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Faculty & Principal Staff

Charles Simenstad

Charles "Si" SIMENSTAD
Research Professor Emeritus
Coordinator, Wetland Ecosystem Team
As both a staff scientist and research faculty member, Si has devoted over 40 years of his research career at the University of Washington to enhance the understanding of basic and applied estuarine and coastal marine ecology. Some of the more eclectic topics of his scientific inquiry include the role of sea otters as keystone species, estuarine/early marine ecology of juvenile Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.), feeding ecology of fishes, organic matter sources and organization of estuarine food webs, stable isotopes as food web biomarkers, tidal wetland landscape ecology, planning and assessing the functional performance of restoring estuarine wetlands, and the ecological effects of anthropogenic alterations to coastal ecosystems. Recent undertakings have transported Si into the arena of ensuring that the best ecological science is assimilated into governmental policy.


Jeff Cordell

Principal Research Biologist
Jeff Cordell is a native Seattleite and has been a research scientist at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences since 1977. His research mainly focuses on understanding how juvenile salmon and the invertebrates that they feed on are affected by human development and how degraded habitats can be improved. His other research interests include ecology of plankton in Puget Sound, assessing the risks of ballast water-introduced invasive organisms, and the classification (taxonomy) of small crustaceans. He has published peer-reviewed papers in these fields, and has participated in many interdisciplinary projects on the Pacific coast.


Jason Toft

Jason TOFT
Senior Research Scientist
Jason Toft has been a research scientist at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences since 2000, focusing on restoration monitoring and ecological effects of shoreline armoring in Puget Sound on juvenile salmon and invertebrates. His recent work with Washington Sea Grant has centered around development of the Shoreline Monitoring Toolbox and coordination of the PSEMP Nearshore work group.


Postdoctoral Researchers

Simone Des Roches

Simone is broadly interested in how diversity within species (intraspecific variation) links ecology and evolution. She studies how natural selection can change intraspecific variation through rapid adaptation, and how this variation feedbacks to the ecosystem… and to people. One of Simone's most recent projects examines how decades of human-driven climate change and urbanization have led to evolution in Threespine Stickleback across a latitudinal gradient on the Pacific coast of the US. Simone is increasingly interested in studying intraspecific variation in our own species – the world’s most prominent ecosystem engineer – and how our social patterns and activities are intrinsically connected to global biodiversity. Not only do we influence the ecology and evolution of other species, but this ecology and evolution feeds back to us through nature’s contributions, ecosystem services, and disservices. Therefore, she believes that evolutionary ecology, conservation, and restoration must involve novel approaches – such as community (citizen) science – that integrate humans and our society, especially in urban ecosystems. She is currently working with the Wetland Ecosystem Team to study urban shoreline restoration with community science groups across Puget Sound.


Graduate Students

Kerry Accola

Kerry received her B.S. in fisheries and wildlife, with an emphasis on conservation biology, from the University of Minnesota. Her graduate research focuses on characterizing diurnal and nocturnal juvenile salmon distributions and dynamics as they migrate from the Duwamish River along the newly constructed Seattle seawall. An acoustic camera, a Dual-frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON), is used to quantify fish densities and behaviors as they migrate through sections of modified seawall and substrate. This research is funded by Washington SeaGrant and conducted in association with the Fisheries Acoustics Research Lab.



Bob received a B.S. in biology with a minor in marine biology at the University of Washington. He started working for the Wetland Ecosystem Team shortly after graduating and has since continued on to graduate school. He is interested in the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, habitat restoration and how scientific research translates to policy. His graduate research utilizes invertebrate taxonomy to study the value of habitat enhancements designed to benefit migrating juvenile salmon at the newly constructed Seattle waterfront seawall.

Research & Technical Staff

Mike Caputo

Marine Technologist
In 2010 Mike Caputo received his Bachelors degree from UW’s Program on the Environment; his Capstone project was underwater video surveys of the Seattle seawall for the Wetland Ecosystem Team. Shortly thereafter he joined the team as a scuba diving researcher. Since then Mike has greatly expanded his role within the group applying various scientific research methods on projects throughout nearshore ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest.



Lab Technician



Research Scientist/GIS Analyst
Mary Ramirez has been the Spatial Analyst for the Wetland Ecosystem Team since 2008, focusing on habitat classification, nearshore ecosystems and salmon ecology. She has been actively involved in the Columbia River Estuary Ecosystem Classification, the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project’s Landscape Change Analsyis, and works with the Puget Sound Partnership on assessing indicators of estuary condition. 



Lab Technician
Cormac Toler-Scott is an undergraduate researcher focusing on entomology and conservation. He has performed research at the Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island with the use of historical contemporary data comparison of invertebrate body sizes. In addition, he has researched the effects of artificial lighting on aerial insects of aquatic origin based out of the Monteverde Biological Station, located in the cloud forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica. He now works as an invertebrate taxonomist on the Wetland Ecosystem Team.