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The Project Terrapin Team

2020 Summer Research Staff

Project Terrapin supports habitat enhancement throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed.  We reach over 6000 people annually. However, with the recent pandemic, we are working safely and cautiously.   We continue to use research to develop sound conservation projects and educational initiatives. 

Dr. John Wnek
 Research Coordinator

John has worked with terrapins at Island Beach State Park and N. Sedge Island since 2002.  He is science supervisor at the MATES School in Manahawkin, and directs terrapin research and the Barnegat Bay Student Grant Program.  John is working on diamondback terrapin conservation projects as well as mentoring undergraduate and graduate students on various projects related to terrapins, habitats, Climate Change and natural resources at Barnegat Bay, NJ.

Ms. Lauren Halloran
research Assistant

Lauren is an undergraduate student from Berry College, Georgia who has a strong interest in the environment and local wildlife.  She is a recipient of a 2020 Save Barnegat Bay Student Grant where she is assessing water quality throughout the Toms River to determine pathogen levels as part of a project that will "fix and find" sources of pathogens along the River.  Lauren will assist with terrapin research at Cedar Run Dock Road in Manahawkin as well as assist with our annual hatchling release at Island Beach State Park.  We look forward to having Lauren as part of our team.


Teresa is  a senior at Stockton University who has been instrumental in our mark and recapture efforts at Cedar Run Dock Road this summer. Jenna patrols that roadway and assesses terrapins captured as part of our continued project.  She has a passion for the environment which is demonstrated through her studies at college.  Jenna has become proficient at capturing and marking terrapins in the field and she has contributed to making our program productive this season during these uncertain times.

Ms. Jenna Walker
Research Assistant
Mr. Brady Nichols
Research Assistant

Brady is a recent MATES graduate who is attending Bowdoin College, ME. Working with terrapins since freshman year at MATES, he has been heavily involved in outreach, events, and as a care leader. Outside of school, he spends much time playing clarinet or programming. He also loves the environment, enjoying activities such as birding and fishing. Continuing his love for animals, he plans to major in ecology and minor in computer science in college in order to better understand the world around us . We are thankful for all that Brady does.

Ms. Alaina Perdon
Research Assistant
Alaina Profile Picture.jpg

Alaina is in her third year at Washington College, where she is pursuing a degree in environmental studies with a focus on environmental communication and bay regional studies. Her time spent at MATES and doing field work with Project Terrapin instilled in her a passion for research and environmental conservation. She currently works at the Eastern Shore Food Lab studying how ancient dietary practices can inspire modern food sustainability efforts and hopes to one day incorporate estuarine species into a large-scale aquaponics system. Alaina continues to work with Project Terrapin and contributes to our annual research and conservation reports.

Ms. Sophia Piper
Research Assistant

Sophia Piper is a third year student at Stockton University pursuing a degree in Environmental Science, with a focus on wildlife management. Having grown up in the Jersey Shore close to the Barnegat Bay, she has always had a passion for the conservation and protection of our coastal ecosystems.  Sophia is an interpreter at Island Beach State Park and she is also conducting research at Stockton University.  Sophia continues to monitor and survey terrapins as she has worked with us since her high school days. She contributes to our research reports and assists us with analyses. 

Volunteers Extrodinaire
Thanks to the Burger Family for their dedication and support this summer. Our monitoring efforts would not be possible without Joseph, Lisa and Anthony! 

MATES Project Terrapin is a student-led initiative and there are desginated student leaders that oversee care, education, outreach and conservation.   Over 100 MATES students are involved in Project Terrapin with each student volunteering time. 

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