LAFF Program Advisor
Professor – Marine Ecology, Conservation Planning
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management

Ben Halpern focuses his research at the interface of marine ecology and conservation planning. His research has addressed a broad range of questions that span local to global scales, including spatial population dynamics, trophic interactions in community ecology, and the interface between ecology and human dynamics, all with the ultimate aim of informing and facilitating conservation and resource management efforts in marine systems.

After receiving his PhD in 2003, he held a joint post-doctoral fellowship at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and the Smith Fellowship Program sponsored by The Nature Conservancy. He was a research associate at NCEAS until 2013 and then appointed professor at the Bren School and part-time chair in marine conservation at Imperial College in London. He also serves as director of the Center for Marine Assessment and Planning (CMAP) at UCSB.

Dr. Halpern has led and participated in several key synthetic research projects that have advanced understanding of the state of the world’s oceans and the potential for marine reserves to improve ocean condition. In particular, he has led the development and mapping of cumulative impact assessments at global and regional scales in marine and freshwater systems and has been the lead scientist for the Ocean Health Index project. He has also conducted field expeditions in tropical and temperate systems in the Caribbean, Red Sea, Mediterranean, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, various parts of the South Pacific, California, and Chile. 

Several of Halpern’s ongoing research projects and collaborations have direct connections with Latin American case studies. The Ocean Health Index and cumulative impact mapping projects have active country-level regional assessments, including several being led by LAFF fellows, and new locations could easily be explored and developed. The collaborative mussel aquaculture project in Chile is also engaging a LAFF fellow in the research program.

All of Halpern’s research projects address general research topics through synthesis, theory, and case study applications, creating the opportunity to expand this work into any Latin America country.

Ben Halpern