Jeremy is a quantitative marine ecologist with broad research interests mostly focusing on the life history and ecology of marine organisms associated with reef ecosystems, including California rocky reefs and kelp forests, coral reefs in Hawaii and the Caribbean, and anthropogenic reef habitats and restoration (e.g., artificial reefs, breakwaters, submerged structures of oil platforms and renewable energy developments). Most of his work has an applied focus with an emphasis on marine conservation, fisheries ecology and marine protected areas. As an Associated Professor at Cal Poly Pomona he teaches R coding, biostatistics, fish and marine ecology field courses.
Jeremy received his B.S. from UC Santa Barbara, and his Ph.D. from University of Hawaii Manoa where he was part of the Hawaii Cooperative Fishery Research Unit (USGS) and studied the life history and ecology of Yellow Tang with applications to managing its commercial aquarium fishery using marine protected areas. He did a postdoc at Occidental College with the Vantuna Research Group with whom he continues to collaborate extensively as the Associate Director, working on a variety of applied marine ecology projects across the Southern California Bight.
James's thesis research focuses on using stereo-video camera systems to study fish assemblage and habitat use patterns on the Palos Verdes Reef Restoration Project. This large-scale reef restoration is designed to restore essential fish habitat along a degraded section of coastline. He also received a CSU COAST Graduate Student Research Award for his research, as well as the CPP Biological Sciences Department Rachel Carson Scholarship for a student focused on conservation biology. He received a B.S. from USC in Environmental Science, where he did an NSF REU on Catalina Island, spending a summer as a scientific diver assisting a graduate student with her abalone habitat use project. He also developed protocols for collecting, transplanting, and monitoring juvenile kelp plants as part of the Kelp Biofuel project, and worked on on coral genetics projects in the Kenkel Lab.
Brenda's thesis research focuses on the spatial variation in diet composition of Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) and how diet correlates with their life history (growth patterns) across artificial and natural reef habitats and a gradient in environmental conditions. She received her B.S in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona, and worked in the lab as an undergraduate where she received CSU COAST Undergraduate Research funding to work on Garibaldi reproduction and her results were presented as a poster at the CPP Science Symposium. She also recently completed her Padi Open Water and Advanced SCUBA certifications through the BRIC, and will be getting her AAUS Scientific Diver Certification, and was MOTC boat operator certified. Brenda also works at the BRIC as an administrative assistant.
Matt recently started in the master's program and is in the early stages of developing his thesis project. He began working in the lab as undergraduate after transfering from Pasadena City College, processing gut contents samples for Jacob's Garibaldi diet study. He also spent a summer doing a CSU COAST Summer Internship with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife working with the CDFW San Diego office on their Marine Invertebrate Fisheries Management Program. In the field he completed his Padi Open Water SCUBA certification through the BRIC, and will be getting his AAUS Scientific Diver Certification, and was MOTC boat operator certified. Matt also received CSU COAST Undergraduate Research funding to conduct genetics research with Dr. Valdez in the CPP Snail Lab.
Gabby helps out with many projects in the lab and received CSU COAST Undergraduate Research funding for her project analyzing stereo-video data to quantify Yellow Tang abundance inside and out of protected areas in Hawaii. She was also awarded fellowships in the NSF funded SPIRES and then LSAMP programs at CPP. In the field she completed her Padi Open Water and Advanced SCUBA certifications through the BRIC, the initial steps to eventually getting her AAUS Scientific Diver Certification, and was MOTC boat operator certified. In summer 2021, Gabby participated in the CSU COAST Northern California Marine Invertebrate Fisheries Management Internship at the UC Davis Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory. On top of all this, Gabby was the CPP Science Council President for 2020-2021 and has helped build the lab's (this) website!
Whitney began working in the lab processing gut contents samples for Jacob's Garibaldi diet study. In 2021 she received a CSU Edison STEM-NET Student Research Award to analyze data on fish size and habitat use patterns on oil platforms, and gave an oral presentation of her results at their virtual conference. In the field she completed her Padi Open Water SCUBA certification through the BRIC, and will be getting her AAUS Scientific Diver Certification, and was also MOTC boat operator certified. In summer 2021 Whitney participated in a CSU COAST Summer Internship working with California Department of Fish and Wildlife on a mark-recapture study for the emerging box crab fishery. Outside of school she does a lot of outdoor activities, like surfing, riding horses, and more recently rock climbing.
Jacob's master's thesis research focused on diet composition of Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) and he found that it varied between breakwater and natural reef habitats, and that it varied geographically across southern California. He also received his B.S in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona, and worked in the lab as an undergraduate on a variety of projects. Before starting the master's program he worked at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) where he gained experience in vertical long line, bottom longline, bottom trawling, fish tagging, otolith sectioning, fish identification, and general boating experience. After finishing his master's he landed a full time position as a research associate for the Vantuna Research Group.
Austin's master's thesis research focused on habitat use and nesting patterns of Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) on artificial reefs in southern California and potential implications on reproductive success. He also received a Southern California Academy of Sciences (SCAS) student research grant for his research, as well as a CPP Biological Sciences Department Teaching Associate Award. Austin also received his B.S in Environmental Biology from Cal Poly Pomona, and as an undergraduate he assisted with the lab's California native abalone aquaculture development and wild population restoration project. During the pandemic he has worked at Curative in processing COVID test samples, and also works for the Vantuna Research Group as a scientific diver and field research assistant, and for the environmental consulting firm Rincon Consultants as a field research tech.
Ben's master's thesis research focused on the rapid response of urchin gonad production to kelp forest restoration. He also received a CSU COAST Graduate Student Research Award for his research. Previously he worked on an ARI funded abalone aquaculture and wild population restoration project. He is also the Marine Programs Project Manager for The Bay Foundation, an LA based non-profit working to restore coastal marine environments. Prior to joining the Claisse Lab, Ben has worked as a kelp forest monitoring diver for the Channel Islands National Park, and a biological science technician for the Southern California Marine Institute and the Vantuna Research Group. In his spare time he enjoys playing soccer and walking his dog Leo!
Chelsea Muñoz Williams
Chelsea's master's thesis research focused on spatial variation in the life history of the Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus), a damselfish native to kelp forest ecosystems in southern California and Baja California, Mexico. She found they grow larger on breakwater than natural reefs, grow larger and live longer in cooler locations in southern California. She was also able to validate the annual periodicity of otolith increment formation and discovered they can live at least 57 years! Chelsea currently works as a Research Associate and Grants Manager for the Vantuna Research Group at Occidental College.
Michael helped maintain the CPP Biological Sciences Department's aquarium room, and assisted graduate students in the lab with research on the reproductive biology of Garibaldi. He currently works at the Los Angeles Zoo as an Life Support Systems Operator, and previously interned and volunteered at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA.
John put his R coding and GIS skills to work assisting with multiple projects in the lab. He's now in our master's program, (joining the botanical dark side) studying functional plant morphology in Dr. Ed Bobich's lab. Regardless, we are all glad we still get to see him around and appreciate the great contributions he made to the lab!
Stephanie worked in the lab for two years, received a CSU COAST Undergraduate Research Award to develop histological methods for Garibaldi gonad samples, and presented a poster on her project at the CPP Science Student Research Symposium. She also assisted with maintaining and digitizing the department's museum fish collection. Since graduating, she participated in the San Diego Zoo/San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Exotic Animal Nutrition Summer Fellow Program, and put her histology skills to work at a biotech company in San Diego.
Alex was a master's program student in our lab for one year and was funded by a USC Sea Grant Traineeship. As part of that project she wrote R Code for analyzing patterns of fish assemblages on California's offshore oil platforms which resulted in her being an author on a publication! Eventually though, the allure of working with numbers was too great, and she decided to leave the program to work for a accounting firm, pursue a degree at ASU in accounting, and is on her way to becoming a CPA.