Susan Williams, Ph.D.

Susan Williams

University of California, Davis – Department of Evolution and Ecology
Professor, Bodega Marine Laboratory

Bodega Marine Laboratory
P.O. Box 247
Bodega Bay, CA 94923

Phone: (707) 875-1950
Fax: (707) 875-2009
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BS, Biology, University of Michigan
MS, Biological Oceanography, University of Alaska
PhD, Botany and Marine Biology, University of Maryland

Research Interests:

Susan WIlliams

My research focuses on the ecology of nearshore marine ecosystems, particularly seagrass and seaweed beds and coral reefs. These ecosystems are highly productive and provide a number of ecosystem 'services' such as recycling of organic matter and providing habitat and food for numerous marine species including economically valuable ones. These ecosystems are found at the land-sea margin, a highly variable, stressful, and disturbed environment. Their component organisms are stressed from exposure to air and warming ocean waters and disturbed by anthropogenic activities including habitat destruction and invasions by non-native species. The ecosystems I study have protected status due to their value to humans, and I am committed to communicating research results to resource agencies and policy makers charged with their management (see Public Service, below). My focus on environmental stress and change has evolved from my career-long interest in how communities and ecosystems function, including how variation in resource availability influences resources acquisition and allocation and how species interactions (competition, herbivory) influence plant function and biogeochemical processes.

For additional information see Research tab, above.

Selected Recent Public Service

  • 2010-present Cordell Marine Sanctuary Foundation Board of Directors
  • 2010 Invited briefing, President Obama’s National Ocean Policy Task Force
  • 2008 National Research Council, invited briefing, Committee on Mariculture Practices
  • 2008 U.S. Senate, testimony before Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, HR 1187
  • 2008 Panel reviewer, New Zealand Foundation for Science, Research & Technology
  • 2007 U.S. House of Representatives, testimony before Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans, HR 1187
  • 2007 Pacific Legislative Task Force on Fisheries, invited briefing
  • 2001-2006 RASGAP (California Resources Agency Sea Grant Advisory Panel, appointed by the Secretary for Resources)
  • 2006 Invited briefing on invasive species, Ecological Society of America, National Press Club
  • 2005 Invited testimony, State Senate Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on SB 768 (finfish aquaculture)
  • 2004 Invited briefing, Department of Fisheries, New South Wales, Australia, Conference on Caulerpa Management: ‘Caulerpa taxifolia Management’ and ‘Invasive Species Management in the U.S.’
  • 2004 Ecological Society of America, Rapid Response Team on Invasive Species
  • 2004 Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force's (ANSTF) Caulerpa Working Group for the "National Management Plan for Invasive Caulerpa species"
  • 2003 Invited testimony, California Joint Committee on Fisheries & Aquaculture (ocean research)
  • 2003 Invited testimony, City Council, Santa Rosa, CA (effects of ocean wastewater outfall)
  • 2002 Invited speaker, "Solutions Forum on Invasive Species", National Academy of Sciences, sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Federation.
  • 2002 Invited briefing, US House of Representatives Ocean Caucus, on Caulerpa invasion management
  • 2001 Invited testimony, California Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture on ocean observing
  • 2001-2005 CeNCOOS (Central and Northern California Coastal Ocean Observing System) Regional Association, Governance Committee and Executive Committee
  • 2001-2006, RASGAP (California Resources Agency Sea Grant Advisory Panel)
  • 2001-2005 Russian River Salmon Recovery Workgroup
  • 2001 Invited briefing, Pacific Legislative Task Force on Fisheries
  • 2001 Invited testimony before California State Assembly Appropriations Committee on Caulerpa
  • 2001 Invited testimony before California Joint Panel on Fisheries and Aquaculture on invasive species
  • 2001 Invited briefing to congressional staff and agency heads on invasive species, DC, National Association of Marine Laboratories
  • 2001 Review Panel, FL Keys National Marine Sanctuary Monitoring Program, Key West
  • 2000-2005 Southern California Caulerpa Action Team (SCCAT)


Title of Susan's Riser Lecture: "Along the Spice Route: The Quest to Protect Indonesia’s Marine Biodiversity"


Director Geoff Trussell and Heather Sears present Susan with 2015 Riser lecture acknowledgment at Nahant Marine Science Center.

CERF Presidents and Exe Dir
Susan ended her 6-year term as President-Elect, President, Past-President of the Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) in Nov. 2013. Left to right: Mark Wolf-Armstrong (CERF Executive Director), Ken Heck (President, 2013-2015), Susan, Walter Boynton (President 2011-2013), Robert Twilley (President-Elect, 2013-2015). CERF is an international scientific society dedicated to promoting estuarine and coastal ecosystem research and providing outreach and education of scientists, decision-makers, and the public.