New research initiative in the Galápagos!

Professor Leah Gerber and colleagues at Galápagos National Park and Universidad San Francisco Quito received funding through 2021 from Lenfest Ocean Program to develop a framework for structured decision-making in order to refine management objectives, model ecosystem behavior, monitor ecosystem change and response to management actions, and evaluate spatial management options.

Read here for more info!

Attending SETAC North America

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Last week, Erin Murphy attended the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America annual meeting in Toronto. She presented her research on the cost of marine plastic pollution interventions in the Thursday poster session. Through this work, she aims to support decision makers in better evaluating the costs of marine plastic pollution and interventions to inform smart policy action. This work will be part of her dissertation.

Science policy with Senator Sinema

Lab member Miranda Bernard and fellow Environmental Life Sciences students Ethan Baruch and Michele Clark, met with Gary Gold from Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s office. With climate change threatening Arizona’s water security, increasing extreme temperatures, and jeopardizing public health, they urged the Senator’s office to support legislation taking strong action on funding scientific research, climate change mitigation, and maintaining the scientific integrity of federal agencies.

Kesha’s new position

Lab member Kesha Cummings received an ASU SoLS/Phoenix Zoo Fellowship position as a Wildlife Research Technician for Fall 2019. In this position Kesha will be assisting with ongoing work that the Phoenix Zoo and Arizona Center for Nature Conservation are pursuing in Arizona, Mexico, Costa Rica, and more. In this role, projects include camera-trap photo organization and analysis, database management, GIS work, and field work. One field excursion included a multi-day camping and hiking trip to northern Arizona to remove existing camera traps and installation of new traps at various sites along the Arizona Trail.

Phoenix Voyage spotlights two graduate students

The VoyagePhoenix invited Infynity Hill and Erin Murphy to share their stories in their new series, The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative. This series aims to celebrate inspiring women and highlight the amazing work they are doing in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. We are proud that two women in our lab were asked to be a part of this!

Read Infynity’s story here:

Check out Erin’s story here:


Working group on plastic pollution

Lab members Erin Murphy and Miranda Bernard returned to the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center to continue work with the Plastic Pollution Emissions Working Group (PPeG). The PPEG is an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars and practitioners aiming to solve one of the largest threats to marine environments – plastic pollution. The group spent the week in Annapolis, MD working on a global model to estimate the flows and “leaks” of macroplastics from production into the environment. The ultimate goal of the project is to aid stakeholders when evaluating the impact of various interventions.

Research in the Philippines

PhD student Erin Murphy spent two weeks in the Philippines this summer developing her dissertation research. Through her work, she aims to better understand the sources and impacts of marine plastic pollution in the Philippines to help inform policy. She spent her time in Negros Oriental working with Dr. Beth Polidoro and other faculty at Silliman University. During her visit, she also supported Dr. Polidoro’s research into the impacts of microplastic by collecting soil and clams in the field with graduate students from Silliman, dove along the coast in the Masaplod marine sanctuary and explored the island to gain a better understanding of plastic usage and challenges to reduction.

Congratulations to Celeste, Ryan, and Madison!

Big congratulations to three undergraduate students in the Conservation Innovation Lab who successfully defended their honors theses. Celeste Delaune presented her work on coffee agroecosystems in San Martin, Peru. She conducted field work last summer in collaboration with Conservation International Peru. Ryan Van Bussum defended his work on the sargassum seaweed invasion in the Gulf of Mexico. Finally, on Friday, Madison Bolduc presented work on lobstermen attitudes towards the conservation of right whales, which she conducted over the past year in her hometown of Portland, Maine.

Grant for whale research awarded to two lab members

In April two graduate students from the Conservation Innovation Lab (Katie Surrey and Arielle Amrein) were awarded a grant from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)-Arizona State University (ASU) Collaborative Initiative to fund a pilot study in the Las Perlas archipelago in Panama this summer. The objectives of the project are to assess the physiological impacts that whale watching may be having on the population of humpback whales of the region, and the socio-economic impacts of the industry on the local community. Previous cetacean research has assessed that animals experience some levels of stress due to high frequency and proximity of human vessels, and while Panama has some regulations pertaining to the whale watching industry, enforcement is often lacking, and boats frequently do not adhere to the guidelines. These activities often bring them in close range of the whales who are usually breeding mothers with calves, which may have long-term effects on the overall survival of the individuals and thereby threaten the conservation of the species.

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