The Heppells teach a summer course in Conservation Biology in Rovinj, Croatia.
I am Department Head and Professor of marine fisheries ecology at Oregon State University. I devote most of my research to some of the oldest and slowest-growing animals in the sea: sea turtles, sharks, sturgeon, and U.S. west coast rockfish (scientifically known as Sebastes, which means "magnificent"), though I also dabble in the ecology of fast growing forage fishes. I primarily use computer models and simulations to help us understand how populations respond to fishing and environmental change, guiding research and management policy towards their recovery. I am particularly interested in finding ways to protect marine species and habitats while supporting local fisheries. My work with biologists and management agencies takes me all over the globe, and I often work with my husband, Scott, on fisheries research and teaching. Recently, I was Chair of the Ecosystem Management Subcommittee for the Science and Statistical Committee of the Pacific Fishery Management Council and I regularly serve on advisory teams for marine conservation projects, including a National Research Council review of sea turtle assessment methods and the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force. In all my work, I strive to bridge quantitative ecology and practical solutions to marine resource issues. I also have a passion for education at all levels and have been teaching people about marine biology since I volunteered at the Seattle Aquarium at age 12. As Department Head, I am striving to keep our growing academic programs the best in the country, including our extensive online curriculum.
My research interests are the physiological ecology of fishes, in particular how physiology, behavior, and life history traits affect the interactions between fish populations and their respective fisheries. I have worked on bluefin tuna on the Atlantic high seas, Mediterranean, and east coast of the United States, on groupers throughout the southeast Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, on rockfish in Oregon and Alaska, and on trout, steelhead, and salmon in Japan and the high deserts of eastern Oregon and Northern Nevada. I collaborate with academic scientists, state and federal agencies, foreign agencies and universities, and commercial and recreational fishermen, working together to try and address issues related to the sustainability of marine and freshwater resources and their ecosystems. At Oregon State University I teach classes in fish physiology, fishery biology, and management of salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and each year Selina and I teach an international short course in Conservation Biology in Rovinj, Croatia.