Plenary Speakers for the 116th Annual Meeting of the NSA


Greg Dietl is Curator of Cenozoic Invertebrates at the Paleontological Research Institution and adjunct Associate Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Atkinson Center for Sustainability Faculty Fellow at Cornell University. As an early advocate for the field of conservation paleobiology, he has published widely on the uses of sub-fossil and fossil molluscan shell accumulations to establish ecological baselines and place modern ecosystems into historical context. His most recent research includes establishing geohistorical baselines of oyster body size to assess the condition of reef habitat across Florida and evaluating whether shellfish communities responded to recent improved water quality conditions within Long Island Sound. To increase the impacts of his research, he works directly with the resource management community to co-produce research results and facilitate their integration into shellfish management strategies.


Eileen Hofmann is an oceanographer who studies interactions between marine ecosystems and environmental conditions.  She is a Professor and Eminent Scholar in the Department of Ocean and Earth Sciences and a member of the Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography at Old Dominion University. Her research has taken her to many parts of the ocean, including Antarctic coastal regions and the Southern Ocean.  She has been involved in several international and national research programs, and currently serves as Co-Chair of the Southern Ocean Observing System.   

Eileen’s interest in shellfish and modeling shellfish populations began with a study of the effects of deepening and widening the Houston Ship Channel on eastern oyster populations in Galveston Bay.  From this initial study, Eileen and her colleagues expanded their models to other oyster species, clams, abalone, and ocean quahogs.  Along the way, the models for shellfish population dynamics were extended to include disease and disease transmission processes and the effects of climate change. The shellfish modeling studies now underway consider the potential effects of offshore wind energy development on Mid-Atlantic shellfish species.  These model applications represent a progression that links shellfish population dynamics with fishing economics and management.  The many and diverse shellfish modeling studies undertaken over the years have given Eileen an appreciation of shellfish and the community that studies these important organisms. 


Dianna Padilla is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University and a joint faculty with the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at Stony Brook University, NY (USA).  She works on marine and freshwater invertebrates, especially molluscs, and algae.  Her work includes ecology, conservation biology and restoration, functional ecology, phenotypic plasticity, invasion biology, and impacts of environmental change, including ocean acidification. Dr. Padilla is an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow (AAAS, 2013) and an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow in conservation (ESA 2000), a program developed to facilitate communication between scientists and non-scientists, especially policy makers and the press.  


Jeanne Serb is a Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology at Iowa State University and the Director of the Office of Biotechnology, overseeing the university’s core instrumentation facilities. She studies the evolution of eyes and light-sensing in the pteriomorphian bivalves, which includes economically important species such as scallops, mussels, and oysters. Her work combines data from genomics, phylogenetics, and anatomy to understand the evolutionary opportunities and constraints on these organs. She and her team have developed methods to express molluscan photopigments outside of the native cell type, which allows her lab to directly test of how changes to the protein can alter the light-sensing phenotype of an organism.  Her work has significantly improved our understanding of eye evolution and has advanced scallops as an evolutionary model. In addition to her research program, Dr. Serb is passionate about promoting scientific literacy and curiosity in educators. Since 2019, she has led a campus-wide Research Experience for Teachers program funded by the National Science Foundation. The summer program provides high school teachers with an authentic research experience in a faculty’s lab and guidance to translate those experiences into curriculum based on the Next Generation Science Standards.