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The Project Terrapin Team

2018 Summer Research Staff

Project Terrapin is a growing organization that supports habitat projects throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed.  We reach over 6000 people annually.  Project Terrapin uses 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 students on various projects related to terrapins and other natural resources at Barnegat Bay

Ms. Laura Versaggi
Program Assistant

Laura has been working with us on projects and recently developed our terrapin pocket guide. She also coordinates event and project information.  Laura is working on field research at the Silver Lake in Pennsylvania as part of a mark-recpature population study. She is currently  assisting with more Project Terrapin initiatives including our NOAA Crab Pot Recovery Project at Barnegat Bay.

Jackie and Tony Raniero

Jackie and Tony are the heart and soul of the diamondback terrapin research project at N. Sedge Island.  Jackie has marked more nesting female terrapins than anyone in Barnegat Bay.  They are ambassadors to NJ Fish and Wildlife and are field site coordinators for this project.  

Ms. Serena Celestino
program Assistant

Serena is a Barnegat, NJ native, and loves spending her spare time exploring the wetlands. She is a student at Rutgers University double majoring in Ecology & Evolution and Geology. She has published in paleoecology for research on a Jurassic aged clam bed. She is coordinating our Cedar Run Dock Road study and studies at the Edwin Forsythe Cedar Bonnet Island Refuge in Stafford, NJ

Mr. Brian Kron

Brian Kron is a first-year graduate student at Saint Joseph's University, after graduating with a BS in Conservation and Wildlife Management from Delaware Valley University in 2017. An avid amateur herpetologist, Brian focuses his thesis research on the ecology and conservation of diamondback terrapins. Brian's research projects involve the effects of differing salinity levels on the growth and viability of terrapin eggs and hatchlings, to hopefully contribute to conservation breeding efforts to help terrapin populations improve in the future.

Ms. Emma Applegate
research Assistant

Emma is going into her junior year at the University of Pittsburgh where she studies environmental science. Through this internship, she hopes to learn more about research methods and gain experience with field work. Emma was a former program intern at the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center.  She is going to be an outstanding part of the team!

Ms. Jessica Harkness
research Assistant

Jess Harkness is from Beach Haven, NJ. She is a junior at the University of Vermont, where she is studying animal science and wildlife biology. Through her work with Project Terrapin, Jess hopes to apply what she has learned about ecology and conservation to an important native species in her community.  She is a recipient of a Save Barnegat Bay Student Grant conducting  independent research focusing on water quality conditions at Beach Haven West. 

Ms. Sophia Piper
research Assistant

Sophia Piper is a 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. With this internship, she hopes to play an active role in conserving Barnegat Bay, meanwhile gaining more experience towards her major. She is a recipient of a Save Barnegat Bay Student Grant, working on a research project by studying and comparing herbicides.

Mr. Quinn Figueroa
research Assistant

Quinn has been working with us for the past two years.  He is from Manchester, NJ going into his first year at Stockton University where he is pursuing a career in the field of Biology. He has been instrumental with our NOAA crab pot recovery project and other programs in Project Terrapin. Quinn is dedicated to help conserve Diamondback Terrapins and their habitat in Barnegat Bay.  

Ms. Alaina Perdon
research Assistant

Alaina is entering Washington College, Maryland in the fall and has been an instrumental leader in MATES Project Terrapin.  She completed research on terrapin pathogens this past school year.  This summer she is working with the Save Barnegat Bay Student Grant Program as well as Project Terrapin on various field projects and GIS mapping.  Alaina lives in Lacey Township, works at the Popcorn Park Zoo and will continue conducting independent research at Washington College.  

Ms. Bailey Reggetz
research Assistant

I am a junior environmental science major at Waynesburg University. My careers goals are to take part in ecosystem restoration or wildlife conservation efforts. I have a passion for wildlife and conservation, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with Project Terrapin. I am looking forward to making an impact on the community and to the efforts of terrapin research and conservation.   

Ms. Taylor Donovan
research Assistant

Taylor is Jackson, NJ resident and a rising senior at Monmouth University, where she is studying Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy. This summer she aims to conduct thesis research throughout the nesting season that will address the question of if invasive Phragmites australis affects terrapin nesting. Taylor graduated from the MATES School in 2015, and is familiar with the procedures and goals of Project Terrapin as she was a hatchling care coordinator during her time there. She hopes to discover the impacts of invasive reeds as well as surrounding vegetation on terrapin clutches so that nest outcomes may be better understood

in differing nest sites. 

Ms. Shaylyn Glancy
research Assistant

My name is Shaylyn Glancy. I am from McClellandtown, PA and majoring in biology at Waynesburg University. My plans after graduation are to hopefully be accepted into veterinary school or to work in the animal husbandry field.  I believe that we have to be the voice of animals and wildlife. My love of turtles first came from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be working on the Project Terrapin. I hope to gain more knowledge of the terrapins and conservation skills.

Mr. Anthony Salvador
research Assistant

I am from Eatontown NJ, and currently a student at Rowan University. I am pursuing a biological sciences major with a minor in environmental sciences and in the future would love to work with either animals or environmental protection/wildlife conservation. I believe this is a great start since I always had an interest in reptiles especially turtles themselves and how they interact with the environment. Through this research I hope to gain more in-depth knowledge about how we can help preserve ecosystems such as the terrapins.  

Ms. Belle Weimer
Summer Intern

Belle Weimer is currently entering her junior year at MATES where she is entering her sixth year of diamondback terrapin research at Barnegat Bay. Belle has also been involved in the Jersey Shore Science Fair, Ecybermission, Lexus Eco Challenge, and Christopher Columbus, she is looking forward to presenting her current research this summer at a regional terrapin conference. She currently enjoys fishing, kayaking, surfing, and anything outdoors. In the future she hopes to major in zoology and minor in marine sciences and to continue research in each field. 

Ms. Emma Riley
Summer intern

I am a rising junior at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) and I have been conducting terrapin research for two years and plan on continuing my research in years to come. I have worked with geomagnetism in hatchling Malaclemys terrapin as well as color preference based upon nesting locations. In the future I plan to continue my research and work with terrapin eggshell fragments in relation to the nest soil quality.

Mr. Steven Holmberg
Summer intern

Steven Holmberg is entering is third year at MATES. He has worked with Project Terrapin for the past year through its outreach program and research. He plans to work closer with terrapin conservation this summer.  He has gained  a love for the environment after living close to the bay as well as from fishing all over the east coast and Ecuador due to being surrounded by nature. He aspires to be an aerospace engineer while continuing to work with organizations like Project Terrapin who focus to better the environment we live in.

Teresa is a rising senior at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) and has been an integral part of our NOAA sponsored marine debris removal program. She will serve as a Project Terrapin conservation leader for the 2018-2019 school year. She will be helping with our terrapin mark and recapture projects and crab pot assessment research this summer. Teresa has a passion for working with animals and is interested in majoring in biology in the future.

Ms. Teresa Brostow
Summer intern
Mr. Brady Nichols
Summer intern

Brady is a rising junior at MATES from Manahawkin, New Jersey. He has been involved in Project Terrapin care since freshman yea He has presented research at the Jersey Shore & Delaware Valley Science Fairs and is conducting a biology-related research project this summer. Outside of school, Brady plays the clarinet and saxophone in a variety of bands He is interested in the fields of entomology and herpetology and hopes to major in zoology or environmental science in college.

Mr. Drew Pugliese
Summer intern

Drew completed his junior year at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, and spends his summers in Holgate. He enjoys the outdoors and is looking to study environmental science in college. He looks forward to gaining experience in environmental conservation and research this summer. He will be working at Holgate on the LBI Project, but will also be helping with the Cedar Run Dock Road mark and recapture project. 


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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