I’m a quantitative ecologist using data science, modeling, and synthetic approaches to solve interdisciplinary environmental problems. Ultimately, I aim to improve how humans understand, manage, and use nature. Most of my research investigates how human activities alter biogeographic patterns and ecological processes. I am particularly interested in whether, why, and how fast species are shifting their spatial distributions in response to climate change, and the consequences for nature and for people.
Although research is my focus, I am continually striving to translate science into action. In my postdoc position in Malin Pinsky’s lab supported by the Lenfest Ocean Program, I’m collaborating with managers and fishers through the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council. Before starting my PhD, I worked for two years at the Environmental Defense Fund as a High Meadows Fellow. I’ve also served on a Science for Nature and People Partnership working group.
I’m committed to science communication and open science. All of the code for my published research can be viewed on GitHub. I learned most of my R coding skills from eco-data-science, a data science study group that facilitates knowledge sharing within the Santa Barbara environmental community. I’ve taught numerous coding workshops in R, on topics including workflows and collaboration, GitHub, and data wrangling with the Tidyverse.
When I’m not at my desk, I can usually be found at the farmer’s market or volunteering in my community. Service aimed at redressing societal inequality is a core part of who I am and what I do, within academia and beyond. At present I’m a mentor for at-risk youth in Trenton, NJ, and serving on two Rutgers DEI Committees – one for the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, and another for Ecology and Evolution.
PhD, Environmental Science and Management, 2020
University of California Santa Barbara
BA, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2012
I study ecological processes and biogeographical patterns, in the context of human impacts. My work falls into three main areas:
Species around the globe are shifting their ranges in response to climate change. However, 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. My research aims to advance our mechanistic understanding of processes that govern species distributions in the Anthropocene, and consequently, our ability to forecast those distributions.
I’m currently developing a process-based “dynamic range model” to forecast short-term range shifts in marine species using a hierarchical Bayesian framework. In my PhD, I conducted empirical analyses using biodiversity survey data to test how well range edges of marine species have tracked temperature over time. I have also studied the implications of climate-related range shifts for marine protected area design.
Fishing has the potential to provide protein with a low greenhouse gas footprint to billions of people, and to support livelihoods in countless coastal communities. Unfortunately, most fisheries in the world are associated with problematic social or ecological outcomes—or both. I’ve engaged with fisheries both through primary research and through collaboration and outreach with stakeholders. In my postdoctoral research, I’m partnering with fishers and managers in the Mid-Atlantic region to inform the design and field-testing of process-based models for short-term species distribution forecasting. During my High Meadows Fellowship at the Environmental Defense Fund (2012-2014), I worked to improve the economic viability of the West Coast groundfish trawl fishery. I continue to engage with fisheries management as a consultant, and am also involved in academic projects focused on social dimensions of fisheries management.
Coastal marine ecosystems, such as seagrass beds and coral reefs, support tremendous biodiversity and ecosystem services. These habitats experience a multitude of human impacts, but often the most damaging is the direct influx of sediments, nutrients, and other forms of pollution in runoff from rivers. As an undergraduate, I compared the molluscan community of fossilized vs. modern coral reefs in Caribbean Panama, finding a significant transition away from herbivores and toward filter-feeders over time—consistent with increased nutrient pollution as humans developed agriculture in the area. I also participated in a Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) working group on Ridges to Reef Fisheries, working to design decision support tools for land-sea management in data-poor coastal regions. At UCSB, I mentored several undergraduate and masters thesis projects related to freshwater and coastal ecosystems.