Rachel Skubel Ph.D. Student of Environmental Science and Policy

I’m a Ph.D. student at the University of Miami, originally from London, Ontario, Canada. As part of the Shark Research and Conservation Lab, I am working to develop tools that indicate how sharks will respond to climate change. As an interdisciplinary student at UM’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, I am investigating the disconnect humans have with the ocean and its resident species, and how this relationship is impacting conservation efforts. An emerging interest in my research is how cognition and decision making in fish is impacted by their environment.

Sharks present an intellectually challenging research subject, and also one that is critically in need of study given rampant human exploitation. Climate change is presenting these animals, who have been around for over 450 million years, with yet another human challenge. It’s my goal to (1) create tools that can aid in understanding which species are most vulnerable and why, so that resources can be effectively allocated for their protection in a constantly changing world, and (2) better shed light on the humans that are in a position to contribute to such protections, and the social connection (or disconnect) they have with the marine realm.


Education : Ph.D., Environmental Science and Policy (May 2016-Present) [Abess Centre for Ecosystem Science and Policy, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA]; Masters of Science, Earth and Environmental Science (2013-2015) [McMaster University, Hamilton, ON]; Bachelor of Science, Honors Specialization in Environmental Science (2008-2013) [The University of Western Ontario (Western University), London, ON]

Research Experience: Research Assistant (May 2015-Present) [Dr. N. Hammerschlag, Shark Research and Conservation at the University of Miami, Miami, FL]; Masters Student and Research Assistant (2013-2015) [Dr. M. A. Arain, Hydro-meteorology and Climatology Research Group, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON]; Honors Research Student 2011-2012 [Dr. K. Moser, Lake and Reservoir Systems Research Facility, University of Western Ontario, London, ON]

Academic publications: Gallagher, A.J., Skubel, R.A., Pethybridge, H.R., Hammerschlag, N. Metabolic indicators of nutrition and energy usage in mobile predatory fishes. In press at Conservation Physiology. // Cooke, S.J., Gallagher, A.J., Sopinka, N.M., Nguyen, V.M., Skubel, R.A., Hammerschlag, N., Boon, S., Young, N, Danylchuk, A.J. Considerations for effective science communication. In press at FACETS. // Hammerschlag N., Skubel R.A., Calich H., Cain S., Enchelmaier A., Jennings L., MacDonald C., Nelson E.R., Shiffman D.S.,Wester J., Gallagher A.J. (2016). Nocturnal and crepuscular behavior in elasmobranchs: a review of habitat use, foraging, reproduction, abundance, and movement in the dark. Bulletin of Marine Science. // Skubel, R.A., Khomik, M. Brodeur, J., Thorne, R. F., Arain, M.A. Short-term selective thinning effects on hydraulic functionality of a temperate pine forest in eastern Canada. In press at Ecohydrology, doi: 10.1002/eco.1780. // Skubel, R.A., Arain, M.A., Peichl, M., Brodeur, J., Khomik, M., Thorne, R., Trant, J., Kula, M. (2015). Age effects on the water use efficiency and water balance of temperate pine plantation forests. Hydrological Processes, 29(18): 4100-4113.

Outreach and education: Participant Research and Evaluation Coordinator (May 2016 – Present) [Shark Research and Conservation at the University of Miami]; Webmaster/Student Affairs Committee (July 2016-Present) [American Elasmobranch Society]


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