Erika J. Eliason

Associate Professor
Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Marine Biology
UC Santa Barbara

Ph.D. – University of British Columbia (2011)
M.Sc. – University of British Columbia (2006)
B.Sc. – Simon Fraser University (2003)

email: erika.eliason “at”
Google Scholar | ResearchGate


Gail Schwieterman

Postdoctoral Fellow 

Gail’s research centers on the impacts of stress on the cardiorespiratory physiology of coastal fishes. She is broadly interested in how multiple, concurrent stressors can produce additive, antagonistic, or masking effects, particularly in relation to climate change and capture stress. Her work takes a mechanistic approach to elucidate the impacts of various factors on an individual’s physiology, thus allowing for meaningful extrapolation to population-level impacts. Gail hopes to broadly apply her findings to the management process, helping refine our ability to ask meaningful questions and promote effective fisheries regulations.

email: gschwiet1 “at”
Google Scholar | ResearchGate |


Kim Birnie-Gauvin

Postdoctoral Fellow 

Kim is broadly interested in understanding the physiological factors that drive life-history strategies and survival in fish. Her work explores complex ecological questions about wild migratory fish using an integrative approach. In particular, her research links behaviour and habitat use (using a range of tracking technologies) with multiple levels of biological organization (organ, individual, and population level). Kim is also a big advocate for freshwater ecosystems (and fish of course!) and much of her research has been dedicated to studying the impacts of barriers and barrier removal on fish movement and survival. Her research in the Eliason lab will focus on intraspecific differences in thermal tolerance of sockeye and kokanee salmon, as well as investigating the passability and related energetic costs of overcoming the Big Bar Landslide in a range of Pacific salmon species.

email: kim.birnie.gauvin “at”
Google Scholar | ResearchGate |


Bashir Ali

PhD Student

Bashir’s passion in research is to understand the physiological and biochemical mechanisms that orchestrate life in fluctuating environments. He is particularly interested in examining how marine organisms deal with chronic perturbations and how climate change may push the physiological limits of marine animals. He plans to use integrative approaches including enzyme kinetics and whole organism measurements to truly address the mechanisms by which life prevails in the face of global climate change.

email: bashir.ali “at”


Jasmine Childress

PhD Student
Co-advised by Kevin Lafferty (USGS, UCSB)

Jasmine is broadly interested in ecological parasitology, exploring the interactions between hosts and their parasites as well as how these interactions propagate at the population, community, and ecosystem levels. Currently, she studies the San Miguel Island fox, Urocyon littoralis littoralis, that occurs within the Channel Islands National Park. There she uses traditional survey methods as well as eDNA metabarcoding to determine the spatiotemporal distribution and effects of a newly found acanthocephalan parasite of the declining fox population.

email: jchildress “at”
Google Scholar


Terra Dressler

PhD Student
Co-advised by Tom Dudley (UCSB)

Terra is interested in mechanisms that allow fish populations to persist in extreme thermal and multi-stress environments. She is also interested in how time scales of exposure to multi-stressors shape interactive effects on fish performance. She is currently studying how wild rainbow trout populations in warm and highly disturbed streams near their southern range limit are able to thrive despite this species’ tendency to inhabit cold, pristine waters.

email: terra.dressler “at”
Google Scholar | ResearchGate

Emily Hardison

PhD Student

Emily is interested in the effects of diet on thermal acclimation responses. A major assumption about thermal acclimation is that an individual will always respond to a given temperature in the same way. Emily uses a local omnivorous fish (opaleye) as a model system for exploring if/how diet may alter the way fish experience and respond to changes in environmental temperature.

email: emily.hardison “at”
Google Scholar


Krista Kraskura

PhD Student

Krista is interested in exploring how body size affects an individual’s capacity to deal with changing conditions, both acutely and long term. During her PhD journey, Krista is exploring how metabolic scaling relationships change with temperature and life-histories in fish, and will study the underlying morphological and physiological mechanisms that can alter metabolic scaling. Krista also is interested in better understanding why climate change is “shrinking” our fish, and what the consequences may be.

email: kkraskura “at”
Google Scholar | ResearchGate


Jacey Van Wert

PhD Student

Jacey’s research interests are largely motivated by the desire to understand how anthropogenic activities impact marine ecosystems. Her research will focus on the physiological mechanisms that affect performance and behavior in marine organisms and their capacity for acclimatization and adaptation. She plans to use a combination of laboratory and field-based experiments to predict the success of ecologically important marine organisms in a rapidly changing environment.

email: jacey.vanwert “at”
Google Scholar


Jessica Madden

MS Student
Co-advised by Jenny Dugan (UCSB)

Jessica is interested in coastal marine ecology, particularly in the drivers of community structure and species distribution of surf zone fish. She investigates the trophic linkages between sandy beaches and adjacent fish populations, and how this connectivity and other environmental factors affect community and population dynamics of nearshore ecosystems. She is also interested in ecological shifts in response to environmental change, and is motivated to further our understanding of key species with regard to marine resource conservation and management.

email: jessicamadden “at”

Madison Heard

MS Student

Madison is interested in the physiological mechanisms that allow intertidal organisms to respond to rapid changes in their environment. Temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH are a few factors in local waters that can vary along our coastline, and with the changing climate, these conditions are predicted to become more extreme. Investigating how coastal critters respond to these conditions across multiple levels of biological organization (cellular to organismal), we can begin to paint a larger picture of how an ecosystem may fare in the face of climate change.

email: madisonheard “at”

Undergraduate Students

We have had the pleasure of working with a talented and diverse group of undergraduate students.


Alex Little (Postdoctoral Fellow) 2016-2019
Current position: Assistant Professor at Queen’s University

James Leo Loving Lichtenstein (PhD student) 2020
Thesis title: Animal personality shapes the outcome of species interactions and thereby the structure of ecosystems.

Melissa Dick (MSc student, co-advised by Steven J. Cooke) 2014-2016
Thesis title: The physiological, behavioural, and survival consequences of two radio transmitter attachment techniques on migrating adult sockeye salmon.

Tanya Prystay (MSc student, co-advised by Steven J. Cooke) 2016-2018
Thesis title: Exploring the relationship between physiological performance and reproductive investment in wild fish using heart rate biologgers.

Clay Steel (MSc student, co-advised by Steven J. Cooke) 2016-2018
Thesis title: An appetite for invasion: invasive lionfish have lower costs of digestion at high temperatures and a feeding physiology that may drive their impact.