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Marine Science Graduate Program

Russ Vetter, PhD

Director, Fisheries Resources Division
Southwest Fisheries Science Center (NMFS)

Dr. Vetter oversees the diverse research of the SWFSC Fisheries Resources Division, which takes an ecosystem approach to the study of high seas and coastal pelagic fisheries of the California Current. His personal research interests include molecular and spatial ecology of fishes as revealed by studies of population genetic structure, electronic tagging of migratory animals, and the application of biotechnology and physiology to investigate effects of environmental stress on natural populations.


Ph.D., University of Georgia, Ecology

M.S., University of Texas, Zoology

B.S., Southampton College, Biology


Scholarly and Creative Work

Under Vetter, the Fisheries Research Division studies fisheries of the California Current based on the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI), an ongoing, collaborative effort by NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and the State of California. This program began 60 years ago to examine the role of ocean productivity and climate, as well as fishing practices, on the dynamics of Pacific sardine and other oceanic fish populations. This integrated approach has received renewed interest as NOAA moves to Integrated Ecosystem Assessments and studies of climate change.

Before becoming Director of the Fisheries Resource Division, Vetter oversaw the Fish Ecology program and the Fish Conservation Genetics Program. The majority of his recent research has focused on determining population connectivity among rockfish meta-populations, design and spacing of MPA networks, effects of ozone depletion and increased ultraviolet (UV) irradiance on eggs and larvae, movements of sharks and other large pelagic fishes, and bioenergetics of pelagic food webs.