Meet DUML's Newest Faculty Member, Dr. David Gill


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What is your area of research?

My research centres around marine coupled human-natural systems, focusing predominantly on how marine conservation interventions impact marine systems and the communities that depend on them. Drawing on tools, theories and approaches from multiple disciplines, I seek to answer questions like: how does marine management affect fish populations and coastal human communities? What are the economic gains from conserving coral reefs and what are the potential losses from inaction? Are there cost-effective ways to monitor fish populations and resource use in developing countries? By answering these questions, my goal is to produce policy-relevant science that can contribute to the effective (and equitable) management of marine resources, particularly in the developing world.

How did you become interested in this field?

Growing up in Barbados, I witnessed drastic changes in the corals reefs surrounding my home island. With an interest in marine conservation (sparked by the many hours watching Jacque Cousteau documentaries!) I went on to do my undergraduate degree in marine biology at Dalhousie University. While working on my undergraduate thesis in the late Dr. Ransom Myers’ lab, I got a firsthand perceptive of some of the global issues facing fisheries management around the world, as it was during that time that Dr. Ransom Myers and Dr. Boris Worm were uncovering some startling research concerning the global declines in large pelagic fish stocks. After completing my undergraduate degree and working for a local NGO back home in Barbados, I saw the same global trends of decline operating at a local scale. It was there, while doing coral reef research and community outreach that I realized that coral reef management is not just about the reef, it is about the people. One of the most impactful experiences I had during my Masters and PhD research at the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), University of the West Indies in Barbados was interviewing hundreds of reef-dependent users. Here I heard first-hand accounts of how underprivileged people in the Caribbean were being negatively impacted by declining marine resources as well as mis-management, which at times had even more severe impacts.

Why are you excited to be at DUML and what do you hope you can offer?

I am excited to be at DUML as it gives me an opportunity to work with the great research community here. DUML has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research and teaching on marine conservation and human-natural systems, and these closely tie into my academic interests. Researchers at DUML are producing cutting-edge science on marine systems around the world, and I foresee my background and research ties to the Caribbean and elsewhere opening doors to collaborative research in these locations for both students and faculty. Also, my experience with consulting and NGOs could be useful for students who are interested in non-academic careers. Finally, in the short time I’ve been here already, I have found DUML to be a supportive, close-knit community that is perfect for me as an early career scientist. The location isn’t bad either!