Fire, Spencer

Assistant Professor, Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences

Personal Overview

My research program combines an interest in the very smallest and the very largest organisms in the sea (and occasionally a few in between).   From single-celled marine algae (phytoplankton) to shellfish, finfish, sea turtles, humans and marine mammals such as baleen whales, the interactions between these organism can tell us much about the status of our oceans' health.  My current research focuses on the impacts of harmful algal blooms and their toxins on marine food webs and the health of sentinel organisms such as marine mammals. To carry out this work, my students and I focus on 3 core areas:

1) Developing and using molecular detection methods to investigate how natural contaminants move through marine food webs,

2) Drawing on field experience with small cetaceans and pinnipeds, as well as knowledge of field survey methods, to study marine mammal health and behavior in the wild,

3) Combining a knowledge of large-scale oceanographic processes with laboratory and field methods to study changing marine ecosystems and their links to wildlife and human health.

Educational Background

Ph.D., Ocean Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz (2007)

M.S., Marine Science, University of California Santa Cruz (2002)

B.S., Zoology, Brigham Young University (2000)


For more information (courses taught, publications, curriculum vitae), click here to visit the Fire Lab web page.