen Beach, FL and studied biology with emphasis in agricultural science at Berry College in Rome, GA. Katharine is a Licensed Environmental Professional with NAEP, a certified Infrastructure Preparedness Specialist, and is Vice Chair of the Palm Beach County Planning Commission.

1st Year Board Members

andrewlawrence Andrew Lawrence

Andrew Lawrence is a Biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Invasive Plant Management section. He received a bachelor’s degree From the University of Central Florida in Environmental studies. After graduation he has worked in the private sector specializing in ecosystem restoration and volunteered with Seminole County Natural Lands and Back to Nature Wildlife refuge. Andy is currently focused on upland invasive plant management.

sarahmartin Sarah Martin

Growing up in Arizona and southern New Jersey, Sarah developed a conservation ethic and love for nature early. As a child she spent much of her time hiking, camping and exploring the vast desert landscapes of the Southwest and the coastal wilderness areas of the great Mid-Atlantic. Sarah completed undergraduate studies in Washington State at Seattle University, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and French and completed independent studies abroad in Belize and France. After graduation, Sarah completed an internship and further graduate studies in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, working with the natural areas of the University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum. Sarah came to Florida in 2008 to work with The Nature Conservancy as a restoration technician on the South Florida landscape. She then worked as a resource management intern with AmeriCorps for the Florida State Parks in South Florida. Sarah spent five years working in Miami, Florida as a biologist and coordinator for The Institute For Regional Conservation’s (IRC) Pine Rockland Initiative program. Sarah continues to be involved with IRC as a Research Associate. She returned to The Nature Conservancy in 2014, where she now works as the South Florida Land Conservation Coordinator for the Florida Chapter’s South Florida Program.

debstone Deb Stone

Deb Stone graduated from USF with a B.S. in Biology in 2004, then began working as the Rare Plant Intern at Bok Tower Gardens, where her passion for all things botanical began to blossom. She then moved to Hillsborough County’s Environmental Lands program in 2006, working on invasive plant control, monitoring and prescribed fire. Deb started as the Restoration Steward for The Nature Conservancy at The Disney Wilderness Preserve in 2008, where she focused on invasive species prioritization, GIS technologies, working with local Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas, ground cover restoration and vegetation monitoring. In 2014, Deb moved to St. John’s River Water Management District as the Invasive Plant Program Supervisor, where she continues her focus on invasive species prioritization, restoration and GIS technologies. She recently finished her M.S. in Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida and is pursuing her Ph.D. in the same program. Go Gators!

melissasmith Melissa Smith

Melissa Smith is a research ecologist with the Invasive Plant Research Laboratory at the USDA-ARS facility in Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Smith is a graduate of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon (Biology) and Washington State University in Pullman, Washington (Botany), where she completed her dissertation looking at ways to predict plant invasions through physiological responses. Melissa started her work with Florida ecosystems in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Wilma when she was an education and interpretation ranger in Everglades National Park. Returning to Florida to build a career looking for long term solutions to large-scale plant invasions is the culmination of many years of hard work and fortunate circumstances. Melissa joined the Invasive Plant Research Laboratory as a post-doctoral researcher in 2012 and she currently explores ways to integrate biological control into invasive plant management strategies with particular focus on Melaleuca quinquenervia, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa and Acacia auriculiformis. Melissa is a forming member of the Biology Graduate Student Association at Washington State University and served as a graduate senator for four years