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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 uses acoustic data to assess the influence of different environmental variables on the acoustic presence of fin, humpback, and gray whales 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.

Jessica Lindsay

Jessie’s PhD research at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) is focused on ringed lair habitat, emergence timing, and reproductive ecology in relation to snow and sea ice characteristics in a changing Arctic. She will also be exploring potential ringed seal and polar bear population status and predator-prey dynamics under future climate conditions. Her research uses data from aerial surveys (both manned and drone-based), seal haul-out tags, and satellite remote sensing. Jessie is supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a North Pacific Research Board Graduate Student Research Award, 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. For photos and more information on Jessie’s graduate research, visit her website at jmlinds.github.io.

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 analyses and combines these data with movement data from adult females tracked with satellite collars. Her Ph.D. also includes an assessment of hair growth using zoo polar bears to inform nutritional ecology studies in the wild. Her Ph.D. research is supported by a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship and a SAFS fellowship. Jenny received her B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the 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 research interests are at the intersection of marine animal ecology and ice-ocean dynamics in polar regions. As a PhD student, she studies beluga and narwhal bioacoustics and glacier fjord hydrography in West Greenland. Specifically, her PhD quantifies features of beluga and narwhal echolocation and oceanographic variation in three northwest Greenland fjords occupied by narwhals. Her work will help improve long-term oceanographic and toothed whale observation methods in the Arctic. Marie’s research is supported by a SAFS Fellowship, a Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies (CICOES) Fellowship, and funding from the Vetlesen Foundation and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Prior to graduate school, Marie completed a BA in Environmental Biology from Columbia University in 2016 where she studied the ethnobotany of western red cedar for her undergraduate thesis. She also spent several years working for research programs in Alaska and Antarctica which motivated her desire to formally pursue graduate school at the UW. Her publications and additional background can be found here.

Sarah Teman

Sarah’s Master’s research focuses on developing a quantitative index of population health for Alaska’s Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear subpopulation. She is supported by UW’s Program on Climate Change and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Broadly, Sarah is interested in understanding how the health of marine wildlife populations are affected by human impacts and environmental change. Sarah graduated from the University of Florida (UF) with her B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. Her undergraduate thesis examined the foraging ecology of small mammals in Eswatini, Africa. At UF, she volunteered with the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Aquatic Animal Health Program and assisted with manatee and cetacean health assessments and stranding response. Prior to joining the UW, she worked as a research assistant for The SeaDoc Society on Orcas Island, helping to lead stranding response, health assessments, and epidemiologic research on marine mammals in the Salish Sea. Sarah’s publications can be viewed here.

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.