Gregor Hodgson Gregor Hodgson, PhD – Founder & Executive Director

Gregor Hodgson is the Executive Director of Reef Check. Dr. Hodgson is a coral reef ecologist, who received his bachelors in 1979 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 1980-1982, he volunteered with the US Peace Corps in the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Cebu City, Philippines, and earned a PhD in zoology in 1989 from the University of Hawaii. Subsequently, Dr. Hodgson worked in Hong Kong where he served as the Environmental Sciences Manager for Binnie Black & Veatch, carrying out environmental impact assessments and baseline ecological surveys of coastal and marine areas. He designed and led integrated coastal management projects in China and Vietnam and also taught at two Hong Kong universities. From 2000 to 2004, Dr. Hodgson was a visiting professor at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and taught Environmental Science, International Coastal Management and Marine Conservation. He now works full time on marine conservation through Reef Check.
  Jan Freiwald, PhD – Reef Check California Director

Jan Freiwald, Director for Reef Check California, oversees diver training, manages data collection, analysis, and dissemination, and liaisons with academic and agency scientists. Dr. Freiwald is a marine ecologist. He received his PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California Santa Cruz. For his dissertation research he studied ecological causes and consequences of the movement behavior and habitat use of temperate reef fishes. He has worked on temperate reefs using approaches ranging from acoustic telemetry, over subtidal community surveys to genetic parentage analysis to investigate the ecology. His research interests are in the population ecology of temperate reef fishes and its application to their management. He studied Biology in Germany and received a Bachelor's of Science in Marine Biology from the University of California in Santa Cruz. Jan has many years of experience in diving in California and teaching underwater survey techniques.
  Jennifer Mihaly Jennifer Mihaly – Program Manager

Jenny Mihaly, born and raised in Southern California, graduated from UCLA in 2003 with a degree in Marine Biology. In her senior year, she spent a quarter studying with other UCLA students at the Bodega Marine Laboratory in Bodega Bay, California. While there, she conducted experiments on sea anemones and flatfish. In 2003, Jenny got her SCUBA certification in beautiful Maui. She looks forward to getting more dives under her belt. Jenny currently manages the Reef Check global database while assisting the organization's many teams and coordinators.
  Selena McMillan, PhD - Southern California Regional Manager

Selena McMillan has been involved in marine ecology and research for over 14 years. While an undergrad at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Dr. McMillan began working for the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) as a subtidal technician, organizing and performing long-term subtidal monitoring efforts along the California coast. Selena left this position to pursue her master's at Moss Landing Marine Laboratory (MLML) where she completed a subtidal thesis examining the trophic interactions between giant kelp and snails. While at MLML, she worked as a research assistant for Dr. Rick Starr at California Sea Grant where she was integral in organizing a Data-Poor Fisheries workshop that brought together scientists, policy makers and fishermen from all over the world. Recently, she completed her PhD at The University of Auckland in New Zealand examining herbivorous fishes in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the temperate reefs of New Zealand. She is excited to be returning back to her roots in California and diving back into ocean monitoring.
  Dan Abbott – Central California Regional Manager

Dan Abbott, the Central Coast Regional Manager, has been involved with Reef Check California as a volunteer and part-time instructor since 2005, and started working for Reef Check full-time in September 2014. Dan received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Economics and Policy from UC Berkeley, an interdisciplinary program focused on marine resource management from both scientific and economic aspects. While at Berkeley Dan became an AAUS scientific diver. Most recently, Dan worked as a biologist for Tenera Environmental where he oversaw a large number of monitoring projects in San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and along the California Coast. Additionally Dan spearheaded Tenera's successful application into AAUS and oversaw their dive program as their Diving Safety Officer. Dan is an active NAUI Instructor, a trained Outdoor Emergency Care Technician, and is a first aid and CPR instructor.
  Anna Neumann - Northern California Regional Manager

Anna Neumann, the Northern California Regional Manager, started working for Reef Check in May of 2014. Growing up on the central coast of California instilled in her a deep passion for the ocean. Anna entwined her love for the ocean and her education by receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Oceanography, with an emphasis in Scientific Diving, from Humboldt State University. While attending Humboldt State she founded the HSU Marine Debris Program and received her NAUI Dive Master certification. She spent her summers interning for Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation and University of Victoria's Whale Research Lab identifying Humpback, Finback, and Grey whales. Upon graduating from HSU in 2013 she moved to Cozumel, Mexico and became a PADI dive instructor.
  Katie Kozma - Southern California Training Coordinator

Katie received her Bachelor of Science in Biology, with an emphasis in Marine Biology, from San Diego State University. While completing her undergraduate studies, she earned her AAUS scientific diver certification, conducted independent research on fish foraging strategies in eelgrass habitats, and performed eelgrass habitat assessment surveys. Following graduation, Katie spent three years teaching marine biology in San Diego to K-12 students from across the United States and visiting students from around the world. Before joining the Reef Check team in 2016, Katie worked as a research associate for a coastal engineering consulting firm where she carried out field research and conducted environmental impact assessments on major reef restoration projects along the California coast. Her past experience also includes employment at a Southern California aquarium where she provided marine science education to the public, assisted with animal husbandry, and carried out tank diving as a member of the Dive Team. Katie earned her Dive Master certification in June of 2015. Katie's responsibilities with Reef Check include organizing and conducting research surveys throughout the Southern California region and training volunteer divers in the California monitoring protocol. She is also responsible for the Reef Check California Youth Education Program. Katie develops the youth program curriculum and provides exciting educational experiences for all participants, combining meaningful classroom activities with hands-on demonstrations in the field.
  Kate Vylet - Climate Change Research Coordinator

Kate Vylet, the Climate Change Research Coordinator, grew up a landlubber in Southern California. It was while learning to scuba dive in the Central Coast's green waters at the University of California at Santa Cruz that she developed a passion for the sea and the life teeming beneath its waves. She went on to graduate as an AAUS Scientific Diver and NAUI Divemaster with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolution and a Bachelor of Art in Photography. Kate then became involved with PISCO, the Partnership for the Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, as a scientific diving technician, performing subtidal monitoring surveys up and down California's coastline and implementing various marine research projects. She currently works on Reef Check's climate change research and assists with its monitoring program in Central California. When she's not diving for science, Kate spends her underwater time capturing marine life through the lens of photography and videography.
  Jeri Miller Jeri Miller – Assistant Program Manager

Though born and raised in Chicago, Jeri is a confirmed California beach girl. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Zoology and a passion for college basketball. After many years of living all over and out of the country, she settled in California 20 years ago and obtained her Masters in Environmental Science from the Bren School at UC-Santa Barbara in 2008. She started volunteering for Reef Check in 2016 and soon convinced us to hire her as Jenny's assistant.
  Jerry Suarez – Accountant

Jerry graduated from the University of Redlands with a Bachelors Degree of Science in the field of Accounting and is currently authorized to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service under the designation of Enrolled Agent. After graduation Jerry took a position with the treasury as an IRS Field Agent which he left to take a position in a public accounting firm, and later a position of Financial Coordinator at the medical facility "A Touch of Care" for a period of 6 years. Since 1991 Jerry has been self employed and providing public accounting and tax representation services.