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Department of

Marine Science and Environmental Studies

Jessica Carilli, PhD

Adjunct Faculty

Jessica Carilli teaches both lab and lecture courses in earth science and paleoclimatology at USD. Her research interests center on how human impacts affect the coastal environment, particularly coral reefs. She has conducted coral reef research in Belize, Honduras, the Republic of Kiribati, and the US Line Islands, and is particularly interested in how runoff and fishing impacts interact with climate change stresses affecting corals. When she isn’t teaching or conducting research, she also writes about marine science for popular audiences at


BS, Environmental Systems/Earth Science with an ocean-atmosphere focus, University of California San Diego

PhD, Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego

Scholarly and Creative Work

Dr. Carilli’s research interests center on using paleoceanographic techniques to reconstruct human impacts on the marine environment, and explore how these impacts affect coastal ecosystems—particularly coral reefs. Using core samples from large coral heads, she has reconstructed water temperatures, salinity, sediment runoff, and other water quality variables using geochemical signatures. She also analyzes coral growth rates to test how these physical changes have impacted corals over time. In addition, she has used fossil corals to reconstruct oceanographic variability over the past several thousand years, and also uses benthic foraminifera to investigate changes in water quality

Teaching Interests

Dr. Carilli believes that an understanding of earth and environmental science is a critical part of education, regardless of a student’s area of focus. She loves sharing her knowledge and excitement about earth and marine sciences with students, including formally in the classroom and as a mentor for undergraduate and graduate research projects.