Publications and CV

My publications are listed on my Google Scholar and ResearchGate pages. Feel free to contact me for PDFs of any publications. You can download my CV here.

Research Interests

I study ecological processes and biogeographical patterns, in the context of human impacts. While I focus on oceans, I often test concepts developed on land in marine systems; I think working across realms helps to understand the universality of ecological theories and conservation approaches. The core themes of my research program are described below.

Climate biogeography

Species around the globe are shifting their ranges in response to climate change, reshuffling ecosystems and challenging paradigms of natural management. Yet species’ range shifts are highly variable, perhaps because many ecological and environmental processes besides climate also influence species distributions. Without understanding these other processes and how they interact with one another and with climate, it’s difficult to predict range shifts and make management recommendations. I work to advance our mechanistic understanding of processes that govern species distributions in the Anthropocene, and consequently, our ability to forecast those distributions. Some specific past, present, and future research topics in this vein include:

  • The degree to which range edges of temperate marine fishes are tracking temperature change (Fredston-Hermann et al. 2020, Fredston et al. 2021)
  • Whether marine biogeographic boundaries limit ranges via dispersal limitation or post-dispersal selection, and the consequences for range shifts
  • Advancing methods for ecological forecasting of range-shifting species, using both statistical and mechanistic modeling approaches
  • How marine protected areas can be designed to accommodate future range-shifting species (Fredston-Hermann et al. 2018)

Cumulative human impacts on marine ecosystems

Climate change may transform ecosystems through not only the “press” of gradual warming but also the “pulse” of extreme events like heatwaves. I led research finding that demersal marine fish communities do not exhibit a consistent response to marine heatwaves (Fredston et al. 2023)–surprising, given the dramatic effects marine heatwaves have had in shallower ecosystems such as coral reefs and kelp forests. Next, I plan to explore the mechanisms driving ecological responses to marine heatwaves to understand why some heatwaves are much more damaging than others.

While my research program centers on climate change, sustainable oceans require managing other human impacts, including runoff and fishing. Runoff – the direct influx of sediments, nutrients, and other forms of pollution carried to coastal oceans from rivers – directly threatens sensitive habitats that are crucial to biodiversity conservation, like coral reefs and seagrass beds. I have participated in numerous collaborations that worked to provide operational tools for land-sea management, particularly in data-limited settings (Brown et al. 2019, Fredston-Hermann et al. 2016).

Well-managed fisheries could provide protein with a low greenhouse gas footprint to billions of people and support livelihoods in countless coastal communities. Unfortunately, many fisheries in the world are associated with problematic social or ecological outcomes – or both. I engage with fisheries both through primary research and through collaboration and outreach with stakeholders. For example, I collaborated with economists to demonstrate that the biogeographical dynamics of high-value fishery target species like tunas influence whether it is profitable to harvest them to extinction (Burgess et al. 2017).

Open science and meta-science

To meet planetary challenges, we need to – as Dr. Julia Stewart Lowndes and friends put it – do “better science in less time”. I work to implement best practices for open and reproducible science in my research. Beyond my lab, I’ve contributed extensively to collaborations aimed at making it easier for my field to do impactful science, from demystifying climate scenarios for marine ecology audiences (Burgess et al. 2023) to building a data infrastructure that standardized dozens of publicly-available bottom trawl surveys from around the world (Maureaud et al. 2024). I’ve also written about the challenges and opportunities that the open science movement presents to the marine sciences, especially for early-career scientists (Fredston and Lowndes 2024).

Join the Lab

Thank you for your interest in joining the lab! UCSC is on the cutting edge of environmental and marine research. Strong support exists for interdisciplinary work and partnerships, via the Institute for Marine Sciences, NOAA’s Southwest Fishery Science Center, and more. I encourage prospective graduate students to explore the Ocean Sciences prospective student page, including the program prerequisites listed here.

The Fredston Lab is a computational group that develops and tests hypotheses about fundamental dynamics of marine ecosystems using theoretical models and Bayesian and frequentist statistics. Successful Fredston Lab members are likely to have experience and/or substantial interest in these methods. In other words, there is a lot of math, probability, and code involved, and most people in the group will not be collecting primary (field or lab) data. That said, I am open to a broad array of approaches to answering these questions, and committed to training early career researchers in quantitative methods. Regardless of technical background or research topic, everyone in the lab is enthusiastic about open science principles and practices.

I am always open to co-developing proposals for fellowships and other externally funded positions, such as the PPFP (due annually in November), Smith Fellowship (due annually in September), and NSF Ocean Sciences and Biology postdoctoral fellowships (due annually in November). I expect PhD students in the lab to apply to competitive fellowships for which they are eligible, including the NSF GRFP, NDSEG, the NOAA Population and Ecosystem Dynamics Fellowship.

Many lists exist of national fellowships; you may find some relevant graduate fellowships on this University of Miami page, some postdoc fellowships on this University of Minnesota page, and both on Dr. Jurgens’ page. Johns Hopkins University also maintains lists of graduate and postdoctoral fellowships for all research fields.

I may also have additional funding for students and postdocs to join the lab. All prospective lab members should email me directly. I encourage you to include the following in your email:

  1. A short summary (one paragraph or less) of your background and career goals.
  2. A short summary (one paragraph or less) of why you want to come to UCSC, and to my lab specifically.
  3. A short summary (one paragraph or less) of a project you are interested in working on. (This is not binding in any way, but will give me a sense of what you are excited about and how you think. You can alternatively send a research proposal you’ve written, like an NSF GRFP application.)
  4. Your current CV and (for prospective undergrad or grad students) unofficial transcripts.

This great guide to emailing prospective PhD advisers by Dr. Hart at UNSW is worth reading, too (and if it’s paywalled for you just let me know and I will send you a copy).

I aim to respond to every email from a prospective lab member. However, I receive a ton of email every day, and occasionally I miss things. If you don’t get a response (or out-of-office reply) from me within a week or two, please feel free to email again.