I am a marine ecologist. I received my Ph.D. in Zoology from Oregon State University, with an emphasis on behavioral, marine, and fish ecology. My doctoral research focused on the reproductive behavior and endocrinology of garibaldi damselfish in my home-state of California. My extensive field work on this species provided the scientific basis for its protection in California coastal waters and its establishment as the official marine state fish of California. During my post-doctoral studies in the Virgin Islands and Barbados, I switched my focus to tropical reef organisms, and developed a fascination with the diel changes in activity that occur on tropical reefs, including the interactions between external parasites that infest reef fishes and the cleaning organisms that consume those parasites. Understanding the symbiotic relationships involving fishes, parasites, and cleaners and the ecological consequences of those interactions is the current focus of my research program.
Although I maintain an integrative, interdisciplinary perspective, my research questions are driven primarily by observations during my extensive time in the field. I have conducted field research in a variety of places around the world, including Southern California, Mexico, Hawai’i, Australia, Panama and eastern Caribbean, Guam, the Philippines, and South Africa.
To view a short film featuring our work on day-night transitions on reefs, see Ripple.