About Me

Hello! My name is Olivia Sanderfoot, and I am an ecologist with a passion for conservation, teaching, and science communication and policy. I study impacts of wildfire smoke and urban air pollution on birds!

I am currently a Postdoctoral Scholar in Dr. Morgan Tingley‘s lab in the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the incoming La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science Postdoctoral Fellow. My research is focused on modeling how wildfire smoke influences bird behavior and shapes species distributions and soundscapes.

My work is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on knowledge, approaches, and tools from applied and quantitative ecology, atmospheric science, and statistical modeling. My projects incorporate novel integrations of bird observations from long-term monitoring and community science programs with data on air pollution from ground-based monitors, air quality models, and satellite instruments. My long-term goal is to assess the potential for wildfire smoke to act as an ecological disturbance and identify which birds may be most vulnerable to smoke in a rapidly warming world.

I had the pleasure of sharing my vision for connecting earth science disciplines to inform bird conservation at Ignite@AGU, a science storytelling event at the 2022 annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Before moving to Los Angeles, I completed my Ph.D. in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, where I studied the effects of urban air pollution and wildfire smoke on the health, behavior, and detection of birds and other wildlife. This work built directly on the research I conducted as a graduate student in an air quality research group in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I am a proud alumna of UW–Madison; I received my B.S. in biology, Spanish, and environmental studies in 2015 and my M.S. in environmental science in 2017.

My enthusiasm for science communication and policy is a key thread tying together my professional experiences at non-profits and academic institutions, including the NASA Air Quality Applied Sciences Team, the UW–Madison Energy Analysis & Policy Program, Madison Audubon Society, and Seattle Audubon/Birds Connect Seattle. I am especially excited about opportunities to lead public engagement initiatives, such as community science projects, because I believe there is tremendous value in public participation in science.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, I am driven by my passion for environmental policy and conservation, my love for birds, and my strong belief in the Wisconsin Idea, the philosophy that a university’s research should be applied to solve problems and improve the health, well-being, and environment of the community it serves.

To learn more about my academic and professional experience, click here to view my CV. If you are interested in contacting me about my research or public engagement opportunities, please feel free to email me at osanderfoot[at]ucla.edu. I look forward to hearing from you!