While completing my PhD at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, I worked with scientists at SWFSC on a project studying the population genetics of gray whales. This work gave me the opportunity to be part of a field research team that studied a small group of gray whales feeding off the coast of Sakhalin Island, Russia. Over time, we were able to collect samples from the majority of individuals that utilize this feeding ground, and my dissertation research used both population-level and individual-based analyses (e.g. parentage analysis, genetic tracking of individuals) to provide insight into the population structure of gray whales. After completing my PhD in 2010, I began work as a postdoc with the Marine Mammal Genetics Group. My current projects include:
- Assessing the population structure of gray whales on feeding grounds in the North Pacific
- Using a simulation-based approach to evaluate plausible levels of immigration into the Pacific Coast Feeding Group of gray whales
- Assessing relatedness of individuals within the Pacific Coast Feeding Group of gray whales to better understand patterns of recruitment
- Using mitogenomics to evaluate the subspecific taxonomy of blue whales
My work with gray whales has provided me with an opportunity to participate in the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee meetings and has increased my interest in understanding how genetic analyses can be used to inform management decisions on both an international and domestic level. In addition to my work in the genetics lab, I also participate in our division’s shore-based counts of migrating gray whales.