Julia Saltzman, M.S.

Marine Conservation Biologist

PhD Student, Florida State University

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I’m a conservation biologist, using quantitative tools to solve interdisciplinary environmental problems. I am particularly interested in marine conservation. I work primarily with migratory marine megafauna (sharks, turtles, and large fishes), integrating statistical models and field observations to inform conservation. Ultimately, I aim to conduct research which helps to better understand what drives the movement of migratory species and how we can best manage their populations. Additionally, I am interested in human-wildlife interactions. I conduct marine social science research, where I use non-conventional methods to better understand how people interact with coastal ecosystems. Download my CV here (Updated September 2022)

Learn about some of my current research themes:

Long Term Monitoring of Sharks and Rays

Human Interactions with Coastal Habitats

Ecology and Conservation of Marine Turtles

Long Term Monitoring of Sharks and Rays

My masters work in Dr. Easton White's focused on on using big data to examine trends in population dynamics of elasmobranchs. You can learn more about Dr. White's work here: https://quantmarineecolab.github.io/

Using data obtained over nearly 30 years by a group of trained dive masters from UnderSea Hunter, I examined trends in population dynamics of sharks and rays. Specifically, I aimed to elucidate the role of environmental variability in long-term population trends. I am analyzing data from a total of 35,706 dives at 17 sites, this data represents one of the largest underwater visual censuses (UVC) for sharks and rays.

The data surveys took place at Cocos Island National Park. Cocos is a small uninhabited island 550 km from mainland Costa Rica, its Marine Protected Area (MPA) was established in 1984, making it the world’s oldest MPA. Cocos provides a 'natural laboratory' for the study of the impacts of environmental variability.

Average number of whale sharks (a), mobula rays (b), and manta rays (c) observed on dives each year at Cocos Island over the duration of the study (1993-2019)

Human Interactions with Coastal Habitats

Broadly, I am interested in understanding how people interact with coastal environments. I employ a variety of tools including traditional surveys and nontraditional data mining methodology to examine human use of coastal environments, assess stakeholders, and ultimately promote conservation and sustainable coastal habitat use.

In a manuscript which I led, which is published in Frontiers in Conservation Science myself and collaborators examined encounters with the smalltooth sawfish via Instagram posts. Through these posts, we recorded human behaviors during encounters with sawfish, expressed attitudes, sentiments, and perceptions of sawfish encounters, and where, when, and under what circumstances sawfish are encountered.

Ecology and Conservation of Marine Turtles

I am an incoming PhD student in Dr. Mariana Fuentes' Lab at Florida State University. At FSU, I will use a variety of methods (including telemetry, drones, ethnographic surveys, and bioacoustics) to assess marine turtle vulnerability to vessel strikes. This project, which is funded by Florida Fish and Wildlife, will help to better inform management and lead to the development of specifically plans to reduce turtle-vessel interactions.

You can learn more about the Marine Turtle Research, Ecology, and Conservation Group at marineturtleresearch.com


My publications are listed here, and are also available on my Google Scholar Profile and ResearchGate Profile. † denotes equal contribution

Saltzman, J., Graham, J., Wester, J., White, E. R., & Macdonald, C. C. (2022). #Sawfish: Social media to assess public perceptions, behaviors, and attitudes towards a critically endangered species. Frontiers in Conservation Science, 3. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcosc.2022.987909

Whitenack, L. B., Mickley, B. L.†, Saltzman, J.†, Kajiura, S. M., Macdonald, C. C., & Shiffman, D. S. (2022). A content analysis of 32 years of Shark Week documentaries. PLOS ONE, 17(11), e0256842. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0256842

In the pipeline/preprints:

Saltzman, J., & White, E. R. (2022). Determining the Role of Environmental Covariates on Planktivorous Elasmobranch Population Trends within an Isolated Marine Protected Area (p. 2022.09.28.509935). bioRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.09.28.509935. (In Review at MEPS)

Saltzman, J., Hawkins, C., & Macdonald, C. (2022). The Silver King in the Magic City: Observation of Atlantic tarpon Megalops atlanticus aggregation off Miami, Florida {In Review at Journal of Fish Biology}

Outreach and Education

Since the beginning of my research career, I have made public outreach and education a priority. I have spoken with students from 22 states (and counting) about marine conservation. Below, I list some examples of the outreach work I conduct:

Terranaut Club

I work with low-income students and manage social media outreach for Terranaut Club, a non-profit encouraging scientific engagement for gender minorities through experiential education.

Laurel School

I serve as a mentor for the capstone program at Laurel, an independent research project completed by high school students over the course of four years with the guidance of a mentor in the respective field.

Skype a Scientist

I am a scientist for Skype-a-Scientist, where I give weekly presentations to students in grades K-12 about sharks and ocean conservation.

Teaching and Mentorship

I am an aspiring college educator. In addition to my teaching experiences, I have taken coursework in Integrative Course Design and Pedagogy at the University of New Hampshire.

I am a highly rated instructor and teaching assistant, some highlights from my teaching reviews include:

  • Students wrote that I am “very helpful in explaining, helping, and showing me the best way to do things,” and that I “did a great job of explaining the materials and giving us the time to go over it and answer any questions we may had.”
  • Students express my ability to answer their questions, one commented “thank you for always thoroughly answering questions”. Another student stated, “Thank you for answering so many of my questions and always pointing me in the right direction when I was struggling.” One student commented that they “never felt like I had a dumb question.”
  • Students enjoyed working with me and had extremely positive things to say about my teaching. Some examples include, “Julia was very helpful and very supportive outside of class. She cares about students' success in the class and wants them to do the best they possibly can”, “Julia was a great TA, my favorite one so far. She was very helpful in explaining, helping, and showing me the best way to do things”, and “she was able to share real world experience in the scientific community and clearly cared about this subject which made it easy for me to learn from her.”

Freelance Design

In addition to my research, I also do freelance scientific illustration, data visualization, and infographic making. I currently work with the University of New Hampshire research and large center develop office doing graphic design for large grants and publications. I also have done graphic design work for events, book tours, websites, and more.

Please contact me for a quote for your next scientific illustration or for assistance with data visualization!

Illustration Examples

Visualization and Conceptual Diagram Examples

Connect with me...

Email Me: Julia.Saltzman@UNH.edu

Follow my Twitter @saltzyy and my Instagram @ScienceWithSaltzy to stay updated on my work!

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