What Our Grads Are Up To

UCSC EEB graduate students are conducting ground-breaking research -- right here in the Coastal Biology Building, out on the UCSC Nature Reserves, and all over the world.

    Kathryn Beheshti, Wasson & Raimondi Labs

  • No alternative textPhD Candidate Kat Beheshti's research focuses on a) understanding the effect of crabs on bank and salt pan edges across an elevation gradient and b) experimental seagrass restoration and the potential enhancement of ecosystem functioning via restoration. The bulk of her summer field season is spent collecting data from two salt marsh field experiments where crab density is manipulated along bank and salt pan edges to monitor the relative impact of crab presence or near absence. While conducting 24 hour crab trapping across 155 experimental plots in Summer 2018, she caught the largest crab yet (pictured here).” (Photo credit: Annakate Clemons)

  • Katherine Dale, Mehta Lab

  • No alternative textKat is a PhD Candidate working with Dr. Rita Mehta and adjunct professor Dr. Tim Tinker. Her work focuses on the factors influencing the dispersal of marine fishes, with special interest in the early life history period. The California moray eel (Gymnothorax mordax) is California's only coastal eel, and is abundant in southern California. However, it is hypothesized that most individuals in this population arrived as larvae wafting up from Mexico during El Niño events. Kat is evaluating how connected populations along the coast are, if there are certain genotypes that appear better suited for living in different environments, and what effect large-scale climate oscillations have on the distribution of larvae. In this image, Kat is measuring the body length of an eel. (Photo credit: Madelyn Miller)

  • Remy Gatins, Bernardi Lab

  • No alternative textRemy Gatins is a diver, underwater photographer, and PhD Candidate in the Bernardi Lab studying the genomic connectivity and speciation of reef fishes (Holacanthus and Stegastes) in the Tropical Eastern Pacific. This photo was taken on a Citizen Science expedition to the Revillagigedo Islands in Mexico. A tourist on the boat took this photo of Remy, what she calls "an awesome gift since we rarely take pictures of ourselves doing science.” (Photo credit: Juergen Lieb)

  • Helen Holmlund, Pittermann Lab

  • No alternative textPhD student Helen Holmlund studies the unique water use strategies that help ferns survive seasonal drought in the southern California chaparral ecosystem. Helen's current research focuses on the mechanisms of recovery in resurrection ferns. She has also compared leaf water uptake in island versus mainland ferns. (Photo credit: Stephen Davis)

  • Sarah Kienle, Costa Lab

  • No alternative textDr. Sarah Kienle, a recent EEB PhD program graduate (June 2019), is part of a research team led by Dr. Daniel Costa studying the foraging ecology and physiology of leopard seals. The researchers are deploying satellite tags on leopard seals that collect information about the animal's movement patterns and dive behavior when they are at sea, as well as collecting tissue samples that provide data on the diet, body condition, health, and physiology of the animals. The team completed a successful first field season at Cape Shirreff in the South Shetland Islands off the Antarctic Peninsula in 2018, and they completed a second field season in April - May 2019. (Photo credit: Dan Costa)

  • Katie Kobayashi, Palkovacs Lab

  • No alternative textPhD Candidate Katie Kobayashi studies life history diversity and migration behavior in steelhead and rainbow trout (O. mykiss) in coastal California watersheds. Each summer, she leads electrofishing surveys throughout the Santa Cruz mountains to estimate the distribution and abundance of migratory/resident life history types. During her surveys, fish are measured, photographed, and PIT-tagged before releasing them into the stream. She continues to monitor their growth and behavior throughout their life cycle. (Photo credit: Ellen Willis-Norton)

  • María de Lourdes Martínez Estévez, Croll Lab

  • No alternative textPhD Candidate Luli Martínez Estévez works with Juan and Felipe Cuevas, fishers from El Pardito Island in Baja California Sur, to identify mangrove estuaries important for hawksbill turtles. She will next work with other fishers, local conservation groups and the Mexican government to determine the feasibility and enabling factors for a network of locally managed marine areas to protect hawksbills. Juan and Felipe's engagement in the project has been a key element in the deveopment of fieldwork. (Photo credit: Carlos Aguilera Alianza)

  • May Roberts, Bernardi Lab

  • No alternative textPhD Candidate May Roberts's research aims to better understand the biogeographic patterns and drivers of local adaptation and potential for adaptation in populations of several species of coral reef fish across the Pacific. By studying multiple species found in varied environments she hopes to give insight into the mechanisms of adaptation and factors associated with the potential for rapid evolution. She also works with a community program called One People One Reef in the Outer Islands of Yap in Micronesia. This group combines western science with the outer islanders’ knowledge and traditional techniques for ecological management to identify best practices for each communities needs and goals for their local fisheries. (Photo credit: John Jr Rulmal)

  • Casey Sheridan, Carr Lab

  • No alternative textChanges in purple sea urchin behavior from passive to active foraging is thought to be a major driver of the shifts from healthy kelp forests to urchin barrens currently underway in California. PhD student Casey Sheridan deploys subtidal cages containing rocky reefs populated with purple sea urchins in Monterey, California to test whether behavioral changes are caused by a lack of food or a lack of predators. Casey manipulates the presence or absence of drift kelp (food) and leather stars (mesopredators) in each cage and using SCUBA makes daily observations of the number of urchins exposed versus hidden away. Early results seem to show that the presence of drift kelp leads to more urchins remaining hidden, while there is little effect of leather stars (though additional mesopredator species have yet to be tested). (Photo credit: Zach Randell)

  • Regina Spranger, Sinervo Lab

  • No alternative textPhD Candidate Regina Spranger is studying the extinction risk, evolution of thermal traits, and acclimation potential of salamanders in North America. She is photographed here with the endangered Mountain Stream Salamander, Ambystoma altamirani, found in central Mexico. (Photo credit: Fausto Méndez de la Cruz)

  • Ben Wasserman, Palkovacs Lab

  • No alternative textPhD Candidate Ben Wasserman is currently working on integrating mark-recapture models with epidemiological models. He is using this framework to test whether parasite defense trades off against predator defense in threespine stickleback. Beyond his immediate research, this method will allow scientists to distinguish between parasite-defense strategies (resistance and tolerance) during the course of an outbreak. (Photo credit: Doriane Weiler)