About Me


I am a PhD student in the Kroeker Lab and Bernardi Lab at UC Santa Cruz, interested in the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of marine subtidal ecosystems.  My passion for and focus on marine science began with a deep fascination with marine organisms and their

interactions, and has expanded to an appreciation of the role the ocean (and its biotic community) has and will play in shaping the world as we humans experience it, and how our activities are impacting these critically important systems. In my studies and research at UCSC, I am investigating how changing environmental factors are influencing evolutionary and ecological processes, and how this may influence short- and long-term outcomes in coastal marine ecosystems.

Professional History

During my undergraduate career, I pursued research on determinants of ecosystem function with PhD candidate Matthew Whalen and Dr. Jay Stachowicz.  I took part in surveying both the Bodega Bay and Tamales Bay sites for the global seagrass research initiative, the Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN), and collaborated on a project investigating the effects of flow heterogeneity and diversity of fouling organisms on water column filtration.  After graduating, I worked as a Junior Specialist

BMLers at the 2014 meeting of the Western Society of Naturalists

with Dr. Eric Sanford at the Bodega Marine Laboratory (BML) on a project investigating juvenile seastar ecology and the prevalence of wasting disease in Pisaster ochraceus juveniles.  Before beginning graduate work, I was stationed out at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) helping to teach a marine invertebrate zoology course and assisting with lionfish and coral research.  At UC Santa Cruz, I am leading a multi-institutional group of researchers in a collaborative effort to elucidate the impact of ocean acidification and environmental variability on predator-prey interactions, using black perch (Embiotoca jacksoni) as a model species, and have begun population genomics work investigating the potential role of adaptation in the response of fish populations to a changing environment.

Image uploaded from iOS
The “mesocosm” system at UCSC used to manipulate seawater pH and expose organisms to future seawater conditions.
Sizing up a benthic predator in Carmel Bay

Research Interests

My current academic interests are broad, but an overarching theme is an interest in the response of marine systems to “novel environments” (aka change, including changes in temperature and carbonate chemistry, as well as pollution and invasive species).  This starts at the physiological and population levels and cascades up to the goal of understanding community- and ecosystem-level changes, including how these factors combine to influence the evolution of the populations within the community.  Included in this spectrum of interests are such topics as the role of species interactions in determining community structure, evolutionary ecology, population genomics, biogeochemistry, and invasion biology/range expansions.  For more updates on my current avenues of investigation, see the Research tab.

Career Goals

My non-research interests are in science communication and education.  With the world now within the recently coined “Anthropocene” and an increasing understanding of the impacts our society has had on global processes, it is more important than ever to bridge the gap between the academic and public worlds. To this end, I hope to promote an interest in, and understanding of, scientific research results to replace an unfortunately pervasive culture of misunderstanding and intimidation by improving my ability to communicate research results to more public audiences, as well as expand and refine my toolbox for effectively teaching college students core concepts of biology and experimental design while instilling in them the same passion for these systems that led me to pursue this career path. For more information, see the Science Communication tab.

Ocean Health - Climate Change Graphic
A useful graphic produced by the World Wildlife Fund illustrating the many ecosystem services provided by the ocean and its inhabitants, as well as consequences of human impacts.

In my blog, I record events, findings, or critters of particular interest that I come across in my studies and work in the world of ecological research, as well as reflections or updates on recent activities.  I also post updates on instagram @jtoy7 and occasionally on twitter @the_evologist.

My extracurricular interests include freediving/spearfishing, motorcycling, reading, hiking, camping, and almost any sort of sport or outdoor activity.

All photos property of Jason Toy, unless otherwise stated.


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