- B.Sc University of Saskatchewan (2001)
- Ph.D University of Saskatchewan (2006)
- Stanford University (2006-2009)
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2009-2011)
- University of California Santa Barbara (2011-2013)
My research aims to increase our understanding of how abiotic variables impact organism function and the differences that exist between species in their capacity to respond to environmental change. A major objective of my research is to develop predictions about the success or failure of organisms to cope with changes in abiotic factors like temperature, salinity, oxygen availability, and pH, all of which are aspects of global climate change. Research in my laboratory broadly addresses how environmental factors influence the performance of marine organisms (fish and near-shore invertebrates) across varying spatial and temporal scales, ideally leveraging this information to inform marine conservation or resource management. Fundamental to this research are the following questions:
- Given the suite of shifting abiotic conditions faced by coastal marine organisms, what environmental variables most strongly influence physiological performance and are there important synergistic effects to consider?
- How is environmental stress distributed across space and time in different ecosystems and are certain habitats or organisms disproportionately susceptible or resilient to the impacts of climate-change?
- What are the mechanistic underpinnings of physiological plasticity and how do these traits relate to the potential for species to tolerate climate change, invade new habitats or persist in artificial environments?
- How can physiological performance findings be integrated into policy and used to improve marine conservation or resource management?
Using a combination of field- and laboratory-based studies, my research centers on understanding how the abiotic parameters of natural environments influence organism performance. During my doctoral research, I investigated the interplay between the environment and development by selectively disrupting environmentally-regulated gene expression in zebrafish. My postdoctoral research at Stanford University was focused on mechanistic physiology and I used a variety of molecular and cellular techniques to characterize the response to salinity change in an estuarine fish and to identify bases for differences in heat- and salinity-stress tolerances in native and invasive intertidal mussels. My recent research lies at the interface of environmental physiology and climate change biology. As a visiting research fellow with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, I tracked physiological responses to the environment in wild migrating Pacific sockeye salmon, resolving spatial and temporal patterns of climate change-related stress that will facilitate the proper management of this ecologically and economically important fish species. As a postdoc at the University of California Santa Barbara I performed experiments aimed at predicting responses to climate change in marine ecosystems, taking an integrative and collaborative approach to determine the capacity of the purple sea urchin, a key species in California’s marine communities, to cope with ocean warming and ocean acidification.