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Meet Your Instructors

Want to know more about who is teaching the PAT classes?  You've come to the right page.  DRC Training Institute's PAT instructors have a combined 100+ years of marine mammal experience.  DRCTI Instructors approach teaching with the core ideal of creating strong relationships between marine mammals and people based on trust and respect. The relationship and sense of partnership between marine mammals and people is a treasured part of DRC's equation. Based on this foundation, DRC has become a leader in animal care and training techniques, including world-renowned, innovative husbandry, research, and interactive programming.

A Photo of Mandy Rodriguez

Mandy Rodriguez

If you happen to meet Mandy on the grounds of Dolphin Research Center he may introduce himself as the gardener.  While he does love getting his hands dirty, this humble visionary is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Dolphin Research  Center. His philosophy of animal training is the backbone of DRC’s Animal Care and Training Department, and the DRCTI courses.  He pioneered facility construction for natural habitats, co-designing the fencing DRC uses with a dolphin partner named Kibby.  Working with DRC’s Animal Care and Habitat team, Mandy continues to make advancements in care and husbandry for marine mammals, including the threatened Florida manatees he helps rescue. Mandy has also been the recipient of the lifetime achievement award from IMATA.

Read Mandy's full biography

A Photo of Linda Erb

Linda Erb

As Vice President of the Animal Care & Training department, Linda sits on DRC's Steering Committee. This is the team that makes decisions that lead and direct our family's future. In addition to being the VP of the ACT department, Linda is the Director of the DRC Training Institute as well as an instructor. She is an integral part of DRC and DRCTI, one with the heart and philosophy of our unique family and a staff member since 1979.

A Photo of Loriel Keaton

Loriel Keaton

Loriel is the Director of Animal Care & Training at Dolphin Research Center in addition to being a DRCTI instructor.  Loriel first visited DRC in August 2001 when she participated in both Basic and Advanced DolphinLab. Those two weeks changed her life and from that point on Loriel knew she wanted to be a part of the DRC family.

Read Loriel's full biography.

A Photo of Jamie Stevens

Jamie Stevens

Jamie Stevens is the Assistant Director of Dolphin Research Center Training Institute as well as a Senior Trainer. From a young age, Jamie knew she always wanted to work with animals and she knew DRC was where she wanted to be. Jamie started volunteering at Dolphin Research Center in 2000, 2001, and 2002, while still in school.

Read Jamie's full biography.

A Photo of Sarah Brignac

Sarah Brignac

Sarah Brignac has worked at Dolphin Research Center for the past 12 years where she is currently Assistant Director of Communications, Fish  House, and Special Projects in the Animal Care & Training Department.  Sarah earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Louisiana in Lafayette.

Read Sarah's full biography.

A Photo of Emily Guarino

Emily Guarino

As Dolphin Research Center’s Director of Research Training & Data Collection, Emily’s primary responsibility is to coordinate all aspects of research studies which focus on cognition, behavior, and communication with DRC’s dolphins and sea lions, and field studies of wild dolphins.

Read Emily's full biography.

A Photo of Kelly Jaakkola

Kelly Jaakkola

Kelly Jaakkola is a cognitive psychologist, marine mammal scientist, and Director of Research for DRC. She earned her Master's degree in Psychology from Emory University, where she began her career studying cognition in chimpanzees and human children and received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from MIT.

Read Kelly's full biography.

A Photo of Erica Wisniewski

Erica Wisniewski

Erica has been at DRC for over 6 years and, in addition to being a trainer, has become an instructor for both the associates and certificate programs offered by DRCTI. Erica grew up in a small town in New Jersey right by the ocean and that is where her love for marine life grew.  She loved any type of aquarium or zoo that her family would take her to and she dreamed at a very young age that one day she would be able to work with marine mammals, and she never let go of that dream.

Read Erica's full biography.

A Photo of Noelle Belden

Noelle Belden

Noelle earned a B.A. in Psychology from Rollins College in 2003.  During her time there, she worked as a peer tutor for psychology and writing courses.   In 2005, Noelle decided to pursue her dream of working with marine mammals and accepted a position as an Educator at SeaWorld in Orlando, FL.  

A Photo of Courtney Coburn

Courtney Coburn

Courtney Coburn is the Administrative Director of Education at Dolphin Research Center.  Courtney's passion for the ocean and marine life began at the early age of three when she met Sammy the Sea Lion on a visit to Miami Seaquarium.  Visits to SeaWorld of Ohio throughout her childhood continued fueling her love of dolphins and marine mammals.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Biology, with a minor in Marine Science, from Wittenberg University in May 2007.

Read Courtney's full biography.

 

Our Mission - Through education, research and rescue, Dolphin Research Center promotes peaceful coexistence, cooperation and communication between marine mammals, humans and the environment we share with the well being of DRC's animals taking precedence.
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