School of Amberjacks

To safeguard key coastal ecosystems, this scientist starts by talking to the local anglers

To find out what’s going on below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, Steven Scyphers often starts by turning to the people who know it best: anglers.

An assistant professor of marine and environmental sciences at Northeastern, he helps lead studies anchored in what he calls “collaborative science,” or the process of partnering with people whose lives are shaped by the marine systems he studies.

The partnerships shed light on the need to balance the health of coastal communities with the industries that rely upon it and offer a model for how scientists can capture the depth of local knowledge in their research.

“Fishermen spend the bulk of their year, if not every day, on the water and the vast majority of scientists only get to spend a small number of days on the water,” Scyphers says. “But we’re both trying to understand the same system.”

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Photo shot at El Bajo de Los Meros in Cabo Pulmo, MX by Getty Images.

Marine and Environmental Sciences