Heidi Hertler, Ph.D., SFS Alumna


Center Director


Turks and Caicos Islands




Ph.D. in Environmental Science
Drexel University (USA)

M.S. in Oceanography
Florida State University (USA)

B.S. in Biology
Bates College (USA)

SFS Alum
U.S. Virgin Islands Fall '87


SFS 4910 Directed Research
(The School for Field Studies)

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Faculty Profile

Heidi joined SFS’s Turks and Caicos Island field station as Center Director in 2011. Her research interests include relationships between land use and coastal marine systems including mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs and the integration of science and research into environmental strategies and policies for the conservation of biodiversity and coastal resources. She uses water chemistry, plant biology and invertebrate physiology to answer basic and applied questions. Through community outreach, we increase the local understanding of our impacts on the near shore environments; collect data that can be utilized by community member, presented at local and national conferences and in peer review publications; and encourage environmental stewardship of the marine environment through awareness of the impact we have on these systems.

As a teacher and alumna of SFS, Heidi believes it is her role to provide the basic tools and motivation for learning. This includes creating a stimulating environment where students can participate in the learning event. She incorporates field and laboratory experiences (including snorkeling, SCUBA, and underwater photography and videography), oral presentations, and hands-on activities (i.e. service learning) as part of her courses. She strives to create an atmosphere where participants are challenged to achieve their full potential, and in doing so, she too is challenged.

Academics & Research

Professional Affiliations

2013 - present
Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean, Chair Student Grant-in-Aid
1995 - present
Member Sigma-Xi
1992 - present
Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation
1995 - present
American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
1990 - present
National Association of Underwater Instructors

Research Projects

The research conducted at SFS field stations is designed to answer key questions related to critical and related social and environmental problems and to provide our hosts with detailed and accurate information for decision making and action. Faculty and student research projects are linked to the Center’s Strategic Research Plan, which defines an overarching research directive.

Tourism is an important source of income for many small island nations; however, increased tourism and the creation of the infrastructure that supports this industry often have harmful effects on the environment.  Climate change may compound the effects.  Long term monitoring of reef diversity and health, increases the understanding of our local ecosystems on which we are dependent.
The waters of the TCI support regionally significant foraging aggregations of green and hawksbill turtles, and, to a lesser extent, loggerhead turtles.  As part of this project, beaches used for nesting are profiled to monitor change in beach area and erosion and accretion patterns over time and with respect to climate change.




H. Hertler, J. Levine, G. Ramirez-Toro. World Aquaculture: In Press. 2019.
M.A. MacNeil, D. Chapman, M. Heupel, C. Simpfendorfer, M. Heithaus, M. Meekan, E. Harvey, J. Goetze, C. Speed, L. Currey-Randall, T. Gorham, M. Bond, C. Sherman, M.J. Rees, V. Udyawer, J.E. Cinner, A. Henderson and H. Hertler. Nature (In Review)
J. Bakker, O. Wangensteen, C. Baillie, D. Buddo, D. Chapman, A. Gallagher, T. Guttridge, H. Hertler, S. Mariani. Ecology and Evolution. (In Review)
T.M. Frontera Piza, H. Hertler, G. Ramirez-Toro, R.R. Christian, M.M Brinson, M. Crespo-Medina, T. Rodriguez, H. Minning. (In Review)
J. Bakker, O.S. Wangensteen, D.D. Chapman, G. Boussarie, D. Buddo, T.L. Guttridge, H. Hertler, D. Mouillot, L. Vigliola, S. Mariani. Scientific Reports: 7-16886. 2017.
G. Schultz, J.J. Kovatch, H Hertler. Caribbean Naturalist, 42: 1-22. 2017.
M. Graham MacLean, H. Hertler, M. Seifert. Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly, 36: 21-27. 2016.
S. Baker, J. Paddock, A.M. Smith, R.K.F. Unsworth, L.C. Cullen-Unsworth, H. Hertler. Ecosystem Services, 11: 12-21. 2015.
K. Ilves, A. Quattrini, M.W. Westneat, R.I. Eyton, G. Chaplin, H. Hertler, J. Lundberg. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 162: 61-87. 2013.
G.I. Ramírez-Toro, J. Flanigan, H. Hertler, H. Minnigh. The San Juan: Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico. pp 99. 2013.
K. Ilves, L. Kellogg, A. Quattrini, G. Chaplin, H. Hertler, J. Lundberg. Bulletin of Marine Science. 87(3): 567-588. 2011.
G.I. Ramírez-Toro, H. Hertler. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology. 2011.
H. Hertler, G.I. Ramírez-Toro. In: Spatial Planning: Strategies, Developments and Management. Eds. E. Ciccotelli, B. Caló. Nove Science Publishers. pp 57-83. 2012.
H. Hertler, A.R. Boettner, G.I. Ramírez-Toro, H. Minnigh, J. Spotila, D.A. Kreeger. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 58: 672-678. 2009.
W. Jaap, J.M. Dupont, L. Kellogg, G. Chaplin, H. Hertler. Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. 18:752-756. 2008.
H. Hertler, J. Spotila, D.A. Kreeger. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 98 (1-3) pp 319 – 407. 2003.


H. Hertler, G.I. Ramírez-Toro. Association for the Science of Limnology and Oceanography, San Juan, PR. 2011.
H. Hertler, G.I. Ramírez-Toro, D. Kreeger. National Shellfish Association, Savannah, GA. 2009.
H. Hertler, L. Martinez, D.A. Kreeger, H. Minnigh, G.I. Ramírez-Toro. Estuarine Research Foundation, Providence, RI. 2007.
H. Hertler, G.I. Ramírez-Toro, H. Minnigh. International Conference on the Status of Biological Sciences in the Caribbean and Latin America, Guyana, South America. 2007.
H. Hertler, G.I. Ramírez-Toro, H. Minnigh. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Victoria, BC. 2006.
H. Hertler, L. Martinez, D.A. Kreeger, G.I. Ramírez-Toro. 98th Annual International National Shellfish Association Conference. Monterey, CA. 2006.
H. Hertler, D.A. Kreeger, G.I. Ramírez-Toro. 17th Biennial International Estuarine Research Federation Conference, Seattle, WA. 2003.
H. Hertler, D.A. Kreeger. 16th Biennial International Estuarine Research Federation Conference, St. Petersburg, FL. 2001.
H. Hertler, D.A. Kreeger, G.I. Ramírez-Toro. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Albuquerque, NM. 2001.
H. Hertler, D.A. Kreeger, J.P. Spotilla. 15th Biennial International Estuary Research Foundation Conference, providence, RI. 2000.