Kristy Kroeker, UC Santa Cruz

Kristy Kroeker is creating coursework and workshops to train graduate students in climate change communication and leadership with diverse stakeholders.

Kristy Kroeker is an Assistant Professor in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz and faculty in the new Coastal Science and Policy graduate program. She holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and a BS in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz. She is a Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering and a Sloan Research Fellow. Kristy has also worked with organizations like the World Bank and the Nature Conservancy, briefed Congress on the potential effects of ocean acidification and helped plan for climate adaptation for the Central California Marine Sanctuaries.

To learn more about Kristy and her research visit her lab website.

Kristy is working to understand how complex ecosystems respond to a changing climate.

Kristy and her team work in  a variety of marine ecosystems, from kelp forests to rocky tidepools, to study ocean acidification, environmental stressors and potential solutions to these problems. She seeks to engage industry stakeholders, resource managers and policy-makers to enact change outside the lab. She hopes to be able to better predict environmental changes and how communities respond, in order to help minimize the impacts on people and coastal organisms.

Kristy is connecting students to policy, teaching and leadership.

Kristy is developing a graduate course titled “Facilitating Change” within the Coastal Science and Policy Graduate Program at UC Santa Cruz that will teach students climate change communication, leadership, and skills for stakeholder engagement. Mastering these skills will help them better share research and information after the program. Her courses explore real-world projects to better equip students to organize and execute change.

She is also developing a Climate Science Engagement Fellowship Program during the summer of 2017. Graduate students across the country will learn how to communicate their climate change research with policy makers and the broader public. Kristy hopes to engage an inclusive audience by recruiting students that are underrepresented in environmental science. The fellowship will be housed at the UC Valentine Reserve near Mammoth Lakes and will include class sessions as well as activities in the natural environment. They’ll put their new skills to the test by initiating community-based projects when they return home. After this summer workshop, Kristy will bring them to UCSC to share their experiences and contribute to a podcast made with a nationally syndicated  radio station.

Teaching in action


What is a common misperception from non-scientists about climate research?

I think that one of the common misperceptions about climate research is about beliefs. Science is a way of investigating our world, which is based on observable evidence. Climate research is also based on observable evidence, and as scientists, our understanding is not based on what a scientist “believes” about climate change, but rather on their interpretation of repeatable evidence. Unless you have a background in science, or have a close family member or friend who is a scientist, it can be challenging to understand the “why” or “how” of scientists’ conclusions about climate change – and scientists can be accidentally lumped into “believers”.

What is the most rewarding part about being a UC Climate Action Champion?

The most rewarding part about being a UC Climate Action Champion is the opportunity to work with inspired and motivated students to get outside of academic bubbles and converse with a wide range of people about their concerns.

What do you hope your project contributes to your university, the UC-system, and society?

There is an urgent need for scientists to engage in real conversations with non-scientists about climate change. Climate change is an incredibly polarized and political issue, and I imagine it is really challenging for non-scientists to wade through all of the rhetoric. Many people don’t know a scientist, much less a climate scientist! Having scientists get outside of academia to build relationships and talk to people about their questions and concerns regarding climate change is critically important for all of us to make informed decisions about what we want to do as a society.

What is one thing you want to tell non-scientists about climate change?

I am more interested in hearing non-scientists’ questions about climate change!


• Created graduate coursework for students to learn and practice management and leadership skills with experiential and project-based learning

• Collaborated with stakeholders and policy-makers to share her research — she briefed Congress on ocean acidification and helped plan for climate adaptation with the Central California Marine Sanctuaries

• Participated in a National Science Foundation project titled “Future Scientists Promoting Climate Literacy” where she was trained about climate change communication


Kristy Kroeker headshot
“I think that one of the common misperceptions
about climate research is about beliefs.
Science is a way of investigating our world, which is
based on observable evidence."
Kristy Kroeker headshot
“There is an urgent need for scientists to engage
in real conversations with non-scientists
about climate change."
To get involved, contact us


Shellfish response to ocean acidification depends on other stressors

May 9th, 2016|0 Comments

Determining the exact effects of ocean acidification on shellfish has proven difficult, however. Though plummeting pH levels have been blamed

Ocean acidification takes a toll on California’s tide pools at nighttime

March 18th, 2016|0 Comments

A new study, based on the most extensive set of measurements ever made in tide pools, suggests that ocean acidification

  • ocean and cloudy sky

Obama seeks $30M for ocean acidification studies

February 4th, 2015|0 Comments

In President Barack Obama's budget for the fiscal year of 2016, he included $30 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric