My passion for fisheries science largely stems from my lifelong love of fishing and for the outdoors. Growing up near the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts, I was bitten by the fishing bug at an early age; wading streams looking for the perfect brook trout hole and trolling lures in search of rainbow trout. The complexity of these stream ecosystems captured my curiosity. As famously said by John Muir, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” This idea, that things in the natural world are remarkably intertwined, became the driving force of much of my life and led me to Northeastern University, where I studied marine ecology in Massachusetts, Panama, and Washington state. During my undergraduate schooling, it became evident that people are also deeply embedded within and reliant on these ecosystems; from operating as predators, altering species distributions, to the cultural significance that we place on plants and animals.
Inspired by our connection with the natural world, my dissertation research was interdisciplinary and explored how the Striped Bass, a culturally significant fish species in New England, interacts with both marine organisms and people. From a human dimensions perspective, my dissertation research focused on explaining the opinions and knowledge of anglers and how regulations affect fishing behaviors, as to enable more holistic and inclusive management. Additionally, I explored the feeding ecology and health of Striped Bass using field sampling, acoustic telemetry, and laboratory methodologies to further understand how they interact with other fisheries, such as the American Lobster. I completed my PhD at Northeastern University under the auspices of Dr. Jonathan Grabowski in the spring of 2018.
As a post-doctoral research associate in the FAST Lab, my work largely aims to integrate social dynamics and stakeholder perspectives into fisheries management. Integrating human dimensions into fisheries management requires that we begin thinking about people as part of complex social-ecological systems (see example figure below). I am motivated to understand how social and biophysical domains within these systems interact across space and time and to find innovative ways to answer applied research questions.