Julia K. Parrish, Executive Director
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, and particularly animal behavior and field biology, 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 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—of which she is Executive Director. Her current research focuses on physical, biological, and anthropogenic factors affecting coastal seabird population health in the North Pacific, including a long-term study of the Common Murres of Tatoosh Island. In addition to her research, Julia serves as the Associate Director of the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, and as the Director of the Program on the Environment.
Jane Dolliver, Program Coordinator
Jane joined COASST in 2002 as an undergraduate intern. Starting with data entry, supply inventory, answering the COASST email, and fielding questions and comments from our participants, Jane quickly became the cheerful “voice” of COASST that everyone recognizes. Since then, Jane has assumed the job of data verification—making sure that each and every bird listed on a data sheet is, in fact, what it’s been identified as, a daunting task with over 4,000 entries annually across the program. Of course, this also puts her is the best position to put together the Breaking News, Quiz, and COASST People sections of COASST Reports, as well as take a leading role in putting together our newsletter COASSTLine. Well on her way to becoming an itinerant biologist, Jane has traveled to Chile to tag Pink-Footed Shearwaters, has spent countless hours on Tatoosh Island watching Common Murre parents bring fish—one at a time—to their chicks, and holds the record for number of continuous hours using our fiber-optic camera with head-mounted video display to spy on Rhinoceros Auklet chicks in the Protection Island burrows. As if this was not enough, Jane is also locally renowned in the Parrish lab—and in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences—for her baking prowess, and strives to make sure chocolate brownies are never in short supply.
Liz Mack, Volunteer Coordinator
Liz arrived at COASST in the summer of 2012. She is responsible for communicating with the growing army of COASST volunteers, conducting training sessions and socials, and supervising COASST interns. Liz studied biology at the University of San Diego, where she also guided outdoor trips and conducted research in the tropical rain forests of Australia. After graduating, Liz moved to Bozeman, MT to work with Native American informal science education programs for an organization called Hopa Mountain. After two years in Montana, Liz moved to Washington to pursue a graduate degree in Biology Teaching. As a grad student, she spent time on Bainbridge Island working with the outdoor school IslandWood, and used citizen science data in her research on how climate change affects the timing of plant flowering. Prior to joining COASST, Liz worked at the Brightwater Education Center teaching students and the public about how their every day actions affect the water cycle and the Puget Sound. When not at the COASST office, Liz enjoys traveling, spending time in the mountains, and working on a slew of craft projects.
Heidi Pedersen, Volunteer Coordinator
Heidi joined COASST as a Volunteer Coordinator for the North Coast and Strait of Juan de Fuca Washington beaches in August of 2012. However, her first experience with COASST was as a volunteer in 2002 trained by Mary Sue Brancato and Barbara Blackie. (Yes, I remember the Polaroid cameras.) Before coming to the Olympic Peninsula, Heidi studied Biology at the University of California, Davis where she participated in a Tropical Biology and Ecology semester in Costa Rica and found her passion for being outdoors, observing nature. For another 10 years Heidi worked in Alaska, California, and Washington for a variety of organizations as a field technician collecting information mostly about birds and their habitats. Heidi currently works as a contractor for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary with citizen science projects such as COASST and education and outreach. When not working, Heidi enjoys spending time with family and friends, ideally in the outdoors. She has grandiose ideas of learning a variety of musical instruments and being a semi-professional baker and soup maker.
Charlie Wright, Data Verifier
Charlie joined COASST as a Seabird Data Verifier in fall 2010. Birding has been Charlie’s passion from a very young age. He started leading local field trips for Rainier Audubon Society at the age of 11 and has never tired of sharing knowledge and learning along the way. Charlie happily spends most of his time with COASST going over each and every datasheet, crosschecking the data with photos sent in by our fantastic volunteers and deciding whether, indeed, that was a swollen heel or a white speculum. A student of bird identification, for years Charlie has enjoyed riding the juggernaut of citizen science, and he is an avid user of eBird.org. Charlie has also done field work conducting point counts and nest searching for Black-throated Blue Warblers at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. In summer 2010 he worked with a recently discovered taxon of Red Crossbill endemic to the South Hills and Albion Mountains of Idaho. Charlie's interest in birds has taken him on expeditions throughout Mexico and to South America, and he has experience identifying seabirds off the coasts of Washington, California, Peru, Mexico, and New England. He is a member of the Washington Bird Records Committee. In those fleeting moments when he finds himself not out in nature or doing bird-related work, Charlie enjoys watching baseball and eating recreationally.
COASST Student Interns
Left to right: Chelsea, Shannon, Elizabeth, Scott, Stephanie, Drew, Hilary
Elizabeth Allen - Elizabeth is a sophomore majoring in Biology with a minor in Marine Biology. She became interested in COASST because she would like to gain experience with volunteers and non-profit organizations to prepare her for her future career goals. Elizabeth enjoys pretty much any outdoor activity such as, hiking, skiing, swimming, etc. Elizabeth can also speak Spanish and loves to travels to new places. Her favorite animals are jellyfish and cats.
Rose Beede - Rose's normal busyness includes school at the University of Washington, singing in her church choir, and dog training. In her free time (which isn't much) she enjoys hiking, art projects, playing the guitar badly, and coming up with random crazy ideas. Rose become involved with COASST because she is interested in educating people about our wildlife. Born and raised here, she couldn't imagine a better place to be than here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Matt Bessee - Matt is currently a UW senior majoring in Oceanography with minors in Marine Biology and Quantitative Science. Originally, he is from Riverside, California. Growing up only thirty minutes away from a beach he developed a love for the ocean and many water sports like body boarding. In his free time, Matt likes to play ice hockey, listen to all types of music, and play sports based video games.
Jessica Latimer - Jessica is a pre-medical student majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Washington. One day, she would like to provide medical treatment and health education to underprivileged and rural areas both in the US and abroad. As life-long Washington resident, Jessica deeply appreciated the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. In her free time, Jessica loves to spend time outdoors, cooking with her friends for community service projects, and playing both the violin and the piano. Jessica joined COASST because of her desire to expand her horizons academically, as well as her interest in learning about marine ecosystems and conservation.
Scott Le - Scott is a senior majoring in Environmental Science with a focus in conservation, restoration, and ecology. He found his passion for the environment after doing some research about finding cheaper more sustainable alternatives while studying at Evergreen State College. He hopes that COASST will help him gain knowledge about bird populations in the Pacific Northwest. After graduation, Scott plans on serving in the Peace Corps to make a difference and help communities around the world that need it most.
Drew Lyons - Drew is currently in his third year at the University of Washington studying Conservation, Ecology, and Evolution in the Biology Department. He loves the outdoors and backpacking. He spent the summer after high school on a six week canoe trip in the Canadian Arctic from Snake River down the Coppermine River watershed into the Arctic Ocean. He loves music -- especially folk, alternative, and bluegrass. He plays the guitar and banjo and he enjoys composing music with his sister. At COASST, he hopes to learn about coastal ecosystems and dead bird patterns, as well as bird identification.
Shannon Serier - Shannon is a senior majoring in Environmental Science. She became involved with COASST through a service learning experience in one of her classes. She really enjoyed the program and wanted to become more involved. Shannon’s main interests in biological science are conservation, waste reduction, and community out reach. From COASST, she hopes to learn more about marine conservation and how data collection is involved in the conservation process.
Hilary Standish - Hilary has a degree in Biology with a focus in ecology and wildlife conservation from Earlham College. She is most interested in marine community ecology and conservation. She also has developed a love for birds ever since she took a class at Cornell University on the care of captive raptors and volunteered for the New York City Audubon Society in the summer of 2012. Also, she is a strong believer in citizen science as a powerful method of conservation. In the future, Hilary would like to work with a not-for-profit organization after graduate school. Hilary joined COASST to learn more about citizen science in conservation.
Chelsea Star - Chelsea is a junior majoring in Biology with a minor in environmental science and resource management. She has a strong interest in wildlife conservation, rehabilitation, and education outreach. After graduation, Chelsea plans to return to her home state of California and find opportunities to work with wildlife while possibly attending graduate school. In her spare time, Chelsea likes to make jewelry, dabble in graphic design, concept art, and she also paints images that are influenced by chemistry, biology, and astronomy. Crows and raptors happen to be her favorite subject.
Stephanie Valdez - Stephanie is a junior at the university of Washington, pursuing a degree in Biology. She enjoys going scuba driving and playing all kinds of sports. After she graduate, she wants to go to graduate school and get a PhD in Conservational or Ecology Biology. She has a big dream to one day go to Africa and work with elephants.