My research group is comprised of diverse, dynamic, enthusiastic and collaborative folks. I encourage you to get in touch with them to learn more about their research.


Whitney Friedman

FriedmanW_CroppedWhitney is an interdisciplinary scientist aiming to bridge science and community engagement to promote sustainable marine ecosystems and resilient coastal communities. Her research has spanned across multiple systems, from social and cognitive complexity of wild bottlenose dolphins to the dynamics of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Whitney joined NCEAS in September 2018 as a NatureNet and SNAPP postdoctoral scholar. Her current work focuses on whether geomorphic features of global marine ecosystems are consistently associated with increased productivity, and whether protection of these areas is likely to promote resilience. Whitney is also working with the SNAPP Coastal Outcomes group to identify the kinds of management strategies that increase ecological and social benefits under different types of socioeconomic contexts. She previously worked as a postdoctoral scholar at NOAA Fisheries and received her PhD from UC San Diego.

Mireia Valle

 MireiaValleMireia Valle is a postdoctoral researcher from the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3). She will be based on NCEAS for the first two years of her postdoctoral research program, which will last 3 years. With her research, she wants to envision the social-ecological future of seascapes under climate change to help us address some of the problems that marine ecosystems are facing around the world. To do so, she will focus on marine fish functional and cultural traits. Mireia has been involved in the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Regional Assessment of the Americas. The objective of this initiative is to provide relevant data to support decision making for conservation policy and management worldwide. She collaborated on Chapter 5 of the Americas assessment, “Current and Future Interactions between Nature and Society”.
Marcus Thomson

Marcus Thomson is a postdoctoral scholar with the Iterative Eden Project (IEP) at NCEAS. IEP is a UCSB-based initiative to model the scientific foundation for a truly sustainable future with 10 billion people on the planet.

Marcus came to NCEAS from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, where he was a research scholar with the FABLE Pathways Project, supporting international partner countries to align their food and land-use systems with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His research interests revolve around human-environmental systems and societal responses to climate change over the long term.

Marcus earned his Ph.D. in geography from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his B.Sc. in physics and M.Sc. in neutrino astrophysics from Queen’s University in Canada. For his dissertation work at UCLA, he studied prehistoric climate change and its effects on incipient agricultural societies in the southwestern United States and Egypt. He shared in the 2016 Breakthrough Prize for Fundamental Physics for his earlier work on the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment in Canada.

Kaitlyn Gaynor is a postdoctoral researcher at NCEAS, studying the effects of human activity on terrestrial wildlife communities. Kaitlyn joined NCEAS in 2019 as a Director’s Postdoc and Schmidt Science Fellow. Kaitlyn’s research draws on behavioral and community ecology to examine the roles that people play in ecological systems, and the consequences of human-wildlife interactions for both parties. She is also interested in the broader effects of anthropogenic disturbance on ecological communities and associated feedbacks in coupled human-natural systems. Kaitlyn completed a Ph.D. in environmental science, policy, and management at the University of California, Berkeley, and she has conducted fieldwork in California and Mozambique.
Aflredo Giron
I study fisheries from a food security and poverty alleviation perspective. My goal is to work on scientific project that could help inform specific management strategies at local and regional levels.
Erin Satterthwaite
satterthwaite headshot

Erin Satterthwaite is a postdoctoral scholar with NCEAS & Future Earth through the PEGASuS 2: Ocean Sustainability partnership. In her position, she is developing a global map of biological ocean observing networks worldwide to support in the coordination of the biological Global Ocean Observing System, utilizing environmental DNA to better understand biodiversity patterns in the California Current, and developing and supporting initiatives to include underrepresented voices, such as early career professionals, into global policy processes.

Erin Satterthwaite is a marine ecologist who works at the interface of applied marine research, policy engagement, and science communication to advance ocean knowledge for sustainability. She is interested in ocean sustainability issues related to marine biodiversity, fisheries and mariculture, social-ecological systems, citizen science, and biological oceanography. Prior to joining the NCEAS & Future Earth partnership, Erin was a California State Sea Grant Fellow with the Environmental Research Division, a research unit of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

Erin completed a PhD in Ecology at the University of California, Davis and a B.A. in Biology at Juniata College.

Graduate Students
Patricia Cecelia Faundez Baez

Patricia_photoPatricia is a marine biologist, interested in marine conservation. She studied at the University of Concepcion in Chile, where she also was trained as a researcher working in an interdisciplinary scientific team. After that, she worked as an environmental consultant in Chile on a variety of conservation projects including biodiversity strategies and MPA planning, always in collaboration with stakeholders. Recently, she has worked as a GIS technician in the Gaines’s lab and McClintock’s lab at the Institute of Marine Sciences at UCSB, where she focused on making a diagnostic for marine spatial planning processes in Latin America and the Caribbean.
 MollyWilsonMolly Wilson is a Ph.D. student at U.C. Santa Barbara interested in integrating both social and ecological research to improve small-scale fisheries management. Her current research aims to assess the behavioral effects of fishing on coral reef ecosystems in Antigua and Bonaire, as well as the social and ecological implications of changes in fish behavior. Molly is also part of an ongoing project utilizing social network analyses, community surveys, and spearfishing selectivity studies to better understand drivers of fisher behavior in the Dominican Republic.
Sebastian Tapia
 SebastianSebastián is a PhD student at the Bren School, hoping to generate a better understanding of human responses to climate change in coastal systems. While documentation and predictions of marine species’ responses to climate change have greatly increased in recent years, we still know little about the human dimensions of adaptation to climate change. To date, the study of these human dimensions has focused on the idea of adaptive capacity, which addresses the ability of individuals and societies to cope with and respond to change. However, these studies have been mainly theoretical or descriptive and mostly based in case studies. For his PhD dissertation, Sebastián is exploring the human dimensions of climate change adaptation using a national-wide interview campaign coupled with agent-based modelling. First, Sebastián is assessing potential relationships between Adaptive Capacity indicators and actual adaptations of small-scale fishers to climate change effects in fisheries catch. He will then address the overall effect that these human responses have on the ecosystems that these fishers depend on. Sebastián hopes his research will inform and shape the evolution of existing institutions so they can integrate resilience-based management for small-scale fisheries in the light of a changing environment.
Casey O’Hara
caseyCasey’s interests in marine conservation, science communication, and environmental equity inform his work with the Ocean Health Index, adapting the OHI framework to understand the unique social, economic, and ecological context of British Columbia’s coast.  As part of his Masters thesis project at UCSB’s Bren School, he developed a spatial analysis tool to help the Bermuda government understand tradeoffs among ecological and economic values of offshore wind energy development.  He wrote on environmental issues for The Oregonian as an AAAS Mass Media Fellow in summer 2014, and remains active as a Senior Teaching Fellow with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation.


Research Analysts

Jamie Afflerbach
jamieJamie is a research assistant working on the Arctic Options project and the Ocean Health Index. She earned her B.Sc. from the University of Miami and a Masters degree from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UCSB. Previously Jamie has worked on projects in coral reef ecology, small scale fisheries and marine mammal conservation. At NCEAS Jamie uses open-source analytical tools to explore and synthesize spatial data to better understand human impacts to the global oceans.

Melanie Frazier
FrazierWebPhoto2Melanie works on the analyses and software development of the Ocean Health Index.  She likes finding novel ways to make complex data accessible and useful.

Paul-Eric Rayner
Juliette Verstaen
Danielle Ferraro
Gordon Blasco
Gage Clawson
Gage is a researcher working on the Ocean Health Index. He earned his B.Sc. in Statistics and Analytics and his B.A. in Music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Masters degree from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UCSB. His work at NCEAS involves coordinating the Ocean Health Index Fellows, as well as analyzing and improving the Ocean Health Index.

Committee Member
I also have served on the thesis committee for several students, including Gerald Singh (UBC), Erendira Aceves (UCSB), Emma Hodgson (UW), and Becky Wright (UCSB).

Past members of my research group include:

Halley Froehlich
Caitie Kuempel
Maya Almaraz
Katie Longo
Mary Hunsicker
Caitlin Crain
Crow White (now a professor at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo)
Jennifer O’Leary (now at Stanford University)

Graduate Students
Alexa Fredston-Hermann
Michael Burgass
Cris Elfes
Shaun Walbridge (Masters, 2012; now at ESRI)

Julie Stewart-Lowndes
Courtney Scarborough
Ben Best
Darren Hardy (now at Stanford University)
Colin Ebert
Ning Jiang
Dan Yocum

Research Assistants
Marla Ranelletti (now at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History)