Program: Robert E. Malouf Marine Studies Scholarship


Alexandra M. Avila is a Fisheries Ph.D. student at Oregon State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Her research will examine the effects of oceanographic processes, particularly nearshore currents and upwelling patterns, on the dispersal of larval rockfish (genus Sebastes spp.) and the effectiveness of marine reserves along the Oregon and Washington Coast, including Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. She seeks to determine if larvae contribute to population stock and genetic diversity of the marine reserves and whether there is a detectable spillover effect into the surrounding non-reserve areas. Alex will also help in the development of oceanography-based larval dispersal models and recommendations for the use of oceanographic data to improve the design and formation of future marine reserves.


Alex graduated with a B.A. in Biology from Hood College in Maryland, with two minors: Coastal Studies and Environmental Studies. She obtained a M.Sc. in Ecology at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. Her M.Sc. thesis research was on the Genetic Diversity and Conservation of the Misty Grouper (Hyporthodus mytacinus) in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. She worked with the Galapagos National Park, Galapagos Marine Reserve, the Galapagos fishermen and local NGOs to help coordinate efforts for the conservation and proper management of the H. mystacinus.

Professional and Research Interests: 

Alex has worked and carried out research in diverse coastal communities and aquatic environments around the United States and Ecuador, including the ocean, rivers and mangroves. She realizes the importance of, and is committed to, the outreach and education of local coastal communities that depend on the ocean’s resources. She seeks to help maintain the health of the ocean’s ecosystems while also conserving fisheries for the benefit of future generations through education. Alex believes that it is a common misconception that conservationists, scientist and fishermen must forever be embattled over “to fish or not to fish.” Rather, she believes they share a common goal: to sustain this source of livelihood and cultural heritage and to ensure that descendants may enjoy and benefit from it too.