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Honors Program

Ron Kaufmann, PhD

Associate Dean
Associate Professor, Marine Science

Ron Kaufmann, PhD, joined the USD faculty in 1997 and currently serves as director of the Marine Science Graduate Program.  His areas of specialization are ecology and environmental biology, and his teaching includes courses in biology, environmental studies and marine science, as well as interdisciplinary courses that are team-taught with colleagues in the humanities. Kaufmann’s scholarship focuses on biological communities and their dynamics as well as their responses to changing environmental conditions. He has studied marine communities in extreme environments such as the Antarctic and the deep ocean.



Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; Marine Biology
B.S., University of Minnesota, Biology (emphasis in Ecology and Behavioral Biology)


Scholarly and Creative Work

Kaufmann’s research examines temporal and spatial variation in biological communities and the ecological and environmental factors that influence community dynamics.  He has studied coastal marine communities in the San Diego area and examined their response to seasonal variation in rainfall, water quality, and the input of dissolved and particulate material to the coastal zone.  He is especially interested in environments that humans might consider “extreme,” particularly the Antarctic and the deep ocean.

Kaufmann has studied animal communities living on the tops of deep seamounts (undersea mountains), physiological and behavioral adaptations of deep-sea animals to life in a food-poor environment, and responses of deep-sea communities to long-term changes in food supply related to climate change.  In the Antarctic, he has studied the ecological effects of seasonal ice cover on marine animal communities living near the ocean surface, spatial and temporal variation in animal community composition and distribution in the flooded caldera of an active volcano, and the ecological influence of icebergs on marine communities.

Teaching Interests

Kaufmann has taught introductory courses in biology and marine biology; upper division courses in biological oceanography, marine resources, and contemporary environmental issues; and graduate courses in marine science.  He also has team-taught courses for the Honors Program that focused on applying both scientific and philosophical approaches to modern environmental issues.  In all courses he emphasizes critical thinking, student engagement and a process-based approach to learning.