Tim Essington

  • Professor, SAFS
  • Associate Director, SAFS
  • Director, UW QERM Graduate Program

Research areas

My research focuses on food web interactions involving fish in marine, estuarine and freshwater habitats. My recent research looks at fisheries policy tools and the conservation benefits they may provide. Of particular interest is the application of ecosystem approaches to fisheries management, as applied to fisheries targeting small forage fish, a species that play important roles in food webs.

I am looking for ways to measure the trade-offs between the vital ecosystem services small forage fish provide and their increasing commercial value. My lab conducts work in a wide range of marine ecosystems: from high seas pelagic systems to the inland seas of Puget Sound. We look at links between fishery governance (e.g. rights-based fishing) and ecological conditions, and attempt to understand the potential conflicts between fisheries as they target species that occupy distinct positions in food webs. Work in my lab tends to be quantitative, involving modeling and statistical analysis of complex data sets. We conduct fieldwork and collect data, particularly in Puget Sound where we are working to understand the structure of the food web, how it varies in time and space and how it is impacted by climate change and other anthropogenic influences, such as hypoxia.

For my availability and policies see Prospective Graduate Students FAQ.


Areas of Expertise

  • Marine ecology
  • Marine conservation
  • Food webs
  • Climate change
  • Ecosystems based fisheries management
  • Ecological modeling and statistics

Community Engagement and Awards

Advisory Boards

  • Technical Advisory Board, Marine Stewardship Council
  • Science Panel, Puget Sound Partnership
  • Science Advisory Panel, Washington Marine Spatial Planning


  • 2014 University of Washington, College of the Environment Research Award
  • 2011 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation
  • 2008–2013 Lowell A.Wakefield Endowed Professorship in Ocean and Fishery Sciences

Selected publications