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Kimberly Oremus New Professor Profile

Could you give a little background information about yourself?


I did my undergraduate work at Stanford University in Management Science and Engineering. Then I did a Masters at Columbia, in the School of International and Public Affairs, in public administration on environmental topics, and I did my PhD there too in Sustainable Development. 


My dissertation was focused on fisheries and the effects of climate. I work a lot with data and that’s how my undergraduate background ties in. It was quantitative, and my PhD training is mostly in resource economics. Our program was very interdisciplinary so I have some graduate work in oceanography that helps me understand and incorporate physical environmental data that hasn’t traditionally been brought into fisheries research.


Kimberly Oremus

How did you get interested in this field?


I’ve always wanted to work in the environmental arena, but I got interested in oceans when I worked for the Nature Conservancy after undergrad. It was eye-opening to see the extent of the problems that we’re facing in the oceans in terms of policy. I thought it was fascinating and that’s when I started focusing on oceans and fisheries, although a lot of the approaches I take are applicable to other environmental topics as well. 


I mostly look at the impacts of climate on fisheries and how we need to think about responding to it with management or policy, both at regional scales within the United States and global scales. I look at both national policy and international agreements. 


Where were you looking at the impacts of climate on fisheries in the United States?


I’ve been looking a lot at climate and fisheries in New England specifically, because the waters there are warming faster than pretty much anywhere else in the world. We also have a lot of available data there, so I’m trying to use it as a sort of preview of what might happen elsewhere in the world. Once you know how to look for it, you can see that the impact climate has on fisheries there is actually quite strong. So we need to now think about how do we integrate our understanding of the environment, its effect on the supply of the fish population and how the markets respond. We need to integrate those temporal changes into the policy. 


How exactly does climate impact fisheries?


It is mostly through the mechanism of what’s called recruitment—which is a combination of spawning and the ability of those spawn to survive their first year. I tried to look at the direct effects, and there are pretty much none. In fact, it’s actually making it easier for fisherman to go fishing when there are warmer winters and things like that. I haven’t looked directly at storm effects, but I do control for it in my model and so I haven’t found any systematic direct effects. I think it’s mostly through the supply of fish. That’s what I’m working on here, and I would love to translate some of the work into the mid-Atlantic. 


What drew you to the University of Delaware?


I really like the focus on the marine system here and the fact that there’s a whole college and school focused on this. I think the leadership here is really encouraging interdisciplinary research, and that’s hard to find. I’m excited about that because I do feel that’s where the solutions are going to be found. I think the whole world is headed in that direction so I wanted to be a part of that. It’s also a great location. 


What have been your impressions of UD since you’ve gotten here?


I think the feeling is that there’s a lot of talent here but there’s also a lot of work to do. Everyone seems eager to try to build out what marine policy will look like under this school over the next couple of years. I think Anna Birkenbach, who’s another new hire, and I are eager to be a part of figuring that out. We’re thinking about curriculum, students, our research and what we want to build, so we’re excited about it. 


Is it an exciting time to be in marine policy?


What I’m excited about is looking at the intersection of climate, marine resources and policy. I think this is an important time where we are seeing an acknowledgement that climate is going to heavily affect resources and users of the resources—so livelihoods, food security and inequality. Policy makers are listening. They want solutions, and I think the field is responding. It’s an exciting time to be in it and trying to re-think how these systems work, how they’re connected and how we can quantify what the effects are. And how can we create adaptive management to reduce the effects? 


I think it’s exciting because we can integrate people from many fields and model some of this. We have satellite data on ships now. We have climate models that are getting better and better, and there’s economic data that goes back a couple decades so I think it’s a promising time to be in the field. 


Any fun hobbies outside of work?


My family and I are just getting to enjoy Newark and Delaware. We went apple picking and we have discovered some of the museums in Wilmington, the beaches in Lewes. I think we’re just exploring the area and having fun with that. 



CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

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Department of Geological Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

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Department of Geography

Investigating the interactions between people and the environment and the processes that explain the location of human and natural phenomena.

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College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment • 111 Robinson Hall • Newark, DE 19716 • USA • Phone: 302-831-2841
Geography: 302-831-2294 • Geology: 302-831-2569 • Marine Science and Policy: 302-645-4212 • E-mail: ceoe-info@udel.edu

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