About Us

Hello, we are the Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network!

We are a team of National Park Service scientists, mostly based in Rhode Island. Our role is to gather ecological data from the eight national parks within our network. We use this data to help park managers make informed management decisions. As the North Atlantic coast experiences more frequent and intense weather events due to global climate change, the need to understand how park ecosystems are doing and responding becomes critical to protecting their future.

Each day we get to spend in the field is a day well spent. Our team is made up of ecologists, biologists, GIS specialists, geomorphologists, and botanists. Some of us did our graduate research in a Brazilian forest, worked with piping plovers in Massachusetts. Some teach botany and taxonomy at the University of Rhode Island. Get to know us better below and feel free to contact us.

Sara with her daughter standing in front of a waterfall

Sara Stevens

Contact: (401) 290-7687

Sara is our Network Program Manager. From the University of Rhode Island, she received her M.S. in Natural Resources in 1995 and B.A. in Anthropology in 1990. Sara’s graduate research took her to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest of Sergipe, where she studied the effects of forest edge and landscape dynamics on mammal populations. Before joining NCBN in 2001, she was an ecologist for the State of Massachusetts and a wetland ecologist for a Rhode Island consulting firm. Sara is particularly passionate about conserving mammal, bird, and amphibian populations around the world, and often spends her vacation time in Vietnam with her two daughters.

Portrait of Dennis wearing a light green polo shirt with NPS arrowhead

Dennis Skidds

Contact: (401) 374-4994

Dennis is our Data Manager. He received his M.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Rhode Island (URI) in 2003 after receiving his B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from Brown University in 1995. For his graduate research, he studied vernal pools as breeding grounds for vulnerable amphibians. Before joining NCBN in 2007, Dennis worked with the URI Environmental Data Center on natural resource related GIS, web design, and data management products for academic and government clients. He has volunteered for the NPS on grassland habitat restoration and monitored piping plovers for the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Holly sits at a table with sunglasses on her head and wears a white shirt

Holly Plaisted

Contact: (401) 318-6852

Holly is a Biologist and Project Lead for NCBN's estuarine water quality and seagrass monitoring. She has a B.S. in Environmental Conservation and an M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of New Hampshire and worked at Cape Cod National Seashore for over 10 years as a Biotech and most recently a Biologist and Data Manager. Her experience includes leading field and laboratory teams in monitoring coastal ecosystems including salt marsh (vegetation, nekton, and breeding birds), estuary (water quality and seagrass), freshwater lake and wetland (water quality and vegetation), and ocean beach in support of natural resource management decision-making. In her previous position with the park, Holly also acted as the park’s state-listed breeding and migrating shorebirds program coordinator. Holly lives on Cape Cod.

Jim wearing a blue waterproof jacket and light green NPS cap

James Lynch

Contact: (410) 924-5412

Jim is a Biologist and Project Lead for NCBN’s tidal wetland elevation monitoring. Jim received his M.S. in Biology from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette in 1989 and his B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Delaware in 1986. Jim's graduate research focused on Sedimentation and Nutrient Accumulation in Mangrove forests in the US and Mexico. Prior to joining the NPS, Jim worked for the US Geological Survey researching elevation change in wetland environments. He has extensive experience in all aspects of monitoring of elevation change in wetland ecosystems, including GPS surveying and the installation and use of the Surface Elevation Table (SET). Jim also coordinates SET monitoring activities for the Northeast Temperate and National Capital Region Networks.

Robin wearing a black jacket in a forested area

Robin Baranowski

Contact: (401) 318-9812

Robin is a Biological Science Technician at NCBN. She received her B.S. in Wildlife Conservation Biology from the University of Rhode Island (URI) in 2010. Before joining NCBN, Robin was a research assistant in URI’s Natural Resources Department, and currently teaches field botany and taxonomy at URI during the summer and fall semesters. She supports NCBN’s many inventory and monitoring projects and has helped produce natural resource publications for NPS. Robin has a knack for identifying terrestrial and aquatic plants and wildlife (and pet) photography.

Scott wears sunglasses and a hat and holds monitoring equipment

Scott Rasmussen

Contact: (401) 374-3837

Scott is our Assistant Data Manager and Coastal Geomorphology Monitoring Biological Science Technician. From the University of Rhode Island (URI), he received his Master of Environmental Science and Management degree in 2013 and his B.A. in Geology and Geological Oceanography in 2011. As a graduate student, Scott monitored coastal geomorphological change along Rhode Island’s south shore for the Rhode Island Geological Survey. Before joining NCBN, he worked for URI’s Environmental Data Center, where he led field research in salt marsh monitoring, habitat restoration, and coastal shores monitoring projects. Scott’s expertise is in using survey-grade GPS, GIS and coastal geomorphology.

Last updated: December 17, 2021