Dr. Stuart Sandin

Principal Investigator
I am a quantitative ecologist with specific interests in the population and community ecology. My research addresses questions in which ecology can most effectively inform marine management. What have been the impacts of human activities on marine ecosystems? How have changes in the structure of these ecosystems affected their functioning, especially related to important ecosystem services? Finally, how can ecological insights best be applied to develop creative and effective solutions to marine management problems? Much in the same way that an engineer provides informed solutions to practical commercial problems, an ecologist can provide informed recommendations for the protection and sustained use of natural resources. I firmly believe that novel and fundamental ecological discoveries are yet to be learned, and that such discoveries hold promise to enhance current management strategies. My research focuses largely on the ecology of coral reefs, with the goal of finding effective management and restoration approaches for this imperiled ecosystem.
Research Profile

Project Scientist

Dr. Brian Zgliczynski : Project Scientist

Dr. Brian Zgliczynski

Project Scientist


Brian is a marine ecologist with interests in coral reef ecosystems and fisheries ecology. His research is motivated by a desire to understand how human activities and biophysical forces influence the structure and function of coral reef communities. Brian completed his Ph.D., at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (2015) where he examined the effects of fisheries exploitation and oceanographic productivity on reef fish assemblages from the central Pacific. Brian is currently working as Project Coordinator of the 100 Island Challenge project.

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Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Beverly French : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Beverly French

Postdoctoral Fellow


Dr. Beverly French is a postdoctoral fellow in Stuart Sandin’s lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She uses high-throughput genetic sequencing to look at the adaptive potential of corals to a changing ocean. Beverly studied the community ecology of coral reef fishes for her doctorate, combining molecular sequencing with traditional underwater visual surveys of fish communities in the South and Central Pacific. She uses minimally invasive sampling in combination with large-area imaging to assess genetic adaptations of the coral holobiont in its environmental context and through time. Beverly has a B.A. in English (Writing) and a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh, where she first learned that she could explore her curiosity for the world and love of nature through research.

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PhD Students

Clinton Edwards : PhD Student

Clinton Edwards

PhD Student


Clinton obtained his undergraduate degree in Ecology Behavior and Evolution at UCSD before conducting his Masters thesis at Scripps with Dr. Smith, where he completed a global analysis of coral reef herbivorous fish populations. During and following his graduate work, Clinton has worked as a staff researcher and has contributed his database management, taxonomic and quantitative skills to a number of lab projects; in this capacity Clinton has also conducted extensive field work in Hawaii, the Central Pacific and Brazil.

Anela Akiona : PhD Student

Anela Akiona

PhD Student


Anela’s research focuses on quantifying the effect of human interventions on coral reefs, with an emphasis on how restorative and preventative techniques can help mitigate the impacts of climate change. Though now a coral reef ecologist, her first love is coral reef fish, and she is involved in lab efforts to improve fish biomass estimation. Originally from Hawaiʻi, Anela completed a Master’s degree at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and received a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science with a minor in Math from the University of San Diego.

Kendall Chancellor : PhD Student

Kendall Chancellor

PhD Student


Kendall is originally from Houston, Texas. For undergrad, she majored in marine and environmental science at Hampton University. She is currently a PhD student in the Sandin Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she focuses on coral reef resilience in an era of climate change. Kendall uses large area imagery to evaluate thermal tolerance and thermal thresholds in Pacific Island reefs. Her work has found evidence of potential adaptive capacities of Pacific Island reefs to thermal stress, mainly being driven by high thermal history and a taxonomic composition of mostly Montipora sp. She is currently working on how adaptive capacities of reefs to thermal stress shape reef communities over time after warm water events. Kendall is interested in how these findings can be used for precise bleaching predictions and risk analysis of coral reefs during warm water events as well as coral reef restoration.

Ahmi Cacapit : PhD Student

Ahmi Cacapit

PhD Student


Ahmi obtained her BS in Biology at the University of Guam. Currently, she is a PhD student in the Sandin Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. At SIO, she researches factors that drive coral recruitment dynamics throughout Micronesia by using large area imagery. She has conducted fieldwork in the Marianas, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Marisa Agarwal : PhD Student

Marisa Agarwal

PhD Student


Marisa is a PhD student currently focused on understanding reef fish dynamics across space and time. She is broadly interested in identifying the drivers of ecological communities across large geographic extents, as well as in parsing out the impact of species interactions within reef systems. Originally from Northern California, Marisa graduated from Brown University where she studied black coral ecology in the Galápagos Archipelago before transitioning into a marine resource manger role for the National Park Service in Guam.

Master's Students

Emma Flattery : Master's Student

Emma Flattery

Master's Student


Emma Flattery graduated magna cum laude from SIO's Marine Biology program at UCSD with a minor in Global South Studies in 2023. Her thesis project focuses on coral reef recovery and disturbance ecology after wave events in the Pacific. She works with benthic photomosaic imagery, algae stable isotopes, and wave satellite data to explore her academic interests. Her future goals include reef management, international collaboration, and decolonization in conservation.

Staff Researchers

Nicole Pedersen : Staff Researcher

Nicole Pedersen

Staff Researcher


Nicole earned her BS in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution with a minor in Marine Science from UC San Diego. She then went on to complete her Master's in Biology at UC San Diego studying the spatial ecology of juvenile corals. Now as a Staff Researcher in the Sandin Lab, Nicole leads data management and oversees processing of large-area imaging workflows for internal and collaborative projects in the lab. She aims to increase access to large-area imaging through her involvement with methods trainings in image collection, model processing and ecological analysis, and by creating visualizations and archives of imagery collected by the lab to share with partners and the broader public. Her own research interests involve the use of large area imaging to study population dynamics of coral communities by tracking changes in colonies over time and across space.

Chris Sullivan : Staff Researcher

Chris Sullivan

Staff Researcher


Growing up in San Diego, Chris opted to stay local and attended UCSD, where he completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology (Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution), a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and a minor in Marine Science. During the research portion of his minor, Chris found the Sandin Lab as a group that shared common research interests. This led to the pursuit and completion of Master’s degree in Biology. His research focused on the growth effects on juvenile rockfish when presented with predator stimuli.

Chris previously worked as a staff researcher for the 100 Island Challenge, where he collected benthic and fish data from over 80 islands. He is currently managing a team of data analysts and works directly with a core Sandin Lab partner, OneReef, as a science advisor and program manager. He is also concurrently pursuing his MBA through the Rady School of Management.

Katie Lubarsky : Staff Researcher

Katie Lubarsky

Staff Researcher


Katie is a staff researcher in the Sandin Lab. Originally from Southern California, Katie earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from UCLA. Since then, she has earned a Master’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa, and has worked in various marine conservation, management and regulatory roles in Hawai'i, New Zealand, and the Dominican Republic. Katie joined the lab in 2020 and leads the lab's collaborations with the Waitt Insitutute.

Nathaniel Hanna Holloway : Staff Researcher

Nathaniel Hanna Holloway

Staff Researcher


Nathaniel is a Staff Researcher in the Sandin Lab. Originally from Illinois, as a young boy Nathaniel became interested in Marine Biology through the books of Jacques Cousteau. A career in Marine biology seemed unrealistic growing up in a land-locked state and surrounded by oceans of corn and soybeans; so he went to school to study Civil and Environmental Engineering (B.S. 2005 and M.S. 2007, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and started his career as a water resources engineer working on various projects throughout the Midwest. However, after learning how to SCUBA dive he decided to go back to school and earned a Master's of Applied Studies in Marine Biology and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2015. His curiosity in coral reef ecology was ignited and he spent the next several years working in the Caribbean as a biological science technician for the National Park Service in St. Croix, USVI and a coral reef ecology instructor in Bonaire. In 2021, Nathaniel returned to San Diego and joined the Sandin Lab. His main role is managing the lab's involvement in the Island-Ocean Connection Challenge (jointheiocc.org) which includes everything from collecting data in the field to sharing/reporting to meeting with stakeholders and community members about the project and everything in between. 

McClaran Shirley : Lab Manager & Staff Researcher

McClaran Shirley

Lab Manager & Staff Researcher


McClaran is a Lab Manager and Staff Researcher in the Sandin Lab, where she is involved in many projects through logistical and research support. She graduated from Occidental College in 2022 with an Honors BA in Biology with a Marine Biology emphasis, where she researched ocean acidification on Hawaiian gastropods using a museum shell collection. She engaged in interdisciplinary biodiversity and conservation research for non-profit and governmental groups throughout college, and worked as a STEM educator in various capacities.

Past Members

Maya deVries Postdoc 2016-2018

Yoan Eynaud Postdoc 2013-2018

Gareth Williams Postdoc 2010-2016

Hugh Runyan PhD 2022

Beverly French PhD 2022

Noah Ben-Aderet PhD 2017

Kathryn Furby PhD 2017

Marlene Brito-Millán PhD 2017

Brian Zgliczynski PhD 2015

Rachel Morrison

Tali Vardi PhD 2011

Kristen Marhaver PhD 2010

Mary Liesegang MS 2022

Sarah McTague MS 2022

Ceiba Becker MS 2022

Ram Iyer MS 2022

Lindsay Bonito MS 2021

Laura Gibson MS 2021

Sho Kodera MS 2018

Pierre Churukian MS 2018

Christopher Sullivan MS 2014

Cristiane Palaretti MS 2014

Cara Somonsen MS 2013

Elisabeth Cordner MS 2013