About me

I am a research scientist for The Ocean Health Index at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, California, USA.

I earned my PhD from Stanford University in 2012, based at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California in the Gilly Lab. After graduating, I conducted a postdoctoral project with collaborators from Hopkins, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). I completed my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004.

My dissertation and postdoctoral research focused on the movement and habitat of the Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas), a large, pelagic predator living in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Along with the opportunities to contribute new knowledge to scientific fields with direct ties to policy, being able to collaborate with and learn from fantastic people is why I love being a scientist. Please see below for highlights from my current and past work.

Research Highlights

The Ocean Health IndexThe Ocean Health Index captures the benefits people gain from oceans along with the stresses we exert to assess how healthy oceans are globally and at smaller scales. This project was developed by a diverse group of experts across disciplines both inside and outside of academia, and it combining environmental, economic and social information to measure the health of the oceans.
Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 11.24.24 PM Combined climate- and prey-mediated range expansion of the Humboldt squidMy postdoctoral research extended from my doctoral work, using in situ observations collected by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that observed thousands of Humboldt squid off central California since their initial invasion in late 1997. In this work we created a robust index of relative abundance to be used in fisheries and ecosystem modeling. We focused on dissolved oxygen as a climate change stressor in midwater marine ecosystems, investigating predator and prey interactions in response to this important variable  using two independent modeling approaches.

Credit: Alex Norton

Horizontal and Vertical movement of the Humboldt squid in the California Current SystemMy doctoral research focused on Humboldt squid and stemmed from the impacts they could have on local ecosystems and economies. As part of my thesis I studied the behavior and habitat of Humboldt squid using electronic tags that tracked the movement of individual squid vertically and horizontally. Highlights of my research include:
  • velocities that are faster and sustained for longer periods than previously known
  • daily vertical migrations to depths over 0.5 kilometers
  • over nine hours in hypoxic conditions in the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ)
  • deep dives to nearly 1.5 kilometers depth, through the OMZ
  • movement on and off the continental shelf

Credit: Biological Bulletin

Fish-hunting behavior of a California cone snail I conducted this work as an undergraduate with Dr. Bill Gilly at Hopkins Marine Station. We documented learned fish-hunting behavior in a snail that paralyzes prey using toxin-filled harpoons. This work was published as the cover article in the Biological Bulletin (photo by Todd Anderson), and as Editor’s Pick it is freely available.