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.
Dr. Aldo Turco is the Tropical Marine Conservation Biology Faculty for CIEE and co-teaches Marine Ecology Field Research Methods and Independent Research. 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


Marc Tsagaris is the facilities mananger at CIEE Research Station Bonaire and Instructor on the Advanced scuba course.
 John DeBuysser is the teaching assistant for Advanced Scuba and Marine Ecology Field Research Methods. Hailing from South Bend, Indiana, he somehow developed a passion for the ocean at a young age and has had the opportunity to explore and study in the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, and Cayman Islands. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Biology-Environmental Studies at Whitman College in the spring of 2017.
Fun fact: He chose to go west for college to get out of the corn fields of Indiana but ended up in the wheat fields of Washington. Some things never change.
Leah Wessler is the teaching assistant for Coral Reef Ecology and Independent Research. On top of that, she is the designated the food and transportation coordinator, and tamer of the station truck. Originally she is from Ashland, Oregon
and is a recent graduate of Colorado College. Leah attended the CIEE Bonaire Abroad Program in Spring of 2016.
Fun Fact: She is tragically allergic to chocolate.
Lydia Tobin is the Research Laboratory Intern at CIEE Bonaire for the fall semester 2017. She is assisting with the Independent Research and Marine Ecology Field Research Method courses. Lydia completed her B.A. degree in molecular biology with Colorado College in spring 2017. Fun Fact: In her free time she enjoys spinning poi (fire-spinning).
Shannon Brown is the teaching assistant for Tropical Marine Conservation Biology and Independent Research, and she manages the residence hall. She is from Chicago, IL, and she recently graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Marine Biology. Shannon was a former student of CIEE Bonaire in Spring 2017.
Fun Fact: She have played the winter sport of curling since I was five years old.
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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