Events & Media

2015 Bren PhD Student Symposium

Please join us at the Bren School when the following seventeen students present research that is the focus of their doctoral studies. The event will be held on Friday, February 20 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. in Bren Hall 1414. Information about the speakers and summaries of their presentations can be found below.

Erendira Aceves
Effect of Larval and Adult Dispersal on Turf Yields

Summary
Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries (TURFs) provide a group of fishermen with exclusive access to a determined coastal territory. This management tool has existed for centuries and has shown to be highly effective, particularly to improve the efficiency of artisanal fisheries. However, a key, unresolved question is the role of TURF size in their efficiency both from ecological and social standpoints. I address this question by analyzing TURF systems in Chile, México and Japan.
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Andrew Ayres
Managing Floodplain Development: Can institutions prevent rent dissipation in river basins?

Summary
One effect of developing on or reclaiming land from floodplains is that flood risk may increase downstream when large areas are developed or engineering infrastructure disconnects channels from their floodplains. This downstream effect makes floodplain development a collective action problem at the basin scale. I hope to investigate how and when institutions matter for reducing flood risk as well as how projects implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers impact the incidence of large flood events.
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Joe Bergesen
The Drivers of Technological Change in the Life-cycle Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Technologies

Summary
The mitigation of climate change will require unprecedented deployment of a variety of low-carbon electricity generation and efficient energy saving technologies. Little is known about the environmental and natural resource benefits, risks and trade-offs of many of these technologies, particularly in the long term and at the global scale. This talk explores the life-cycle environmental implications of technological change in rapidly-advancing technologies through case studies of photovoltaic solar power and light emitting diodes.
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Darcy Bradley
Managing a Moving Target: Shark ecology for shark recovery

Summary
Reef shark populations have been devastated around the world by ever increasing fishing pressure. But without a clear understanding of the ecology of a healthy population of reef sharks, recovery of these species has seemed an insurmountable goal. In collaboration with the Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Palmyra Atoll Research Consortium, I explore a variety of methods to improve our understanding of reef shark ecology in order to assess the efficacy of management plans designed to protect these threatened species.
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Ty Brandt
Why Study Snow from the Beach?

Summary
On a daily basis we use data to reduce uncertainty, which hopefully maximizes the chance of a “good choice”. Every spring, California reservoir operators face tough choices ~ how much water do we release for streamflow and/or power generation, and how much water do we retain for late season water supply? This decision is challenging at best, as medium forecast errors for April 1st runoff are as high as 18% with much of the error resulting from poorly constrained estimates of snow. However, by combining recent advances in snow remote sensing with eco-hydrologic models, we might be able to reduce river runoff forecast uncertainty thereby improving the chances of a “good choice”: maximizing the use of California’s fresh water resources.
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Sean Fitzgerald
Adaptive Fisheries Management Based on Environmental Drivers of Fish Population Dynamics

Summary
Currently, many California fisheries are managed under archaic catch limits that are uniformly applied across all populations of a given species statewide. In order to improve our fishing efficiency and sustainably manage our small-scale fisheries, there is a need to tailor catch limits and management practices to local environment. My research is designed to help better understand what environmental variables primarily drive fish population dynamics, and to predict how fish populations will respond to varying levels of fishing pressure based on local environmental conditions.
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Elizabeth Hiroyasu
Wild Pig Management in California: Future directions in invasive species management

Summary
Wild pigs occupy 56 of California's 58 counties, and are one of the most difficult invasive species to manage. Their generalist diet and habitat preferences, coupled with their ability to triple their population within one year allows them to be successful invaders in almost all habitats. Here, I will present future directions in my research on the ecological impacts of wild pigs.
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Yuxiong Huang
Nanopure Water: The Application of novel magnetic nanoparticle adsorbents in water treatment

Summary
With the continual concern over the presence of naturally occurring and anthropogenic organic and inorganic contaminants in the aquatic environment, there is a growing need to implementat innovative treatment methods. To provide a fast, convenient, efficient, and sustainable approach, my research is focused on developing novel magnetic nanoparticle sorbents for the elimination of these contaminants from natural waters and wastewater effluents These adsorbents have been successfully applied in the remediation of emerging organic contaminants (e.g. pharmaceuticals and dyes) and heavy-metal ions (e.g. cadmium, lead, mercury etc.).
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Owen Liu
(Re)designing Spatial Management in Fisheries: Distinguishing a signal in the noise

Summary
Spatial management in fisheries (such as marine protected areas and marine reserves) is often implemented as an emergency measure to protect severely overfished species. When it comes to designing new spatial management, or assessing and redesigning old measures, how do we distinguish effect from the complex dynamics going on in the rest of the fishery? Within the current push for more ecosystem-based management, how can we be smarter about design, so that we can maximize the adaptive benefits of spatial management?
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Ian McCullough
Going out on a Limb: How tree-rings can teach us about future forest ecosystems

Summary
I am using tree-rings to predict ponderosa pine growth as a function of future climate change. I am strategically examining populations found near the species’ southern range limit, where exposure to climate change is currently high and may be representative of future conditions across the remainder of the species’ range farther north. Although ponderosa pine is currently a widespread species, it may eventually become threatened by climate change, jeopardizing valuable provisions of timber and ecosystem services.
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Dan Ovando
Evaluating the Short-term Economic Impacts of Marine Reserves

Summary
No-take marine protected areas (MPAs) are often proposed as tools for fixing fisheries in the developing world. However, our analysis shows that it can take many years for fishing communities to see real economic benefits from MPAs, showing that we need to be more cautious in trusting in MPAs alone to improve the well-being of fishers. Combining MPAs with financial instruments such as loans or rights-based management can greatly improve the economic performance of MPAs in the developing world.
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Lindsey Peavey

Sea Turtle Hunger Games

Summary
Pacific olive ridley sea turtles spend almost all their time in the open ocean, and based on sporadic at-sea observations they are presumed to be opportunistic omnivores. To confirm this, we measured ratios of stable nitrogen in turtle skin to produce a quantitative estimate of their trophic position in oceanic food webs. We found that regardless of foraging location, olive ridleys feed at approximately the same trophic position across the entire eastern Pacific seascape, with the exception of feeding at a higher position when in a remarkably productive region: the Costa Rica Dome.
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Jessica Perkins
Life Cycle Assessment and Decision Making

Summary
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a measurement method to evaluate the environmental impact of a product or process across its entire life cycle (cradle-to-grave). While the information formulated during an LCA can provide insight based on a more holistic analysis, the complexity and technicality of the presented LCA results limit the usefulness of the information to inform decision-making for industry and policy alike. My research is aimed at improving the usefulness of LCA as a tool to inform decision-makers by focusing on aggregation, simplification, and communication of LCA results.
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Jade Sainz
Physical and Biological Processes Driving the Productivity of Shellfish Aquaculture in Todos Santos Bay, Mexico

Summary
My research aims to identify the physical and biological processes driving shellfish mariculture productivity and how the productivity varies by location in Todos Santos Bay, Baja California, Mexico, where an important aquaculture industry is developing. The results of my research will be of interest to aquaculture producers because it will provide information on the best potential farm locations with respect to production and toxicity by harmful algal blooms.
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Chris Severen
Coastal Land Use Regulation and Amenities

Summary
The California Coastal Zone contains some of the most economically important, desirable, and highly regulated land in the world. Land use regulation is often seen as exclusionary and inhibiting to economic growth. However, regulation appears to preserve coastal amenities in this unique environment, bolstering land values even while preserving public access and limiting development.
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Becky Wright
Equity in Conservation

Summary
Conservation interventions often seek triple bottom line outcomes with ecological, economic and socially equitable solutions. Social equity (the equitable distribution of costs and benefits to people) can be necessary for conservation success, but can compromise other goals, leading to inadequate or expensive conservation outcomes. Using theory and frameworks from collective action, program evaluation and public health, we enhance the understanding of the relationship between different types of social equity and conservation success.
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Ying Wang
Biodegradation of Engineered Carbonaceous Nanomaterials

Summary
Whether engineered carbonaceous nanomaterials (CNMs) can be biodegraded can significantly alter their environmental fate and impact, because CNMs could be detoxified by biodegradation and the risk of trophic transfer and biomagnification could then be reduced. However, although studies on the environmental behavior and effects of CNMs have increased exponentially over the last decade, very few focused on the biodegradation issue. Thus, I am interested in studying the biodegradation of CNMs to bridge this knowledge gap, and to contribute to a more comprehensive assessment of the ecological risks of CNMs.
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