A. Kimo Morris, Ph.D.

Academic & Professional Biosketch (revised 1/20/17)

UCSBI graduated from Torrance High School in 1990 after which I attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Zoology with an emphasis in marine ecology. UCSB was the best possible place to be. I've always been an avid surfer and diver, and I always found time to play in the ocean between study sessions. While I was there, UCSB ranked #1 for marine biology programs - this is something I did not appreciate until after I found myself in the real world. Santa Barbara students in marine biology are exposed to lots of opportunities. For example, during my junior and senior years, I approached Professor Armand Kuris in the Biology Department regarding undergraduate research. The following day, Professor Kuris had introduced me to Kevin Lafferty, a post-doctoral researcher in his lab. Kevin had given me a "long shot" project and allowed me the freedom to run with it.

Download the paper here [pdf].

DISCLAIMER: This paper is published by The Ecological Society of America. You may download this paper if you are a student or faculty member of a qualifying institution and will use the paper for research or instructional purposes ONLY.
My task was to determine the impact that a parasite had on the behavior and ecology of a saltmarsh fish. What Kevin and I found is that this parasite, which encysts on the surface of the fish's brain, modifies the behavior of the fish rendering it more susceptible to predation by birds, the parasite's final host. Our findings were stunning. We co-authored a paper and it was published in the journal Ecology (see Lafferty and Morris, 1996, Ecology 77(5): 1390-1397). My senior honors thesis took me far and benefited me in many ways. This paper continues to impact the world of science. It has become widely cited, and has been a featured topic in many popular science journals/magazines (e.g Discover Magazine,2000 and Science News, 2016).

After graduating in June 1994, I moved to Kauai, the island where my mother was raised. I have always had an affinity for Kauai and Hawaiiana. Ever since I was old enough to remember, I spent entire summers on Kauai with my family. With a college degree and no money, this time I intended to find a job in paradise. I became a certified divemaster and underwater tour guide and became a dive jockey in short order. Up at 4:30am, dive all day, entertain tourists, and return home exhausted - every single day for four months! It was back-breaking work, but it was also one of the best summers of my life. The tourists loved the fact that their underwater guide had a degree in marine biology. By the end of the tourist season, I felt the urge to return to Santa Barbara. I stayed for a brief period working as a marine technician in the UCSB Marine Science Institute. I was there nine months to be exact, after which I found myself back on Kauai to do the whole divemaster thing again. All the while, I longed for the intellectual challenge of academia, and I began looking at graduate programs.


my graduate work

In 1995, I began a Masters program at Oregon State University. At the time, despite my experience in marine systems, I had gained an interest in parasite life histories. Since I had some experience with experimental biology, I felt that learning a bit about theory would make me a more well-rounded biologist. So, I aimed to delve right into parasite evolution. My reason for choosing OSU was that one of the few parasitology theoretician on the West coast happened to be there, and he happened to be in the Entomology Department. Some of my friends felt this was an odd decision - a marine biologists entering an entomology program - insects after all have very little to do with the ocean. But I set forth at full speed and tried my hand with insect parasites.

Graduate school was definitely a maturing experience. The reality of graduate life is something I will never forget. No money, no food, and irregular hours, not to mention the dampness and cold (pretty much standard 10 months out of the year in Oregon)... all to attain intellectual success in an incredibly narrow field about which few people care. My research focused on the evolution of the parasitic mode of life. I developed mathematical models that predicted modes of evolution between trophic strategies. Math usually bores people (or scares them depending on who they are) so I won't elaborate on my work here. If you REALLY want to know about it, follow this link to read a synopsis. I managed to complete my Master of Science degree in June 1997 - just 21 months after my arrival.

Since 1997, I have worked in applied sciences. I got my start in the world of environmental consulting at a local small firm where I worked on coastal marine biology issues. After nine wonderful years, I left this firm and moved to a much larger international consulting firm where my responsibilities increased dramatically. I interacted more with clients and was able to work on important marine environmental issues of emerging concern.


At the same time that I was growing as a consultant, in 2000 I started my doctoral studies at UCLA in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. My research focused on patterns of zooplankton aggregations and developing novel ways to assess how much of their distribution is behaviorally versus physically determined. For my dissertation, I worked primarily in Monterey Bay and Santa Monica Bay on zooplankton distributions along marine fronts. For a glimps of my completed graduate work, check out this link! While working a full time job and being a father and husband, I slogged through my graduate work and filed my dissertation in 2006. It was a tough but incredibly rewarding road.

faculty page

As of Fall 2011, I am now an Associate Professor at Santa Ana College where I have the privilage to work with outstanding students! During this time, I have also continued to consult through my own company Ecomarine Consulting LLC where work with a diversity of clients on aquatic concerns from habitat deliniation to management of invasive species.

Copyright © 1997-2017. All rights reserved