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Casey O'Hara

headshot of Casey O'Hara

PhD Student

Bren Hall 4322

MESM, Bren School, UCSB
MS, Stanford University
BS, Stanford University

Casey O’Hara is a PhD candidate studying human impacts on marine biodiversity. As an undergrad, he studied Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, but after nearly a decade designing industrial robots and medical devices, he felt a calling to work with students from disadvantaged backgrounds. He earned his teaching credential from San Francisco State and began teaching integrated science, physics, and green technology at a diverse public high school near San Francisco, supported by a five-year teaching fellowship with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation. While leading his engineering students to design micro-scale solar energy systems for a Guatemalan village, Casey saw the potential for environmental management to promote prosperity in developing communities, and was inspired to pursue formal studies in environmental science at the Bren School. Entering the MESM program in 2012, he specialized in Energy & Climate and Coastal Marine Resource Management, and with the Bren Environmental Justice Club, he helped found a course on Equity in the Managed Environment. He was also known to kick back with Brengrass from time to time.

After completing his MESM degree, Casey worked with the Ocean Health Index team led by Ben Halpern, applying data science to communicate the range of benefits people can sustainably derive from healthy oceans, including nutritious food and food security, jobs and livelihoods, recreational opportunities, and cultural value.  However, our activities on land and in the ocean, and the stressors generated by those activities, impose impacts on marine biodiversity, threatening the delivery of those benefits.  Casey’s current research applies marine ecology and data science to quantify where, how, and to what degree anthropogenic stressors threaten marine biodiversity and ecosystem function, to promote effective and equitable conservation management that simultaneously benefits developing communities and the environment.

Year Admitted

Research Areas
Marine biodiversity conservation, equity and cooperation in marine resource management

Faculty Advisor
Ben Halpern

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