Jennifer O'Leary

Jennifer O'Leary


Jennifer’s goal is to conserve marine ecosystems through scientifically informed fisheries management. Jennifer believes scientists should help foster interest in the natural world and provide knowledge of how it operates, while enhancing communication between resource users, conservationists, and managers. Jennifer conducted her Ph.D. research in coastal Kenya, where fishing is intense. Her research measured ecosystem-level effects of fishing on a corals and coralline algae (the structural elements of reef systems) under different management regimes in coastal Kenya. Jennifer developed her thesis ideas following 6 years of experience as a conservationist and natural resource manager for state and county agencies in California. Through a Switzer Leadership Award, Jennifer was a postdoc with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History. She worked with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) incorporate science into the management process for Kenyan marine parks. The resulting Adaptive Management Program has revolutionized the way the KWS views and manages its marine resources. Jennifer then was a postdoctoral fellow with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). She worked with a team of top scientists to develop and test a suite of global indicators of ocean health across different ocean basins and spatial scales. The global index will provide a validated method that assesses progress towards conservation and management objectives for the world's oceans. Between 2012-2014, Jennifer was a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, where she is studying how ocean acidification may affect benthic algal communities and population dynamics of fished abalone species, and developed meta-genomic tools to assess larval recruitment. Currently, Jennifer is a faculty member at Cal Poly and the regional California Sea Grant scientist. She is also the co-director of the Adaptive Management Program for the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Fellow at a Glance

Fellowship Year:
Academic Background:
University of California Santa Cruz, Ph.D.
Current Position:
Coastal & Marine Issues
Conservation Science & Biology
Natural Resource Management
Currently Working On:
Marine conservation, marine protected area management, research on ecological structure and function of coral reefs, invasive species, resilience of corals facing climate change, teaching
120 Oceanview Blvd.
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
(831) 566-8867

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