Click on the photos below to learn more about our staff. If you’d like to talk to us directly you can send an email here or call 206-221-6893.
Julia K. Parrish
As Executive Director, Julia focuses at the intersection of communicating about the great science (natural and social) COASST does, managing our people resources, and writing that next grant that keeps the office vibrant. Want to explore how you can help COASST sustain great science and expand our programming? Contact Julia.
Julia started her academic career as a starving artist, only dimly aware of organismal biology and natural history. However, as art is more difficult than science (!), Julia found herself (while still an undergrad) immersed in marine biology as a visiting student at the Duke University Marine Lab. Since then, it’s been science all the way. After coming to the University of Washington in 1990, Julia discovered conservation in the way that most field biologists do, by watching the organisms and habitats she had been working on, and in, disappear and degrade as a consequence of inadvertent human activities. At the same time, Julia met many people who were watching local resources and ecosystems change, and wondering what to do about it. These experiences led her to create a program for citizens with a strong component of marine conservation, a foundation of basic science, and a healthy dose of enthusiastic teaching and outreach—the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team.
As Science Coordinator, Hillary interfaces directly with all of our data users, and science and resource management partners. She is also continuously refining the marine debris module, managing the day-to-day science of the beached bird module, and working with our IT partners to keep our database and data entry portal running smoothly. Want to explore using COASST data, or partnering with COASST on a project? Got a question about marine debris? Give Hillary a shout!
Prior to getting her feet wet in the marine world through COASST, Hillary managed programs that focused on community engagement in restoration, horticulture, and sustainability. While working at a botanic garden in south Florida, she discovered a passion for citizen science that manifested in graduate studies at UW and creation of a citizen science project that explored the influences of gardening on pollinators. Coming from a long line of beachcombers, Hillary enjoys visiting COASST participants in their communities and the opportunity to learn about (and walk!) their beaches. When not hopping up and down the coast for trainings, she grows orchids, does aerial dance and hikes.
As Participant Coordinator, Jackie she sets up trainings, refreshers, and other COASST events; works through the sign-up process personally with each new participant; and keeps the COASST intern program buzzing with activity. When she has a spare moment, Jackie edits our e-newsletters and website. Got a question about data entry, need a new partner or running low on supplies? Call Jackie!
Jackie joined COASST in October 2017. While completing her Master’s degree in marine vertebrate ecology at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Jackie managed a citizen science survey program called BeachCOMBERS. She is excited to return to the UW–where she did her undergraduate work–to join COASST’s citizen science team. Some of Jackie’s favorite non-research activities include dancing, cat cuddling, and spending time outside (no matter the weather).
Our beached bird verifier, Charlie is the acknowledged expert on marine birds (and, well, any bird) and his work includes examining each and every dead bird photo a participant submits in our program, comparing it to the datasheet, and coming up with a definitive species ID. Wondering whether you’ve got it right? Send a note to Charlie!
For Charlie, looking at beached birds day in and day out is anything but morbid: through this unconventional window into what’s going on in the world of seabirds, he enjoys seeing the comings and goings of the seasons, and is always on the lookout for an unusual or interesting pattern. These same rewards drew him to a pastime of birding, that has always guided his way. Watching new COASSTers pick up (and master!) beached bird ID and offering help along the way is another rewarding part of being the data verifier. The natural ebb and flow of verification work also allows him to indulge in live birds full time in the summers, often engaging in biological research with his wife in Alaska.
As the quantitative postdoctoral fellow, Tim spends his workdays exploring patterns in the COASST dataset. When not steeped in modeling or statistical analysis, or working with partner scientists from across the West Coast, Tim keeps the interactive data apps on the website humming.
Tim is a quantitative ecologist who has spent the last few years investigating patterns in beaching rates of seabirds throughout the lower 48 and Alaska to understand how changes, particularly seabird mass mortality events or ‘wrecks’, are connected to climate variability and its effects on seabird prey, viewed through the lens of ocean physics and coastal circulation patterns. Drawing on his background in physics, marine ecology and statistics, Tim likes to approach each problem from a range of perspectives to uncover the most likely cause of patterns. Originally from the UK, Tim came to COASST via New Zealand where he completed his PhD in marine biology. In his spare time, Tim can be found biking, hiking or hanging out with his dog Freya.
As the COASST social science postdoctoral fellow, Yurong spends her time pondering the COASST people. What motivates and interests our participants? How do people learn? How can we make COASST a better experience? Yurong’s research helps us be the best citizen science program we can be.
Yurong’s research interests lie at the intersection of citizen science, information science, and environmental education. She is passionate about conducting research to understand and improve the relationships between human and nature in the world of rapidly growing technologies. Her educational background includes a MA in cognitive psychology and a Doctor in information sciences. She worked as a user experience researcher intern for high-tech companies prior to joining the PhD program at the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park. In her spare time, she loves taking time to be in nature, cooking with her family and friends, and playing drums and Cajon.
A PhD graduate student in the Biology Department, Jazzmine is working on a range of projects tied to the long-term COASST database. With an interest in how environmental factors – like a warmer ocean, El Niño or an especially stormy winter – can affect marine bird mortality, Jazzmine is using the COASST database to understand what forces affect seabird populations.
Jazzmine joined COASST in September 2017 as a biology PhD student. She received her bachelor’s degree in organismal biology from Portland State University after completing a thesis on nest site choice in spotted towhees. She is interested in the intersection between seabird populations, marine pollution, and climate change. She is one of the coordinators of the “Seabird soirée” literature discussions and talks that are hosted at the University of Washington and open to the public. In her free time, she enjoys working on logic puzzles, listening to science podcasts, and reading mystery novels.
Cindy is an Independent Educational Consultant with over 35 years of experience in the design and evaluation of educational programs and products. She is working with COASST as a consultant and evaluator for research funded by the National Science Foundation. Prior to founding her consulting firm, Char Associates, Cindy was a Senior Researcher at the Education Development Center (EDC) and at Bank Street College’s Center for Children and Technology. She has conducted numerous evaluations for science, mathematics and technology projects for K-12 schools, universities, and community-based organizations, such as museums, libraries and after-school clubs. Cindy has served as a Principal Investigator and Senior Research Advisor on more than 22 NSF projects, and is currently advising COASST on their latest endeavors.
The COASST Advisory Board is composed of resource managers, education researchers, citizen science experts, and COASSTers who provide advice and expertise.
Heidi is an Associate Professor at UC Davis who is interested in environmental education that links communities, science, environmental action and learners of all ages. She is particularly interested in what and how people learn through public participation in scientific research (PPSR) as a form of informal science education to ultimately better conservation and natural resource management. Heidi is interested in COASST because it takes advantage of large spatial and temporal datasets, and is also completely intimate, localized, and hands-on in terms of training and working with volunteers, keeping people informed and excited, and making sure everyone knows the results of their efforts.
Carol is the Superintendent of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS). Her responsibilities at the sanctuary include all aspects of management of the site and staff, policy development, interaction with the Olympic Coast Sanctuary Advisory Council, working with local, state, federal agencies and tribes, and serving as a member of the National Marine Sanctuary Programs’ Leadership Team. OCNMS has been a key partner in COASST since its inception, providing volunteer management on the outer coast and Strait of Juan de Fuca. Carol has also served as a COASST volunteer, surveying a beach in Admiralty Inlet region as a way to remember that nature isn’t what you find on a computer or at meetings!
Lauren is the director for the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island- Ecosystem Conservation Office. Her work focuses on subsistence resource management issues, scientific research, and education and outreach. Lauren is currently involved in the expansion of the BeringWatch program, a grassroots environmental monitoring framework that enables Alaskan Tribes to take more control and have a voice in climate change science and environmental monitoring in rural Alaskan communities. The BeringWatch program adopted COASST protocols for seabird monitoring as seabirds are such a critical component of the Pribilof marine ecosystem in serving as ecosystem indicators, and are a culturally important subsistence resource. Lauren is a COASST volunteer in St. Paul, Alaska, one of the earliest participating communities of COASST!
Kurt currently serves as the Executive Director of the Alaska Forum, a non-profit organization that hosts and coordinates the annual Alaska Forum on the Environment Conference. The mission of Alaska Forum is to promote a healthy environment through communication and education by conducting several grant projects including rural Solid Waste management training and the Environmental Technician Apprenticeship program. Kurt worked with the EPA from 1988 to 2003 as the Hazardous Waste Coordinator, enforcement and federal liaison for the Anchorage office.
Dawn is the Coordinator for the Marine Mammal Stranding Response in Northern California, a Professor at Humboldt State University, and the Director of the Marine Mammal Education and Research Program. Currently, her research includes the population dynamics of Steller’s Sea Lions (in collaboration with the National Marine Mammal Laboratory) and interactions of seabirds and pinnipeds on local rookeries (Common Murres and Stellers sea lions primarily). She is also actively engaged in studying the marine mammals that strand along the coast.
Selina is an Associate Professor and Associate Department Head in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department at Oregon State University. She is a fisheries ecologist and conservation biologist who is a long-time supporter of collaborative research and outreach, working with fishermen and coastal residents on critical natural resource issues. She loves the beach and fishes for fun on the Oregon coast with her husband, Scott, and their son, Dylan.
Jan is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Oregon’s Institute of Marine Biology. She has researched various aspects of marine bird and mammal biology. Jan also directs several projects that provide rigorous professional development opportunities in the ocean sciences for community college faculty and students.
Stephanie Kuhns has lived and worked on the coasts of all four West Coast states, but now calls Olympia, WA home. She has a background in communications, land use planning, and environmental education, and has spent several years working in those fields for state and federal land management agencies. She takes pride in using her communications background to bridge the gap between scientists and society, and strives to promote citizen science, environmental stewardship, and meaningful connections to nature in both her professional and personal lives.
Sherry is the California Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP), and monitors regional research, removal, and prevention projects and serves as a resource for the marine debris community within the state. Sherry also leads the NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MD-MAP), through which the MDP has established a network of marine debris monitoring partners that are applying methods and tools developed by NOAA. With COASST’s addition of a marine debris module, Sherry serves on the advisory board to provide input on protocols and help build partnerships between COASST and other marine debris researchers.
Kate is the Assistant Director for Programs at Washington Sea Grant. Prior to this position, she was the Program Coordinator of COASST for five years. She currently works with engaging scientists, natural resource managers, citizen science groups and other interested parties in developing a working definition of citizen science and identifying criteria for the effective use of citizen science in research and management efforts.
Nick is Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program. He oversees a portfolio of work including an ocean plastics campaign, the International Coastal Cleanup, and the Trash Free Seas Alliance. Nick has conducted marine debris research around the world, including field expeditions to the North Pacific Gyre and Midway Atoll. He is interested in informing global perspectives on debris with the data and information collected through COASST’s extensive network of citizen scientists.
Karen works for the Suquamish Tribe as an Environmental Science Teacher at Chief Kitsap Academy. She is currently involved in nearshore and salmon stream monitoring projects with her high school students, working with Tribal biologists to inspire her students to become the next generation of natural resource scientists for their Tribe. She was manager of Seattle Aquarium’s Citizen Science program for 8 years, and is working to involve the Suquamish Tribe in Citizen Science programs, including COASST. Karen and her daughter Annie have been COASST volunteers for the past 5 years on Bainbridge and San Juan Islands.
Nancy is an avid COASSTer and proud citizen science participant, surveying three beaches on the western Strait of Juan de Fuca and one beach on the Northwest coast of Washington. From her PhD studies in computer technologies, innovation, and professional development to her current work with large scale volunteer efforts, Nancy immerses herself personally in active local work, connecting work needs with committed workers. She is involved in many organizations, including Washington Clean Coast Alliance, the Pacific Rim Earth Day Beach Clean Up, Friends of Hoko River State Park, and Lions Club International environmental projects.
Paul is a retired forester from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He was born and raised on the Makah reservation, where he worked for 18 years, served on various tribal committees, and currently serves as a board member at the Makah Cultural and Resource Center. As an avid volunteer with COASST, Paul provides the advisory board with insight on the volunteer experience out in the field. He also enjoys hiking, fishing and traveling.
Tina is the Evaluation Program Manager at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO), and Project Leader for DEVISE, an NSF-funded project that aims to support PPSR practitioners in developing and implementing contextually appropriate evaluation designs and strategies. Tina is currently pursuing her PhD at Cornell examining the relationship between citizen scientists’ participation and outcomes related to knowledge, skills, and behavior. She is extremely interested in understanding how COASST influences participants’ perceptions of science and their role in it.
Daniel is the Wildlife Section Manager for the Quinault Indian Nation where he is currently managing research projects of large terrestrial mammals of the northwest. He has been involved with the COASST program since 2008 and currently monitors 2 beautiful beaches on the Quinault Indian Reservation. The tribe has always seen themselves as stewards of the land and much of the traditional ways of life rely on coastal subsistence living. Being involved in COASST allows the tribe to monitor near shore marine ecosystems health and continue a traditional way of life.
Heather leads the large biological program at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (US Fish and Wildlife Service). The Refuge is far-flung across most of the coast of Alaska, supports 80% of Alaska’s seabirds and has a long-term seabird monitoring program dating back to the 1970’s. Heather and other AMNWR staff conduct summertime COASST surveys at annual seabird monitoring sites around the coast of Alaska.
Jon is the Marine Mammal Biologist with the Makah Tribe. He protects the tribe’s treaty rights, as well as researches the whales and sea lions around the coast of the Makah Reservation. Jon studied fisheries at the University of Washington and wildlife science at Oregon State University for a master’s degree. At OSU, he studied the movements, population counts, and survival of Steller sea lions of Northern California/Southern Oregon’s breeding populations.
Bill is a Special Assistant to the Director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). His focus areas at the Department include Columbia River fisheries, hydroelectric power and water flows; invasive species prevention and control; managing the fisheries of the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea; and developing citizen science initiatives. Before working in natural resources policy, he was a salmon biologist for two Puget Sound tribes and WDFW. In his free time, he is an avid birdwatcher, with a particular love for marine birds. His first beached bird census was in 1975 at Westport, Washington.
Carrie is an Assistant Professor of Education at University of Washington-Bothell. Her work tackles equity and social justice in formal and informal science education and design-based research, with particular reference to under-represented minority populations. Carrie focuses on increasing students’ accessibility to science through place-based education, and the intersection between out-of-school science and cultural practices.
Francis is Stantec’s Technical Leader for Marine Science in Canada and Alaska. He was formerly the Science Director for the North Pacific Research Board in Alaska for 6 years and served on the Chukchi-Beaufort Ecosystem Collaboration Team of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee. Francis has worked for and with academia, government, non-profits and industry, is a technical reviewer for over 20 international journals and has served on a variety of national and internal science panels and working groups
COASST interns work behind the scenes to keep the program humming. When they aren’t helping out in the lab or at the beach, most interns are working to complete their undergraduate coursework at the University of Washington.
Major: Environmental Science and Resource Management
Hometown: Edmonds, WA
Favorite Treat: fruit and chocolate
Number One Driving Song: Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
Superpower: the ability to nap in any vehicle
Major: Marine Biology
Hometown: Snoqualmie, WA
Favorite Beach: Huntington Beach
Favorite Treat: cookies or ice cream
Number One Driving Song: Horse With No Name (America)
Major: Environmental Sciences
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Favorite Beach: Carkeek
Favorite Treat: cheesecake
Superpower: cat and duck whisperer
Major: Earth and Space Sciences
Hometown: Everett, WA
Favorite Beach: Second Beach
Favorite Treat: baked goods
Hometown: Camas, WA
Favorite Treat: cheesecake
Major: Environmental Science
Hometown: Tacoma, WA
Favorite Beach: Titlow Beach
Favorite Treat: cookies
Number One Driving Song: Dirty Love (Mt Joy)
Hometown: Vancouver, WA
Favorite Beach: Seaside, OR
Number One Driving Song: Back in Black (AC/DC)
Favorite Treat: Mini M&Ms
Superpower: Super speed
Major: Marine Biology
Hometown: Kirkland, WA
Number One Driving Song: September (Earth, Wind, and Fire)
Superpower: Ability to create ice (like Frozone from The Incredibles)
Major: Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Favorite Beach: Lincoln Park
Favorite Treat: strawberry shortcake and sour gummy candy
Number One Driving Song: Alive (Dabin)
Major: Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Hometown: Spokane, WA
Favorite Treat: M&Ms
Number One Driving Song: When I’m Down (Whethan & Oliver Tree)
Superpower: a green thumb
Hometown: Honolulu, HI
Favorite Beach: Ala Moana Beach
Favorite Treat: mochi
Superpower: eating really spicy food
Major: Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Hometown: Battle Ground, WA
Favorite Beach: Ke’anae Penninsula, Maui
Favorite Treat: brownies
Number One Driving Song: Saturday Sun (Vance Joy)
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Favorite Beach: Alki
Favorite Treat: Ice cream
Number One Driving Song: Back in Black (AC/DC)
COASST participants do not have to have years of scientific education, nor do they need to be bird or marine debris experts. In fact, what unites COASSTers is a strong affinity for the coastal environment.
Ranging in age from eight to over eighty, COASSTers in the lower 48 tend to be retired, but also encompass a diversity of jobs, from tribal biologists to teachers to artists. In Alaska, the age of our participants is a bit younger, perhaps reflecting the fact that hardly anybody retires to coastal Alaska! Instead, relatively more Alaskan COASSTers work for national parks, wildlife refuges, and tribal governments.
After only one 6-hour training session, you can become a COASSTer, too. COASSTers sign a ‘contract’ pledging to survey their beach every month—an acknowledgment that COASST data are most valuable when regularly collected. And the COASST office pledges to put all of the data together, decipher the patterns across the entire COASST range, and give that information back out to COASSTers, and the communities, in the form of our e-newsletters, our Science Updates following each scientific publication, and our website.
Bitten by the bug for beach combing and wondering about what’s happening to the local marine resources in your area? For more information about how to become a COASST participant, please see our Join Our Team page.