Marine Mammal Genetics Staff

cetacean strip


Barb Taylor
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-5620
Fax: 858-546-7003
e-mail: Barbara.Taylor@noaa.gov


In addition to leading the Marine Mammal Genetics Group, I actively participate in the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group and the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission. My first ten years in marine mammal research were spent studying harbor porpoise, harbor seals, bowhead whales and humpback whales, mostly in Alaska. Since receiving my PhD at the University of California, San Diego, my research has shifted from a field orientation to a quantitative approach. My research interests include genetics focusing on identifying units to conserve; population dynamics of small populations; conservation biology; demography; population viability analysis and decision analysis.
Current projects:

  • Participating in vaquita conservation science projects
  • Performance testing of quantitative listing criteria for the Endangered Species Act
  • Developing guidelines for treating uncertainty in listing species under the IUCN Redlist
  • Testing available genetic methods for how they perform at addressing conservation questions

My hobbies include tennis, kayaking, art (painting, printing, sculpture) and watching the Daily Show.

Selected publications



Phillip A. Morin, Ph.D.
Research Molecular Geneticist
Leader of Molecular Ecology Laboratory
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-7165
Fax: 858-546-7003
Email: Phillip.Morin@noaa.gov


My research focus has changed several times during my career, from primate population genetics and phylogeography, to positional cloning of genes involved in disease, to development of molecular technologies for conservation genetics research. Underlying all of these areas, however, is my main goal of applying molecular methods to better understand and conserve populations and species. In the MMTD genetics group, we use and develop molecular methods, such as quantitative PCR, SNP genotyping, molecular sexing, and nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequencing to understand population structure, using DNA extracted from the >70,000 tissue samples in our marine mammal and sea turtle tissue archive, as well as historical museum bone, tooth and baleen samples. To manage our samples and rapidly increasing amounts of genetic data, we have developed a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) to facilitate laboratory work, data archival, and analysis.

Selected Publications



Kelly Robertson
Research Fishery Biologist
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-7182
Fax: 858-546-7003
e-mail: Kelly.Robertson@noaa.gov


I work in the Molecular Genetics Lab on various projects and am responsible for maintaining the Ancient DNA/Bone extraction laboratory. My main projects are extracting DNA and generating control region sequences from bone and baleen samples and obtaining species identifications on material collected from unidentified marine mammals that stranded or were taken incidentally in fishing operations. I also oversee the day to day operations of the SWFSC Marine Mammal and Marine Turtle Molecular Genetics Archive. This involves supervising the archiving of samples, receiving samples, coordinating loans of samples, updating the database with data generated from processing samples, and providing CITES permit support for the import and export of samples.

In addition to my work in genetics, I also have technical skills in marine mammal life history. I am experienced in food habit and reproductive analyses, and aging marine mammal teeth.


Selected Publications



Aimée Lang
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-5684
Fax: 858-546-7003
e-mail: Aimee.Lang@noaa.gov


My interest in genetics began when I was working on my master’s degree at San Diego State University. While there, I studied the movements and behavior of Pacific coast bottlenose dolphins using photo-identification techniques and began to recognize the value of integrating genetic sampling with other field methods. I started working with the Marine Mammal Genetics group in 2000 and am currently completing my Ph.D. through Scripps Institution of Oceanography. My dissertation research has focused on studying the population genetics of gray whales. As part of this work, we have shown that gray whales inhabiting the eastern and western North Pacific are genetically distinct, which has been important in establishing the critically endangered status of the small western population. Molecular methods are also being used to learn more about other aspects of the western population, including investigating the number of breeding males in the population, assessing the reproductive success of those males, and determining the degree of relatedness among individuals. As I finish up my dissertation, I am interested in continuing to study the population structure of cetaceans, particularly in the context of how knowledge gained from such studies can be applied to conservation and management. In addition to my work in the genetics lab, I also participate in our annual shore-based counts of migrating gray whales.



Karen Fear Martien
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-7058
Fax: 858-546-7003
Email: Karen.Martien@noaa.gov


My research focuses on using genetic modeling techniques to inform management decisions for marine mammals. One of my main research activities is developing new analytical methods that use genetic data to examine population structure. I am also coordinating the Testing of Spatial Structure Models (TOSSM) project, a multi-year modeling effort involving researchers from around the world. The goal of TOSSM is to use simulation performance testing to evaluate the performance of different genetic analytical methods for investigating population structure. I am a U.S. delegate to the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee, where I have been involved in using genetic data collected from the Japanese scientific whaling to investigate population structure in North Pacific minke whales.

My hobbies include SCUBA diving, kayaking, SCUBA diving from my kayak, karate and quilting.



Eric Archer
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-7121
Fax: 858-546-7003
e-mail: Eric.Archer@noaa.gov


From my graduate work on morphometric and genetic variation in striped dolphins, I have developed an interest in the development and detection of population subdivision in small cetaceans. I am interested in developing new analytical tools for genetic data that will assist managers in the identification of marine mammal stocks. Currently, my research has been centered on a variety of studies designed to evaluate the affect of the ETP tuna purse-seine fishery on dolphin reproduction and early mortality. Some of the recent projects that I have been involved in are:

  • Examinations of fishery data for evidence of mother-calf separation during purse-seine operations
  • Examinations of fishery data for age- and/or sex-selectivity of the dolphin kill
    Modeling age/length curves for various dolphin stocks
  • Modeling the weaning process of spotted dolphin calves with age
  • A comparative study of the evasive behavior of various ETP dolphins
  • Construction of a fishery effort index model using dolphin tracking and tagging data

On the off-hours, I enjoy teaching and practicing martial arts (Tang Soo Do), flying (watching it, thinking about it, reading about it, actually doing it, etc.), and being frustrated by my inherent lack of talent with a guitar.



Vicki Pease
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-5664
Fax: 858-546-7003
e-mail: Vicki.Pease@noaa.gov


I started at Fisheries as a volunteer in the genetics lab in April 2003, and have continued as a full-time contractor. While in the lab, I have worked on a diversity of projects, ranging from studies of sea turtle population genetics to screening new genetic markers on bowhead whales. In addition, I have also participated in a range of different field work studies, including sea turtle beach surveys, counts of migrating gray whales, and aerial photogrammetry of leatherback turtles. As well, I recently had the opportunity to act as a visiting scientist aboard the 2007 STAR-LITE ETP cruise. Currently, I work on various marine mammal genetic projects while also assisting in managing the genetics lab.



Dave Gregovich
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-7161
Fax: 858-546-7003
e-mail: Dave.Gregovich@noaa.gov


My role here in the MMGG is to assist PIs with running and analyzing population genetic scenarios. This has included genetic dataset generation, simulation, and analysis for the Testing of Spatial Structure Methods (TOSSM) project. One result of the TOSSM project has been the creation of the ‘tossm’ R package. This package allows testing of algorithms which detect genetic structure in a population and then return management unit boundaries based on this structure. We have one manuscript based on this work in review, and plan to complete two more by August 2009.

Recently, I have also begun assisting the NSF-funded ‘GeM working group’—PIs Fred Allendorf (Univ. Montana) and Michael Schwartz (USFS-RMRS)—with their effort in using genetic metrics to detect population trends in abundance. The GeM group foresees products that will greatly assist in the management of vulnerable species, including but not limited to marine mammals.

Before this most recent appointment, I worked as a Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Habitat Restoration Division. There I assisted with an ongoing effort to model the distribution of Southeast Alaska’s fishes and habitats using landscape factors. This work led to a thesis on the lake fishes of the region, which I completed in 2007. Prior to that, I had been an aquatic ecology technician with the USDA, Pacific Northwest Research Center in Juneau.

My hobbies include surfing, guitar, and hunting wild mushrooms.



Amanda Bowman
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-7054
Fax: 858-546-7003
e-mail: amanda.bowman@noaa.gov


I began my career at the San Diego Zoo in the virology lab at the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES). From 2000-2003 I worked for a service biotechnology company focusing on clinical sample analysis and biodistribution studies using qPCR. I also managed the DNA sequencing lab in the Quality Control department for clinical plasmid production. I came to SWFSC in June of 2003 as a part-time contractor to manage the DNA sequencing lab. Currently, I am the lab manager for the marine mammal and turtle genetics programs.



Brittany L. Hancock
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-5629
Fax: 858-546-7003
e-mail: Brittany.Hancock@noaa.gov


I started at the Fisheries as a volunteer in the genetics lab in August 2004. I feel as if I have learned so much from the team here in such a short amount of time. I have been interested in Marine Biology all my life and have pursued opportunities that would hopefully lead me to a job in this field. I have bachelors degrees in Marine Biology and Global Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. After my undergraduate work I interned with the Cetacean Behavior Laboratory at San Diego State University studying population parameters and behavior of bottlenose dolphins. I got my graduate degree in the same lab in 2007 studying bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Belize, Central America. My thesis includes research on the social structure of the dolphins of Belize. My position here at Fisheries entails projects that include extractions, PCR, gender determination, sequencing, microsatellites, and SNP discovery and genotyping. I am very thankful to be a part of this group and really enjoy my work here.

Selected publications


 


Gabriela Serra-Valente
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-546-5667
Fax: 858-546-7003
e-mail: Gabriela.Serra-Valente@noaa.gov


Southwest Fisheries became my new home in July of 2004 when I joined the team as a volunteer at the Molecular Genetics Lab. Soon thereafter I was hired as a full time contractor and my duties consisted mainly of general lab upkeep, inventory, and ordering of lab supplies. I was also in charge of conducting several research projects that included marine mammal DNA extractions, PCR, gender determination, and sequencing. Recently, I was promoted to the position of archivist, which consists of archiving samples into the Genetics Tissue Archive, as well as the general maintenance of the archive database and the preparation of biopsy kits for field researchers. In the pursuit of a career in the marine sciences, I began by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a focus on Marine Biology and then moved on to broaden my horizons by interning at Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Texas A&M University and the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Each one of these was a truly unique and wonderful experience that enriched my career with skills in valuable fields such as genetics, photo id, cetacean behavior and animal husbandry. Today, I am a proud member of the Southwest Fisheries family and I thank everyone here for such a priceless opportunity. Looking into the future, I desire to continue my work in genetics and conservation, and I plan on learning something new every day to give always my best and give back to the Fisheries in the same manner it gave everything to me.


 


Nicky Beaulieu
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Population Identity Program
3333 North Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-334-2851
Fax: 858-546-7003
e-mail: Nicky.Beaulieu@noaa.gov


I first came to SWFSC in 2006 as a volunteer in the genetics lab while I was obtaining my undergraduate degree in marine biology at Western Washington University. Since then, I have assisted with a variety of projects, both in the lab and out in the field. These include participating in acoustics on the ORCAWALE 2008 cruise, a gray whale migration survey, pinniped diet analysis, and strandings. My primary interest is in cetaceans and I plan on going back to school to pursue a masters degree. Currently, I am working as an archive assistant for the genetics lab while I learn as much as I can about other projects here at the center!

 
pinniped strip
Last modified: 12/24/2014