UCF Professor Dives into Marine Ecology

With an appreciation for biology and oceanography, UCF Department of Biology assistant professor Geoffrey Cook, Ph.D., found the field of marine ecology to be a perfect fit.

In 2005, Cook was admitted into the Biological Oceanography doctoral program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) where he received a Marine Biodiversity and Conservation NSF-IGERT graduate student fellowship administered by the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at SIO.  He completed his dissertation on the ecology of rocky reef fishes in 2011.

“In my first year at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, I was fortunate enough to be awarded a few more fellowships including EPA STAR and UC Marine Council,” said Dr. Cook, “but the IGERT program plus some additional support from the Moore Family Foundation got me in the door.”

Dr. Cook has worked at universities such as University of Florida and Florida International University as well as government and non-government agencies such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Sea Turtle Conservancy. Prior to arriving at UCF in 2015, he conducted research as an assistant scientist at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami where he worked with NOAA scientists on the Gulf of Mexico Integrated Ecosystem Assessment program.

Now as an assistant professor at UCF, Dr. Cook will be teaching Principles of Ecology and Oceanography in the spring of 2017. In addition, he continues to pursue multiple research projects, collaborating with colleagues and stakeholders throughout Florida.

“My research builds upon and relates to many of my previous projects,” said Dr. Cook. “I continue to work with collaborators to understand how pressures impact coastal habitats and the production of ecosystem services in south Florida. I am also working with coral biologists to develop demographic models for predicting the risk of extinction of some species of corals recently protected under the Endangered Species Act.”

Since arriving at UCF Dr. Cook has started conducting research in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) to explore how various restoration strategies impact essential fish habitat and sportfish populations, and has ongoing collaborations with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to help develop indicators for the ecological health of the IRL, and with researchers at the Kennedy Space Center that use acoustic telemetry to track sportfish movement and habitat use in the IRL.   When he’s not joining forces with his colleagues, Dr. Cook is collecting and processing samples, analyzing data, writing research reports, papers, and proposals.

When asked what he liked most about his job, Dr. Cook replied, “The freedom to pursue intellectually stimulating research questions.”


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