Rachel zuercher

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Ph.D. Candidate, University of California Santa Cruz

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Tel: (605) 222-0702  Email: rzuerche@ucsc.edu

 URL: http://research.pbsci.ucsc.edu/eeb/zuercher/


2012–Present Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

University of California, Santa Cruz, CA

Advisor: Dr. Mark Carr

2003–2007 B.S. Biology (Minors: Chemistry, Env. Science), Summa Cum Laude

Valparaiso University

Advisors: Dr. Laurie S. Eberhardt and Dr. Grayson Davis

2005 Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology

Dominica, West Indies, Fall 2005

Advisor: Dr. Sascha Steiner


  1. Hughes, BB, Beas-Luna, R et al. (including Zuercher, R). 2017. Long-term studies contribute disproportionately to ecology and policy. Bioscience. In press.

  2. Van der Sleen, Peter, Dzaugis, MP, Gentry, C, Hall, WP, Hamilton, V, Helser TE, Matta, ME, Underwood, CA, Zuercher, R, Black, BA. 2016. Long-term Bering Sea environmental variability revealed by a centennial-length biochronology of Pacific Ocean Perch Sebastes alutus. Climate Research 71: 33-34.

  3. Aguilera, SE, Cole, J, Finkbeiner, EM, Le Cornu, E, Ban, NC, Carr, MH, Cinner, JE, Crowder, LB, Gelcich, S, Hicks, CC, Kittinger, JN, Martone, R, Malone, D, Pomeroy, C, Starr, RM, Seram, S, Zuercher, R, Broad, K 2015. Managing small-scale commercial fisheries for adaptive capacity: Insights from dynamic social-ecological drivers of change in Monterey Bay. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0118992. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0118992

  4. Saporito, RA, R. Zuercher, M. Roberts, KG. Gerow, and MA. Donnelly. 2007. Experimental evidence for aposematism in the dendrobatid poison frog Oophaga pumilio. Copeia 25:1006–1011.

*highlighted in: Nordell, S., Valone, T. 2013. Animal Behavior: Concepts, Methods, and Applications. Oxford University Press.
Teaching Products

  1. Zuercher, R and Aguilera, S. 2015. Social-ecological coupling in the small-scale fisheries of Monterey Bay, California. Product of National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), NSF DBI-1052875.


  1. Zuercher, R, B.A. Higgins, S. Ciandro. 2015. Fisheries management: fish and our communities. Module (lab and worksheet) designed for high school biology students. Product of GK–12 SCWIBLES, NSF DGE-0947923.

  2. Zuercher, R, C. Goetsch, B. Yew, R. Herradora. 2014. Chromatography in chemistry. Module (video, lab and worksheets) designed for high school chemistry students. Concepts: Planning investigations, arguing from evidence. Product of GK–12 SCWIBLES, NSF DGE-0947923.

Professional Reports

  1. Zuercher, R, S. Steiner. 2005. Rapid Assessment of Stony Coral Community Structure in Dominica, West Indies. Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Protocol v. 4.0 First Implementation in the Commonwealth of Dominica: 17-31.

  2. Zuercher, R. 2010. CNMI Section 309 Assessment and Strategy Report 2011-2015. NOAA Coastal Zone Management Program. http://coastalmanagement.noaa.gov/mystate/docs/cnmi3092011.pdf


2013–Present Graduate Research Assistant (fisheries ecology and collaborative fisheries research), FishTRACS. Raimondi-Carr Lab, University of California Santa Cruz.

2013–Present Scientific Diver, Partnership for the Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans. Raimondi-Carr Lab, UC Santa Cruz.

2011-2012 Research Diver, CNMI Marine Monitoring Team. CNMI Coastal Resources Management Office, Saipan.

2006 Researcher, National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (Advisor: Dr. Maureen Donnelly). Institute for Tropical Studies, La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica.

2006-2007 Student Researcher, Department of Biology (Advisor: Dr. Laurie Eberhardt), Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN

2005 Student Researcher/Diver, Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology (Advisor: Dr. Sascha Steiner), Mahaut, Dominica.

Courses taught as Instructor

Adjunct faculty appointment at Northern Marianas College (NMC)

2010-2012 Intro to Natural Resources Management, NMC, Saipan, CNMI

2010-2012 Species and Ecosystem Management, NMC, Saipan, CNMI
Courses taught as Teaching Assistant

2015 Kelp Forest Ecology (10-credit diving-based field course), UCSC

2016 Development and Physiology, UCSC

2016 Ecology and Conservation in Practice (10-credit field course), UCSC


2014-2015 Undergraduate fieldwork training, Raimondi-Carr Lab, UCSC

2010-2012 Mariana Islands Nature Alliance climate outreach team, Saipan, CNMI

2010-2012 Friday Films Environmental Outreach planning team, Saipan, CNMI

Student Mentoring

2010-2011 Amanda Santos, NOAA Coral Reef Internship Program: “Communicating the importance of nonpoint source pollution to multiple stakeholders”.

2013 Christine Mellon, UCSC Ecology and Evolutionary Biology undergraduate.

2014 Moises Zuniga, Ernesto Alvarado, Miguel Chavez, Jose Diaz: “Measuring claw force in crab species at Elkhorn Slough”.

2015 Krista Arellano, Cesar Cadenas, Angelica Navarro, Priscila Martinez: “Changes in fish biodiversity in Elkhorn Slough: 2012-2015”.

2015 Sydney Vander Linden, UCSC Marine Biology undergraduate.

2016-2017 Raul Almanza, UCSC Ecology and Evolutionary Biology undergraduate.

2016-2017 Jocelyn Krim, UCSC Ecology and Evolutionary Biology undergraduate.

2016-2017 Jordan Lee, UCSC Ecology and Evolutionary Biology undergraduate
Pedagogy Training

2015 Teaching Socio-environmental Synthesis with Case Studies. National Socio-environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), Annapolis, MD.

2014-2015 Inquiry-based Learning in the Environmental Sciences. Part of the NSF GK-12 Fellowship, UCSC

  1. R. Zuercher, C. Pomeroy. 2017. Social and ecological dynamics of the Central California commercial, nearshore fishery. SF Bay Area Society for Conservation Biology Symposium. Santa Cruz, CA. Oral presentation.

  2. R. Zuercher, C. Pomeroy. 2017. Social-ecological coupling in the Central California commercial, nearshore fishery. Society for Applied Anthropology. Santa Fe, NM. Oral presentation.

  3. R. Zuercher, B.A. Black, V.S. Hamilton, 2016. Climate influences on Pacific Ocean Perch (Sebastes alutus) growth revealed by 87-year otolith chronology. Western Groundfish Meeting. Newport, OR. Oral presentation.

  4. R. Zuercher. 2015. An ecosystem approach to understanding and forecasting the production of kelp forest fishes and their associated fisheries. UCSC Ecology and Evolutionary Biology student seminar series. Oral presentation.

  5. R. Zuercher, B.A. Black, V.S. Hamilton. 2015. Climate influences on Pacific Ocean Perch (Sebastes alutus) growth revealed by 87-year otolith chronology. Western Society of Naturalists. Sacramento, CA. Oral presentation.

  6. R. Zuercher et al. 2014. Using otolith crossdating to understand biotic and abiotic factors influencing growth of rockfishes. Western Society of Naturalists. Tacoma, WA. Poster.

  7. R. Zuercher et al. 2014. Climate variability and ecosystem response in the Northeast Pacific. North American Dendroecological Fieldweek. Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming. Oral presentation.

  8. R. Zuercher. 2013. Bottom-up effects of biodiversity on fish production in central California kelp forests. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Student Research Colloquium, University of Santa Cruz. Oral presentation.

  9. R. Zuercher, MacDuff, S, Sands, M. 2013. Fostering ocean leadership in Pacific island coral reef communities. Center for Ocean Solutions Oceans Colloquium, Hopkins Marine Station, Monterey, CA. Oral presentation.

  10. Eberhardt, L., R. Zuercher, S. Mohlman, M. Lute-Kulaga. 2007. Yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) feeding preferences for Carya ovata in relation to species diversity in Northwest Indiana woods. Indiana Dunes Research Forum. Highland, IN. Poster.

  11. Eberhardt, L., R. Zuercher, S. Mohlman, M. Lute-Kulaga. 2007. Yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) feeding preferences for Carya ovata in relation to species diversity in Northwest Indiana woods. Valparaiso University Biology Colloquium Series. Valparaiso, IN. Oral presentation.

  12. Zuercher, R., K. Byrd, M. Jordan, M. Klarman, A. Lowe, J. McNeal, N. Wallover. 2005. Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Protocol v. 4.0 First Implementation in Dominica. National Marine Resource Stakeholders Meeting. Roseau, Dominica. Oral presentation.


2015 NOAA-NMFS Graduate Research Intern, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Santa Cruz, CA. Mentor: Dr. John Field.

2010-2012 Coastal Manager, CNMI Coastal Resources Management Office

Led coastal planning efforts including large-scale revegetation, small-scale coastal restoration, stormwater management, climate change adaptation and mitigation planning, and identifying and addressing user conflicts within marine areas.

2007-2009 Environmental Resource Manager, US Peace Corps/Fiji.

Developed and implemented community-based environmental management plans, especially regarding coastal and coral reef resources. Facilitated education for offices, communities and students regarding marine and fisheries management.

2005- 2005 Noxious Weed Analyst Intern, South Dakota Dept. of Agriculture.

GPS mapped Tamarix sp. (salt cedar) in SD as part of an invasive plant eradication program, surveyed rivers and wild areas to identify and map all noxious weeds and sampled grain stocks and soil for invasive pests.


2016 Diversity and Equity in STEM Fields, Stanford University

2013 Ocean Leadership Practicum, Center for Ocean Solutions

2012 The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Action Planning, Saipan

2011 SeaWeb Social Marketing In Conservation, Saipan, CNMI

2011 NOAA Coastal Services Project Design and Evaluation, Saipan

2010 NOAA Grants Online Training, Saipan, CNMI

2017 Wells Fargo Coastal Sustainability Fellowship ($13,000)

2016 Best Student Talk, Western Groundfish conference

2016 Mathias Student Research Grant, University of California ($2,000)

2015 NSF Graduate Research Internship Program, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center ($5,000)

2014 North American Dendroecological Fieldweek Graduate Research Fellowship ($1,500)

2014 GK-12 SCWIBLES Graduate Fellowship ($30,000/year stipend and tuition remission)

2014 UCSC Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department ($1,000)

2014 Friends of Long Marine Lab Research and Education Award ($929)

2013 Earl H. and Ethel M. Myers Oceanographic and Marine Trust ($1,000)

2013 UCSC Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department ($750)

2012-2015 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

($30,000/yr stipend and tuition remission)

2012 UCSC Graduate Non-resident Tuition Fellowship ($10,068)

2010 NOAA Modernizing and Improving State Coastal Zone Management Information Systems ($39,990)

2008 Hundred Sands Ltd. small grant for environmental community development ($2600)

2008 Fiji Water Foundation Grant for community development in environment, education and health ($13,800)

2006 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Fellowship ($4000)

2005 VU Lumina Award for Outstanding Scholarship

2005 Odyssey of the Mind Undergraduate Scholarship ($1000)

2005 Schweitzer Fellowship for international service work ($2500)

2003-2006 Valparaiso University (VU) Presidential Scholar Award

2003-2006 VU Award for Excellence ($4000)

2003-2006 Robert C Byrd Scholarship, U.S. Office of the Secretary ($6000)

2003-2006 DakotaWest/Bankwest Undergraduate Scholarship ($4000)

2003-2006 Rawlins Academic Scholarship ($24,000)


2014-Present Graduate Student Representative to the UCSC Dive Control Board, Santa Cruz, California.

2013-2015 Liaison to the Monterey Area Research Institutes Network for Education, Santa Cruz, California.

2013-2015 SurfRider Water Quality Sampling Volunteer, Santa Cruz.

2010-2011 CNMI Turtle Advocacy and Guardian Society, Saipan. Grants writer and technical advisor.

2004-2007 Stream Restoration Volunteer, Biology Club president, Valparaiso University. River monitoring, fish habitat restoration.

2006-2007 National Parks Volunteer, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Native tallgrass prairie restoration.


Field Skills – AAUS scientific diver (UCSC), NAUI Master Diver, Caribbean and Indo-Pacific coral, invertebrate and fish identification; central California marine invertebrate, fish and algae identification; rapid assessment and long-term coral reef and kelp forest monitoring methods; otolith preparation and analysis; ATV, boat and amphibious vehicle operation; CPR, First Aid/AED, oxygen administration and lifeguarding
Computer Programs – ESRI suite/ArcGIS; R; JMP; Microsoft Access; Windows and Mac operating systems; Microsoft Office suite; Miradi conservation action planning software; COFECHA/ARSTAN dendro-analysis programs; Image Pro Premier software
Professional Skills – grants writing and management; meeting facilitation (trained through NOAA and TNC); intermediate/Advanced knowledge of Fijian language
Coursework – biology, ecology, genetics, field biology, natural history, cell biology, molecular biology, animal behavior, calculus, statistics, physics, physical chemistry, organic chemistry, macroeconomics, conservation, environmental philosophy, marine research methodology, advanced organismal biology, evolution, eco-evolutionary dynamics, modeling in R, community ecology, global information systems (GIS), experimental design and analysis, statistics in R, current debates in conservation, quantitative fisheries management, inquiry-based learning in environmental sciences, stable isotopes in environmental science

Western Society of Naturalists (WSN)

American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS)

American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists (AIFRB)

Santa Cruz Society for Conservation Biology (SCSCB)

Santa Cruz – Monterey Bay Area Subunit of the American Fisheries Society (SCMBAS)

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