About Me

ZuercherI am a Ph.D. candidate in the Raimondi/Carr Lab at the University of California Santa Cruz.  I’m interested in the ecology and management of nearshore fisheries, and combine interdisciplinary, experimental and observational approaches to answer my research questions.  My work focuses on kelp forest systems and nearshore rockfishes of central CA.  I split my dissertation focus between ecological questions and the study of social systems that influence fisheries management, work that links social and ecological systems in California fisheries.

Prior to starting a graduate program, I spent five years working in marine and coastal management in the Pacific Islands region – first in Vanua Levu, Fiji with the U.S. Peace Corps, then with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Coastal Resources Management program.  It was during this time that I began to truly understand human-nature interactions and the challenges of marine resource management.

I completed my B.S. in Biology at Valparaiso University (VU) in Indiana where I received a broad education in the biological sciences.  While at VU, I was active in a collaboration between VU biologists, students and local fishermen to restore trout habitat in local streams.  Mentorship from individuals in this group and my research advisor, Dr. Laurie Eberhardt, shaped my interests in field ecology and fisheries.  During my undergraduate studies, I spent research time in Dominica, West Indies (Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology) and La Selva, Costa Rica (NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates).

I was born and raised in South Dakota and retain a love for freshwater ecosystems and the great plains of central North America.  Though my career is focused on marine ecology and management, I find the roots of my scientific passion in the grasslands.

In my spare time I am happiest underwater, in the forest, on the beach or climbing a mountain.  I enjoy camping, gardening, outrigger paddling, beach-combing, Ultimate frisbee and yoga.  To relax I cook, I read and I spend time with my wonderful partner and dog.