My dissertation research involved spatially predictive modeling and mapping of coral reef fish assemblages in Hawaii using remotely sensed bathymetric LiDAR (Light detection and ranging) data. After completing my Ph.D., I worked as a marine landscape ecologist and postdoctoral scholar on several interdisciplinary projects in Hawaii, California and the U.S. Virgin Islands. My role in many of my current interdisciplinary, collaborative projects centers around advancing the application of geospatial analytical techniques to support marine environmental problem-solving. Currently, my research is centered around three main themes:
Research Theme 1: Marine landscape ecology and spatially predictive modeling
Much of my work has focused on advancing the theoretical applications of a terrestrial landscape ecology approach in the marine environmental. Along those lines, I have recently co-authored two book chapters in the forthcoming book (May 2017) Seascape Ecology: Taking Landscape Ecology into the Sea. I am also currently working with collaborators at the University of La Rochelle, Auburn University and NOAA to establish a holistic theoretical framework for the sub-discipline of seascape ecology. Our goal is to bridge the gap between the reductionist view of quantitatively assessing and modeling ecosystem state and the holistic view that integrates people with nature.
I am also particularly interested in applying spatially predictive modeling and mapping approaches to inform place-based ocean governance. My applied landscape ecology research has focused on field-based ecological data collection and spatial modeling efforts in both tropical and temperate marine environments. In Hawaii, I worked with the NOAA Biogeography Branch to conduct >1,000 underwater marine ecological surveys to link our field-based work to new remotely sensed measures of the seascape to inform the geospatial analysis and modeling efforts.
Research Theme 2: Climate change effects on coastal ecosystems and communities
Within the Center for Ocean Solutions Climate Change Team, I am leading the coastal ecosystem service modeling and mapping efforts to inform climate adaptation planning along the California coast. To manage climate impacts, coastal communities are adapting using armored structures which can threaten coastal habitats and important ecosystem services. There are also a nature-based approaches that can help preserve or restore some of these coastal habitats and all of the services they provide. Our team provides land use policy and ecosystem service assessment expertise to coastal planners that translates the benefits of natural infrastructure into climate adaptation planning. Through iterative engagements, we help prioritize natural solutions and synthesize or distill policy relevant information.
Research Theme 3: Linking geospatial data science to ocean policy and governance solutions
Increasingly, my research has focused on the interface between science and policy and I often work with a highly interdisciplinary team of lawyers, social scientists and practitioners where I link place-based scientific research findings to inform ocean governance. The true utility of harnessing the power of geospatial analytical tools and techniques lies in the distillation of this information into actionable knowledge that can inform management and policy. For example, in a paper I led in Science, my colleagues from the Center for Ocean Solutions and co-authors from leading institutions around the world proposed a strategy for balancing commercial extraction of deep-sea resources with protection of diverse seabed habitats. The paper informed discussions by the International Seabed Authority that set the groundwork for future deep-sea environmental protection and mining regulations..