Erin Dillon, PhD Candidate                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       UC Santa Barbara, Dept. Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology

I am a PhD candidate and a Chancellor’s Fellow in Dr. Douglas McCauley’s conservation biology and community ecology lab at UC Santa Barbara as well as a research fellow in Dr. Aaron O’Dea’s marine tropical paleoecology lab at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

Trained first as a community ecologist, I now think more about ecology through time. My research draws from conservation paleobiology, paleoecology, historical ecology, and community ecology. In particular, I am interested in how we can leverage information about historical ecosystems to contextualize modern change, assess human impacts over long ecological timescales, and inform conservation. My PhD research aims to develop and apply a new paleoecological tool – shark scale assemblages accumulating in sediments – to reconstruct long-term change in shark communities on coral reefs and explore the ecological consequences of those changes.

I am an avid proponent of science communication, and I use blog posts, social media, and art as platforms for telling stories about the history of sharks on coral reefs. I also mentor high school and undergraduate students in research and professional development activities.