Grad Student Profiles

Get To Know Our Current Graduate Students


Darbi stands in the estuary.  

Darbi Berry

I am a second year graduate student and I am studying fluvial and morphological changes in the Tijuana River Estuary. I am using a combination of current and historical geospatial datasets, aerial imagery and LIDAR, in combination with drone captured imagery in order to assess the changes in the channel morphology, as well as better understand the ability of high resolution imagery to capture surface wetness and tidal prism in the estuary. A better understanding of the interactions of the physical processes within the estuary can help to inform restoration and best management practices. I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida in Environmental Science and Policy in 2015. I chose USD because of its location, the small program as well as the unique research opportunities. USD’s graduate program really allows you some flexibility and freedom to take the time to develop a thesis project that really lets you incorporate your interests and passions. I also work as a Graduate Assistant for the EOSC department’s Executive Assistant. Our department has a really open and welcoming atmosphere and everyone is really interested, informed and supportive of each others research goals. The willingness to help and the support from faculty and other graduate students in the department makes it an awesome place to work.


Nima stands by the ocean.

Nima Farchadi

I am in my third year of the graduate program at USD. I am studying the habitat preferences of the blue and black marlin in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. These pelagic fish are being threatened as by-catch from fisheries and having a better understanding of these fish's spatiotemporal distribution can be implemented into conservation efforts and fishery management. I currently am the animal welfare assistant, which involves me checking on the animals on campus and assessing if they are being handled with care. I have in the past been a lab instructor for a introduction to ecology course, as well as the physical graduate assistant. I got my undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland in 2014 where I majored Biology. I choose USD first and foremost because of my adviser.  How small the community is. You get to personally know all the faculty and staff in the department and that really helps with your class work but also your research. They are also well connected with other organizations and institutions around San Diego which you can potentially do research with.


Kate stands by the beach.

Kate Hargenrader

I am in my fourth year of the program preparing to defend my thesis this December. I am currently researching the establishment of barnacle populations in the rocky intertidal communities of La Jolla, CA. Through this research an understanding of the importance of the marine protected areas in protecting a variety of local organisms which contribute to the productivity of the California coast is gained. Within the EOS Department I currently work as a graduate research assistant. I received a BS in Marine Science and Biology in 2014 from the University of Tampa. I selected USD for continuing given the bountiful marine science career tracks this region offers and the involvement in community outreach is a mission of the university which is carried out throughout the EOS Department. The best part about USD is the welcoming spirit of faculty and students alike ... once you're here you won't want to leave!


Angela is on a boat with snow. 

Angela Klemmedson

I am a second year graduate student researching the population dynamics of Antarctic mesopelagic fishes in response to environmental variability. I’m using otoliths (fish ear stones) to collect age and growth rate information for the myctophid species Gymnoscopelus nicholsi over the past 20 years. Understanding the population dynamics of this ecosystem component is important for understanding the stability of the Antarctic ecosystem, which is one of the fastest warming regions on the planet. In 2013, after earning my BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Gonzaga University (Spokane, WA), I moved to San Diego and worked for California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) for three years before deciding to continue my education. I chose USD because of its proximity to marine science resources, including collaborators such as NOAA and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In addition to my research, I also work for the EOSC department as a Physical Science Graduate Assistant, responsible for prepping geology labs and desert field trips. I am happy to be a part of the USD community and the small size of our EOSC program provides increased interaction and support from faculty and other students.


Bryanna stands on a boat.

Bryanna Paulson

I am in my second year of the graduate program at USD.  For my thesis, I am studying the diets of major zooplankton species in Mission Bay through stable isotope analysis.  This study will contribute to the understanding of the most fundamental characteristics of Mission Bay’s ecosystem, trophic structure and function.  In 2015, I received my B.S. in Biology from Saint Mary’s College of California.  Before I continued on to graduate school, I took a gap year and interned for the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, BDRI, and Receptos, Inc., a pharmaceutical company.  My favorite experience during my gap year was interning for the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute and studying Bottlenose dolphins in Galicia, Spain.   As I pursue my Master’s degree at USD, I have continued to work as a Research Associate in Analytical Chemistry at Receptos, Inc.  I chose the graduate program at USD because the EOSC department provides a great number of resources for research and unlimited support for its students.


James stands by the ocean.

James Wright

I am in my second year in the program and I am researching arsenic transport and mobility; currently focusing on stormwater transport in an ephemeral drainage adjacent to a historical mining site.  This work is significant as arsenic is toxic and its transport from former mine sites has the potential to impact human and ecological health. I received a B.S. in Environmental Chemistry from UCSD in 2006 and currently, I am a research assistant with the EOSC department working on arsenic bioavailability. The primary reason I chose the EOSC master’s program at USD was for the research opportunities and my favorite aspects of this program and department are the faculty-student working relationships and willingness of everyone to help each other out.