Heidi Hirsh

Research Highlights

Research Interests

Drivers of biogeochemical variability in complex coastal habitats.

Coral reef resilience/persistence in the face of climate change.

Multidisciplinary research to better understand the drivers of variability in coastal environments.

The role of submerged aquatic vegetation in mitigating acidification stress (previous research in tropical seagrass beds and temperate kelp forests).

Heidi Hirsh, Ph.D.

Associate Scientist (University of Miami/CIMAS), Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division

707 Continental Circle #1139
Mountain View, CA 94040

“I am passionate about solution-driven science to enhance resilience in coral reefs, other coastal ecosystems, and stakeholder communities facing the compounding stressors of climate change.”

Understanding the drivers of nearshore biogeochemical variability is critical for evaluating how coral reefs will respond to present and future ocean acidification (OA) stress. To meaningfully predict nearshore OA impacts, we must account for the complexity of the local benthic community, as well as connectivity between offshore chemistry and onshore conditions. Estimation of nearshore residence time can help quantify this connectivity and determine the degree to which benthic metabolism can influence the chemistry of the overlying water column. Dr. Hirsh is developing a predictive model for nearshore carbonate chemistry variability in Guam (Mariana Islands) and will soon expand this work to the Florida Keys. Her model relies on estimates of local hydrodynamics paired with observed spatial and temporal patterns in the reef carbonate system based on samples collected by NOAA’s National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP) over the past decade. Together, records of benthic composition, residence time, and oceanic carbonate chemistry allow us to better describe the environmental and ecological drivers of reef-scale processes modifying local biogeochemistry.

Current Work

Heidi’s research evaluates how the unique characteristics of an ecosystem – benthic composition, residence time, and baseline chemistry – together drive nearshore biogeochemical variability and thus the degree of stress exposure a given coral reef experiences. By developing statistical models with skill to predict nearshore carbonate chemistry from these characteristics, we can identify sites that are more resilient to current stressors and future change.

Download Full CV

2021, Ph.D., Earth System Science, School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

2019, M.S. Earth System Science, School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

2012, B.S. Marine Science, Minor Environmental Studies, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA

  1. Cavanaugh, K.C., T. Bell, M. Costa, N.E. Eddy, L. Gendell, M.G. Gleason, M. Hessing-Lewis, R. Martone, M. McPherson, O. Pontier, L. Reshitnyk, R. Beas-Luna, M. Carr, J.E. Caselle, K.C. Cavanaugh, R. Flores Miller, S. Hamilton, W.N. Heady, H.K. Hirsh, R. Hohman, L.C. Lee, J. Lordo, J. Ray, D.C. Reed, V.R. Saccomanno, and S.B. Schroeder. A review of the opportunities and challenges for using remote sensing for management of surface-canopy forming kelps. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8:753531, https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.753531 2021
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Stanford Earth Special Service Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 2021

Recognizing outstanding individual long-term contribution to DEI at Stanford University

MARINE Inter-institution Synergistic Grant (Hirsh, McPherson, Eddy) 2020

Creating a collaborative Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) network by bringing together regulators, scientists, and wildlife monitors through a series of region-wide workshops.

ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Fellow 2019-2020

MARINE Inter-institution Synergistic Grant (Hirsh, Lummis, White) 2019

Evaluating Drone Survey Methods to Inform Coastal Resource Management.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow 2015-2018

McGee Grant, Stanford School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Science 2017

Certification for Outstanding Achievement in Mentoring 2016, 2018, 2019
Stanford School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Science

McGee Grant, Stanford School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Science 2015

Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society 2012

Kappa Gamma Pi National Catholic College Graduate Honor Society 2012