PIER Students


Isla Globus Harris (Economics – San Diego Fellowship Awardee)
Isla’s research interests are game theory and environmental economics, and her current projects focus on wildlife smuggling, ivory markets and carbon offsets. Isla says “I’m working on designing better carbon offset procedures. Economists don’t normally get to conduct transects via snorkel or go out to sea! More importantly, I’ve been exposed to the cutting-edge of scientific disciplines like ecology and climate science. Knowing what is happening in environmental and oceanographic science helps me hone my research topics in on the areas that are most relevant.”

 Jennifer Le (SIO – San Diego Fellowship Awardee)
Jennifer is combining her economics and ecology background in the study of ecosystem services in natural water treatment systems and in the deep sea with the Levin lab. Jennifer says “The PIER Program has helped me realize the great importance of interdisciplinary research and collaboration through both coursework and opportunities, like attending COP20 in Lima. I am grateful to have had these experiences early in my career, so I can incorporate them into my current and future work. It exposed me to different facets of the same problem which will help me develop as a better scientist.

Rachel Diner (SIO San Diego Fellowship Awardee)
Rachel is working on functional genomics in Andrew Allen’s lab at the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla. Rachel says “ The PIER program has broadened my experience this year by introducing me to new concepts about the meaning of biodiversity and conservation. In addition to learning about the multi-faceted nature of protecting and conserving marine resources (drawing from economics, policy, business, and communications, as well as science), I have discovered interesting new areas of research with important conservation implications, such as deep-sea natural resources and the widespread effects of climate change on ocean ecosystems and coastal resilience. I have learned new ways to communicate our increasing knowledge of biodiversity and conservation to the public. “

 Kaitlin Lowder (SIO)
Kaitlin is studying the effects of ocean acidification on calcifying marine organisms, this is just one aspect of a very large problem: society’s level of carbon burning. Fossil fuel usage has been linked to both climate change and ocean acidification, vast problems that do not have one easy solution. She says “As a new student, it is easy to limit your circle to your lab, your cohort, and your few professors. However, the PIER program introduced me to the wider Scripps community and its diversity of research and knowledge right from the beginning. I feel so lucky to have heard lectures from Scripps experts during my summer class and now, through CMBC, I have the opportunity to share my research in the future too. “


Rishi Sugla (SIO – San Diego Fellowship Awardee)
Rishi studies the physiological and geochemical consequences of low oxygen and biological production in marine enviornments. Rishi comments “Through tools I hope to gain through PIER, I strive to link geochemical proxies of paleoclimates to past ecosystems and biological productivity. These topics are increasingly important as the results of climate change become visible with time, and should have major implications for how we predict ecosystem change in the future.”

 Clifford Kapono (Chemistry & Biochemistry – San Diego Fellowship Awardee)
I am very interested in looking at the interface between modern science and indigenous knowledge. Over the past few summers, I have been working with the Intertribal Youth Native American Summer Program hoping to get a clearer understanding of how my research may impact the Kummeyaay people. I am excited to learn, interact and collaborate with students and staff over the summer. Mahalo.

Cliff is studying the chemical ecology of coral reefs and seeking a way to map the chemistry of microbial communities giving rise to unprecedented spatial and temporal insights into the chemical driving forces of microbial communities. Cliff plans on implementing new technology to spatially map complex microbial community interaction back onto coral reef 3D models. I am particularly excited, as imaging mass spectrometry is one of the fastest emerging fields in science.

Lynn Sun (Economics)
Lynn’s research focuses on environmental and resource economics, energy market and public economics. Her empirical work is on investigating household electricity consumption in response to climate change. I’m looking forward to meeting with students across several disciplines through the CMBC summer program, and we can work together to use interdisciplinary approaches to address topics like global change, marine ecosystem conservation, and ocean energy development.


Chirag Barai –  (Philosophy-FISP Award)

My academic interests include environmental ethics and moral and political philosophy.  Prior to arriving at UCSD, I worked with the editorial staff of an international affairs journal and, before that, received a master’s degree in political theory from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from New York University.

Kayla Blincow  (SIO – San Diego Fellowship & Mary M. Yang Graduate Fellowship for Environmental Stewardship)
I intend to use quantitative ecology techniques to investigate different aspects of marine resource management. I am particularly interested in fisheries and the implementation of ecosystem based management strategies. Ideally I would like to look into smaller, under- researched commercial fisheries in Southern California, such as the commercial sea cucumber fishery. Sea cucumbers are awesome!I have an undergraduate degree in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution Biology from UCSD, and a Masters degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Queensland, Australia.

Cailan Sugano (SIO-San Diego Fellowship and Hefni Graduate Fellowship for Environmental Stewardship) I attended UC Santa Barbara and I knew that I wanted to make a positive impact on the planet through a career that revolved around environmental protection. I learned that anthropogenic CO2 was not only warming the planet, but also being absorbed by the ocean and changing the chemistry of seawater, a phenomenon known as ocean acidification. I took an immediate interest in the subject and soon became immersed in my own experiment that investigated the effects of elevated seawater CO2 concentrations on the growth, development, and physiology of larval red abalone.With the support of the Smith lab and experience gained through PIER,I hope to make a meaningful contribution to the scientific, political, social, economic and cultural movement to mitigate global environmental change.

Summer Webb (SIO – San Diego Fellowship and McCrink Graduate Fellowship)
My research interests include ocean acidification, material properties of invertebrates, and how these topics can relate to ecology. My past research includes studying the effects of ocean acidification on mantis shrimp, the scaling of the mantis shrimp strike with size and the change in the relative size of the sea urchin feeding apparatus in response to food availability. As part of the mantis shrimp research, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go work at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. I have also been involved in several teaching events including the Expanding Your Horizons workshop. I am very excited to be starting my PhD at SIO to begin fulfilling my dream of becoming a marine biologist!