Co-Director of Citizen Science
I co-developed and co-direct the current Citizen Science program at the California Academy of Sciences. My academic research primarily focuses on the evolutionary history of nudibranchs (sea slugs) and the evolution of color pattern in this group, but I am a broadly trained invertebrate zoologist, marine biologist, and biodiversity scientist. I am interested in combining historical museum collections data and current observational data to understand climate and land use change. Core to my work is building and facilitating a community of naturalists working together to discover nature, in special places and in their everyday lives. I work with a team of volunteers to discover, document and monitor invertebrates and seaweeds in the intertidal habitats of central California, primarily along the Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo coasts. I am particularly interested in building a community of naturalists working together to discover nature in their backyards, local parks, sidewalk gardens, walk to school or work…anywhere we can. I lead a new Academy initiative to engage San Franciscans in discovering and documenting the City’s biodiversity.
I believe citizen science is an excellent way to:
- Involve people everywhere directly in research and in answering some of the most pressing questions of our time.
- Build natural history skills.
- Connect people to the natural world (and each other).
- Help strengthen our sense of place.
- Foster stewardship.
- Build community.
I am passionate about building coalitions and partnerships around biodiversity documentation and nature connection. I co-chair the San Mateo County Marine Protected Area (MPA) Collaborative, am a member of the Golden Gate MPA collaborative and am a key partner in Marin County MPA Watch. Together with Alison Young, I co-founded the Bay Area Citizen Science Coalition. I serve as a member of the San Francisco Children & Nature core team. I am on the Bay Nature Institute Board.
I began my career in the Invertebrate Zoology Department of the California Academy of Sciences as an undergraduate intern in the NSF-REU funded, ‘Summer Systematics Institute’, over twenty years ago.
As a native Californian, I am proud to have earned my B.A. in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, my M.A. in Systematics and Ecology from San Francisco State University and my Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Connect with me @rebafay on twitter or @rebeccafay on iNaturalist