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Grad Students

Erica Escajeda

Erica’s Ph.D. research at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) uses passive acoustic data and spatial methods to study the behavior and presence of subarctic cetaceans in the Bering Strait and southern Chukchi Sea. With the sea ice retreating earlier and forming later in the year, research is needed to understand how subarctic cetaceans (e.g., fin whales and humpback whales) are extending their residence times in the Arctic during the open water season. Erica plans to assess how the presence of these whales relates to broad-scale changes and interannual variation in oceanographic conditions in the Bering Strait region. Erica completed her B.A. in Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.S. at SAFS on maternity denning phenology of polar bears. Her Ph.D. research is supported by the US National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and SAFS. More information on Erica’s research, including publications, can be found on her website.

Jessie Hale

Jessie’s dissertation research examines sea otter population dynamics and longitudinal and spatial patterns of sea otter foraging on the outer coast of Washington. Jessie is using annual sea otter survey data collected over several decades by the U.S. Geological survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to create a Bayesian state-space population model for Washington state sea otters. Jessie is also in the field several months a year collecting observational data on sea otter foraging on the outer coast of Washington to compare sea otter diets over time, and collaborates with researchers at the Seattle Aquarium to study how sea otter diets vary over space. Her research is supported by the NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship. Jessie’s past research focused on pinto abalone restoration and invasive bullfrogs in Arizona. She is broadly interested in marine ecology and studying species with conservation need where her research has direct management applications. Her personal website can be found here:

Jessica Lindsay

Jessica Lindsay

Jessie’s Master’s thesis research at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) will focus on the relationship between ringed seal lairs and snow depth in the context of Arctic climate change. This work will be done in collaboration with NOAA, researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the community of Kotzebue, AK. Jessie is supported by a SAFS Fellowship and an ARCS Fellowship. She graduated from the University of Montana in 2015 with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and minors in Mathematics and Climate Change Studies. For her undergraduate research, she used playback experiments to study the acoustic mimicry of bird alarm calls in walnut sphinx caterpillars.

Jennifer Stern

Jennifer Stern

Jenny’s research at the School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences (SAFS) focuses on the feeding ecology of the Baffin Bay polar bear subpopulation, shared between Canada and Greenland. She analyzes hair and fat samples collected from captured polar bears using stable isotopes and fatty acid analysis and combines this data with movement data from adult females tracked with satellite collars. Her Ph.D. will include similar analyses for other polar bear populations around Greenland and an assessment of hair growth using captive polar bears to inform nutritional ecology studies in the wild. Her Masters research has been supported by a SAFS Fellowship and her Ph.D. is supported by a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. Jenny received her B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from University of Kansas in 2016. At the University of Kansas, she studied the effects of climate change on tree phenology, changing honeybee population dynamics, and the evolution of venomous dorsal spines in sharks and cartilaginous fishes.

Marie Zahn

Marie’s master’s thesis at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) analyzes and compares passive acoustic data of belugas and narwhals from the pack ice of Baffin Bay, West Greenland. These data were collected using a 16-hydrophone array which allows for acoustic localization and calculation of sonar beam width. Results will provide fundamental sonar parameters for these two species that will contribute to acoustic monitoring in the Arctic. This is especially important as the Arctic becomes more ice-free where vessel traffic and underwater noise are expected to increase. Marie’s research is partly supported by a SAFS Fellowship. For her undergraduate thesis, she worked with Indigenous communities in coastal British Columbia, studying the ethnobotany of western red cedar. After graduating Columbia University in 2016 with a B.A. in Environmental Biology, Marie worked seasonally in numerous remote field sites. Her longest deployments were as a biological technician studying Pacific salmon in Alaska and as a field science leader at Palmer Station, Antarctica studying microbiology and phytoplankton dynamics. Now as a graduate student, Marie is eager to continue researching high latitude ecosystems as they are most effected by climate change. More information and photos can be found on her website:

Technicians and Lab Assistants

Ben Cohen

Ben is a GIS technician working in the Laidre lab on numerous projects, including satellite data from polar bears in Greenland. His work focuses on utilizing geospatial, ecological, and environmental data to investigate natural phenomena in the Arctic and help understand impacts on animal populations and habitats. Ben graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Earth and Space Sciences (Physics) in 2018. Ben enjoys performing improv comedy and spending time outdoors kayaking or biking. His work at the lab allows him to engage directly with efforts to better understand the effects climate change on animals and the planet.