Congressional Science Fellowship
Hall of Fame
Rafe Sagarin earned a B.S. in Earth Systems from Stanford University in 1994. Sagarin was drawn to the Earth Systems program because it sought to break down academic barriers between the traditionally disparate fields of biology, earth sciences, economics and public policy. Accordingly, Sagarin's research is broadly focused and he has continually worked to highlight the links between his scientific work and conservation policy.
As an undergraduate Sagarin attended Stanford University's Washington, D.C. program where he studied Endangered Species Act law and interned at The Wilderness Society. In Washington, D.C. he realized that he could be a more credible and effective advocate for conservation if he had a solid scientific background. Thus, Sagarin enrolled in the Ph.D. program in the department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning his degree in 2001. His dissertation worked focused on documenting responses of coastal marine communities to climate warming using historical and observational techniques. Sagarin's research took him to the shores of Chile and the Pacific coast of North America from Baja California, Mexico to southern Alaska.
More recently, Sagarin has analyzed long-term records of the timing of annual natural events such as ice thaw and bird migrations as a method of documenting natural systems' responses to climate change. In this work he has stressed the importance of non-traditional data sets such as amateur observations, merchant ship logs, and even gambling contest records in linking pre-21st century climate change to changes in other components of the Earth system. Sagarin is also a participant in an interdisciplinary collaboration with Mexican scientists and resource managers to study the successes and failures of small-scale fisheries in maintaining resource and ecosystem integrity along the Pacific coast of Mexico. In Spring 2002, Sagarin designed and taught undergraduate courses on the science and politics of global environmental problems for California State University Monterey Bay.
Sagarin considers it a great honor to be selected as a GSA fellow and is excited to return to Washington, D.C. with the perspective of a scientist. He looks forward to working with past and present fellows to help bolster the role of earth science in policy decisions. He is especially interested in working on climate change and energy issues as well as fisheries conservation. He also hopes to use his participation in GSA meetings and activities to highlight the connections between the geological and ecological sciences.