Our Team

Our Plant Science & Collections Team

Melissa Cullina, Director of Plant Science and Collections

Melissa is a botanist and conservation biologist leading the development of Coastal Maine Botanical Garden’s conservation research program to identify and anticipate climate change impacts to plants, understand changes and patterns in Maine’s wild plant biodiversity, and support and protect native plant biodiversity in a changing climate. Formerly serving as the Director of Education at the Gardens and a botanist with the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, Cullina specializes in aquatic plants, coastal botany, and rare species conservation. Cullina is the first author of The Vascular Plants of Massachusetts: A County Checklist, First Revision (2011), is presently the Vice President and Program Chair of the New England Botanical Society, and has served on the editorial board of the botanical journal, Rhodora, and as chair of the Conservation Committee of the board of trustees of Maine Audubon. Melissa holds an MS degree in botany and plant pathology from the University of Maine, where she researched seed ecophysiology and germination in sweet-fern (Comptonia peregrina).

Katherine Brewer, Curator of Living Collections

Katherine is a horticulturist passionate about plant conservation, horticulture, and public gardens, and is especially interested in the many ways public gardens work to conserve plants. Before joining Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Katherine earned an MS in horticulture from the University of Minnesota, where she researched methods to improve survival rates of prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) in restoration plantings. In recognition of this research, Katherine received the 2021 Hope Goddard Iselin Fellowship in Public Horticulture from the Garden Club of America and the American Public Gardens Association. At the Gardens, Katherine’s work focuses on building and supporting the many ways the living collections contribute to our mission to connect people, plants, and nature. This work includes developing collections plans, managing plant health initiatives, and sharing information about our collections with visitors and the public.

Spencer O’Bryan, Science and Collections Information Specialist

Spencer joined the staff at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens as the Science and Collections Information Specialist in 2021, realizing a lifelong dream of living in Maine. After attending Carleton College, where he majored in Geology, Spencer began formal training in horticulture, combining his love of plants, the natural sciences, and conservation. Spencer completed internships in Conservatory Management and Native Plant Curation at Longwood Gardens and Mt. Cuba Center, respectively, after which he continued his work in plant records management and curation at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. His work at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens involves all aspects of data management and GIS mapping for the three major collections and for conservation research.

Bret Bemis, Conservation Coordinator

Bret Bemis recently joined our team as Conservation Coordinator. Bret earned his B.S. at the University of Vermont in biology with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology, where he developed his strong interest in field identification and mapping of plants and wildlife. His prior experience includes work as a seed harvester, organic farmer, and military non-commissioned officer. His work at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens involves field work coordination, landowner outreach, seed collection and processing for ex situ conservation and research, herbarium operations, plant species survey, documentation, and threat assessment.


We are inspired and honored by the commitment of our incredibly dedicated team of volunteers who assist us and help fuel progress week after week! From mounting, filing, or imaging herbarium specimens, to engraving plant labels, to researching hardiness zones for the Garden Explorer portal, to monitoring milkweed and monarch life stages, to adding new library volumes, our volunteers go the distance! Thank you! Interested in joining our volunteer team? Contact Spencer O’Bryan at sobryan@mainegardens.org.


Seasonal internship topics evolve from year to year depending on our current projects, but one thing remains constant: we love mentoring people in our fields! Recent internships have included Plant Records Curation Intern, Plant Science and Collections Intern, Botanical Research Intern. Internships are always experiential and feature the opportunity to complete a project and staff presentation. For more information on current openings, visit the Jobs & Internships section of our site.