Staff

Staff

CCWG staff has several full time staff, but also works with other research affiliates, faculty, and students at Moss Landing Marine Labs and CSUMB. CCWG also is a host site for the Americorps and Conservation Coprs Watershed Stewards Program interns.

Ross Clark, Program Director

Ross Clark has 20 years of experience drafting and implementing California’s Nonpoint Source Control Program both as a university researcher and as state agency staff. He is currently charged with developing regional programs to improve the restoration and management of state wetland resources and implementing programs to reduce nutrient loading to Central Coast surface waters. Ross manages a team of field scientists supporting the development and implementation of the State’s wetland monitoring program and the integration of wetland restoration activities into regional and State water quality and land use planning efforts. Since 2008 he has also been tasked with developing the City of Santa Cruz strategic plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and identify key threats from, and appropriate responses to climate change and sea level rise.

Phone: (831) 771-4411

Kevin O'Connor, Program Manager

Kevin O’Connor is an ecologist specializing in wetland restoration, monitoring and assessment, and is the Project Manager for CCWG.  He received his Bachelors degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz in 2004 and his Masters degree in Biology from San Diego State University in 2007 where he investigated the effects of kelp forest disturbance on kelp associated fishes on Santa Catalina Island. Kevin joined CCWG in December 2007 and is currently involved with wetland and upland restoration in the Moro Cojo Slough, the development of a rapid assessment method (CRAM) for seasonally tidal estuaries and depressional systems, and participation with the California Wetlands Monitoring Workgroup.  He also serves as one of the central coast liaisons for the Level 2 Committee of the CWMW.

Phone: (831) 771-4495

Sarah Stoner-Duncan, Research Coordinator

Sarah Stoner-Duncan joined CCWG in 2011 and is excited to be spending her days researching and hanging out in wetlands. She is a CRAM practitioner and journeyman trainer and assists with various other CCWG projects and tasks such as wetland assessments, grant writing, and graphic design. Previously, she spent several years working in the San Francisco Bay as part of a project studying the effects of mercury contamination on waterbirds.  She has also worked on conservation projects in Mauritius and Guatemala.  Sarah received her BA in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz in 2004 and her MS in Environmental Studies from Antioch University New England in 2010, where she studied Conservation Biology and Environmental Education and how these two disciplines can intersect, meeting the goals of both conservation and education.  Besides wetland ecology, Sarah is interested in community based conservation, curriculum development, graphic design, living by the ocean, and visiting the mountains for amazing powder days.

Phone: (831) 771-4485

Jenny Balmagia, Water Resources Scientist

Jenny is a water resources scientist with a background in ecology, wetland restoration and assessment, and water quality monitoring. She received her Bachelor's degree in Biology in 2014 from Reed College in Portland, Oregon and her Master's degree in Environmental Science and Management, specializing in water resources management, from the Bren School of Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara in 2020. For her Master's project, she helped design a decision support tool to aid groundwater managers in California's Central Valley in identifying the most suitable sites for managed aquifer recharge projects that have the potential to provide additional benefits to communities and ecosystems. Jenny began working for CCWG in 2015 as a Watershed Stewards Program member assessing watershed health using CRAM and RipRAM, and continued working as a research assistant constructing and studying treatment wetlands and woodchip bioreactors. After leaving to earn her Master's degree she rejoined CCWG in 2021 as the Lower Salinas Valley Watershed Coordinator. In her current role she is responsible for coordinating the implementation of multiple benefit watershed projects through facilitating interagency coordination and partnership development with regional stakeholders including surface and groundwater managers, agricultural entities, and community-based groups. Jenny has also been rock climbing for over 15 years, and when not trying to create healthier watersheds, she can often be found on the side of a rock in the mountains or desert.

Jessica Turner, Water Quality Research Assistant

Steve Cunningham, Lab Technician

Steven is a marine scientist with a background in biological and physical oceanography. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology (marine emphasis) from Humboldt State University in 2012, and his Master’s degree in Marine Science at Moss Landing Marine Labs in 2019. Steven has worked on a wide range of research projects including ecosystem modeling, aquaculture, water quality processing, and ballast treatment systems. These experiences led Steven to have a broad knowledge of analytical instrumentation and how it can be applied to study complex ecosystems.

Kamille Hammerstrom, Research Associate

After completing a Bachelor's of Science in Marine Biology and a Master's of Science in Marine Science, I made my way to benthic infauna of California via some stops in seagrasses of North Carolina and Florida and tidal creek communities of South Carolina. I'm interested in disturbance ecology, from erosion and habitat loss in benthic infaunal communities to iceberg scour in Antarctic sponge ecosystems. I also work in restoration, where my tasks range from research and permit writing to planting and monitoring coastal wetland and terrestrial flora. When I'm not analyzing data I can often be found knitting or weaving with naturally dyed fibers.

Phone: (831) 771-4424

Charlie Endris, GIS Specialist

Charlie has a background in geology and geomorphology and specializes in geospatial analyses of marine and terrestrial environments.  His research has involved the use of a terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) to identify and measure fine-scale changes of tidal creek banks and mudflats in Elkhorn Slough.  Charlie serves as the GIS Specialist with the Elkhorn Slough Foundation and Research Reserve and as lead project manager at the Center for Habitat Studies in Moss Landing.  He began work with CCWG in 2011 and is currently working on identifying historic wetland habitats and assessing riparian health via remote sensing techniques.

Aubrie Heckel, Research Assistant

Aubrie grew up in the local community and is excited to use her education to study and improve the natural systems in her backyard. She went to North County High School and is a first-generation college student who received her B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology and Evolution from the University of California, Merced. In her years as an undergraduate, she worked for the National Park Service in Yosemite as a Biological Science Technician studying and managing vegetation including the microhabitats of Giant Sequoias. After leaving the park service, she became an environmental educator and shared her love for the environment in the Santa Cruz redwoods with 5th graders and young adults from the Bay Area. She is currently working towards her M.S. degree in Environmental Science from California State University, Monterey Bay. Her Master's project is to help Central Coast Wetlands Group study and monitor dune vegetation at Salinas River State Beach throughout their dune restoration project. She expects to graduate in May 2022 and wants to work as a public land manager and to be a mentor for traditionally underrepresented students who are interested in STEM careers. When Aubrie is not at school or at work you can find her on a bike ride, hanging with the family chihuahuas, or looking at plants!

Ryan Chiu, MLML Student Assistant

Ryan is a graduate student at MLML working on modeling nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and salinity in Moro Cojo Slough. He is interested in synthesizing archived and continuous data to construct predictive models that can determine seasonal and diurnal biogeochemical responses which can eventually aid in mitigation and restoration efforts

Jason Gonsalves, MLML Student Assistant

Jason is supporting CCWG in drafting wetland and watershed monitoring and management plans in the Lower Salinas Valley.

Erick Partida, MLML Student Assistant

Erick Partida is a graduate student in the chemical oceanography lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories whose research focus is on the development of an analytical system for aluminum. For CCWG, Erick is studying the adsorption of phosphate by activated carbon. This work is aimed at establishing a chemical framework for the development of a bioreactor designed to remove phosphate from agricultural waste products.

Ashley Baillie, CCC Watershed Steward

Ashley completed her undergraduate studies at Santa Clara University from 2017 to 2021, and obtained her degree for Environmental Studies with a minor in Studio Art. In her spare time she enjoys running, cooking/baking, sketching, hiking, kickboxing and (as of very recently) yoga! She is currently serving with the Central Coast Wetlands Group, Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County as a Corpsmember for the California Conservation Corps Watershed Stewards Program (WSP) in partnership with AmeriCorps. She chose to serve in the communities of Santa Cruz and Moss Landing so that she could gain some experience in a new environment not too far from the areas in which she is most familiar with, but that consist of very different communities and ways of life that are deeply intertwined with my own. She is excited to work with and alongside members of not only the Santa Cruz community, but also with the communities of Salinas and Castroville.

Jay Ryan, CCC Watershed Steward

Jay is a Corpsmember in the Watershed Stewards Program, a special program of the California Conservation Corps in partnership with Americorps. Jay is serving at the CCWG, and is partnered with Santa Cruz County Dept. of Environmental Health, and the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County. CCWG and these other two sites, offer Jay a wide view of land management and restoration in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. Jay is passionate about restoration and educating his fellow community members about the watersheds that he spent his youth in. He is especially keen to be identifying plants and conducting creek surveys using Riparian Rapid Assessment Method. In his free time, you can find Jay outside hiking, cycling, surfing, or napping, enjoying what earth has to offer.

Previous CCWG Staff

  • Cara Clark
  • Hannah Travers
  • Jason Adelaars
  • Jessica Williamson
  • Kellie Ray
  • Kim Null
  • Sierra Ryan
  • Walter Heady

Previous MLML Student Assistants

  • Fuller Gerbl
  • Jasmine Ruvalcaba
  • Jacquie Chisholm
  • Justin Peglow
  • Miranda Baker
  • Mo Wise
  • Tyler Barnes

Previous CCC Watershed Steward Program Members

  • Maya Vavra and Alex Johanson (2019-2020)
  • Sara Galindo and Maddy Luthard (2018-2019)
  • Rachel Stump and Emily Cain (2017-2018)
  • Blair Libby and Madeline Chavira (2016-2017)
  • Jenny Balmagia and Kyle Monper (2015-2016)

Previous CCWG Interns

  • Andre Joseph-Witzig (UCSC)
  • Emma Arago (UCLA)
  • Magnolia Morris (CSUMB)
  • Maret Smith-Miller (Colorado College)
  • Mason Leandro (CSUMB)
  • Paige Griggs (UCB)
  • Rachel Pausch (UCSC)
  • Rae Taylor-Burns (UCSB)
  • Ria Mukerji (UCSC)