Current team

We are led by Amanda Vincent, Heather Koldewey and Sarah Foster.

At any given time, we have only a few other core staff. Much of our strength comes from international collaborations or our institutional teams. We depend heavily on in-country staff, graduate students from around the world, undergraduate students, volunteers and interns.

Leadership

Director and Co-Founder, Project Seahorse
Professor, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, The University of British Columbia

Prof. Amanda Vincent is driven by a determination to protect our oceans. As well as tackling research on pressing problems, Prof. Vincent also mobilizes conservation action to improve the status of marine species and habitats. Given that there is no such thing as perfect advice, she is keen to act on the best available information, making recommendations in the spirit of adaptive management. She works to tell good news stories, always seeking solutions that generate optimism and action by the largest possible number of people. Prof. Vincent and her Project Seahorse team have made measurable gains in marine conservation, with encouraging outcomes and impacts from their work.

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Co-Founder and Field Conservation Manager, Project Seahorse
Senior Technical Advisor, Zoological Society of London

Ever since peering into rockpools as a small child, Heather has been fascinated by what lives in water. Following a BSc honours degree at the University of Plymouth, she completed a PhD (Genetics) at the University of Wales, Swansea.

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Program Leader, Project Seahorse
Research Associate, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, The University of British Columbia

Dr. Sarah Foster has been with the Project Seahorse team for 20+ years. Now as one of the three leaders, Sarah shares credit for its many successes, ranging from new marine protected areas in the Philippines to global constraints on marine fish exports.

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Research Associates

Syngnathid Biologist, Project Seahorse
Research Associate, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, The University of British Columbia
Dr. Correia has studied several aspects of European seahorse biology, ecology and conservation. He holds a PhD in Marine Ecology from the University of Algarve (Portugal), where he studied seahorse ecology, specializing in in situ population assessment. He developed a successful breeding program in captivity for both European seahorse species. Miguel has worked closely with stakeholders to implement mitigation tools for seahorse conservation and was actively involved in the creation of new marine protected areas. He is also the Focal Point for Field Conservation at the IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group.

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Research Staff

Syd provides support on a wide variety of Project Seahorse’s research, primarily working with Dr. Sarah Foster on projects concerning the illegal wildlife trade and bottom-trawl fishing. She currently holds a BSc from The University of British Columbia. Syd has previously worked in multiple positions within UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, primarily focusing on projects concerning global fisheries economics, sea otter toxicology, and illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing.

r.bestbier at oceans.ubc.ca

Gina coordinates all outreach, communications, and lab operations for Project Seahorse, while also providing research, ethics, education, and administrative support to all lab members.  Gina joined Project Seahorse in 2007, after years of working on watershed management issues with a neighbouring research group: UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. Gina holds a BSc (Honours) degree in Botany and Zoology and a MSc degree in Conservation and Environmental Biology, both from the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa).

@CaminsElsa

Elsa holds a BSc in Marine Science from the University of Barcelona (Spain) and an MSc in Oceans and Fisheries from The University of British Columbia. Her master’s thesis explored the potential of using community science to study seahorse species, with a focus on the iSeahorse community science project. During her BSc, she initiated a citizen science project aimed at monitoring microplastic pollution in the coastal waters of Barcelona, a project that continues to thrive. At Project Seahorse Elsa is conducting Red List assessments for syngnathid species and providing valuable support to the iSeahorse project.

k.cho at oceans.ubc.ca

Ki is supporting Project Seahorse’s research projects focusing on the impacts of bottom trawl fisheries. He works with Dr. Sarah Foster and is collecting data on bottom trawlers and mapping the country-level trawl effort across South Asia, South East Asia and China. Ki holds a BSc from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and a MSc from Nord University in Norway. He also previously worked as a marine educator in WWF-Hong Kong and a fisheries ecologist in Mott MacDonald for a total of 5 years.

Roshni is investigating the socio-economic aspects of bottom trawling in India, Thailand and Cambodia. She is keen to understand how to bridge the gap between actionable science and policy implementation. Roshni was born in Mauritius where her passion for marine science started at the age of five. She has a Bachelors of Arts in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic (Maine, USA) and a MSc in Oceans and Fisheries from The University of British Columbia. She has carried out research in multiple locations such as Mauritius, Seychelles, Florida, California, and Maine. Her previous work focused on the conservation of marine mammals, coral reef restoration, and marine education.

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Dr. McPherson hopes to balance the needs of humans and the rest of nature. Her work in conservation (marine and terrestrial) has involved scientific fieldwork, traditional knowledge, species distribution models, remote sensing, sustainable development initiatives, and building large collaborations for mutual learning, data compilation, and analysis. She holds a BSc in Applied Biology from the University of Leeds (UK), a DPhil in Zoology from the University of Oxford (UK), and an MBA from the University of British Columbia. At Project Seahorse, she works with governments in Asia and elsewhere on implementing national management plans to ensure the sustainability of trade in seahorses.

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Partnership Staff

Program Leader, Philippines Seahorse Program (ZSL-Philippines)

Charity (Chai) is a marine biologist and biodiversity conservationist with experiences working and leading projects in marine protected areas and local terrestrial conservation area establishments, illegal wildlife trade and species conservation management. She is currently the Program Leader for the Philippines Seahorse Program (ZSL-Philippines). Chai has worked on various Project Seahorse ventures in the Philippines over the years (through ZSL), including leading a huge effort on iSeahorse community science, supporting trade research, and guiding development of a national action plan for seahorses. She has an MPhil from the Conservation Leadership Programme at the University of Cambridge (UK).

Students

y.chen at oceans.ubc.ca

Yixuan is investigating the bottom trawl fishery and its management in China, hoping to use her interdisciplinary research to advance marine conservation and fishery management. She holds a BSc in marine biology from Xiamen University (China) and an MSc in environmental policy from Imperial College London (UK). She has experience working at research institutions and NGOs, as well as interacting with diverse stakeholders such as businesses and frontline conservation practitioners. Additionally, she has been actively involved in science communication and environmental education through teaching activities, writing, and general outreach.

j.decapitani at oceans.ubc.ca

Joana is working on a data synthesis of what happens to the ecology of an area when we stop bottom trawling, and to understand gaps and biases on the available evidence of impact caused by bottom dragged gears. She is Brazilian and holds a BSc from Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil), a MSc in the ecology of sea anemones, from Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Brazil), and a Postgraduate degree in science communication from Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal). She has previously worked teaching science for underprivileged gifted kids in Brazil and as a scuba diving instructor and dive center manager.

Marta is currently studying the status of fisheries and trade of Hippocampus ingens in Peru through semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and focusing on its biology, as this species has never been studied underwater and its biology is largely unknown. She holds a BSc in Marine Science from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain) and an MSc in Marine Ecology from the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands). Her master’s theses centered on the life history of dolphins and the conservation of green turtles in the Philippines.

Marta aims to contribute to marine conservation and sustainable fisheries management throughout her career. She is particularly interested in community-based conservation programs that involve local stakeholders in the preservation of marine biodiversity.

s.polwatta at oceans.ubc.ca |@sammyboomews |@schoolmeetsthereef

Samara is currently researching the ecological distribution, fisheries, and trade of Seahorses in Sri Lanka. Simultaneously, she is investigating the impact of bottom trawling on marine life in the Sri Lankan territorial ocean. She holds an M.Sc. in Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security from the Joint Master’s program at the University of Bonn and United Nations University (Germany). She completed her B.A. in Geography at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura (Sri Lanka). Previously, Samara worked with the SDG integration team of the UNDP in New York, where she focused on creating Disaster Risk Maps and building the Geohub ecosystem. Her expertise extends to coral reefs, including habitat mapping, reef surveys, restoration efforts, and leading community awareness programs. Samara is also a co-founder of the initiative “School Meets the Reef” and served as the Oceans’ Restoration Steward for 2023/2024.

g.suzano at projectseahorse.org

Guilherme (Gui) is studying the implementation and effects of a trawl fisheries ban in Brazil, exploring the local stakeholders’ perceptions about the ecological and socioeconomic aspects of this policy. He holds a BSc in Oceanography from Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo (Brazil), and has previously worked in marine ecology and conservation projects, fisheries monitoring, bycatch reduction devices in small-scale fisheries and community-supported fishery businesses.

Student staff


Yun Ki Kim is assisting Project Seahorse with their trawling research this summer. He was born in Brazil and lived in various countries growing up, including Korea, Portugal and now Canada. As a biology major who is graduating this May, he learned about Project Seahorse through Amanda’s BIOL 420 class. There, he was introduced to the broader field of marine conservation and the efforts undertaken by Project Seahorse to address the numerous challenges confronting our oceans today.


Shreya Singh is working with Miguel Correia and Elsa Camins this summer conducting IUCN Red list assessments for syngnathid species at Project Seahorse. She grew up in Calgary, Alberta, and is in her fourth year in the Combined Majors in Science Program at UBC, with a focus in environmental science, scientific communication and outreach. Her recent interest in ocean conservation began in BIOL 420, where she gained a new perspective on environmental and ocean optimism.

[Updated 23 May 2024]

[Updated 10 May 2024]