Sarah Joy Bittick, Ph.D. 

Current: Assistant Professor in Biology, Loyola Marymount University
Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia 2018-2019
PhD. Biology, UCLA 2017
B.S. Marine Biology, UCLA 2009

Sarah Joy Bittick is a community ecologist with a particular focus on how multiple human-caused stressors impact trophic interactions and species diversity in nearshore marine systems. Sarah Joy grew up in a small town in California’s Central Valley, and the High Sierra was her early inspiration. She completed her PhD at UCLA in the lab of Peggy Fong in May 2017. From 2017-2019 she was a  Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia in Mary O’Connor’s lab. Her research at UBC focused on informing local management of seagrass beds with research on nutrient input and community structure.

Current Students

Sadie Kenny

Current: Undergraduate biology student at Loyola Marymount University. Expected graduation in 2023.

Sadie is a senior Biology major at Loyola Marymount University. Growing up in Seattle, WA, she loves to explore the Pacific Northwest (and beyond!) through hiking, backpacking, and SCUBA diving. Joining LMU’s Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab has allowed her to further her passion for nature and the environment by exploring in a more scientific and analytical perspective. Sadie’s other commitments at LMU include playing on the women’s soccer team, serving on the e-board for Lions for Medicine, and participating as a member of the Biology Honors Society.

Ahmad Mersaghian

Current: LMU Biology major, expected graduation 2023.

Ahmad is an international student from Iran. He spent much of his life in Iran, but then moved to Manchester, United Kingdom to finish his high school studies. Ahmad has always had a passion to learn about marine life as it is a fascinating field of study. Joining Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab has allowed him to conduct field and lab experiments to examine the underlying principles of stressors for a species of seagrass (Zostera marina). In his free time, Ahmad likes to travel, play video games, and read books. 

Suraj Patel

Current: Suraj Patel is majoring in Biology at Loyola Marymount University, expected graduation 2023.

Suraj spent most of his childhood in the California Central Coast and gained a large appreciation for nature. He enjoys running, hiking, kayaking and rock climbing. In high school, he volunteered at a small aquarium and was the president of the school’s environmental club. From these experiences, he became passionate about life sciences and hopes to explore different fields of biology in his next four years in college.

Lauren Quesada

Current: LMU Biology major, expected graduation 2023.

Carolina Salcedo

Current: LMU Biology major, expected graduation 2023.

Carolina is a senior Biology major at Loyola Marymount University from Long Beach, CA.
The Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab has elevated her understanding and
appreciation of the cumulative efforts made by scientists in and out of the lab to advance
conservation. Moving forward, she plans on furthering her education after undergrad in
business administration in order to collaborate with other scientists, ultimately to champion
life science voices, revere our environment, and support the success of conservation.
Outside of the lab, Carolina enjoys spending time at the beach, photography, cooking, and
finding new coffee shops to explore!

Emma Guerrini Romano

Current: LMU Biology major, expected graduation 2024

Emma is a junior biology major at Loyola Marymount University. She grew up in Santa Monica, CA and has always had an affinity and passion for the ocean and its various ecosystems. Conservation efforts in Southern California have always been of interest to Emma and she has been engaged in various programs to promote conservation and restoration in the Santa Monica Bay. She is inspired to integrate scientific research with policy implementation and plans to continue her education after completing undergraduate studies. Outside of school and research, she enjoys surfing, reading historical fiction, baking bread, and camping.

Mehana Muranaka

Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Collaborators

Shayna Sura

Shayna Sura graduated in 2021 with her PhD student at UCLA

Shayna completed her PhD at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the lab of Dr. Peggy Fong. Her dissertation research focuses on coral reef ecology and addresses how anthropogenic impacts modify top down (herbivory) and bottom up (nutrient availability) processes on coral reefs and how these changes influence coral reef resilience. She is excited about the opportunity to study eelgrass in southern California as part of LMU’s Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab. Check out her website for additional information:

Matthew Christensen UBC


JT Correy (2022)

Capstone title: Grain Size Analysis of Sediment Cores from Zostera marina Seagrass Beds Along the California Coast

JT grew up in Vancouver, Washington and has always loved the outdoors. Being a part of LMU’s Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab allows him to analyze the impact of human created changes in coastal regions of California. JT’s other commitments at LMU include being a member of LMU Emergency Medical Services, the honors program, and a general biology lab teaching assistant.

Roland Troyan (2022)

Capstone title: Zostera marina sediment blue carbon stock in relation to nutrients and sediment grain size at varying sites along the California coast.

Roland Troyan grew up in Santa Clara, California and always had a passion for conservational biology. He joined LMU’s Costal Ecology and Conservation Lab to better understand the human and ecological challenges facing costal ecosystems. Outside of lab, he is a General Biology Lab Teaching Assistant and is the Co-cultural Coordinator for LMU’s Chinese-American club, Han Tao.

James Robert Roe (2022)

Capstone title: Chemical and physical defenses of Silvetia compressa along a nutrient gradient

Jimmy grew up in San Jose, California and was always interested in Marine Biology. He joined LMU’s Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab to help examine marine ecosystems and analyze human impacts on these systems. Besides being in this lab, James is on the Lacrosse team at LMU and has worked as a TA in the math, chemistry, and biology departments.

Devin Ferguson (2022)

I am an undergrad biology major expected to graduate in 2022. I grew up in San Jose, California with frequent trips to the beaches in Santa Cruz and Carmel. Growing up near the coast, I was always fascinated by marine life and often went exploring around the tide pools with my family. I joined the CECL to gain more knowledge about human impacts on marine life and how we can make changes to conserve it. Outside of the lab I am a member of the biology honors society, Tri-Beta.

Cheyenne Taylor (2021)

Capstone title: Characterizing Sandy Beaches Along the Santa Monica Bay Shoreline

Cheyenne graduated in 2021 with a biology major and pre-med focus

A little bit about me is that I am from Palm Springs, California and I’m super active. Outside from academics I love to travel, ice skate, rollerblade, skateboard, surf, play bass guitar, and catch sunsets. Additionally, I hold a great appreciation for the environment as a vegetarian of five years. My vegetarian status and the fact that I was born at a beach are the reasons why I joined this marine biology lab. The project I chose to take on in this lab is an ongoing Beach Characterization study I helped initiate back in 2018. This project is made possible through the Coastal Research Institute and Dr. Dorsey. 

Serena Myatt (2021)

Capstone title: The effects of light and temperature on Zostera marina

Serena graduated in 2021 with a biology major and psychology minor at Loyola Marymount University.

Serena is from Honolulu, HI and grew up loving to surf, kayak, and watch the sunset. Her love of the ocean and her interest in the impact the changing environment (eg. climate change) has on marine life led her to joining the Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab. Aside from her academics, Serena also volunteers with Venice Family Clinic and is a member of the LMU Women’s Swim Team.

Emma Young (2020)

Capstone title: The Effect of Nutrient Enrichment on the Anti-herbivory Defenses of Silvieta compressa 

Emma Young is a 2020 Graduate of Loyola Marymount University, with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. She completed her senior capstone in the Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab. She was also a leading member of the sorority Delta Delta Delta on campus. She is currently pursuing her dream of working in the medical field.    

Hannah Lyford (2020)

Project title: Assessing the effects of multiple stressors on southern California eelgrass to inform stressor mitigation and restoration efforts

Hannah graduated May 2020 from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Biology. She grew up in Denver, CO spending most of her time outdoors skiing, mountain biking and hiking. During her four years at LMU, an appreciation for spending time outside translated into her research on revegetation techniques and native plant-microbe interactions in the Ballona Wetlands, and an internship with The Bay Foundation assisting with coastal dune site monitoring and habitat restoration. Following graduation, she intends to do a PhD in Ecology.