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.
Hillary Burgess, Science Coordinator
Hillary joined COASST in December 2013. She has a background in plant ecology, having worked for the National Park Service and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and completed her Master’s degree here at UW. Coming from a long line of beach walkers, Hillary is thrilled to get her not-so-proverbial feet wet in the marine world through COASST. She’s been doing and studying citizen science for years, and enjoys participating in studies like Snapshot Serengeti in her free time. She can also often be found perusing orchids to add to her growing collection, caring for the ones she already has, or hiking one of Washington’s beautiful trails with her husband and dog, Noca.
Erika Frost, Volunteer Coordinator
Erika joined COASST as the Volunteer Coordinator in February 2014. She recruits and trains new volunteers, coordinates current participants, and supervises the amazing intern crew! Erika has a degree in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota and enjoys connecting people to engaging educational opportunities. She has worked as an educator for zoos, aquariums, nature centers, and non-profits throughout the country and loves to share her passion for marine science with anyone who will listen! With a background in the arts, Erika loves creative projects and spends her free time playing piano, writing music, and collaborating on artistic projects with her husband. She also enjoys playing ball with her dog Arthur, hiking, camping, and SCUBA diving.
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.
Heidi Pedersen, Data Verifier and Trainer
Heidi started as a COASST volunteer in 2002 and joined the COASST staff as a Volunteer Coordinator in 2012. In 2014, she transitioned into her current role, verifying COASST data and training new volunteers. 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.
Shawn Rowe, Principal Investigator
Shawn is currently working with COASST on social science research projects funded by West Coast Sea Grant and by the National Science Foundation. He is an Associate Professor at Oregon State University with a background in applied linguistics (that is, studying how humans learn languages) and developmental psychology in education. Most of his work is with museums looking at family group interactions and at how exhibitions are structured to support or undermine certain kinds of learning. His Sea Grant Extension position combines academic work on free-choice learning with practice-based research in the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center.
Heidi Ballard, Principal Investigator
Heidi is currently working with COASST on social science research project funded by West Coast Sea Grant. She 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.
Eric Fegraus, Principal Investigator
Eric is working with COASST on new developments funded by the National Science Foundation. Eric is the Director of Information Systems for Conservation International’s Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network. TEAM provides near real time data that helps to inform conservation decisions regarding the effects of global climate change in 16 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Eric is interested in technologies that can advance our capacity to quantify and monitor Earth’s natural systems and understand their interaction with socioeconomic factors. He has previously worked as an environmental consultant, a software engineer, and a research scientist.
Shaun Walbridge, IT Consultant
Shaun is the brains behind the COASST database and website. Shaun met Julia in 2002 and began a myriad of changes and improvements to coasst.org including a find-a-beach map function, a completely new data entry system, updated beach stats by region and COASST top ten graphs. Shaun works on improving and streamlining COASST functions while also keeping the broader community of COASST in mind.
Cindy Char, Educational Consultant
Cynthia 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.
Jennifer Ma, COASST Graduate Student
Jenn joined COASST in September 2013. As a new master’s student at the UW, she will be working with the COASST data to explore the trends and emerging patterns from the last fifteen years of beached birds. Jenn is originally from Brooklyn, NY and has a degree in wildlife science from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) with an interest in conservation biology. Watching and learning about birds have always been a passion of hers and she pursues them avidly in the field and her studies. She spent several seasons as a field technician for various organizations, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and National Audubon Society, monitoring and surveying birds from warblers to puffins on the east coast and abroad in Australia. On her free time, Jenn birds every chance she gets and enjoys the little things in life.
COASST Student Interns
Anna Bakkar - Anna is from the Bay Area of California. In her spare time, she paints and works on various art projects. She'd rather be outdoors rather than indoors, but living in rainy Seattle has made her appreciate staying in bed with a cup of coffee and a good book!
Abby Bratt - Abby is a junior at UW studying mathematics. She is interested in seeing how she can combine her interest in math with her passion for the ocean. In her spare time she likes backpacking, baking bread, and cheering too-loudly at soccer games.
Angeline Blattenbauer - Angeline is a senior at UW studying biology, with a minor in marine biology. She wants to learn more about the effect of marine debris on sealife and what it's like to help start a new project. In her spare time, she enjoys drawing and working on art projects.
Julio Corona - Julio was born in Puerto Vallarta and moved to the Pacific Northwest when he was 6. He enjoys reaching out to people and showing them that science can be fun. Julio also loves being outdoors.
Christie Fite - Christie is a senior at the UW majoring in Environmental Studies. She is passionate about anything and everything to do with conservation, as well as how the environment interacts with social and economic aspects of life. She loves to spend her time hiking, biking, and exploring Seattle.
Kathleen Gill - Kathleen is double majoring in aquatic and fishery sciences and environmental sciences and resource management. She is from Alaska and loves spending time outdoors enjoying nature. After graduating, she wants to travel the world and pursue field work.
Lauren Kowalski - Lauren is majoring in oceanography. The ocean is her passion; anything about the ocean she loves. She is also an avid football fan, loves to swim, and is on the Ultimate Frisbee team at UW.
Christie McIver – Christie is originally from Billings, Montana and is pursuing a degree in environmental studies at UW with a minor in marine biology. She is especially interested in hope climate change is affecting marine environments in the Artic and hopes to attend law school to study environmental law in the future.
Delaney Quick - Delaney is studing biology at UW. She is very passionate about the environment and conservation and loves learning about ways that each of us can make a difference. Her hobbies include staying active by doing yoga, long-distance running, cycling, hiking, and backpacking, as well as reading, knitting, and improving her DIY skills.
Teodora Rautu – Teodora is majoring in environmental science and resource management. She was born in Romania and moved to Seattle when she was 4. Activities that she enjoys include backpacking, hiking and rock climbing.
Madeline Savage - Madeline likes to stay active outside. She enjoys hiking and playing sports including volleyball, football, and soccer. Someday, she would like to study coral reefs, as well as film, on the side.
Luke Schaefer - Luke recently graduated from the UW with a degree in biology. He was raised in Colorado and enjoys running, hiking, rock climbing, and snowboarding. He loves the outdoors and ecological science, and he is also interested in genetics and programming.
Hannah Spohn - Hannah is from Portland, OR. She is excited to work with COASST because she wants to combine both working with people and science. She loves doing anything outside, especially camping!
Bethany Taylor - Bethany is from Reno, Nevada and is majoring in enviromental studies with a focus on resource management and environmental education. She enjoys hiking, reading, traveling, and baking. After graduating, she would like to go into environmental consulting or environmental education.
Edward Vlasenko - Edward enjoys playing video games, watching TV, socializing with friends, and going to the gym in his free time. He is interested in COASST because he is concerned for the environment, and wants to be a part of the solution to the problem. In the future, Edward would like to become a doctor.
Breanne Ward - Breanne grew up on Lopez Island in the San Juans, where she gained her passion for the ocean and all the life within it. Breanne recently graduated with a degree in Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences and hopes to attend graduate school in the future. She loves the outdoors, photography, and traveling.