Research and Work Foci

20170711_181937-e1524486879151.jpgResearch interestsI’m broadly interested in how different fisheries management scenarios impact fish populations as well as fishermen and coastal communities. My ultimate research goals have been to understand and convey the drivers that make fisheries sustainable and resilient, so that management policies may be better informed and better serve the needs of those living and working in coastal communities. Specific research interests include:

  • Vulnerability, resilience, and response to management and environmental change in fishing/coastal communities.
  • Working with stakeholders to develop interdisciplinary, scientifically-sound tools for managing, conserving, and restoring our oceans and coasts. 
  • The theory, design, and execution of ecosystem-based fisheries management from the perspective of coupled human-natural systems. 


I am also passionate about social and economic justice, promoting diversity and young women in STEM, science communication and advocacy, and working at the science-policy interface. I have cultivated experience in all of these arenas over the past several years, including lobbying on Capitol Hill, working as a science mentor with Oceanography Camp for Girls, and serving as the Co-President with USF Graduate Assistants United. I also co-developed and co-facilitated a two day science communication workshop for the USF College of Marine Science in January 2018, and co-authored an article on science advocacy with fellow graduate students (Cockrell et al. 2018, Fisheries).

Doctoral work: My doctoral work was focused on understanding the response and resilience of commercial reef fish fishermen to management change and large-scale disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. I used fisheries-dependent and independent data sources to investigate changes in the fishery over time, especially as they related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. I characterized changes in fishery productivity, mapped distribution of fishing grounds over time, and conducted generalized linear non-parametric statistical analyses to determine the factors that led to resilience for fishermen after the oil spill. I found that this fishery was largely resilient to the oil spill closures, although outcomes varied by region and were likely influenced by large settlement payments and the implementation of individual fishing quotas (IFQs) prior to the oil spill. 


My Ph.D. work was advised by Dr. Steve Murawski and was funded through an NSF coastal SEES grant, with additional support from the Garrels Memorial Fellowship in Marine Science, Guy Harvey Scholarship, and the USF/NMFS Marine Resource Assessment Fellowship.

Previous education & experience: I received a B.S. in marine science from Stony Brook University in 2008 and an M.S. in marine biology from Northeastern University through the Three Seas Program in 2010. For my Masters thesis I examined the potential impacts of climate change on the population dynamics of three species in a fouling community in central California (Cockrell & Sorte 2013, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology). After graduating from Northeastern, I worked for 2 years as the lead research assistant and lab manager with Dr. Heather Leslie at Brown University, where I examined the structure and function of rocky shore communities, especially as they pertain to human coastal development impacts (Cockrell et al. 2015, Ecosphere). Dr. Leslie is now the director at the Darling Marine Center at the University of Maine (see the Links page).IMG_5103