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

I’m a Ph.D. candidate 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 how commercial and recreational shark fishers, scientists, and decision makers value and relate to sharks in monetary and non-monetary ways. Understanding these values can help design management, mediate conflicts, and foster stewardship.

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. Using sharks as a model species, it’s my goal to (1) create tools and networks for knowledge sharing to understand vulnerability of marine life to human-imposed stressors, (2) investigate how people and social institutions are intertwined with those animals and ecosystems, and (3) pragmatically leverage this information to make practical decisions about managing human activity in the ocean.


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:

  1. Hammerschlag N, Schmitz OJ Flecker A, Lafferty K, Sih A, Atwood T, Gallagher AJ, Irschick DJ, Skubel RA, Cooke SJ. (In Press). Ecosystem Function and Services of Aquatic Predators in the Anthropocene. Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
  2. Hammerschlag N, Skubel RA, Sulikowski J, Irschick DJ, Gallagher AJ. (2018). A comparison of reproductive and energetic states in a marine apex predator (the tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, doi:10.1086/698496
  3. Skubel RA, Kirtman B, Fallows C, Hammerschlag N. (2018) Patterns of long-term climate variability and predation rates by a marine apex predator (the white shark, Carcharodon carcharias). Marine Ecology Progress Series, doi: 10.3354/meps12424.
  4. Chan FCC, Arain AM, Khomik M, Brodeur JJ, Peichl M, Restrepo-Coupe N, …& Skubel RA. (2018) Carbon, water and energy exchange dynamics of a young pine plantation forest during the initial fourteen years of growth. Forest Ecology and Management, 410, 12–26. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2017.12.024.
  5. Kough AS, Cronin H, Skubel RS, Belak CA, Stoner AW. (2017). The efficacy of an established marine protected area at sustaining a queen conch (Lobatus gigas) population during three decades of monitoring. Marine Ecology Progress Series, doi: 10.3354/meps12163
  6. Cooke SJ, Gallagher AJ, Sopinka NM, Nguyen VM, Skubel RA, Hammerschlag N, ... & Danylchuk A J. (2017). Considerations for effective science communication. FACETS, doi: 10.1139/facets-2016-0055 /
  7. Gallagher AJ, Skubel RA, Pethybridge HR, Hammerschlag N (2017) Energy metabolism in mobile, wild-sampled sharks inferred by plasma lipids. Conservation Physiology, doi:10.1093/conphys/cox002
  8. Hammerschlag N, Skubel RA, Calich H, Cain S, Enchelmaier A, Jennings L, MacDonald C, Nelson ER, Shiffman DS,Wester J, Gallagher AJ. (2016). Nocturnal and crepuscular behavior in elasmobranchs: a review of habitat use, foraging, reproduction, abundance, and movement in the dark. Bulletin of Marine Science. doi:doi: 10.5343/bms.2016.1046.
  9. Skubel RA, Khomik M, Brodeur J, Thorne RF, Arain MA. Short-term selective thinning effects on hydraulic functionality of a temperate pine forest in eastern Canada. Ecohydrology, doi: 10.1002/eco.1780.
  10. Skubel RA, Arain MA, 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 committee roles:

  • Participant Research and Evaluation Coordinator [Shark Research and Conservation at the University of Miami]
  • Webmaster/Student Affairs Committee [American Elasmobranch Society]
  • Student Committee, Social Science Working Group [Society for Conservation Biology]



(From TAing UM ECS 301) Tips and resources for GIS and paper writing [live document]

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