Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies

Image: Ripples on water

SF State's bayside marine and estuarine research facility.

RTC News


Two Artists, One Oyster-Filled Future, and the Vast Internet Archive

"For Lurid Ecologies: Ways of Seeing the Bay, Oakland-based artist Tanja Geis speculates about a re-colonization of the San Francisco Bay by Ostrea lurida."..."The centerpiece of the exhibition is Life in the Greenhouse, a three-channel video filmed in the research tanks at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies. The video’s connection to Ostrea lurida is less apparent, but unlike some of Geis’ other, more ethereal videos, this one is more straightforward, maybe even scientific." Learn more here. KQED Arts, 8/9/17.


Professor Kathy Boyer in Mallorca to present seminar: "Trophic surprises and positive interactions inform seagrass restoration in San Francisco Bay"

Professor Boyer is at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA), a joint research institute between the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB). See photos of her presentation via IMEDEA on Twitter here. 6/22/17


PG&E and American Institute of Architects, California Council Open Seventh Annual Zero Net Energy Design Competition
Applicants are challenged to design two zero net energy buildings for community education and visitor's centers on Romberg Tiburon Center's bayside site. “As SF State’s interdisciplinary center for research and education supporting our mission to connect science, society and the sea, we are excited to partner with PG&E on this competition. Designing and developing a zero net energy community education and visitor’s center on San Francisco Bay reflects our commitment to California’s leadership in addressing climate change,” said Karina Nielsen, Director of the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies. Digital Journal, 6/22/17


How the Bay Area Is Restoring Nature's Delicate Balance

SF State Professor Kathy Boyer and her work on SF Bay wetland restoration are featured in this comprehensive story for National Geographic online. See an additional photo taken for the story on Instagram., 6/13/17


Salmon Are Losing Their Ability To Sense, Fear Nearby Predators

Research presented at University of Washington symposium on ocean acidification points to changing ocean chemistry due to carbon emissions, mentions Dr. William Cochlan's related research on harmful algal blooms. John Ryan, KUOW & Northwest Public Radio, 5/31/17 and 6/1/17


Scientist warns of rising carbon dioxide levels, ocean acidification at Romberg talk

Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are turning oceans into an acid bath that could threaten the health of marine ecosystems on the West Coast. That was the message Tessa Hill, an associate professor in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at the University of California at Davis, delivered to a packed house of scientists, students and local residents April 5 at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies. The Ark, 4/19/17

A video recording of the talk is available on SF State's YouTube Channel. 5/9/17


A Snail's Place

A meditation on the distribution of sea snails in tide pools and the sometimes hard-to-see patterns that affect nature and life includes Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies Director Karina Nielsen. "Ecologists are often accused of having physics envy, because physicists model things and come out with simple models that have strong explanatory power," Nielsen says in the the article, published by Bay Nature magazine. "Biology is more challenging than physical systems. But that doesn't mean there aren't underlying principles that drive the patterns that we see, and that they can't be understood.", 3/27/17


San Rafael Bay environmental work captured in book

Environmental work by a Tiburon-based researcher in the shallows of San Rafael Bay to protect the shorelines has been documented in a new book. The book, “Living Shorelines: The Science and Management of Nature-Based Coastal Protection,” ... is the first to compile, synthesize and interpret the science and practice of nature-based shoreline protection, according to the state Coastal Conservancy. “Our work in the bay is a terrific example of living shoreline concepts put into practice,” said Kathy Boyer, professor of biology at San Francisco State University’s Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, who led the work noted in the book. “We explain the importance of the data we’re collecting for maintaining healthy subtidal habitats and we give clear, practical instructions for creating a sustainable living shoreline.” Marin Independent Journal 3/18/17


Romberg Tiburon Center scientists conduct pilot pickleweed arboring project at Muzzi Marsh in Corte Madera Ecological Reserve

Kathy Boyer, Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University and head of the Wetlands Ecology Lab at SF State's Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, is conducting a pilot project with her SF State Wetlands Ecology class to test pickleweed "arboring" methods. Arboring uses trimmed branches to raise the native plant canopy in order to enhance high tide refuge for birds and mammals, including the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse and Ridgway's rail. The pilot is being conducted in cooperation with California's Department of Fish & Wildlife in advance of a larger study funded by the State Coastal Conservancy's "Advancing Nature-based Adaptation Solutions in Marin County” program, to begin in fall 2017. See the informational sign posted at the study location here (pdf, 286kb). 3/15/17


Proposed $3 billion in cuts to EPA and NOAA budgets worry Romberg scientists (pdf, 490kb)

Scientists at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies are anxious over reports the Trump administration wants to slash $3 billion in federal funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including millions of dollars dedicated to environmental research and clean-water monitoring in San Francisco Bay. The Ark, 3/15/17


Poor fisheries struggle with U.S. import rule

Ellen Hines, Professor of Geography at SF State and Director of the Marine & Coastal Conservation and Spatial Planning Lab at Romberg Tiburon Center, is one of nine international marine mammal and fisheries scientists funded by NOAA's Office of International Affairs to assess the risk of marine mammal bycatch in small-scale fisheries in Southeast Asia. The group submitted their assessment in Science Letters, published in the March 10 issue. Science, 3/10/17.


Heavy rain altering SF Bay’s salinity, threatening wild California oysters (pdf, 483kb)

This winter’s robust rainfall has filled California’s rivers and reservoirs to bursting and sent millions of cubic feet of freshwater pouring into San Francisco Bay. While that’s good news for ending the state’s drought, scientists say it’s bad news for marine creatures, such as wild oysters,
that need a salty bay to survive. The Ark, 3/8/17


San Francisco State University research could improve conservation in regional marine sanctuaries

A new study by SF State geographer and RTC alum Anna Studwell and colleagues could prove life-saving for foraging seabirds along the Central California coastline in the event of an oil spill. EurekAlert, 1/25/17


RTC scientists and students to share research at national biology conference January 4-7

A wide range of biologists including tenured faculty, postdoctoral researchers, research technicians, PhD and Master's students, and undergraduate researchers from three different specialty labs at Romberg Tiburon Center are kicking off the new year by presenting their research at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology 2017 Meeting this weekend in New Orleans. 1/3/17


Restoring seagrass under siege

Seagrasses are disappearing at rates that rival those of coral reefs and tropical rainforests, losing as much as seven percent of their area each year. Replanting success rates have been unpredictable — but scientists are making new advances that could change that., 1/2/17


Oysters and eelgrass, unlikely heroes in the fight against rising seas

Living Shorelines Project shows species such as sea hares, eelgrass and even oysters shield the shore from erosion. Richmond Confidential, 12/8/16

Expert discusses causes of, solutions to overfishing during Romberg talk

Could the high seas become a “fish bank,” a place where the world’s fish can go to recover from the ravages of overfishing? The fish in our oceans are vital to the world’s population, feeding and providing livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people, Rashid Sumaila, a professor of fishery economics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, said during a recent talk at the Romberg
Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies. The Ark, 11/30/16


Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies works to ensure healthy coastal ecosystems-Pacific Sun Education Issue

For students and scientists learning about and researching the condition of the ocean and its coasts, it’s hard to imagine a more scenic location than the one awaiting scholars and teachers at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies. David Templeton, Pacific Sun, 11/9/2016


NSF-funded program will prepare students to protect urban coasts

As the only marine laboratory located on San Francisco Bay, the Romberg Tiburon Center has long played an important role in studying coastal and estuarine ecosystems. Now, the Center will launch a new graduate program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), that will prepare San Francisco State University students to help these regions adapt to global changes such as climate change, sea level rise and ecosystem shifts. SF State News, 10/19/16


Ocean conditions contributed to unprecedented 2015 toxic algal bloom

Senior Research Scientist Dr. William Cochlan is a co-author with researchers at the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on a new study that connects the unprecedented West Coast toxic algal bloom of 2015 to unusually warm ocean conditions — nicknamed “the blob” — earlier that year. "Previous laboratory studies by co-author William Cochlan of San Francisco State University showed that P. australis can take up nitrogen very quickly from a variety of sources, and appear to outcompete other, nontoxic phytoplankton in nutrient-depleted warm water. For the new study, Cochlan’s lab performed experiments with P. australis from the 2015 bloom. They showed that when these cells experience warmer temperatures and get more nutrients they can double or triple their cell division rates, allowing them to potentially bloom into a large population fairly quickly at sea." UW Today, 9/29/16


Secrets of sandy beaches revealed

The Ocean Science Trust has released a Sandy Beach Snapshot Report, one in a series of such reports on the South Coast Marine Protected Area (MPA) that highlights key scientific findings from monitoring conducted during the baseline period (2012-2017). Each Snapshot Report is a widely accessible translation of technical reports. The Sandy Beach report was created in part by RTC Director Karina Nielsen, expert in sandy beach ecology. 9/28/16


It's National Estuaries Week!

Our friends San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve reminded us that this week is National Estuaries Week! View photo contest winners and find ways to celebrate at the National Estuaries Week website. On social media, look for and use #EstuariesWeek and #EstuaryLove for photos and more. 9/19/16



SF State is first West Coast institution to join global partnership to monitor marine ecosystems

Researchers at San Francisco State University’s Romberg Tiburon Center (RTC) for Environmental Studies have joined a global partnership, led by the Smithsonian Institution, aimed at better understanding the world’s marine ecosystems and how they may be affected by climate change. Jonathan Morales, SF State News, 9/13/16


California’s summer of slime: Algae blooms muck up waterways across state

"California waterways are exploding with potentially toxic algae blooms, another fallout from the prolonged drought." Once again, harmful algal bloom (HAB) expert Dr. Bill Cochlan is consulted on the phenomenon, which he attributes in part to excess nutrients accumulated in the drought and washed into waterways with last winter's rains. Ryan Sabalow, The Sacramento Bee, 8/12/16


Latest algae bloom, in Discovery Bay, threatens way of life

Harmful algal bloom (HAB) expert Dr. William Cochlan is quoted in this SF Chronicle story: “The frequency and duration of these algal blooms seems to be increasing,” said William Cochlan, a senior research scientist at San Francisco State University, while noting a trend that’s occurred for at least a decade. “Some of these are just natural events, and some may be exacerbated by human activities.” Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/27/16


Romberg partners with Smithsonian in global coastal research network (pdf, 981kb)

Scientists at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies are joining a global initiative, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, to study marine life in shallow water environments like Richardson Bay, where people and marine life most often come into contact. Gretchen Lang, The Ark Newspaper, 7/20/16


An Emissary from a Forgotten Past, Thriving in an Unlikely Home

Dr. Kathy Boyer and her students are working with ecologist Peter Baye on restoration of a rare coastal plant in SF Bay, which could be a sweet spot for restoration and conservation of entire ecosystems, and sea level rise adaption. “It was just this light bulb,” Boyer says. “It would be such an attractive way to go forward, trying to introduce a rare species but thinking about it from a much broader community or ecosystem level.” Eric Simons, Bay Nature, 7/19/16


Build waterfront park, not homes, at Point Molate

Journalist and author David Helvarg mentions Romberg Tiburon Center's interest in continuing to study and do restoration work in the healthy eelgrass bed at Point Molate in this Opinion piece about proposed development. San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18/16


Miles of Algae and a Multitude of Hazards

RTC Senior Research Scientist and harmful algal bloom expert Dr. William Cochlan is part of this New York Times Science article on the recent bloom in Florida and others around the world. The New York Times, 7/18/16



Special Events
News and Events Archive
Back to RTC Home page



SF State Home