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Samantha Iliff

Enviornmental Scientist

Ms. Iliff is an ecologist with experience in coastal habitat restoration, ecosystem ecology, marine pollution science, and statistics. She has 8+ years of research experience focused on understanding the impacts of pollutants on marine ecosystems and advancing the science that underpins NRDA restoration scaling in coastal environments. Her research includes studies of how ecosystem services are both lost through human interactions and gained through restoration. Her work has spanned various regions and habitat types including seagrass beds, coral reefs, mangrove forests, oyster reefs, salt marshes, sandy beaches, rocky intertidal, and riverine ecosystems.

Ms. Iliff has responded to and assessed damages from oil spills of national significance, has conducted shoreline surveys and lead SCAT teams, and has performed scientific dives for coral reef damage assessment and restoration.

Prior to joining Polaris, Ms. Iliff was a research assistant and taught undergraduate level general ecology at the University of Michigan, was an environmental technician and research affiliate at the Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District, and was a Hollings Scholar with NOAA’s Restoration Center and Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.


M.S., 2022, University of Michigan, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

B.S., 2019, Florida Atlantic University, Marine Biology

Professional History

2020 to 2022 - UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab.  Graduate Research Assistant.

2020 to 2022 - Friends of The Environment and University of Michigan, Outreach Program Director.

2016 to 2021 - University of Michigan Program in Biology, Graduate Student Instructor.

2016 to 2019 - Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District, Laboratory Intern and Scientific Technician.

2019 - Tampa Bay Watch, Restoration and Education Intern.

2018 – NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and Restoration Center, Hollings Scholar Intern.

2018 – Hawaii DAR and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Field Assistant and Support Diver.

2015 to 2016 – Smithsonian Marine Station, Research Assistant in Harmful Algal Bloom Lab.

Cerifications and Skills

PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water SCUBA

NOAA Diver

AAUS Certified Scientific Diver

CPR/ First Aid/ AED


PADI Enriched Air NITROX

Diving First Aid for Professional Divers

ICS (100 and 200)

Select Publications

Iliff, S., Wilczek, E., Harris, R., Bouldin, R., Stoner, E. W. 2020. Evidence of microplastics from benthic jellyfish (Cassiopea xamanchana) in Florida estuaries. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 159.

Iliff, S., Harris, R., Stoner, E. W. 2019. Effects of Chronic Pesticide Exposure on an Epibenthic Oyster Reef Community. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 146, 502-508..

Taylor, E., Graham, A., Iliff, S., Challenger, G., and Owens, E. H. 2023. A Review on the Use of Bioremediation Agents for Oiled Shoreline Treatment. AMOP Technical Seminar on Environmental Contamination and Response. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Iliff, S. Rodriguez N., Parry M. 2018. Ecological Impacts of the Reef Runway Coral Nursery Oral Presentation at the Reef Futures 2018: A Coral Restoration and Intervention-Science Symposium. Key Largo, FL.

Rodriguez N., Iliff, S., Parry M. 2018. Evaluating corals of opportunity for an in-situ coral nursery at Reef-runway, Oahu, Hawaii. Oral Presentation at the Annual Science and Education Symposium. Silver Spring, MD.