Rita Dr. Rita Peachey is a marine ecologist and the Director of the CIEE Research Station in Bonaire since 2006; when the station was founded. She has a BS and MS from the University of South Florida and a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of South Alabama. At CIEE Bonaire. The high-impact academic programs Dr. Peachey has developed at CIEE for upper-level university biology students has resulted in twenty volumes of the student journal ” Physis: a journal of marine science” and the certification of 300+ Scientific Divers. Developing programs that focus on research skills, above and below water, and engaging students in active classrooms where exploration of the theoretical constructs of marine ecology and conservation are paramount to student achievement. Dr. Peachey has broad research experience with more than two decades of marine ecological research experience along the US Gulf coast, five years in Hawaii and a decade in Bonaire. Topics of research expertise include coral reef ecology, phototoxicity, invasive species, fish disease, and habitat use of endangered species. Currently residing in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean; Dr. Peachey is a member of the Nature Commission Bonaire and the Executive Director of the Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean. She was recently awarded a research grant from the National Science Organization of the Netherlands to study algae production for food, feed or energy.
dsc_0055 Dr. Franziska Elmer is the Coral Reef Ecology Faculty for CIEE and co-teaches Independent Research and Marine Ecology Field Research Methods. She started as Coral Reef Ecology Faculty at CIEE Bonaire in August 2016. In 2012, she spent a semester working as teaching, research and resident hall intern for the same CIEE program. Franziska received her BSc in Environmental Science and MSc in Ecology and Evolution from ETH Zurich in her home country Switzerland.  She completed her PhD in Marine Biology at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand studying benthic recruitment and calcification rates on a Pacific coral reef system. Franziska is a member of the International Society for Reef Studies and Society for Conservation Biology, where she is part of the Coral Reef working group. Her Master thesis titled “A discrete mathematical extension of conceptual ecological models: Application for the SE Florida shelf ” was awarded with the ETH Medal giving to the top Master thesis of each year. During her PhD, she was part of an interdisciplinary team of world experts who worked towards developing a novel reef resilience model with application and conservation and management.
Zac Kohl is the Tropical Marine Conservation Biology Faculty for CIEE and co-teaches Marine Ecology Field Research Methods and Independent Research. He is a PhD Candidate in Biology at the University of North Texas and he has a BS and MS from Portland State University. His dissertation research investigates the developmental physiology of the avian and reptilian cardiovascular system. He is trained in Biology but with a focus in comparative physiology and research experience in molecular, cell, and systems level physiology with fish, amphibian, reptile, and avian model and non-model species. In particular, his experience with stress and systems level physiology has provided context for biological questions and problems of the organism and its environment. In his time at PSU and UNT he developed a broad set of skills that encompasses embryonic and adult cardiovascular surgical techniques, molecular assays such as O2 binding curves, microsphere analysis of blood distribution, hemodynamic assessments, pharmacological manipulations, and RNA identification and quantification. These skills have prepared him to address biological questions on a holistic scale, from molecular biology to ecological physiology. He lives in Kralendijk, Bonaire.
Astrid Astrid Verstappen-de Jager is the dive safety officer, and instructor for Advanced Scuba and Cultural and Environmental History of Bonaire course. She was born in The Netherlands, spent much of her childhood in Curacao and has taught for CIEE, in Bonaire, since 2013. She studied at the University of Amsterdam and holds a master degree in Historical Musicology. As a resident of the former Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire and The Netherlands, she is uniquely qualified to teach the Cultural and Environmental History of Bonaire.
Astrid Verstappen-de Jager is the Dive Safety Officer for CIEE’s dive safety program that operates under the auspices of AAUS. She is an Instructor Trainer for Scuba Divers International/Technical Divers International and trains CIEE students as Open Water, Advanced Open Water, and Rescue divers. Correspondingly, she is an Instructor Trainer for Divers Alert Network and trains CIEE students in Dive Emergency Management and Oxygen First Aid. The dive training in Advanced Scuba provides the dive skills acquisition required for student certifications as AAUS Scientific Divers. She lives in Rincon, Bonaire.
Year-Round Staff
mary Mary DiSanza is our Business Manager. She was born & raised in Colorado, a state with a long-term commitment to protecting the environment. Computers, banking, & law gave way to scuba diving & travel, and skis were traded in for dive gear. Bonaire was an island far ahead of its time. Mary worked as a Dive Instructor & Retail Manager for a dive shop on Bonaire for several years, before branching out to the resort / management side of the business.
dsc_0053  Sara Buckley is the Lab Manager, Office Manager and co-manages the Residence Hall. She also assists with the Advanced Scuba class.


Marc Tsagaris is the facilities mananger at CIEE Research Station Bonaire and Instructor on the Advanced scuba course.
SJ Byce is a teaching assistant for Coral Reef Ecology and Independent Research, and co-manages the residence hall.
Maddie Emms is a teaching assistant for Tropical Marine Conservation Biology and Independent Research. She is from England but was based by the Red Sea for her Masters degree in Marine Science, focussing on the population genetics of ‘host’ anemones. Before starting at CIEE, she worked as a Caribbean Reef Ecology lecturer in Mexico.
martijn-koot Martijn Koot is the research laboratory intern.
Courtny Klatt is a former student of and volunteer intern for CIEE Bonaire.
dsc_0044 Jamie Emm is a volunteer intern studying zooplankton response to UV light.
Dushi in chair Dushi (which means ‘sweetheart’ in Papiamentu) is CIEE’s service dog. At night she is a fierce guardian of the premises, during the day she guards student and staff’s mental health. She’s the only staff member that doesn’t have to wear a shirt in her staff picture.

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