Since she was a child, growing up in the snowy mountains of the Spanish Pyrenees, Jessica has been fascinated by the immensity of the oceans and the creatures within them. This fascination grew with time; making Jessica complete a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science (Oceanography) at the University of Vigo (Spain), and undertake internships at the University of Baja California (Mexico) and at the Algarve University (Portugal). Throughout these learning adventures in different parts of the world, one thing was clear to her: the degrading state of the world´s oceans and the dependence of human societies on them. Her research interest shifted from dolphins and whales to seafood and people. She noticed the importance of accounting for humans as central elements in ecosystems and decided she wanted her career to focus on contributing towards the ecologic, social and economic sustainability of the world’s fisheries. For her Honours, Jessica studied the impact of human development on marsh and seagrass ecosystems from the North Atlantic Spanish coast. Then, she completed a Master’s degree in Fisheries Biology and Management at James Cook University (Australia) where she used mathematical models and network theory to increase our knowledge on how marine reserve networks should be designed to promote the persistence of metapopulations. Currently, Jessica is at James Cook University and the ARC Centre of Excellence of Coral Reef Studies completing her PhD under the supervision of Professors Sean Connolly and Joshua Cinner. During this project, she aims to further our understanding on the current functional state of the world´s coral reef ecosystems, how this state is influenced by environmental and socio-economic factors, and provide tangible management recommendations that allow to achieve sustainable targets. Jessica hopes this allows her to move a step forwards towards her goal in life: protect the oceans and the valuable goods and services they provide to human societies.
In 2014 I did my honours project at James Cook University looking at the maintenance of coral biodiversity under the supervision of Sean Connolly, Josh Madin and Andrew Baird. I examined whether colony growth forms responded differently to available space under fluctuating environmental conditions, and whether these differences could promote the coexistence between different coral morphologies. I recently started my PhD which will expand on my honours research.
I was born and raised in California but also lived in Louisiana for a number of years. In 2010 I completed a dual BSc in Biology and Coastal Environmental Science at Louisiana State University. After graduating, I spent two years working in Southeastern Louisiana recording wetland loss and vegetation community changes in areas affected by the BP Oil Spill. I escaped the swamp to return to California and earned a Master's of Environmental Science and Management (MESM) at the Bren School in University of California, Santa Barbara. My MESM thesis focused on rights-based management in tropical artisanal fisheries. Shortly after graduating from UCSB, I followed my love of tropical ecology to Australia and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. For my PhD, I am examining how community coexistence mechanisms affect ecological stability, under the supervision of Prof. Sean Connolly, Dr. Mike Bode, and Prof. Terry Hughes.
I completed a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Forestry in National Taiwan University, studying the spatial patterns of woody plant communities in a subtropical rainforest. After a year-long military service, I decided to continue my interests in ecology and worked as a research assistant in Institute of Oceanography, Prof Chih-hao Hsieh's lab, where I studied the lake ecosystems and the ecological modelling, statistics and nonlinear dynamic systems. Currently, I am a PhD student under the supervision of Sean Connolly, Hugh Sweatman, Aaron MacNeil, and David Bellwood. My project focuses on community assembly and diversity-stability relationships in coral reef fishes on the Great Barrier Reef. I am interested in how the diverse tropical reef fishes can coexist and how the community assembly influences the ecosystem stability. This project aims to answer the two central questions of community ecology and will focus on modelling the multi-species dynamics of reef fish communities.