Our Team - Coral Reef Research Foundation
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Our Team

Patrick L. Colin, PhD


Pat earned his M.S. (1970) and Ph.D. (1973) in Marine Sciences at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, working on the biology of western Atlantic reef fishes. In 1979 he moved to the Pacific, Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands, and later to Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia. While at Enewetak in 1983 he built an epoxy fiberglass aircraft, called a COZY, which he still uses today in Palau for vertical and oblique aerial photography (the “eye in the sky”).

Lori J. Bell Colin, MSc

Laboratory Manager/Research Biologist

Lori is one of the founders of Coral Reef Research Foundation. Wearing many hats, she manages the day to day operations of the CRRF research lab, in addition to logistics, keeping things somewhat organized and participating in various research projects, particularly the marine lakes work.

Mathew Mesubed


Matt was CRRF’s first employee in Palau, hired in 1993 on the NCI project before we moved from Chuuk. Matt is our #1 boat driver, navigating the rock island with his eyes closed. When someone needs to get back to ‘the same spot’ in the ocean, they ask Matt! He participated in several NCI collection trips, including Yap, Guam and Ulithi, and of course both Southwest Islands trips.

Emilio Basilius


Emilio was hired in 1994 as a collector and assistant on the NCI project, helping shelve and order new specimens and keeping sample bags labeled. He participated in several NCI collection trips, including Yap, Guam and Ulithi, and of course both Southwest Islands trips. He also assisted in some of the early trips to the marine lakes in the early 1990’s and has been the marine lake’s assistant ever since. He has almost certainly spent more time in and visited more marine lakes in Palau than any other Palauan. Emilio is also our weather man- if we want to know about rain, we ask him!

Sharon Patris, MSc

Research Biologist

Sharon started working at CRRF in 2006 as our first full-time employee on the marine lakes project with new funding from the Packard Foundation. She was valedictorian of Xavier High School (Chuuk) in 2002, followed by her first foray out of Micronesia to Emmanuel College in Boston where she received her BSc in Biology in 2006. Her return to Palau was perfect timing for CRRF and she quickly became engrossed in the multi-disciplinary marine lakes project. Sharon is a natural at science and further pursued her education at the University of California, Merced, receiving her MSc. in Quantitative and Systems Biology. Her thesis (2015) was on the introduction and distribution of the invasive sea anemone (Exaiptasia sp.) in Jellyfish Lake. Her interests are in ecology and evolution, and marine lakes, but just about any science topic can stimulate her interest and she would really like to clone herself so she has time to work on everything! Sharon has served on the Helen Reef Project board and represents CRRF on the Palau National Invasive Species Committee.

Gerda Ucharm

Research Biologist

Gerda started working with CRRF in 2009 on the Packard Foundation-funded marine lakes project. Sharon trained her in the sampling details before heading off to graduate school. Though a bit shocked at the strenuous physical requirements of hiking the equipment into the marine lakes, Gerda quickly adapted and has excelled in maintaining the rigorous lakes’ sampling program for 7 years, with Emilio as her #1 assistant. Gerda is a graduate of Palau High School and attended Palau Community College in the marine science program. She loves science and is an avid adventurer; each marine lake trip is an exploration that might end up with a crocodile on the trail, discovery of stone money or or a hunt for jellyfish polyps in the lakes. A naturalist at heart, her observations in Jellyfish Lake at the time of the jellyfish disappearance (2016) have been critical to understanding this unique resource to Palau. As part of the lake work she runs the CRRF weather stations and maintains multiple arrays of instruments. Gerda also participated in several NCI collections- both in Palau and going on the Kosrae and Thailand trips.

Steve Lindfield, PhD

Research Biologist

Dr. Steve Lindfield is a research scientist who has been working at CRRF since the start of 2016. Originally from the land down under, Steve received his PhD in 2015 from the University of Western Australia. Steve works on a variety of projects at CRRF, however his main research focus is on fish ecology and fisheries. He is interested in how fish communities respond to fishing pressure and the best management approaches for increasing the sustainability of coral reef fisheries. Steve is an experienced scientific diver who has been diving closed circuit rebreathers since 2008; he uses this technology along with stereo-video systems to accurately and efficiently assess the size and distribution of reef fish.

Vanessa Jaiteh, BSc Hons

Research Biologist

Vanessa joined CRRF in 2016 to work on fisheries-related projects. She has a BSc (2008) in Marine Biology from James Cook University, Townsville, and a First Class Honours (2009) in Marine Science from Murdoch University, Perth. Currently working on various short-term contracts for organisations based in Palau and overseas while writing up her PhD dissertation on shark fisheries in eastern Indonesia, her main focus -and favourite research assistant- is one-year-old Keanu. She is particularly interested in applying a transdisciplinary lens to complex fisheries issues, and has recently started a project on illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fisheries issues in Palau’s national waters.

Julian Dendy, MsC

GIS Research Technician/Research Ecologist

Julian received his Bsc in Biology from University of New Mexico in 2001, after dragging himself back from his first visit to the tropics – a semester abroad program in Costa Rica that turned into a 1.5 year stay during which he worked as volunteer naturalist guide and studied forest regeneration from cattle pasture. He entered the Peace Corps with the hope of working in tropical forest conservation, and spent a year in an indigenous forest village in Panama before being transported (long story) to Palau in 2003, where he worked at The Nature Conservancy as an agency liason for two years.