You are here: Home About Us People Graduate Students


Graduate Students

Jorge Cornejo

jorge_crop.jpgJorge Cornejo is a PhD student in the Interdepartmental Program in Marine Science (IGPMS). His work is focused on sustainable fisheries management of commercial fisheries and the impacts of fisheries activities on ecosystems. Jorge is originally from Chile and worked on fisheries research in the Universidad Austral de Chile for 5 years. With Steve Gaines as his advisor, Jorge is working on modeling transboundary fisheries (i.e. fisheries spanning two or more communities, states or countries). This approach attempts to identify optimal sizes for marine protected areas that ensure sustainable resources. He is motivated to combine different disciplines such as ecology (population dynamics), economics (market), and oceanography (dispersal processes) in his modeling work.

Laura Dee

LDee_web.jpgLaura Dee is currently a PhD student in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, advised by Steve Gaines, studying marine ecology, the intersection between ecology and economics, and sustainable fisheries management. Her research interests include the trade of aquarium fish, the effects of biodiversity and species interactions on ecosystem services, community-based fisheries management, and the management of multiple uses in marine systems. Prior to starting graduate school, Laura received a BS in Marine Biology from Brown University and worked at the University of North Carolina-CH’s Institute of Marine Science, with the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UCSB and as a SCUBA instructor. Laura has worked on projects ranging from fisheries management in Indonesia and predator-prey interactions in the Galápagos Marine Reserve to the international wildlife trade and the success of oyster reef restoration. At the Bren School, Laura has served as an external adviser to two Master’s group projects: one on reforming the coral reef wildlife trade (2011-2012) and the other on bioeconomic analysis of offshore aquaculture in Mexico (2010-2011).

Rebecca Gentry

Becca is a PhD student in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, advised by Steve Gaines.  Broadly, she is drawn to questions that address how to best utilize our ocean resources while conserving, and even enhancing, marine ecosystems.  Her research interests include sustainable aquaculture development, aquaculture and fisheries interactions, marine spatial planning, and food security.  Becca’s dissertation focuses on the potential for marine aquaculture development and the constraints (both ecological and socio-economic) that may limit development.  Additionally, she is involved in research to investigate how marine offshore aquaculture can best be integrated into spatial management of the oceans, considering its impact on other uses of the environment and its effect on marine ecosystems.  Before starting her PhD, Becca worked in fisheries and aquaculture policy at the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries and at the California Ocean Science Trust.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University and Masters Degrees (in both Environmental Science and Journalism) from Columbia University.

Steve Miller

smbio.jpgSteve Miller is a PhD student in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, advised by Chris Costello and Steve Gaines. His research interests span fisheries, marine conservation, spatial planning, and environmental economics. He is particularly interested in the role that technology plays in all of these areas, as well as management of trans-boundary and high seas ecosystems and resources. Prior to starting his graduate program, Steve studied computer science at Stanford University and went on to work for Google for five years, where he led a number of projects including serving as the Product Manager for Ocean in Google Earth.

Renato Molina

Renato is a PhD Candidate in the Economics Department at University of California, Santa Barbara under the advisement of Chris Costello. His research interests include theoretic and applied economics of natural resources and economic development. Renato is originally from Santiago, Chile. He is interested in designing economic incentives that lead to the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources, the policy making process for implementing those incentives, and sustainable economic development. Renato received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Chile, a master’s degree in environmental science and management from the Bren School, and a master's of arts in economics. He has worked in fisheries and aquaculture since 2007 and been involved in numerous sustainable development projects in the private and public sectors in Chile and Latin America. As a project researcher at SFG, Renato focuses on property rights in fisheries, transboundary fisheries, and TURFs and no-take reserve networks.

Dan Ovando

Dan Ovando

Dan received his BS in Ecosystem Science and Policy as well as Biology at the University of Miami in Coral Gables. After completing his BS, he worked as the program coordinator and lab manager for a shark research program based out of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Miami. In this role, Dan conducted research on the ecology of south Florida sharks and developed community awareness of these keystone predators. Dan earned a Master’s degree at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, pursuing his interest in developing practical solutions to the challenges facing marine ecosystems. For his thesis work, he conducted an analysis of the economic viability and ecological sustainability of a proposed red abalone fishing cooperative, as part of an effort to support the development of community managed fisheries in the Santa Barbara region.   Dan then worked as a research scientist with SFG, where his principal study areas included the development and performance of cooperative fisheries, the assessment of data-poor fisheries, and the use of bio-economic models in fisheries management. Dan is now a PhD student at the Bren School, studying under Dr. Steve Gaines and Dr. Chris Costello.

Contact Information:
office: Bren Hall 4528
email: dovando[at]


Rebecca Selden

Bseldon.jpgBecca is a PhD student in the Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology Department under the advisement of Steve Gaines and Bob Warner. She is broadly interested in incorporating species interactions (e.g. predation, competition) into fisheries management. Her graduate research focuses on quantifying the effect of fishing-induced changes in size on predator-prey interactions. She is also collaborating with the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center to do a similar size-based diet analysis with several commercially important fish species. Past research includes (1) dispersal limitation in an invasive tunicate in the San Juan Islands, WA (2) community involvement in sea turtle conservation in the Cayman Islands, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, and Panama, and (3) the effects of chemical cues from crabs on sea urchin growth, morphology, and reproduction.  She received her B.A. from Bowdoin College in 2006.

Sarah Teck

STeck_web.jpgSarah's interest in marine ecology began during her third year of college as a student in the Maritime Studies Program of Williams College-Mystic Seaport, an interdisciplinary maritime studies semester. She discovered that the subject of invasive species nicely melded her interests in scientific research, policy, ecology and conservation. She continues to focus on joining various disciplines by researching the ecology of a locally fished species, the red sea urchin. She has been collecting data on the temporal and spatial variability in sea urchin gonad quality within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. In addition, she is interested in conducting experimental manipulations in an effort to promote ecological restoration through kelp recovery and economic revitalization of the fishery in the northern Channel Islands. She holds a MS in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire and a BA in American Literature from Middlebury College. Currently, she is a PhD student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology under the advisement of Dr. Steve Gaines. For more information, please visit her homepage.

Daniel Viana

Daniel Viana is currently a PhD student at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, advised by Steve Gaines. His broad interests are fisheries management, environmental tourism, and the design of marine protected areas (MPAs). His current research is focused on when and how MPAs can provide economic benefits to coastal communities, exploring the expected tourism and fisheries values from different MPA designs. He is well-prepared to tackle this ambitious research, having worked with the Brazilian Ministry of Fisheries, the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UCSB and as a fellow for RARE, a leading non-profit conservation organization. He has been engaged in multiple research projects in Brazil related to artisanal fisheries management, data-poor stock assessments, reproductive biology and marine ecology. Daniel received his BS in Fishing Engineering from the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco in Brazil and his Master of Environmental Science and Management degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Becky Wright

becca_webphoto_crop.jpgBecky is a PhD student in the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science advised by Steve Gaines. Her research interests intersect cultural and human behavioral ecology with marine conservation. She specializes in contextualizing and integrating indigenous ecological knowledge, sociocultural anthropology, common property resources and property rights within fisheries management frameworks. Prior to starting her PhD, Becky received a BS in Aquatic Biology from UCSB, and a MAS in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UCSD. Becky has worked on projects ranging from assessing the impacts of climate change on artisanal fishing communities in the Solomon Islands, to organizing community outreach programs for San Diego Coastkeeper. Her current research examines (1) how different aspects of fisheries management arrangements are perceived and what factors lead to the perception of success by different community members, and (2) how traditional sea tenure systems are adapting to change.