Our supporting faculty teach, mentor and collaborate with our students.
Octavio Aburto-Oropezo, Ph.D.
Marine Biology Research Division
Dr. Aburto-Oropezo is an Associate Professor and Research Scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a National Geographic Explorer, and a professional photographer associated with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). He obtained his PhD at the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps in 2009 and has since been recognized and awarded by UC San Diego, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Mexican Ministry of the Environment (CONANP), and distinguished as both a Hellman and Pew Marine Fellow. His research has focused on marine reserves, ecosystem services, long-term monitoring programs, and commercially exploited marine species and their fisheries in Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and the U.S. Parallel to his science, his photographs have been integral to several conservation projects worldwide and have won several international photography contests.
Dick Norris, Ph.D.
Dick Norris' research focuses on the recent fossil record of reefs and coastal environments to evaluate the impact of human activities on these systems. He is particularly interested in how soil erosion and over-fishing of coastal marine environments has been affected by human social evolution. Hence, he has extensive interactions with marine archaeologists. In a recent research cruise, they addressed the questions, "What did the Romans (and other cultures) do to the marine ecosystems of the Mediterranean?" He has also worked on human impacts on the Mesoamerican Reef in Panama and Belize. His work has 'deep time' components as well. In recent research cruises, he has looked at the environmental record of SE Africa to understand how environmental change may have affected the progress of human evolution and the various "Out of Africa" migrations of humans and our ancestors. He is also interested in broader questions of Earth evolution such as whether the earth has a 'heartbeat' of biological production and how the history of oxygenation of Earth has affected the structure of marine ecosystems.
Lisa Levin, Ph.D.
Integrative Oceanography Division
Lisa Levin is a sea-going biological oceanography and Distinguished Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She has a PhD from Scripps, served on the faculty of North Carolina State University for 9 years and has been on the faculty at Scripps since 1992. Her research addresses the ecology of animal communities at the sea floor, including deep continental margins and coastal wetlands. She currently studies the environmental drivers shaping oxygen minimum zone and methane seep ecosystems, and the larger consequences of climate change (including deozygenation) and human industrialization for the deep sea. This work has taken her to deep waters of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans on over 40 research cruises, many employing submersibles, ROVs and AUVs. Dr. Levin is founder and co-lead of the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative, an international, multidisciplinary network of experts providing guidance on environmental management and sustainability of the deep ocean. She is also co-lead of the Deep-Ocean Observing Strategy, a GOOS program linking scientific observation to societal needs. From 2011-2017, Dr. Levin served as Director for the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps.
Sarah Mesnick, Ph.D.
NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Sarah Mesnick is an ecologist and communications/public and government relations specialist at NOAA Fisheries and adjunct professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Her research focuses on the social behavior, evolution and conservation of marine mammals. Her research aims to provide a framework within which to investigate stock identity, population trends, and fishery interactions in cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) from the perspective of the bonds, networks, and structure of animal societies. Her interests in marine mammal management have also expanded to market-based incentives for conservation. She's created the field of culinary conservation, merging her passion for the ocean conservation with her vision for a healthy, resopnsibly-sourced seafood supply chain. Current projects include "culinary engineering", a San Diego based effort to reduce seafood waste and increase the value of local fisheries, "Storied Seafood" which uses photographic arts to tell the stories of fishermen using new gears for reducing bycatch, and the "Ocean to Table" series to promote interaction and collaboration among scientists, the fishing industry, culinary community and seafood supply chain.
Jen Smith, Ph.D.
Marine Ecology and Conservation
Jen is a coral reef ecologist with primary expertise in benthic communities (marine plants, corals and other invertebrates). Her primary interests are in determining how various physical and biological processes affect the structure and function of marine communities. Jen has been interested in determining how human impacts affect or alter marine communities. Currently, Jen and her students are working on understanding how local stressors such as pollution, overfishing or the introduction of invasive species affect coral reefs. Jen's lab is also working to determine how global stressors associated with climate change such as warming or ocean acidification will alter reef species. Much of the research in the Smith lab is focused on marine conservation and restoration of degraded habitats and often involves multidisciplinary activities. Jen and her students are actively working to develop effective management strategies for coral reef communities around the world
Stuart Sandin, Ph.D.
Marine Biology Research Division
Director, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
Stuart Sandin is a quantitative ecologist with specific interests in population and community ecology. His research addresses questions in which ecology can most effectively inform marine management. What have been the impacts of human activities on marine ecosystems? How have changes in the structure of these ecosystems affected their functioning, especially related to important ecosystem services? Finally, how can ecological insights best be applied to develop creative and effective solutions to marine management problems? Much in the same way an engineer provides informed solutions to practical commercial problems, an ecologist can provide informed recommendations for the protection and sustained use of natural resources. He firmly believes that novel and fundamental ecological discoveries are yet to be learned and that such discoveries hold promise to enhance current management strategies. His research focuses largely on the ecology of coral reefs, with the goal of finding effective management and restoration approaches for this imperiled ecosystem.
Dale Squires, Ph.D.
School of Global Policy and Strategy, Economics
Dale Squires is an adjunct professor of economics at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, and a staff member of the Fisheries Resources Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - commonly referred to as NOAA Fisheries. His research focuses on environmental and resource ecnomics and specializes in resource economics, fisheries in particular.
Photo by Rod Searcey
Joel Watson, Ph.D.
Joel Watson is a Professor in the Economics Department at the University of California, San Diego. His research addresses how contractual relationships are formed and managed, as well as the role that institutions play in enforcing contracts, using game-theoretic models. Watson's work addresses topics in a variety of applied areas, including law and economics, macroeconomics, labor economics, international economics, and environmental economics. He has authored numerous technical papers and a popular textbook on game theory (Strategy: An Introduction to Game Theory). Watson obtained a B.A. degree from UC San Diego and a Ph.D. from Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Watson has extensive experience and a record of strong leadership in administration, instruction, and professional service. On the professional side, Watson co-founded and serves as the CEO of EconJobMarket.org, a non-profit (501c3) corporation that provides a central electronic repository for advertisements and application materials in the economics Ph.D. job market.