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Meet the Team
Octavio Aburto is a Full Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), a professional photographer associate with the International League of Conservation Photographers, and a National Geographic Explorer. Octavio obtained his PhD at the Center of Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at SIO, and was awarded the Jean Fort Award by the University of California, San Diego, for his significant contribution to an issue of public concern through his doctoral research. He is a Katerhyn Fuller Fellow, WWF-Science Program in 2010, was awarded the Conservation of Nature prize by the Mexican Ministry of the Environment – CONANP in 2014, received a Hellman Fellowship, for a Junior Faculty Research Project in 2015, and is part of the PEW Marine Fellows since 2019. His research and photographs have focused on marine reserves and commercially exploited marine species and their fisheries in Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and the U.S. His photographs have been part of several conservation projects worldwide and have won international photography contests.
Fabio Favoretto, PhD. is a marine ecologist with a specialization in data science and remote sensing technologies applied to the marine environment. He is a Post Doc at Aburto Lab, researching topics that aim to bridge the technology gap between stakeholders and science. His interests are habitat dynamics and the ecosystem services they provide.
Vannhi Huynh is a marine biologist and field researcher at the Aburto Lab. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of California, San Diego. Vannhi's research focuses on understanding the impacts of climate stressors on marine habitats and animals, as well as exploring ways to conserve and protect marine life. She has worked on a variety of projects, including mangrove conservation, researching the effects of climate stressors on Nodipecten subnodosus, and reviewing the impact of Marine Protected Areas in California.
Mariela Rios is a manager and researcher at the Aburto Lab, providing scientific guidance, coordinating field studies, and advancing sustainability and profitability in marine conservation initiatives. With a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration specializing in Finance and a Master's degree in marine biodiversity and conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Mariela brings a unique blend of expertise in both marine conservation and financial analysis. Her research includes analyzing the profitability of the commercial sardine fishery in Mexico. Prior to her current position, Mariela served as a California Sea Grant State Fellow at the Port of San Diego, contributing to the establishment and expansion of aquaculture and blue technology ventures. With her diverse experience and comprehensive knowledge, Mariela is committed to driving positive change in marine conservation by utilizing her financial expertise to support innovative projects and ensure the long-term sustainability and profitability of conservation initiatives.
Erica is a newly-minted doctor in the Aburto Lab, whose research focuses on climate-fishery interactions in coastal ecosystems. Prior to beginning her graduate studies atScripps Institution of Oceanography, Erica was trained as a marine ecologist at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she completed her B.S. in Marine Biology and a minor in Chemistry. At Scripps, her doctoral research has included a number of interdisciplinary projects, from quantifying the carbon footprint of important seafood products in Baja California, to experimentally testing the effects of marine heatwaves on Mexican Mano de León scallops. This Fall, Erica will return to UC Santa Cruz as a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Kroeker Lab, where she plans to study the effects of climate change on commercially important taxa in the state of California. Long-term, Erica hopes to use her scientific training and body of work to educate people on the importance of protecting the ocean, and to contribute to socially-just environmental “solutions” for issues such as overfishing, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
Kira Kawano is a Master's student at the Aburto Lab. During her undergraduate, she created a series of infographics to help raise awareness of the amount of time and effort the ocean invests in putting food on our plate. Her Master's research now focuses on human intervention and kelp forest restoration in California.
Angela is a passionate graduate student pursuing a Master's in Public Policy with a specialization in Environmental Policy and a certificate in Spatial Analysis. With five years of working experience and a background in economics and international relations, She is driven to build bridges between science and policy. Through her coursework and research, she is developing a deep understanding of how to generate policy solutions for the sustainable management of natural resources. Angela's research interests focus on exploring the potential of the blue economy to address the challenges of food security, energy transition, global warming, and marine conservation. Inspired by her experiences diving and witnessing the impacts of environmental damage on marine ecosystems, Angela is particularly interested in exploring how sustainable food production and market-based instruments can contribute to conservation initiatives and a more resilient future.
Bernie Bastien-Olvera is a postdoctoral fellow at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, focusing on climate change impacts on ocean economies and ecosystems. He holds a PhD from UC Davis, a Master's in Climate Change from University College London, and a Bachelor's in Earth Science from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Passionate about inclusive research and science communication, he founded Planeteando, a multimedia collective for climate change awareness and action. He is member of the Explorer community at National Geographic Society and member of the Global Engagement Committee at the American Geophysical Union.
Educator & Graduate Student
Sonya Timko, M.S., is a Ph.D. student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography using infrared technology to research thermal ecology in crabs. She is an instructional assistant for SIO/UCSD classes, has taught for UC San Diego, Division of Extended Studies Pre-College Programs for 6 years and currently leads the Marine Science Division of Research Scholars. Sonya is also co-founder of Venture Unified, which is an immersive, gamified platform for STEAM lessons.
Garret is an undergraduate at UCSD majoring in Marine Biology and a student volunteer in the Aburto Lab. He is interested in marine conservation, environmental sustainability, outfield research, and assisting in any relevant research in the world of marine biology. Currently, Garret is assisting in the Marine Protected Area literature review project.
Mallory Boell is a first year marine biology undergraduate volunteering for the MPA literature review project. Mallory is endlessly fascinated with kelp and kelp forests, species and ecosystem conservation, and the socioeconomic impacts of climate change on maritime and fisheries-based communities. In her spare time, she loves to travel, read, and spend time outdoors (especially underwater!).
Cassie Wallner is a third year marine biology undergraduate student with a minor in climate change studies and has been a volunteer with the Aburto Lab for 2 years. She is currently volunteering on the Redfaro Project and MPA literature review projects. Cassie is extremely passionate about marine conservation and mitigating climate change impacts on a global scale, as well as promoting environmental justice initiatives. Some of her favorite hobbies include scuba diving, photography, and aviation (flying planes).
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