Rafe Sagarin

Photo: Paul Chinn/Corbis Images


Rafe Sagarin was a research scientist with the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ and the Program Manager for Oceans at Biosphere 2, where he was working to transform Biosphere 2's ocean biome into a living model of the Gulf of California. Rafe conducted a range of studies from basic field ecology of coastal marine systems to studies of what we can learn from biological evolution to improve security in society. He was a Guggenheim Fellow and the author of 'Learning from the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters and Disease' (Basic Books 2012) and 'Observation and Ecology: Broadening the Scope of Science to Understand a Complex World' (Island Press 2012). He was also working to reinvigorate the public trust doctrine as a unifying theme of US conservation law. Rafe gave lectures and conducted short courses and working groups on adaptability for public interest, homeland security, disaster relief and corporate organizations. He showed how the adaptable strategies of nature can be adopted by people and organizations that need to be more adaptable to the change and uncertainty in their world. Rafe received his Ph.D. in marine ecology from the University of California Santa Barbara and was living and doing research in Los Angeles, California. His research was on historical changes in populations of tidepool creatures and their relation to the warming trend in ocean temperatures in Monterey. He was also doing research on the broad-scale patterns of abundance and physiological state in tidepool plants and animals ranging from Baja, Mexico to Alaska. Rafe also spent a year in Washington DC as a Congressional Science Fellow where he served as a science advisor to Congresswoman Hilda Solis. Prior to entering the Ph.D. program he was an environmental activist at Stanford University where he led projects on environmental education and energy efficiency, and with the Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C. where he worked on the California Desert Protection Act. Rafe was an avid barefoot runner and traveler and enjoyed small art projects, graphic design and writing screenplays.

Fellow at a Glance

Fellowship Year:
Academic Background:
University of California Santa Barbara, Ph.D.
Current Position:
Associate Research Scientist and Program Manager
Coastal & Marine Issues
Conservation Science & Biology
Environmental Policy & Law


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