Semmens Lab Team 2014/2015


Scroll down for Team Bio’s….

Brice Semmens, PhD : Assistant Professor

Brice Semmens, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Semmens is an assistant professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Much of his current research focuses on quantitative ecology -- specifically, Bayesian statistics, time/space series analysis, state-space model formulations, and information theoretic approaches to model selection. Dr. Semmens has worked with data from a number of different systems, including coral reef fish, Pacific salmonids, coastal gray wolves, southern resident killer whales, and coastal groundfish.

Rachel Labbe-Bellas : Lab Manager

Rachel Labbe-Bellas

Lab Manager

Rachel Labbe-Bellas obtained a BS in Biology from McGill University in 2008, in her native hometown. She is interested in Tropical Marine Ecology and has 7 years of volunteer and work experience with benthic, shark, and conservation research. She also has a MS in Ecology from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), completed in 2013 in Florianopolis, Brazil. Her thesis focused on Sea Urchin Abundance and Habitat Relationships in two Brazilian reef types. She also participated in a National government-funded project, SISBIOTA, that addressed the underlying longitudinal trends of benthic community patterns along the Brazilian coast. As well, she was funded by Coral Vivo Foundation/PETROBRAS to assess urchin populations and habitat patterns at Recife de Fora National Marine Park. Currently she is working as a Lab Manager at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a Development Coordinator for the Sylvia Earle Alliance-Mission Blue, a 501(c)3 non-profit, and occasionally as a Seafood Analyst for the Seafood Watch Program at Monterey Aquarium. Rachel loves to scuba dive in Southeast-Asia, surf any waves, travel and learn languages.

Lynn Waterhouse : PhD Student

Lynn Waterhouse

PhD Student

Lynn’s research focuses on developing quantitative models to make more efficient and accurate use of fisheries data. Currently she is working on a stock assessment of white seabass for the state of California (with Juan Valero of CAPAM); the endangered Nassau grouper in the Cayman Islands; salmonid species in freshwater systems in the Pacific Northwest; and evaluating fisheries across the US using delay-difference models (work with Jim Thorson of the NWFSC-NMFS).  She received the Sea Grant/NOAA Fisheries Graduate Fellowship in Population Dynamics and Marine Resource Economics in 2013 and was funded during the 2013-2014 year on a NSF GK-12 Fellowship which partnered her with biology teachers at Kearny SCT High School in San Diego. She is currently a volunteer diver at Birch Aquarium.

In August 2012, Lynn completed her Master’s degree in statistics from Pennsylvania State University with Dr. Michael G. Akritas, where she focused on evaluating the power of various tests to detect the nonlinear portion of a partially linear model. Prior to her work in statistics, she completed a MS in Marine Sciences co-advised by Dr. John Hoenig and Dr. Mary Fabrizio at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in the Department of Fisheries Science. As part of her MS, Lynn did research with the Turks and Caicos Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR). The work involved aspects of the economics, conservation, fisheries management, and population assessment of queen conch. Her thesis was based on advancements to tagging models, for both instantaneous rates and Brownie-type. In May 2007, she graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Economics from the University of Dayton as a John W. Berry Sr. Scholar.

updated: June 22, 2015

Joshua Stewart : PhD Student

Joshua Stewart

PhD Student

Josh studies the population ecology and dynamics of oceanic manta rays in the Indo-Pacific. Specifically, he is interested in the spatial ecology and geographic population structuring of this circumglobal, widely dispersed marine megafauna. Josh is using a range of techniques to identify population structure, trophic ecology, critical habitat use and the geographic range of oceanic manta rays at research sites throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans. These methods include satellite telemetry, used to identify large-scale movements of oceanic manta rays, including migratory corridors, critical habitat use and geographic range; stable isotope analyses, used to examine the trophic ecology of manta rays and variation within and between regions; and genetic analyses of populations throughout the Indo-Pacific. Josh is especially interested in how this data can be used to develop conservation recommendations and inform policy protecting the species.

Brian Stock : PhD Student

Brian Stock

PhD Student

Brian studies quantitative ecology and fisheries, currently developing spatial models to predict bycatch risk for fisheries. He is especially interested in methods for assessing data-poor fisheries in developing countries, as this will help fill in the global fisheries picture. Prior to enrolling as a student, Brian helped the Semmens Lab develop <<MixSIAR GUI>>, mixing model software written in R. MixSIAR will be a valuable tool for ecologists in analyzing stable isotope data, which has many ecological applications (e.g. estimating animal diets, movement, and population structure).

Brian has a broad mathematical biology modeling background, including projects on cataract surgical rates, interstitial fluid flow, within-host viral dynamics, and bead-based immunoassays. He also spent two years in Uganda, where he was a secondary school teacher in the Peace Corps from 2010 to 2012. Apart from his studies, he delights in rock climbing and surfing.

Research interests:

quantitative marine ecology, stable isotope analysis, fisheries stock assessment

Noah Ben-Aderet : PhD Student

Noah Ben-Aderet

PhD Student

Noah Ben-Aderet is a 5th year doctoral student in the Semmens lab. While his master’s research (completed in 2009 at the Inter-University Institute for Marine Science in Eilat, Israel) focused on the effects of high CO2 conditions on the photosynthetic machinery that powers individual coral polyps and colonies, Noah’s primary interests have always been fish, fish populations and the effects of small scale fishing.

In 2004, he graduated from UCSD with a BS in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution and a minor in Political Science. After traveling around Central America and Oceania, Noah returned to San Diego and worked at Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute monitoring hatchery-reared white seabass populations off the southern California coast. This led to a position tagging and tracking juvenile thresher sharks in the lab of the late Dr. Jeff Graham here at SIO. After leaving Scripps to pursue his M.Sc. in Israel, Noah returned to San Diego (again) in 2010 to begin his Ph.D. research.

Christy Patengill-Semmens, PhD : Visiting Scholar

Christy Patengill-Semmens, PhD

Visiting Scholar

Christy is the Director of Science for Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). She conduct-ed her dissertation research on fish assemblages of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. Christy co-ordinates the Grouper Moon Project, a collaborative marine conservation program studying Nassau Grouper spawning aggregations. She also oversees the REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project, a citizen science fish monitoring program in coastal areas of North and Central America, Hawaii, and the tropical Pacific that has generated the largest marine fish sightings database in the world.

Lyall Bellquist, PhD : Postdoctoral Researcher

Lyall Bellquist, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Lyall research interests focus on the biology and ecology of marine fishes with applications to fisheries management. His current thesis research aims to gain a better understanding of recreational fisheries dynamics in California, with a focus on both historical and current quantitative fish population assessments. This includes analyses of historical recreational fisheries archives, as well as tagging research to quantify population size, mortality, and movements of coastal fishes in southern California.

Charlotte Boyd, PhD : Postdoctoral Researcher

Charlotte Boyd, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Charlotte’s postdoctoral research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography focuses on the spatial ecology of cetaceans and other highly-mobile long-lived marine vertebrates as a means to identifying critical habitat under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Current research projects include a review of methods for identifying critical habitat for highly-mobile marine, freshwater, and terrestrial species; a spatially-explicit agent-based model of southern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) to support identification of critical habitat beyond their core summer range; and new methods for estimating and predicting the seasonal distribution and movement patterns of highly-mobile marine vertebrates by integrating line transect and spatial capture-recapture data, with application to blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus).

Charlotte completed her PhD at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington in 2012. Her PhD research focused on the effects of changes in the abundance and distribution of prey on the spatial patterns and foraging success of seabirds and other central place foragers. The results of this research highlighted the importance of the depth distribution of prey for surface-foraging seabirds, and provided insights into the potential for area closures and broad-scale fisheries management to safeguard prey availability for seabirds and pinnipeds.

From 2012 to 2014, Charlotte undertook a National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associateship at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center to estimate the levels of extinction risk for marine and anadromous species evaluated for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The purpose of this analysis was to develop a risk assessment framework and assess the levels of risk associated with endangered, threatened, or not warranted determinations.

Research interests: conservation biology, spatial ecology, habitat analysis, movement analysis, marine mammals, seabirds