Graduate Fellows


Fiona Beaty

I am a graduate student in Dr. Christopher Harley’s lab in the Department of Zoology. My research revolves around evolutionary-ecology dynamics, in particular the adaptive capacity of coastal marine ecosystems to climate change. I am intrigued by how intertidal invertebrate communities react to environmental changes, such as altered pH and temperature regimes. In addition, I am passionate about marine conservation, and extremely invested in translating scientific research into actionable steps for decision-makers and local communities. Outside of work I love hiking, rock-climbing, biking, and exploring all that nature has to offer.


Cameron Bullen 

I am an M.Sc. student in Dr. Kai Chan’s lab in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at UBC. My current research hopes to explore marine ecosystem services and how they have changed on BC’s coast. Before beginning graduate studies, I worked on a diversity of ocean issues including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), oil spill monitoring, and climate change mitigation in roles as a research assistant, environmental consultant, and at an environmental NGO.



Sara Cannon 

I’m a PhD student and Ocean Leaders Graduate Fellow in the Geography department at the University of British Columbia. I recently finished my M.Sc., also at UBC, on studying coral reefs and resilience to climate change and local human activities in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. I hope to continue working in the Marshall Islands and the wider Micronesia region as a part of my PhD project. I’m primarily interested in integrating biology and social science to understand how human activities impact coral reef health, especially in the context of climate change. I hope my work will give communities the tools they need to make empowered decisions about resource management.


Fanny Couture

I am a PhD student and Ocean Leader graduate fellow in the Zoology department of the University of British Columbia. My research interests combines marine fisheries, statistical ecological modeling, and marine mammal ecology.  My current project aims to explore prey and predator population dynamics, and more specifically focuses on salmon and southern resident killer whale populations from California to Alaska. Before starting my PhD, I graduated from my M.Sc in Australia and was working on coral reef research projects in Asia.



Kaleigh Davis

I am a PhD student in the O’Connor Lab. I am interested in studying the effects of climate change on community dynamics in marine systems. Outside of school I enjoys birding, biking, and doing crossword puzzles.


Santiago De La Puente Jeri

I am a Peruvian researcher that studies the ecological and human dimensions of the Humboldt Current, with emphasis on Peruvian fisheries economics and governance. Before joining the IOF, I worked in academia, as a consultant for various government organizations and NGOs, and as fisheries advisor to the Peruvian Vice-Minister of Fisheries. Currently my work is focused on linking ecosystem models with seafood value chains for management strategy evaluation. My aim is to provide a framework to foster science-based decision-making for Peruvian fisheries, which could also be used to assess the trade-offs of different policy outcomes under various levels of  uncertainty.


John Driscoll

For the past 15 years, I’ve been engaged in matters relating to fisheries and marine conservation. This time has included stretches as a fisheries observer in Alaska and New England, a commercial fisherman, a program manager for an environmental organization, an independent data analyst and report writer, and, of course, as an academic. It’s my hope that the lessons learned from this varied background add nuance to my Ph.D. research, which revolves around the analysis and management of fisheries for food production objectives.


Katie Florko

I am a PhD student in Dr. Marie Auger-Methe’s Statistical Ecology lab at UBC. My research focuses on the effects of sea ice loss on Arctic marine mammal habitat use and foraging ecology. My BSc (University of Winnipeg) investigated seal habitat use in Western Hudson Bay, and my MSc (York University) studied polar bear foraging and body condition in the Beaufort Sea. I’m interested to use an interdisciplinary approach of statistical modelling and community involvement to investigate the relationships between polar bears, their prey, and sea ice for my PhD. I hope my work will help to understand how sea ice affects Arctic marine mammal habitat use and foraging success, and ultimately, identify critical habitat.


 Cassandra Konecny

I am a master’s student in Dr. Christopher Harley’s Lab, in the department of Zoology at UBC. I am interested in how ecological communities will respond to climate change. More specifically I am investigating how increased variability in temperature will influence community structure and composition in tidepools. This will provide insight into how organisms may respond to more intense heatwaves in the future and how biodiversity may change as a result. I am also an avid SCUBA diver and enjoy exploring what lives beneath the surface in my free time!


Rocío López de la Lama

I have been working in nature conservation in Peru since 2011, mainly exploring what motivates people to engage with pro-environmental behavior. I have an MPhil in Conservation Leadership from the University of Cambridge (UK), and a BSc in Biology from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (Peru). My previous work has focused on sustainable seafood, small-scale fisheries, gender studies and exploring people’s relationship with nature



Hema Nadarajah

I am a PhD student in Political Science specializing in International Relations and is originally from Singapore.  My research interests concerns studying the political processes of translating scientific knowledge into international policy and cooperative management in regions such as the Arctic as well as studying the influence of legal instruments pertaining to science and technology, in inter-state relations.

Prior to commencing the PhD program, I worked with Singapore’s National Parks Board where I was involved in liaising between local technical experts and policymakers . I have a Master of Environment from the Australian National University where I specialized in Climate Change Policy and Economics, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto where I majored in Geography and Geology.


Thomas Smith 

I am an MSc candidate at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries working with Dr. Jordan Rosenfeld and Dr. Brian Hunt. My research focuses on establishing a relationship between salmonid smolt production and stream discharge in the Pacific Northwest. With this work, I am hoping to help establish minimum flow requirements for streams being exploited for human needs. I hold a BSc in Marine Biology and Environment, Society & Sustainability from Dalhousie University, as well as a post-degree diploma in Fisheries & Aquaculture from Vancouver Island University. Before starting at UBC, I gained experience working with Pacific salmon in public, private, and academic sectors in various locations around BC.


Heather Summers

I am an MSc candidate in the Department of Geography under the supervision of Dr. Simon Donner. I completed my Bachelor of Science in the Integrated Science (iSci) program with a biology concentration from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. My research interests include understanding the impact of climate change on the health of coral reefs. My passion for marine biology developed when I completed marine field research projects with Operation Wallacea in Cuba and the Bahamas and more recently worked as a Caribbean Reef Ecology Lecturer in Honduras.



Tanvi Vaidyanathan

I am a PhD Candidate at Project Seahorse, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, The University of British Columbia, Canada. My work focuses on the conservation of incidentally-caught marine species,using the case study of seahorses in India, in a poorly regulated fishery.


Joanna Wong

I’m a Master’s student in Dr. Marie Auger-Méthé’s lab in the Institute of Oceans and Fisheries. My research compares the migratory paths of birds in polar regions, and investigates the impact of human activity on their movement and behaviour. Prior to attending UBC, I worked in marine consultancy and aquaculture, and hold a BSc (Hons.) in Marine Biology and Environmental Sustainability from Dalhousie University, where I specialized in cetacean biology. I’m passionate about issues concerning the marine environment, and I hope the skills I gain as an Ocean Leaders Fellow may one day be used to encourage others towards ocean activism.


Postdoctoral Fellows


Sarah Rosengard

I am an oceanographer from Queens, NY. Upon finishing college, I realized I had developed an intense fear of waves that I hoped to cure by living on research ships. After years of wave therapy (including a degree in chemical oceanography), I am now a postdoctoral fellow in Philippe Tortell’s group at University of British Columbia. Here, I study the phytoplankton communities the Subarctic North Pacific Ocean and their impact on important fisheries in western Canada. I gather information on phytoplankton populations in this region using observations of the ocean’s optical properties, captured by sensors mounted onto research ships and satellites orbiting the planet. I aim to incorporate these phytoplankton data into models that predict sockeye salmon stocks in British Columbia. In a future career, I hope that the policy and education aspects of my training here equip me to address the social impacts of climate/ocean change and encourage others from diverse backgrounds to participate in the solution process.


Angela Stevenson

In 1986, Hexactinellid (glass) sponge reefs – thought to have been extinct for 40 million years – were rediscovered on the northwest coast of British Columbia. Their intricate and colossal structures are nothing short of breathtaking and of great biological significance; it is this precise property that make them unique and the topic of my current postdoctoral research.

During my Fellowship, I am working with Prof Chris Harley and Prof. Curtis Suttle to investigate glass sponge sensitivity to climate change. Through a series of lab experiments we strive to understand how the sponges and their microbiome (bacteria, protists, and viruses), as well as associated invertebrates are impacted by acidified conditions and elevated temperatures. I am also interested in exploring the bathymetric patterns of morphological disparity observed in crinoids, and modern day ecological relationships between them and their predators.


Xiong Zhang 

I’m a marine biologist at Project Seahorse (UBC), studying threatened marine species and bottom trawling fisheries. I did my PhD in Zoology (UBC), focusing on conservation prioritization and ecology of data-poor marine species. Along with my PhD research, I have initiated marine conservation campaigns and education outreach in China (my homeland and study area) since 2015.

As a postdoctoral fellow, I am working with Dr. Amanda Vincent and other colleagues to study bottom-trawling fisheries in China. We will evaluate the efficacy of Chinese government policies in fisheries management over past decades. We will integrate ecosystem and economic models to analyze the impact of different policies on socioeconomic returns and fisheries sustainability. My expectation is to identify key drivers of the success/failure of Chinese fishery policies, and help China derive optimal and practical policies to better manage trawling fisheries.