Dr. Nicole Raineault, FIO & FLRACEP’s new Chief Scientist

The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) announces the appointment of Nicole Raineault as its new chief scientist. Hosted by USF, FIO is statewide consortium that serves as the state of Florida’s hub of oceanographic research and coastal stewardship and as an education and research resource for schools across the State University System (SUS).

“On behalf of the FLRACEP Project Management Team (PMT), I’m proud to welcome such a talented and enthusiastic Chief Scientist. Nicole brings extraordinary experience across interdisciplinary ocean science with a keen eye on informing policy and management decisions with science,” said Dr. Monty Graham, Director of FIO.

Raineault was recruited from Ocean Exploration Trust (OET), where she served as Chief Scientist and Vice President of Exploration and Science Operations. She earned her bachelor’s degree in marine science from the University of Maine, her master’s degree in oceanography from Rutgers University and her doctorate in geological science from the University of Delaware, after which she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography.

“Dr. Raineault brings an impressive set of skills to our program in her new role as Chief Scientist. The PMT warmly welcomes Nicole and looks forward to working with her to further advance the goals of FLRACEP,” said Bonnie Ponwith, former director of NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center and current FLRACEP PMT member.

FIO is the Florida Gulf Coast State Entity responsible for administering FLRACEP and establishing Centers of Excellence (CoE) to produce outcomes and outputs related to the RESTORE Act. The Florida RESTORE (Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States) Act Centers of Excellence Program (FLRACEP) was established by the U.S. Treasury Department thanks to the RESTORE Act of 2012. FLRACEP’s mission is to restore and protect the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast region.

“Florida is home to many diverse and critical ocean ecosystems that are literally in our backyards. They are our recreation and relaxation destinations and workplaces. I believe FIO and the RESTORE Act-funded Centers of Excellence are in a unique position to provide scientific leadership in the state, and I look forward to working with the growing community of researchers who are dedicated to improving our understanding of Florida’s ocean and Gulf environment,” said Dr. Raineault.

Dr. Nicole Raineault begins her position as Chief Scientist with FIO on October 1, 2021.

The Florida Institute of Oceanography consists of 32 members including state universities. Established by the Florida Board of Governors and hosted by the University of South Florida, FIO provides support and shares marine science resources between the state’s universities and private, non-profit marine research entities. FIO operates the R/V Weatherbird II, R/V Hogarth and the Keys Marine Laboratory (KML) in Layton, Florida.