MBI and Science

Science is the foundation
of everything we do.

Meet the Board Employment

MBI has been providing scientific research and education since 1997. We offer a unique skillset, bringing together sound science and education based on extensive expertise and experience. Many of the techniques broadly utilized in standardized aquatic resource monitoring across Ohio and the Midwest were pioneered by members of the MBI team. We bring this expertise to the field, to the classroom, and to all that we do.

Meet The Team

Allison Boehler

Allison Boehler

Allison Boehler has been the Administrative Manager of MBI since 2003. Her responsibilities include monitoring and managing the daily administrative, fiscal, human resource and operational needs of MBI, including the management and administrative tracking of all grants and projects. In addition, she oversees the development and operation of the MBI Education Program and is a key contributor in determining the strategic direction of MBI. She was most recently Administrative Manager and Conference Coordinator at the Ohio Biological Survey, and served as the first Education Director at the Ohio Wildlife Center. Her interests include environmental policy and general awareness, keeping current with environmental issues, and being involved in environmental and educational networking. She received a B.S. in Wildlife Management from The Ohio State University.

Administrative and Education Director
Chelsea Dingess

Chelsea Dingess

Chelsea Dingess has been a part of the MBI team since 2019. Starting as a Field Technician on the water chemistry crew, she quickly advanced to Crew Leader. At MBI, Chelsea is also the Administrative Assistant and has a wide range of responsibilities from office organization, record keeping, and communication to field sampling chemistry, macroinvertebrate sorting, datasonde deployment, sediment collection, filtering chlorophyll and preparing and shipping samples. She also plays a key role in the MBI Education Program, where she coordinates and facilitates the courses. Chelsea studied at The Ohio State University and has BS degree in Natural Resources Management and is a Level 3 Qualified Data Collector for Water Chemistry and QHEI.

Aquatic Ecologist & Administrative Assistant
Trent Dougherty

Trent Dougherty

Trent Dougherty joined MBI as Executive Director in September of 2022. Trent is responsible for overseeing the overall management of the organization, and for the development of MBI policies, procedures, and operations. He is a nonprofit and environmental attorney, and is Partner at the law firm Hubay Dougherty LLC. Before joining MBI, Trent was General Counsel for the Ohio Environmental Council and its family of organizations for over 16 years. He represented the OEC and its members before the Environmental Review Appeals Commission, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Ohio General Assembly, and Congress. Trent also created and directed the OEC’s Ohio Environmental Law Center. He has published and presented on numerous environmental, energy, and natural resources law and non-profit law issues. Trent received a B.A. from the Ohio State University and a Juris Doctorate from Capital University Law School.

Executive Director
Jack Freda

Jack Freda

Jack Freda has been a Macroinvertebrate Ecologist with MBI since early 2013. He is a certified Level 3 macroinvertebrate biologist, and conducts multiple macroinvertebrate surveys. He also assists and conducts training in field sampling, sample processing, and laboratory identification procedures and techniques. He is responsible for various technical report writing and editing tasks encompassing the range of biological, chemical, and physical habitat survey assessments conducted by MBI. He recently retired from the Ohio EPA with 38 years of experience specializing in macroinvertebrate sample collection and identification, and analysis of data from streams and rivers in Ohio and the Midwest. He assisted with the development of the Ohio EPA Invertebrate Community Index (ICI), and the VAP Program Level 3 macroinvertebrate training. He received a B.S. in Fisheries Management from Ohio State University.

Macroinvertebrate Ecologist
Vickie Gordon

Vickie Gordon

Vickie L. Gordon began her career at MBI in 2004 as a part-time field technician. In 2007, Vickie accepted the full-time position as Aquatic Ecologist and Field Crew Leader. Over the years with MBI, Vickie transitioned from working primarily with fish to chemical water quality. She is currently the Projects and Data Management Coordinator, where she works closely with the Research Director on project details, and oversees field logistics and field crew coordination. Vickie is a Level 3 Fish and QHEI Qualified Data Collector and a Level 3 Water Chemistry Qualified Data Collector.

Projects and Data Management Coordinator
Martin Knapp

Martin Knapp

Martin Knapp has been an Aquatic Ecologist with MBI since 2007. He is the lead macroinvertebrate taxonomist and is currently involved with macroinvertebrate sampling, identification, and report writing for MBI projects including assessments in the Great Miami River, Mill Creek, and the Little Miami River basins in southwest Ohio, the Black River lacustuary, the Dupage River in Illinois, and the Elkhart River in Indiana. Past projects at MBI include statistical analyses of macroinvertebrate and diatom assemblages from wetlands, and macroinvertebrate identifications from Georgia streams. At Ohio EPA from 1981 until his retirement in 2007, he sampled macroinvertebrates throughout Ohio, performed bioassays on Ohio discharger effluents, coordinated biological and water quality assessments, wrote Water Quality Based Effluent Limit (WQBEL) reports, and developed a wetland invertebrate community index for Ohio’s wetland program. He received a B.S. and M.S. in Biology from the University of Akron, an M.A.S. in statistics from Ohio State University, and is currently enrolled at Columbus State Community College pursuing continuing education.

Macroinvertebrate Ecologist
Mick Micacchion

Mick Micacchion

Mick Micacchion developed all of the wetland courses that comprise MBI’s Education Program and has been an instructor for MBI courses since 2013. He is an expert trainer in wetland delineation and wetland assessment methods, and prior to coming to MBI instructed courses at Ohio EPA. While working at Ohio EPA as a Wetland Ecologist, he either developed or collaborated to develop the Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity (AmphIBI), Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity (VIBI), and the Ohio Rapid Assessment Method (ORAM) for Wetlands. He enjoys sharing the science behind and the protocols of the courses he instructs and strives to ensure that those who have taken his courses gain the ability to conduct the covered wetland assessments on their own. Mick is a Professional Wetland Scientist and received a B.S. and M.S. in Wildlife Management from Ohio State University.

Wetland Courses Instructor
Pete Precario

Pete Precario

Pete Precario was the Executive Director of MBI from 2007 through August of 2022. He was also an environmental attorney until January of 2022, and previously worked at the Ohio EPA as Chief of the Litigation Development Section. In that position he was responsible for Ohio EPA case management and for the development of many OEPA regulations. He practiced law in Columbus, Ohio, principally environmental law involving matters across the State of Ohio. He was appointed by Governor Celeste to serve on the Environment Board of Review (now called the Environmental Review Appeals Commission) and served as Chairman. He has been involved in a number of commissions and advisory boards relating to OEPA management and the development of regulations and standards. Pete received a B.A. from the Ohio State University and a JD from the Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University.

Senior Policy Advisor
Edward Rankin

Edward Rankin

Edward T. Rankin has been an Aquatic Ecologist with MBI since 2012, having worked on MBI projects since 2003. He is currently involved in developing an Integrated Priority System for addressing multiple point and nonpoint source impacts for the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSDGC). Other current research includes: the effects of stressors on aquatic life in rivers, streams and watersheds; training on stream habitat assessment methods; development and application of biological criteria; and, derivation of biocriteria-based stressor targets and criteria for aquatic life. He was most recently a Senior Research Associate at the Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University (OU). This followed 19 years as an Environmental Scientist at the Ohio EPA working on developing biological criteria, the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index, and other water assessment methods. Past projects include an EPA STAR grant on watershed classification and stressor identification and serving on the National Academy of Sciences and EPA Science Advisory Boards. While at OU he collaborated on numerous MBI projects including an examination of the sensitivity of Unionid mussels to ammonia and other stressors, studies on coal mining impaired watersheds in southeast Ohio and research on data from US EPA’s National Rivers and Stream surveys. He received a B.S. in Biology from St. Bonaventure University, and an M.S. in Zoology from The Ohio State University.

Aquatic Ecologist
Alex Roller-Knapp

Alex Roller-Knapp

Alexander Roller-Knapp has been with MBI since 2009. He began as a field technician and is now the primary Macroinvertebrate Crew Leader. He is certified as a Level 3 Macroinvertebrate Qualified Data Collector with 13 years of field surveying experience. He leads work crews as well as assists with MBI training courses on sampling procedures and techniques. His interests include organizing community work days, fishing, salamander observation and anything outdoors. In 2017, he started an annual earth day river clean up that has removed over 13 tons of litter from the Olentangy and Scioto river banks. He has an associate degree in Environmental Science Safety and Health as well as a Macroinvertebrate Level 3 Qualified Data Collection certification from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Macroinvertebrate Ecologist
Matt Sarver

Matt Sarver

Matt Sarver has been with MBI since 2013 and is currently employed as a Fish Ecologist and Field Crew Leader. He began with MBI as a Field Technician on the National Rivers and Streams Assessment and was promoted to Assistant Crew Leader on multiple projects in 2014. His current research includes conducting biological surveys in rivers and streams for the purpose of water quality assessment across the Midwest. His main interest includes fish assemblages in lotic systems and their correlation with water quality. Prior to employment at MBI, Matt worked as an intern with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency at their Groveport Field office. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Zoology from the Ohio State University and is a Level 3 Qualified Data Collector for Stream Habitat Assessment - QHEI and Fish Community Biology in the state of Ohio.

Fish Ecologist
Anthony Sasson

Anthony Sasson

Anthony Sasson has been a Research Associate with MBI since 2018. He tracks Clean Water Act policy issues at the state and national level, such as aquatic biodiversity protection, stormwater, nutrient pollution and the Waters of the U.S. rule. He represents MBI in interactions with local watershed groups and state and local governments. He was most recently a freshwater conservation manager at The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, working on state and national policy and regulation, stream conservation technical issues, protection of Big Darby Creek and Lake Erie conservation. He has served on various advisory committees, such as for the Ohio EPA, Ohio Water Resources Council and Clean Ohio Fund. He participated in Ohio’s Western Lake Erie Basin water quality plans and projects (especially agricultural nutrient pollution), the USDA State Technical Committee, the Ohio Nutrient Reduction Plan, nutrient and other water quality standards, and provided numerous comments and communications for the Conservancy and MBI related to state water quality assessments, legislation, policies and rules related to water quality. He is active in the Ohio Scenic Rivers Association and the Darby Creek Association. He has over 40 years of experience in water quality and other environmental protection. He received a B.A. in Biology from Wittenberg University,a Masters of Environmental Science from Miami University, and a B.A. in Geological Sciences from The Ohio State University.

Research Associate
Ashley Smith

Ashley Smith

Ashley Smith joined MBI during the summer of 2021. As part of the macroinvertebrate team, she has had the opportunity to sample a variety of watersheds in both Illinois and Ohio. When she is not in the field, she assists with cleaning and sorting samples in preparation for identification. Prior to joining MBI, she worked as an intern at the Groveport field office of the Ohio EPA. Shortly after, she served for two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer at the Raccoon Creek Partnership. Ashley studied at Ohio University where she received a BS in Environmental Biology. Ashley is certified as a Level 2 Qualified Data Collector for Macroinvertebrates, and is working toward obtaining her Level 3 QDC certification.

Level 2 Qualified Data Collector
Roger Thoma

Roger Thoma

Roger F. Thoma has worked as an Aquatic Ecologist with MBI since 2008, and worked on MBI projects since 2004. He was most recently involved in finishing a three-year study of the conservation status of eleven Virginia crayfish and the genetics of a Virginia crayfish species complex. Other recent research activity includes the conservation status of seven Tennessee crayfish. He worked as a Research Associate with the Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University (OU), during which time he collaborated on numerous projects with MBI. This followed 22 years as an Environmental Scientist at the Ohio EPA working on the development of biological criteria (IBI-fishes) and a Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index for Lake Erie shorelines, as well as other water quality assessment methods. Past projects included a statewide distributional survey of Indiana’s burrowing crayfish with emphasis on select ecological components, life history studies of four Appalachian crayfish species, and conservation studies of numerous Ohio crayfish species and the crayfish fauna of the Flushing Escarpment. From 1990-1991 he served as a biological expert with US EPA in Washington, DC. He received a B.S. in Fisheries Management from Ohio State University. He has discovered and described sixteen new species of crayfish and is currently working on descriptions of five others he discovered during his research with MBI. Although now officially retired, Roger continues to work on his many projects with crayfish research, describing newly discovered species and writing a field guide to Ohio’s crayfish fauna.

Aquatic Ecologist Emeritus
Chris Yoder

Chris Yoder

Chris O. Yoder has been the Research Director of MBI since 2001 with 46 years of professional work experience. He is involved in the development and application of biological assessments and biological criteria, including the development of methods for rivers and streams, wetlands, and lakes. He is presently involved in numerous projects that employ monitoring and assessment, environmental indicators, and biological assessment. He has conducted reviews of 27 state and 3 federal bioassessment programs and has advised EPA, states, municipalities, and watershed organizations about the development and implementation of biological criteria and water quality standards. He was formerly a senior research associate at the Ohio University Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs (2000-7) and Manager of the Ecological Assessment Section at Ohio EPA (1976-2000). He is a lead instructor for the Qualified Data Collector training as part of the Ohio Credible Data program, serves on a U.S. EPA working group for biocriteria and bioassessments, and served on a National Research Council committee (2001) and a General Accounting Office panel (2012) concerning the role of science in TMDLs. He has authored more than 70 technical publications and more than 300 oral presentations. Current research includes biological and water quality assessment, water quality standards (WQS), Clean Water Act (CWA) policies, and assisting state, and non-governmental programs to improve their understanding and use of WQS and monitoring information. He received a B.S. in Natural Resources from The Ohio State University in 1973, and a M.A. in Zoology from DePauw University in 1976.

Research Director