Marine ecologist Jennifer O’Leary has been appointed as an Extension Specialist at California Sea Grant. Dr. O’Leary will join a group of seven specialists who develop and execute research and outreach initiatives for the California coast to improve public and policy decisions.
California Sea Grant Extension Specialists use research as an outreach and education tool to develop solutions for high-priority coastal and marine issues, and disseminate information through extension methods. In addition to her outreach efforts, O’Leary will work as a researcher and student advisor housed at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She will work closely with the university’s faculty to increase their ability to provide community service.
“Jennifer brings a strong research background in ecology and a passion to work with local community members and managers to develop science-based solutions to community problems,” said California Sea Grant Director Jim Eckman. “Her experience with ecosystem and natural resource management will be extremely valuable in promoting greater interactions between Cal Poly and its local coastal communities.”
Previously, O’Leary worked as a Stanford University postdoctoral researcher investigating how California’s ecosystems and abalone fisheries may be affected by ocean acidification and climate change. Proficient in Swahili, O’Leary also spent seven years designing marine ecosystem research and management programs with the Kenya Wildlife Service in East Africa.
“For the past 15 years, I have been working to help people find ways to use science to develop management solutions in the Pacific Islands, East Africa and the Bay area. I look forward working with community members and researchers in Central Coast to develop solutions for the region,” said O’Leary.
O’Leary holds a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from University of California, Santa Cruz, where she studied the effects of fishing, trophic interactions and management strategies on coral reefs. She earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Tufts University.