Grants and Awards
Notes from the Field
Teaching, Collaboration, and Community Engagement


Congratulations to the following students for successfully defending their PhD dissertations!

  • Dr. Luke Fairbanks - “The Geographies of Policy: Assembling National Marine Aquaculture Policy in the United States.” Dr. Fairbanks is now a Post-Doctoral Associate at DUML.
  • Dr. Tara Essock-Burns - “Exploring the Interface Between Macroorganisms and Microorganisms: Biochemical, Ecological, and Evolutionary Contexts.” Dr. Essock-Burns is now a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii.
  • Dr. Christopher Ward - “Microbial community responses to natural and anthropogenic disturbances in aquatic ecosystems.”

Congratulations to Leslie Acton, Elizabeth Clark, Bradford Dubik and Liz Schrack for passing their preliminary exams!

Grants and Awards

Vivienne Foroughirad received a $1500 Data Expeditions renewal grant from the Information Initiative at Duke (iiD) to make workshops on social network analysis a permanent part of Duke's undergraduate Sociobiology and Primate Ecology courses.

Vivienne Foroughirad received an NSF Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) fellowship and will spend the 2016 spring semester in Australia as a fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast's GeneCology Research Centre.

Vivienne Foroughirad received a 2015 Duke International Dissertation Research Travel Award.

Bradford Dubik was awarded the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant.


Alyse Larkin and Sarah Loftus:
Larkin AA, Blinebry SK, Howes C, Lin Y, Loftus SE, Schmaus CA, Zinser ER, and ZI Johnson. 2015. Niche partitioning and biogeography of high light adapted Prochlorococcus across taxonomic ranks in the North Pacific. The ISME Journal. (In press)

Liz Schrack:
Silliman BR, Schrack EC, He Q, Bouma T, Jacobi R, Jacobi M, van de Koppel J. 2015. A new paradigm for marsh restoration: Harnessing the effects of positive interactions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America.

Leslie Acton:
Gruby, R. L., N. J. Gray, L. M. Campbell, L. Acton. (2015). Toward a social science research agenda for large marine protected areas. Conservation Letters, doi: 10.1111/conl.12194.

Seth Sykora-Bodie:
"Assessment of known impacts of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) on marine mammals: data gaps and recommendations." 2015. Special Wildlife Issue of the Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems. Courtney Smith, Seth Sykora-Bodie, Brian Bloodworth, Shalynn Pack, Trevor Spradlin, Nicole LeBoeuf.

"National Marine Fisheries Service Climate Science Strategy." National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2015. Editors: Jason Link, Roger Griffis, Shallin Busch; Contributors: Karen Abrams, Jason Baker, Rusty Brainard, Michael Ford, Jon Hare, Amber Himes-Cornell, Anne Hollowed, Nate Mantua, Sam McClatchie, Michelle McClure, Mark Nelson, Kenric Osgood, Mike Rust, Vincent Saba, Mike Sigler, Seth Sykora-Bodie, Valerie Termini, Eric Thunberg, Chris Toole, Robin Waples.

Alejandro Garcia Lozano:
García Lozano AJ, Heinen JT. 2015. Identifying drivers of collective action for the co-management of coastal marine fisheries in the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica. Environmental Management. Available early online.

Anastasia Quintana:
Ana Elisa Garcia-Vedrenne, Anastasia C. E. Quintana, Andrea DeRogatis, Kayla Martyn, Armand M. Kuris, and Ryan F. Hechinger (2015) SOCIAL ORGANIZATION IN PARASITIC FLATWORMS- FOUR ADDITIONAL ECHINOSTOMOID TREMATODES HAVE A SOLDIER CASTE AND ONE DOES NOT. Journal of Parasitology In-Press.


In November, DUML hosted the 1st Annual Joint Ecology Marine Symposium. This effort marks the beginning of a partnership to showcase research conducted in the University Program in Ecology and the Division of Marine Science and Conservation. The symposium was organized by PhD students in both programs including Will Cioffi and Stacy Zhang, and included presenters from 6 organizations. Joseph Morton, Phillip Turner, Heather Heenehan, Brad Dubik, Viviene Foroughirad, Megumi Shimizu, Elizabeth Schrack, Melissa Duvall, and Stacy Zhang all gave oral presentations. Michelle Brodeur, Sarah Loftus, and Phillip Turner presented posters.

Sarah Loftus presented a poster on "Factors affecting the success of algae cultivation in recycled medium" at the Algae Biomass Summit in Washington, D.C. She earned 2nd place in the Biology section of the student poster competition.

Heather Heenehan presented on the second chapter of dissertation at the Society for Marine Mammalogy Biennial Conference in San Francisco on December 17th. Her talk,“Using soundscape metrics to describe changes to ambient noise levels in the resting bays of Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris). She is also co-leading a workshop on interdisciplinarity before the conference.

Abigail Bennett gave two presentations, entitled “Embracing conceptual diversity to integrate power and institutional analysis: Toward a relational typology” and “Local institutional responses to global market pressures: The sea cucumber trade in Mexico,” at the 15th International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) Biannual Conference in Edmonton, Canada in May 2015.

Elizabeth Clark gave a presentation entitled “Dynamic interactions of market and political institutions in fisheries governance” at the 15th International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) Biannual Conference in Edmonton, Canada in May 2015.

Haydee Dominguez Tejo gave a presentation at the 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in San Francisco (December 2015) titled: "Ensemble modeling of Antillean manatee distribution in the Dominican Republic."

Vivienne Foroughirad gave an oral presenation at the Joint Ecology & Marine Symposium.

Julia Burrows presented her dissertation research at the Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in San Francisco, CA from 14-18 December 2015. Her talk was entitled “Fine scale foraging behavior of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Sitka Sound, Alaska.”

Notes from the Field

Liz Schrack completed a field season in Florida studying coral reef ecology during Summer 2015. She surveyed benthic coral reef communities, fish communities, coral predator abundance, and lobster abundance in 6 MPA and 6 non-MPA sites in the Florida Keys reef tract to understand trophic cascades in this system.

Elizabeth Clark conducted field work in California from July to October 2015 to support her dissertation research on the political economy of fisheries. She employed ethnographic methods to collect data on the political processes and economic market history of the sea urchin industry, carrying out interviews with sea urchin divers and processors as well as state government representatives, and conducted participant observation aboard urchin diving vessels and at industry and government meetings. This work also contributes to a collaborative project with researchers at Colorado State University developing institutional analysis tools to inform conservation in fisheries.

Leslie Acton conducted fieldwork in Bermuda during the summer of 2015, which included interviews with NGO representatives, government employees, fishers, industry representatives, and scientists; document collection; and participant observation during a two-day research cruise in the Sargasso Sea. She also spent two weeks during the fall to carry out interviews with NGOs and intergovernmental organizations in Washington, DC. Data will contribute to Leslie’s PhD research on how large MPA negotiations are changing oceans governance and practices of territoriality in the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a comparative project with researchers at Colorado State University, the University of Guelph, and Duke University looking at the human dimensions of large MPAs.

Sarah Bess Jones traveled to Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) during summer 2015 to conduct preliminary fieldwork for her dissertation. Sarah Bess is guided by Decolonizing Methodologies (Smith 2012) in her work with the indigenous peoples of island, the Rapanui. Thus, she spent a majority of her time in the field to present her research interests to community members to gain both their input and their permission to return to the island to study the recently announced Easter Island Marine Park. She will return to the island in 2016 to continue her study of how the concept of indigeneity is being articulated, performed, and deployed in the process of creating and implementing the Easter Island Marine Park.

Teaching, Collaboration, and Community Engagement

Sarah Loftus, along with PhD students from UNC IMS, led activities at an outreach event this summer at MCAS Cherry Point. The PhD students explained their research and designed relevant activities for children in summer camp on base.

Heather Heenehan visited Morehead City Middle School in November to share her research with the 6th grade classes.