Jeremy T. Claisse

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 (e.g., 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 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.


Chelsea Muñoz Williams

Chelsea's thesis research focuses 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. Her research interests include spatial ecology, kelp forest ecology, fish life history, and the effect of habitat complexity on community structure. Chelsea currently works as a Research Associate and Grants Manager for the Vantuna Research Group at Occidental College.

Ben Grime

Ben's thesis research focuses on the urchin gonad production response to kelp forest restoration. Previously he worked on an ARI funded abalone aquaculture and wild population restoration project. Currently, 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!

Austin Pyles

Austin's thesis research focuses on habitat use and nesting patterns of Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) on artificial reefs in southern California and potential implications on reproductive success.  Austin 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. He 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.

Jacob Eagleton

Jacob's thesis research focuses on diet composition of Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) and how it varies with sex, body size, geography, and between breakwater and natural reef habitats. He 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. He also works for the Vantuna Research Group as a scientific diver and field research assistant.

James Sturges

James's thesis research focuses on using stereo-video techniques 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 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 Calderon

Brenda recently started in the master's program and is in the early stages of developing her thesis project. 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 plans to take the AAUS Scientific Diver Certification course. Brenda also works at the BRIC as an administrative assistant.


Gabby Yang Aquarium

Gabrielle Yang

Gabby helps out with many projects in the lab and received CSU COAST Undergraduate Research funding for her project analysing 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. She recently 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. On top of all this, Gabby is the CPP Science Council President and has helped build the lab's (this) website! 

Matthew Kim CPP Biology

Matthew Kim

Matt began working in the lab last year after transfering from Pasadena City College, processing gut contents samples for Jacob's Garibaldi diet study. This past summer Matt did a CSU COAST Summer Internship​​​ with the California Department of Fish and ​Wildlife (virtually) working with the CDFW San Diego office on their Marine Invertebrate Fisheries Management​​ Program. He also recently completed his Padi Open Water SCUBA certification through the BRIC​, the initial step to eventually getting his AAUS Scientific Diver Certification and received CSU COAST Undergraduate Research funding to conduct genetics research with Dr. Valdez in the CPP Snail Lab.

Whitney Jones

Whitney began working in the lab this past year processing gut contents samples for Jacob's Garibaldi diet study. She also completed her Padi Open Water SCUBA certification through the BRIC, the initial step to eventually getting her AAUS Scientific Diver Certification. Whitney was also awarded a CSU COAST Summer Internship​​​ working with the Santa Barbara office on the emerging box crab fishery (delayed by the pandemic until summer 2021). Outside of school she does a lot of outdoor activities, like surfing, riding horses, and more recently rock climbing.

Michael Joyce CPP Biology

Michael Joyce

Michael helps maintain the CPP Biological Sciences Department's aquarium room, and assists graduate students in the lab with research on the reproductive biology of Garibaldi.  He is currently also working 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.

LaB  Alumni

John DiGildo CPP Biology BRIC SCUBA

John DiGildo

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!

Shannon Otoole CPP Biology

Shannon O'Toole

Shannon learned to processed Garibaldi gonad histological samples and helped out with other projects in the lab.

Stephanie Franck Internship San Diego Zoo

Stephanie Franck

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.

Elena Liang

Elena worked in the lab processing Garibaldi gonad samples, and assisted with maintaining and digitizing the department's museum fish collection. Since graduating she has worked in a tea shop, been a manager at an escape room, and is obtaining a license in dog handling/training.

Alex Roeper CPP Biology

Alex Roeper

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.