Spotlight – Lisa Sheffield Guy

Program Coordinator: EcoFOCI, SOAR

Lisa holding and aukletLisa joined JISAO in July of 2010 as Program Coordinator for Ecosystems and Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (EcoFOCI). She also became the coordinator for the Synthesis of Arctic Research (SOAR) in 2011. Both of these NOAA/PMEL programs focus on the climate and oceanography of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. Lisa participates in data synthesis efforts, integrated ecosystem research projects in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Chukchi Sea, and project outreach. She really enjoys working with such an interdisciplinary group on a variety of projects.  No two days are alike, which is perfect!

Lisa grew up as far west as you can get in contiguous US, in the wild and windy town of Port Orford on the southern Oregon Coast.  She received a BS in Wildlife Science from Oregon State in 1999.  She then spent a blissful several years as a roving field biologist catching, counting, and measuring bugs, fish, rodents, and birds. 

Eventually, she found herself working with crested auklets (yep, they really smell like tangerines and bark like Chihuahuas) and other seabirds on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Savoonga, one of two villages on the island and the walrus capitol of the world, was love at first sight. Lisa was fortunate to live and work seasonally in this subsistence whaling community for the US Fish and Wildlife Service for five years. She quickly abandoned her vegan diet and made up for lost time with meat by enjoying lots of traditional Native foods. 

Shackleton's mushroom artifactLisa completed a MS degree at Oregon State during this time investigating seabirds as indicators of climate change in the northern Bering Sea. Her research discovered that there were about 10 times more auklets than previously thought at breeding colonies and that the type of zooplankton fed to auklet chicks influenced their survival. 

After completing her degree, Lisa spent the austral summer chasing penguins around Ross Island, Antarctica. She was briefly famous for her discovery of Antarctica’s first mushroom found growing out of a penguin nest (which later turned out to be a rusty artifact from Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition). 

She went back to St. Lawrence Island, which lies on a major bird migration flyway, at the height of the bird flu scare of 2006 to lead field investigations of Avian Influenza transfer between overlapping Asian and North American bird populations. Despite two consecutive summers (austral and boreal) with nearly 24hrs daylight, no base tan was achieved.

Lisa and son holding a fishAfter returning home to Oregon from Alaska, Lisa married her long-time sweetheart, Troy. They spent three lovely winters living in Astoria where they spent most of their free time fishing, crabbing, and repairing their home from windstorm damage. Lisa directed the Haystack Rock Awareness Program in Cannon Beach, Oregon - a marine science education program.  She and her husband also had an ecological consulting business as seabird and marine mammal observers on research cruises and guiding recreational pelagic wildlife watching trips. 

Lisa lives on a lively urban farm in north Seattle with her husband, two sons (Miles and Dylan), cat, and a menagerie of chickens, ducks, and quail. She loves harvesting wild food, pulling weeds, eating fish tacos, and keeping up with her energetic boys in the hospitable climate of Seattle