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The mission of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science is to advance ocean conservation through science. More..

Who We Are
Introduction    |    Who We Are  

Who We Are

Ellen PikitchEllen Pikitch, Executive Director, IOCS

Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch is the executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and a professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. Recognized as an international expert in ocean conservation science, she has authored and edited more than 100 articles and books on fisheries science and management. Dr. Pikitch spearheaded the first scientific consensus on ecosystem-based fishery management, which was published in the journal Science in 2004. She also chaired the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, which conducted the most comprehensive global analysis of forage fish management to date, releasing its report "Little Fish, Big Impact: Managing a Crucial Link in Ocean Food Webs," in April 2012.

Dr. Pikitch focuses her research efforts on vulnerable and ecologically important marine species. She co-edited the first book to focus on pelagic sharks and their plight, and was a co-author of the first paper to estimate the number of sharks killed year, both of which energized and propelled the shark conservation movement. Another extensively exploited fish on which Dr. Pikitch has conducted substantial scientific research is the sturgeon.

The scientific work of Dr. Pikitch has informed policy decisions such as the listings of both the Atlantic and beluga sturgeon under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, a U.S. ban on the sale of beluga caviar, passage of the U.S. Shark Finning Prohibition Act, regulation of the international trade of six species of sharks, and more precautionary forage fisheries management.

Dr. Pikitch received a Ph.D. in Zoology from Indiana University and M.A. and B.S. degrees in Mathematics from the City College of New York.

Her faculty page can be found at:


Christine SantoraChristine Santora, Assistant Director, IOCS

Christine is Assistant Director for Policy and Outreach at IOCS, and has been with the Institute since its inception. She has over fifteen years of experience in ocean conservation, policy, and science. Christine helps to build and promote the Institute by developing programs, proposals, and strategic relationships. Since 2015, Christine has focused on advancing science-based marine protected areas at the United Nations through the 10 x 20 Initiative and the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance. She also manages outreach and communications for the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program. Christine was the Project Director of the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force from 2008-2012, a major project of IOCS that developed recommendations and ecosystem-based standards for the management of forage fish populations worldwide. Prior to directing the Task Force, Christine was employed for five years as a Senior Research Associate with the Pew Institute for Ocean Science where she worked on a variety of fisheries science and policy issues.

Christine earned a Master's degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island with a focus on ocean policy and endangered species bycatch. She earned an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Providence College in 1998. Christine has co-authored dozens of peer-reviewed papers and reports over the course of her career, including a flagship paper on Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management published in the journal Science.


Paul TompkinsPaul Tompkins, Postdoctoral Scientist

Paul is a postdoc interested in restoration, historical ecology, and applying ecological theory to habitat restoration. His research at IOCS is focused on the response of biological communities to Shinnecock Bay restoration efforts, and his previous research has included macroalgae ecology in the Galapagos Islands, mangrove/grouper interactions in Panama, and the ecology of Northeast Pacific Rhodolith beds.

After graduating from the University of California in Santa Cruz with a major in Marine Biology, Paul worked as a subtidal technician for PISCO (Partnership for the Interdisciplinary Study of Coastal Oceans) at University of California Santa Cruz. He earned a Masters of Science from San Jose State University, and in 2017 completed a PhD in natural sciences from the University of Bremen in Germany. His work has involved extensive use of SCUBA gear for investigating subtidal ecology.

When he's not at work, Paul enjoys sailing, fishing, surfing and traditional archery. We are glad Paul does not enjoy traditional archery while he's at work, because there just isn't enough room in the office.


Sara Cernadas-MatinSara Cernadas-Matin, PhD candidate

Sara is a PhD candidate in Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch's laboratory at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. Previously, Sara studied the distribution of ammonia oxidizing bacteria in the Cariaco Basin, an oxygen minimum zone with a permanently anoxic deep layer. Sara's current research involves the ecological characterization of Summer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) in Shinnecock Bay. Specifically, Sara is interested in studying the trophic dynamics of Summer Flounder, with a special focus on its relationship with Winter Flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) population decrease, the use and habitat preference of Summer Flounder while residing in Shinnecock Bay, and the environmental and behavioral science of its migration patterns.

Sara received a M.S. degree in 2012 in Marine and Atmospheric Science from Stony Brook University and a Licentiate in Biology with a concentration in ecology, physiology and genomics from the Universitat de Barcelona (U.B.) in Spain.

Sara's personal phone number is written on the tags attached to the flukes that the lab releases back into the ocean. She's still waiting to receive a call from a seal asking for more fish to be delivered.


John BohorquezJohn Bohorquez, PhD Candidate

John is a Ph.D. candidate at both IOCS and the Dvarskas Lab at Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. John's research primarily focuses on the economics and sustainable financing of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), including IOCS's evaluation of MPAs in China. As part of a broader interest in environmental economics and biological oceanography, he is also involved in more local research evaluating economic benefits of shellfish aquaculture in the Long Island Sound region. He frequently assists with other IOCS affiliated projects including the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program. Before becoming part of IOCS, John worked in finance, most recently as an Acquisitions Analyst at Urban American Management LLC, a New York based private equity fund that invests in commercial real estate and energy retrofits. Prior, he was an analyst at EMAX LLC, a consulting firm specializing in real estate and renewable energy developments with the federal government. John's experience in energy and sustainability also extends to Latin America with Fusion LatAm LLC, based in Bogotá, Colombia.

John holds a B.A. in Economics and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College, where he also minored in Earth and Oceanographic Sciences.


Tim FrankstoneTim Frankstone, Marine Sciences M.S. Student

Tim is a Marine Sciences M.S. student and research assistant at the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science. His thesis work is focused on Chinese Marine Protected Area management and the impact of socioeconomic factors on conservation efforts. Tim also works on a variety of projects at the IOCS, including the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program and public outreach. After his attempt to fix the printer, he no longer handles technical difficulties at the IOCS.

Tim graduated from Stony Brook University in Spring 2018 with a B.S in Marine Sciences and minor equivalents in Philosophy and Sustainability Studies. He has worked with the New York Riverkeeper association, and during his undergraduate career, used stable isotope analysis to build ecosystem models of the Great South Bay with Dr. Janet Nye.

Tim worked for three summers at an international boarding school as a New York City tour guide, and never needs to see Times Square again in his entire life.


Maria GrimaMaria Grima, Project Aide

Maria is a Project Aide at the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science. She handles public outreach, the Institute newsletter, and ocean-based puns. She also works on trawling trips and the IOCS's social media presence, and shares a desk with Tim.

Maria earned an B.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Physical Anthropology, and minors in Marine and Geospatial Science. She has also done research in Southampton, Kenya, and Madagascar, and is an alumna of the JFEW-SUNY International Relations and Global Affairs Program.

Maria has been vegan for two years, and does not love every fruit and vegetable in existence but usually eats them anyway.


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