Karina Johanne Nielsen, PhD

Karina Johanne Nielsen, PhD

Executive Director and Professor of Biology

Estuary & Ocean Science Center, San Francisco State University


I am a marine ecologist with a passion for ecosystems at the edge of the sea (or the edge of the land depending on your perspective). The places where people, nature, and water come together. I lead a university marine laboratory and field station on San Francisco Bay. My research projects focus on the ecology, oceanography, and biogeochemistry of the coastal fringe and nearshore waters, from the wild and wave-swept outer coast to urban estuaries. Themes I am especially interested in include climate change impacts (coastal acidification, marine heat waves, sea level rise); blue carbon; stewardship, conservation, and restoration; policy; climate adaptation. My teaching experience includes courses on marine biology and ecology, invertebrate biology, marine plants and algae, biological oceanography, data visualization and analysis, science writing, and science communication. A bit more about my journey.


Download my CV.


  • Climate change
  • Biodiversity
  • Policy
  • Environmental justice
  • Data visualization
  • Science engagement
  • Inclusive pedagogy
  • Blue carbon


  • PhD in Zoology, 1998

    Oregon State University

  • BS in Biology, 1992

    Brooklyn College - City University of New York