Sean McDonald

  • Associate Teaching Professor

Research areas

I am the Capstone instructor for the Program on the Environment and maintain an active research program focused on applied marine ecology in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. I direct the internship activities and senior research of Environmental Studies students. I assist each student in developing an independent scholarly project that dovetails with their hands-on work. The goal is to prepare students for careers in environmentally related fields by aiding them in synthesizing their academic coursework and professional (internship) experience.

My research program focuses on applying ecological principles to problems involving the exploitation, cultivation, and conservation of aquatic species in a changing global landscape. In particular, I am interested in individual and community responses to major agents of ecosystem change, such as climate change, ocean acidification, and nearshore hypoxia. I have studied invasive European green crab since 1998, and I am UW faculty PI for the WSG Crab Team program, which focuses on monitoring and control of the species in the Pacific Northwest.

Due to my interest in environmental communication and bringing science to the general public, I collaborate with Cascadia Climate Action to moderate and help organize speakers for monthly Climate Science on Tap events in Seattle. I also teach ENVIR 400: Professional Environmental Communication.

Areas of Expertise

  • Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Marine
  • Resource Management
  • Climate and Global Change
  • Independent Study
  • Aquaculture
  • Invasive species
  • Shellfisheries

Selected publications

  • Reum, JC, PS McDonald, WC Long, KK Holsman, L Divine, D Armstrong, and J Armstrong. 2020. Rapid assessment of management options for promoting stock rebuilding in data-poor species under climate change. Conservation Biology 34(3): 611-621. DOI:

  • Brasseale, E, EW Grason, PS McDonald, J Adams, and P MacCready. 2019. Larval transport modeling support for identifying population sources of European green crab in the Salish Sea. Estuaries and Coasts. Estuaries and Coasts. Vol 42: 1586-1599. DOI:

  • Grason, EW, PS McDonald and J Ruesink. 2018. Comparing residence time and natural enemies between low- and high- density invasions. Biological Invasions 20(11): 3315- 3330

  • Grason, EW, PS McDonald, J Adams, K Litle, JK Apple and A Pleus. 2018. Citizen science program detects range expansion of the globally invasive European green crab in Washington State (USA). Management of Biological Invasions 9(1): 39-47

  • Froehlich, HE, TE Essington, and PS McDonald. 2017. When does hypoxia affect management performance of a fishery? A Management Strategy Evaluation of Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) fisheries in Hood Canal, Washington, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 74(6): 922-932

  • Ryan, C, PS McDonald, DS Feinberg, LW Hall, JG Hamerly, and CW Wright. 2016. Digging deep: managing social and policy dimensions of geoduck aquaculture conflict in Puget Sound, Washington. Coastal Management 45: 1-17