Julia Parrish

  • Professor, SAFS
  • Associate Dean, College of the Environment

Research areas

My work is centered on the intersection between marine ecology, conservation and resource management, and how non-experts and non-scientists can be involved in documenting pattern, collecting baseline information and being an essential part of a science team. I run a large citizen science project, the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, or COASST. We use beach-cast marine birds as one indicator of coastal ecosystem health. Our data speak to conservation issues as diverse as harmful algal blooms, climate forcing, fishery impacts, and oil spills.

In addition to the ~800 data collectors out on beaches monthly from northern California to the Arctic Circle in Alaska, COASST relies on the work of a dedicated staff, as well as undergraduate interns, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows who all keep the program going, and help convert the monitoring data our participants collect into meaningful science and resource decision-making tools. In addition to science, a significant part of the work we do is outreach and community education. In fact, there’s not a week when someone from the COASST lab isn’t out giving a training or participant refresher, presenting a community talk, or attending a community outreach event.

My research and academic interests follow three major routes: behavior of organisms living in groups (like schools of fish and colonially nesting seabirds), seabird ecology (mainly Common Murres—a ubiquitous fish-eating coastal species in the northern hemisphere), and marine conservation. Undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff and volunteers from the University community and the general public all contribute to these projects.

 Areas of Expertise

  • Citizen science
  • Marine conservation
  • Seabird ecology

Community Engagement and Awards

Advisory Boards

  • Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP)


  • 2013: Champions of Change for Citizen Science, presented at The White House by the Office of Science and Technology Policy; for the development and implementation of COASST
  • 2008-ongoing: Lowell A. and Frankie L. Wakefield Professor of Ocean and Fishery Sciences
  • 2008: Elected Fellow of the American Ornithologist’s Union
  • 2008: University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award

Selected publications

  • 2015. Theobald, EJ; Ettinger, AK; Burgess, H; DeBey, LB; Footen, N; Froehlich, H; Wagner, C; HilleRisLambers, J; Tewksbury, J; Harsch, MA; & Parrish, JK. Global change and local solutions: Tapping the unrealized potential of citizen science for biodiversity research. Biological Conservation 181:236-244.

  • 2014. Gladics, AJ.; Suryan, RM; Parrish, JK; Horton, CA; Daly, EA; & Peterson, WT. Environmental drivers and reproductive consequences of variation in the diet of a marine predator. Journal of Marine Systems.

  • 2014. Bonney, R; Shirk, JL, Phillips, TB; Wiggins, A; Ballard, HL; Miller-Rushing, AJ; & Parrish, JK. Next steps for citizen science. Science 343:1436-1437.

  • 2012. Schrimpf, MB; Parrish, JK; & Pearson, SF. Trade-offs in prey quality and quantity revealed through the behavioral compensation of breeding seabirds. Marine Ecology Progress Series 460:247-259.