Sally’s love of coastal ecosystems was no doubt inspired by growing up on the Atlantic seaboard. She majored in Biology at Goucher College (Towson MD) and spent college summers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. in Massachusetts. She then went on to earn an MS in Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Ecology, both at the Univ. of Connecticut. She has since worked as an aquatic microbial ecologist in such diverse ecosystems as sewage sludge, bog lakes, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
After a post-doc fellowship at SUNY Syracuse, Sally joined the faculty at Virginia Tech where she taught limnology and aquatic microbiology. Sally and her husband, Tom Caperna, moved to Arnold MD in 1985 when Tom accepted a research scientist position at USDA in Beltsville. While raising two children, Sally taught part-time at Anne Arundel Community College and then joined the faculty full time in 1993, teaching primarily ecology and microbiology; retiring from teaching in 2015. While at AACC, she was the scientific director of Operation Clearwater, a program started about 50 years ago by the Severn River Association to monitor the bacterial water quality of bathing beaches and marinas during the swimming season. She expanded this program in partnership with the Magothy River Association, the South River Federation, the West and Rhode Riverkeeper and the Advocates for Herring Bay so that bacterial water quality monitoring of all of the major tributaries in Anne Arundel County were included. She has also worked with the Severn River Association and the Magothy River Association to restore historic oyster bars and to encourage citizen science projects in water quality monitoring and monitoring of submerged aquatic vegetation. Sally is also on the board of the Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association and the Magothy River Land Trust as well as serving on the AA County Environmental Commission.
Sally and her husband get out on the Chesapeake Bay sailing and kayaking as much as possible in the summer and travel to visit a diversity of ecosystems as time permits. Their grown children and two grandchildren live in Baltimore and Virginia.