Tim Essington is interested in food web interactions involving fish in marine, estuarine, and freshwater habitats. Specific topics of research interest include: analysis of tropical tunas, sharks, and fisheries in the central Pacific, analysis of cod and clupeid dynamics in the Baltic Sea, understanding spatial scales of trophic interactions along continental shelf ecosystems, and identifying trophically mediated trade-offs between fisheries.
Marine Biology Courses
Topics include population dynamics, extinction risk, meta-populations, marine reserves, bioeconomics, protection of endangered species, sustainable harvesting, and management institutions. Examines case studies such as salmon, albatross, and whales as representative of conservation issues in aquatic sciences. Sampling, experimental design, computer skills, and research writing.
In the News
It’s wonder at the unknown that first attracted Essington to marine research.
“There’s something mysterious about the ocean,” he says, adding that this question of what lies beneath the surface is what initially attracts many to his field. “I even say the same thing about lakes.”
Growing up in Detroit, Essington and his family would spend holidays in Canada on the shores of Georgian Bay. With more than 30,000 islands, the sheltered stretch of Huron’s northern shore constitutes one of the largest freshwater ecosystems in the world.
“All summer, I would be in this freezing cold water or in some creek turning over rocks looking at what critters were underneath.”
Essington would go on to study biology as an undergraduate, but quickly realized working in a hospital wasn’t for him. He began asking professors whose classes he’d enjoyed questions about their work, which eventually landed him in one’s living room for a graduate seminar. Listening to one graduate student present his work on stone flies in northern Michigan, Essington experienced what he calls his “eureka moment.”
“He puts up his first slide and it’s a picture of him standing in the middle of the Au Sable River and he’s got his hip-waders on and he’s picking up rocks and looking at them,” he says. “I went, ‘That’s a job? Why didn’t anyone tell me that? I spent all my childhood doing that. That’s what I want to do!’”
Essington would go on to completed graduate work in freshwater systems, conducting population modeling work on lakes before applying it to tuna fisheries in the central Pacific as a post-doc. Working as an assistant professor at Stony Brook University’s Marine Sciences Program, he learned of an opening for a Marine Fish Ecologist at the UW.
“When I got the phone call that I got the job, I was jumping up and down in my office,” he recalls, adding with a dash of humor, “If you are a psychotherapist, New York City is the place to be. If you are a fisheries ecologist, it’s Seattle.”