My research interests are rooted in three areas – using population genetics and genomics to inform fisheries management and conservation, investigating the impact of conservation actions on nature and people, and harnessing new technologies to improve synthesis science. The ultimate goal of my scientific endeavors is to provide greater understanding and a scientifically backed tool kit for informing conservation practice.
Marine conservation & evolution
Globally, rampant harvesting practices have left vital marine resources in sharp decline precipitating a dramatic loss of the biodiversity and threatening the health and viability of natural populations. To protect these crucial resources and ecosystems, a comprehensive assessment of biodiversity, as well as a rigorous understanding of the mechanisms underlying it, is urgently needed. As global finfish fisheries decline, harvest of cephalopod fisheries, squid, in particular, has exponentially increased. However, while much is known about the evolution and population dynamics of teleost fishes, much less is understood about squids. Furthermore, management of cephalopod fisheries is plagued by uncertainty over species identification. Research in this area focuses on examining population structure and evolution in commercially important squids using a novel approach combining genetics and genomics methods. Learn more
Measuring and evaluating impact of conservation actions
Increasingly, global conservation policy is shifting away from solely nature-based conservation actions to those emphasizing human dimensions of conservation. Specifically, this shift is based on the assumption that conserving nature has overall positive impacts on human well-being. Thus, understanding the nature of these linkages between a specific intervention and human well-being outcomes is critical for effective conservation decision-making. However, the existing evidence supporting these linkages is very widely distributed, not collated or synthesized effectively, and oftentimes inaccessible and/or esoteric for researchers and practitioners. Learn more.
Role of technology in advancing evidence-based decision-making
We are in an unprecedented time in the history of scientific research and our ability to monitor the natural world. The pace of knowledge generation and data gathering is exponentially rising by the year, aided, in part, by the rise of technological advances that allow us to collect unparalleled fine-scale data over broad spatial and temporal ranges. This massive volume of research presents a unique and critical opportunity for ensuring that key decisions in environmental and development policies and programs are informed by the best available evidence. However, despite the potential wealth of information available – many decisions in conservation are still not evidence-driven, with policymakers and practitioners often relying primarily on personal experience and anecdote. Research in this theme aims to develop and evaluate how technological tools can improve the rate of evidence use and knowledge uptake for conservation decision-making. Learn more.