CAFA PI Spotlight Series

Meet some of the scientists working to advance understanding of climate‐related impacts on fisheries and fishing communities to inform sustainable resource management as part of the Climate and Fisheries Adaptation (CAFA) Program. We asked some of the 2020 PIs:

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in fisheries science? 
  • What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing a career in your field? 
  • What is your background and interests outside of work?

Click on the links below to learn what they had to say.

Sort by: Last Name | Project | Year

Dr. Lorenzo Ciannelli

Dr. Cianelli is a professor of Fisheries Oceanography at Oregon State University in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

Can you tell us about your project and what you hope to accomplish?

This project is a unique opportunity to understand how changing ocean conditions, fishing effort, and prey quality affect the abundance of commercially exploited species in the California Current marine ecosystem. With this study I also hope to further develop an existing modeling framework (ECOTRAN) in ways that can incorporate changing ocean conditions, and be applied to other systems or species. Last but not least, I am excited about the opportunity to engage with colleagues, students, post-docs, who work on similar issues in the east and west coast, and to learn from their projects.

What drew you to your current field of study?

I was born and raised on a small island in south Italy, Ischia, where I lived in proximity to the ocean and to fishermen. Connecting with artisanal fishermen, I experienced first hand the variability of commercial catches, and I have been motivated to understand what drives it.

What is a rewarding aspect of the work you do?

Working with students.

What ways do you think we could engage/interest more people in this field or in science in general?

Stories and narratives like this, about not only the science, but also the people behind it, make the process of doing science more 'human', and can hopefully attract more people to it. Outreaching to schools, and talking about the wonderful things of the ocean, such as the currents, the fish, the ice, the eggs, the larvae, the microbes, not only the challenges that oceans face, is also a way to attract more people to it.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar field of study?

Go for it! It is a lot of fun, and is worth it.

What do you like to do outside of your research interests?

Spend time with my family, travel, cook, eat, swim.

Dr. Anne Hollowed

Dr. Anne Hollowed a Senior Scientist with the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center. She leads the Status of Stocks and Multispecies Assessment program and currently serves as co-chair of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee.

Can you tell us about your work in the ACLIM project and what you hope to accomplish?

The Alaska Climate Integrated Modeling project is an interdisciplinary research project targeted at understanding the implications of climate change on marine ecosystems in the Bering Sea. The project integrates downscaled ocean model projections with social-ecological models to assess the performance of current and alternative management strategies. The project represents a research partnership between the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA's Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Climate Program Office, and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

What drew you to your current field of study?

Concerns about the implications of climate change on living marine resources.

What is a rewarding aspect of the work you do?

The research is designed to provide the science needed to inform decision makers of the implications of different management strategies with respect to the National Standards of the Fisheries Management and Conservation Act.

What ways do you think we could engage/interest more people in this field or in science in general?

Large interdisciplinary research projects like ACLIM provide a forum for community engagement. The products of these projects inform decision makers, the international research community and the public of the implications of climate change on the world’s oceans.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar field of study?

Engage in interdisciplinary research early in your career.

What do you like to do outside of your research interests?

Visiting my children and grandchildren, and generally enjoying nature.

Dr. Lisa Kerr

Dr. Lisa Kerr is a Senior Research Scientist in Fisheries Science at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

Can you tell us about your project and what you hope to accomplish?

Over the last forty years, the waters of the Northeast U.S have warmed at an unprecedented rate and this warming has already led to geographic shifts and impacted productivity of economically and culturally important fish stocks. Due to the rapid pace of change in the region, there is a critical need to develop and apply science, knowledge, and tools that can help support fisheries decision-making. One of the critical questions facing the region is: How do we sustainably harvest our fishery resources as their productivity and distribution changes due to ocean warming? The goal of our NCLIM research is to develop an integrated modeling framework to inform marine resource decision-making under projected climate change in the Northeast U.S. The framework will integrate climate, ocean, population, and human dimensions models and be used to inform fisheries decision challenges for species that have demonstrated shifts in distribution and changes in productivity.

What drew you to your current field of study?

I enjoy the challenge of conducting management strategy evaluation (MSE)-which involves integrating understanding of ecosystem processes and drivers, fish population dynamics, fisheries and their associated economic impacts, and management. MSE also involves working closely with stakeholders to help them realize their vision for their fishery.

What is a rewarding aspect of the work you do?

I enjoy serving as a science advisor and advising on the best available science to support sustainable fisheries management. It is very rewarding to see science contribute to improvements in our fisheries management.

What do you hope the future for women in science looks like?

I hope the future of science is diverse and inclusive with more women in leadership positions.

What message would you like to give to the next generation of scientists?

I would advise the next generation of scientists to think about fusion-working across disciplines (e.g. computer science and fisheries) has great potential to yield new and interesting research directions.

What do you like to do outside of your research interests?

I enjoy hanging out with my kids-3 boys-so there is never a dull moment!

Dr. James Ruzicka

Dr. Ruzicka is a Research Scientist at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in the Ecosystem Science Division.

Can you tell us about your project and what you hope to accomplish?

We are working to improve models that can simulate the entire ecosystem from physics to fisheries. In an incremental process, we are building upon an existing model of the Northern California Current ecosystem off Oregon and Washington to better represent the response of individual living groups to changes in temperature. We are also looking at how changes in the condition of forage, prey animals, affects the productivity of key species like salmon and hake. We will then use the model to simulate how the ecosystem will change under expected climate change conditions and simulate how changes in fishing effort by one fishing fleet will affect other fleets and species.

What drew you to your current field of study?

I like seeing how the different living components of a food web can function together and keep its order indefinitely. I want to know how changes at any part in the food web can affect the rest, and I want to learn how we can manage ecosystems to keep productive and diverse food webs.

What is a rewarding aspect of the work you do?

When I build a computer model, I like to see how I can make a complex program simpler, run faster, and produce more realistic results when compared to observations made in the ocean. I also like going to sea to help collect data on oceanographic cruises.

What ways do you think we could engage/interest more people in this field or in science in general?

People become more engaged with ecological science when we can learn enough about ecosystem behavior to make practical suggestions that are likely to lead to more resilient, biodiverse, and productive ocean communities and sustainable fisheries.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar field of study?

Study statistics, a little computer programming, and math. Study basic physiology and ecology. More specialized skills and knowledge are often best gained practically and cumulatively while working on undergraduate and graduate student projects.

What do you like to do outside of your research interests?

I like mountain trekking and backpacking.

Dr. Marysia Szymkowiak

Dr. Szymkowiak is a Research Social Scientist with the Economic and Social Sciences Research Program at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

Can you tell us about your work in the GOA-CLIM project and what you hope to accomplish?

My project is a component of the Gulf of Alaska Climate Integrated Modeling Project (GOA-CLIM), focusing on how fisheries stakeholders and fishing communities will respond to climate change impacts. Through iterative efforts across fishing communities in the Gulf of Alaska, we will examine how participants perceive ecosystem change in their fisheries, how they can respond, and what the impediments to that adaptation may be.

What drew you to your current field of study?

Fisheries are one of the last occupations that we have where humans are totally at the whims of nature. The people that choose to do that for their life's work are also very unique. The intersection of these two things - man and the sea - in a highly variable and unpredictable environment is fascinating to study.

What is a rewarding aspect of the work you do?

My work allows me to interact a lot with fishermen, who always teach me something new about the marine ecosystem within which I live - the Gulf of Alaska. Fishermen also view fishing as a lifestyle rather than just an occupation, which means they think about their choices more holistically. That also makes trying to understand how policies or environmental changes may affect them much more interesting than if we just assumed everything was an economic choice. For many fishermen, there isn't much outside of fishing (and often being a certain type of fisherman - species and gear) that they could see themselves doing.

What ways do you think we could engage/interest more people in this field or in science in general?

I think all kids are scientists. They are curious, experimental, unbounded. In a world where the pace of ecosystem change may be faster than the pace of science, we need to think about how to adapt all of our systems - education, science, management, etc. - to be more like our kids, willing to try, to change, and to make big discoveries.

What message would you like to give to the next generation of scientists?

Bring back the Renaissance (Wo)man. In addition to strong training in a given field, learn as much as you can about how other fields and other forms of knowledge think and learn. There is tremendous value to being outside of a given disciplinary box and to understanding how other forms of knowledge take shape.

What do you like to do outside of your research interests?

I have two small kids so much of my world is about making them thrive. When I get a break, I like to run up a mountain in the amazing backyard of Southeast Alaska.

Dr. Desiree Tommasi

Dr. Desiree Tomassi is a Project Scientist at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in the Fisheries Resources Division.

Can you tell us about your project and what you hope to accomplish?

With climate change ocean conditions are changing, impacting marine species and the fishing communities dependent on them. Our project aims to assess how climate change is affecting the forage fish assemblage along the West Coast of the US. Forage fish, like sardine or anchovy, in their role as prey, transfer energy from plankton to top predators and are key to sustaining healthy marine ecosystems. Using a multidisciplinary approach involving oceanographic, ecosystem, and economic models, our work will quantify how changes in forage fish will affect the fisheries that target them, as well as the protected species, such as sea lions, and commercially important fish species, such as tunas, that depend on them as prey. We will also develop novel management strategies for forage fish and assess their performance in reducing climate change impacts on the forage species assemblage and the ecosystem and fishing communities they sustain.

What drew you to your current field of study?

Some of my fondest memories are of summers spent by the sea growing up in Italy. I’ve always loved to be on the water and knew I wanted to be an oceanographer from an early age. For my master’s and PhD research in Canada, British Columbia, I worked closely with First Nation people researching sockeye salmon and the plankton they feed on. I could see that climate was affecting fish and the people who depend on them and that pushed me to research how to better integrate climate information with fisheries biology to improve how we manage fisheries.

What is a rewarding aspect of the work you do?

Working with a great team of collaborators and interacting with many stakeholders and seeing how engaged they are and willing to share their knowledge to safeguard their fisheries and ecosystem.

What ways do you think we could engage/interest more people in this field or in science in general?

I think people are innately curious and interested in science. In San Diego in particular, where folks often interact with the sea, from going recreational fishing, to going to the dog beach, to the food they eat, people are interested in this field. Scientists could do a better job of engaging with communities and making science more approachable. To enable that the scientific enterprise should reward and facilitate outreach efforts more.

What message would you like to give to the next generation of scientists?

Go out of your bubble, explore, talk to people from different backgrounds. It will inspire you in your work and help develop innovative solutions and approaches.

What do you like to do outside of your research interests?

Playing soccer with my two boys and scouting for the best gelato place in San Diego.

NOAA Climate Program Office announces 2022-2024 Class of Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellows

  • 30 March 2022

Eight new postdoctoral fellows are commencing cutting-edge research projects that will contribute innovative climate science to the research community as well as NOAA’s mission.

These fellows are the new 2022-2024 class of NOAA Climate and Global Change (C&GC) Postdoctoral Fellows, supported by NOAA Climate Program Office (CPO) and selected by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

“Since 1991, the NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Program has been cultivating  the next generation of climate and global change experts,” said Wayne Higgins, Director of NOAA’s Climate Program Office. “With this year's class of eight talented fellows, the Program has now sponsored more than 250 fellows who are collectively helping to build a diverse community of experts in climate and global change research.”

Chosen from 86 applications through a competitive review process, the fellows are promising early career scientists who are within five years of completing their PhDs. Over the next two years, the eight fellows will be hosted by mentoring scientists at universities and research institutions around the country to conduct projects focused on observing, understanding, modeling, and predicting climate variability and change.

“The C&GC fellowship provides early career scientists a unique opportunity to pursue cutting edge climate research questions at their institution of choice, while building a network that spans disciplines and geographies with current fellows, former alumni, and NOAA Research,” said Ginny Selz, the NOAA C&GC Postdoc Fellowship Program Federal Liaison and CPO Climate Observations and Monitoring Program Manager.

Sponsored by CPO and managed by UCAR’s Cooperative Programs for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS), the NOAA C&GC Postdoc Fellowship Program helps create and train the future leading researchers needed for climate studies. “UCAR | CPAESS is honored to manage the prestigious and critical NOAA Climate and Global Change fellowship. Great effort goes into creating a nurturing bridge between their academic work and that of a career scientist with extensive networking and career development opportunities.” said Hanne Mauriello, Director of UCAR's CPAESS.

The Program was originally founded in 1990 by former CPO Director, Dr. J. Michael Hall, in response to the lack of trained climate scientists to analyze the massive quantity of data collected by the international Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Program (TOGA), which ran from 1985 to 1994. Over the past 30 years, the Program has developed an outstanding reputation of attracting the best and brightest PhDs in the climate sciences. 

The Program traditionally supports two forums where fellows can engage with NOAA and each other— a NOAA Summer Institute every other July, as well as an annual alumni luncheon at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in December. The global pandemic, however, required innovation for the Program to continue facilitating interactions between the fellows and the larger NOAA community. Since January 2021, UCAR has hosted monthly virtual seminars featuring presentations by two current C&GC postdocs along with an invited NOAA scientist. 

During the NOAA Summer Institute program, fellows and alumni come together every other July in Steamboat Springs, Colorado with the goal of building a stronger global climate change community. The postdoctoral fellows meet each other and more senior scientists in the field over a four-day period. Participants explore the breadth of climate and global change research problem areas, discuss the future directions of climate science research, and discuss the bridge between climate and global change scientific goals and public policy. 

The postdocs’ achievements after the fellowship continue to benefit NOAA and the larger scientific community. C&GC fellows go on to serve notable roles in climate science, from the first acting NASA Senior Climate Advisor to academic researchers investigating the submarine melting of glaciers, the atmosphere’s self-cleansing capacity, or the role of atmospheric circulation in the prediction of El Niño and La Niña events

Many former fellows credit the Program with expanding their independence as scientists as well as supporting their professional growth at a crucial time in their career. For the incoming class of fellows, this means being connected to a network of current and former NOAA postdocs and a community of scientists across a wide range of disciplines related to climate science. 

“I am excited to serve as a NOAA C&GC host for Meghana Ranganathan, a rising star in the fields of climate and cryosphere sciences. I plan to draw on my own fruitful experiences as a recent C&GC fellow to help mentor Meghana and connect her to all the resources available through Georgia Tech, the C&GC fellowship, and its connections to NOAA and UCAR. The C&GC program continues to lead the way in broadening our community’s perspective on what constitutes climate science. Bringing new voices into our field is necessary if we wish to continue making fundamental and useful advances in climate science." said Alexander Robel, a member of Class 25 and current host. 

2022 NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship Awardees

 

Jhordanne Jones

Proposal Topic: The Subseasonal to Seasonal Predictability of Tropical Cyclone Activity in a Warming Climate

Host: Dr. Daniel R. Chavas, Purdue University

PhD Institution: Colorado State University

Tyler Kukla

Proposal Topic: Land-atmosphere coupling of the pan-Asian Monsoon in Miocene and Quaternary Green Sahara states

Host: Drs. Abigail Swann and Nicholas Siler, University of Washington

PhD Institution: Stanford University

Tianjia (Tina) Liu

Proposal Topic: Sensitivity of Western United States Wildfires to New Climate Extremes: Implications for Public Health and Aviation

Host: Dr. James Randerson, University of California, Irvine

PhD Institution: Harvard University

Channing Prend

Proposal Topic: Regional variability and trends of submesoscale ice-ocean coupling in Southern Ocean marginal ice zones

Host: Dr. Georgy Manucharyan, University of Washington and Dr. Andrew Thompson, California Institute of Technology

PhD Institution: Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

Meghana Ranganathan

Proposal Topic: Bridging flow and fracture in ice sheet models for improved sea-level rise projections

Host: Dr. Alexander Robel, Georgia Institute of Technology

PhD Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Germán Vargas Gutierrez

Proposal Topic: A mechanistic framework to forecast vegetation resilience to drought across scales

Host: Dr. William R.L. Anderegg, University of Utah

PhD Institution: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Kathryn Wheeler

Proposal Topic: The connections between leaf phenology and mycorrhizae in a changing world

Host: Dr. Cesar Terrer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

PhD Institution: Boston University

Qindan Zhu

Proposal Topic: Continental-scale OH trends: dominant drivers, underlying processes and future projections

Host: Dr. Arlene Fiore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

PhD Institution: University of California, Berkeley

 

 

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