About Me

San Diego-based postdoc, trotting around the world to learn about small-scale fisheries and conservation.

I am an NSF SEES Fellow and Conservation Assessment Scholar at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (CMBC).  I am investigating the interface between small-scale fisheries and conservation, based around the concept of stewardship.  I’m advised by Octavio Aburto at the Gulf of California Marine Program here at CMBC, and by Ratana Chuenpagdee at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Too Big To Ignore.  I’m working, and am planning to work, with many fantastic partners around the world, exploring exciting ideas about strengthening local-scale conservation in ways that ensure the rights and well-being of human communities as well as effective outcomes for biodiversity.

This topic builds on many of the concepts and approaches that grew through my Ph.D. work, also at SIO and CMBC.  My dissertation, “Conservation-scapes: An interdisciplinary approach to assessing cetacean bycatch in small-scale fisheries”, developed a social-ecological framework to study the accidental capture of marine mammals in small-scale fisheries.  This bycatch is a serious problem for the animals, and mitigating it requires careful consideration of the human communities involved. I applied this framework at four sites in SE Asia, focusing on the absurdly adorable Irrawaddy dolphin (Read more about my dissertation research here). This project marked my transition from an aspiring ecologist to an interdisciplinary researcher.

Capturing the “pesut” (Irrawaddy dolphin) on the Mahakam River, Indonesia

I grew up in Poway, California, and then braved the east coast to earn my B.A. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, with a certificate in Environmental Studies, from Princeton University in 2005.  I spent the next two years working as a field assistant  in Thailand, Kansas, and Texas (and as a vitamin clerk at Henry’s Market to tide me through low-money times…). Starting in college, I’ve been fortunate enough to study, assist in fieldwork, or conduct my own research in California, Texas, Kansas, Hawaii, Panama, Kenya, Thailand, Peru, Mexico, the Philippines, Madagascar, Indonesia, and Myanmar. I’ve also traveled to numerous other countries for meetings and even just for fun.  Each of these forays has gotten me more and more addicted to fieldwork and travels.  I’ve seen some incredible flora & fauna, met and befriended amazing people, experienced fascinating cultures, and enjoyed many adventures.

A morning with the “lampasut” (Irrawaddy dolphin) in Malampaya Sound, Palawan, Philippines

These experiences have inspired me to contribute to our understanding of conservation needs and solutions in a way that will help people, animals, and ecosystems in these places that I’ve come to love.  This motivates my wider research interest in interdisciplinary approaches to conservation science.  I’m working to build my skill set, experience, and perspectives from diverse field sites, projects, disciplines, and sectors. I also seek to understand and improve how the conservation community communicates and collaborates, so that recommendations resulting from research can better be linked to concrete, effective action. I see this as a quest for what I elegantly call “no bullshit conservation.”

Taytay paradise
At Casa Rosa, my part-time home in Taytay, Palawan, Philippines