Sara Cannon

PhD, Geography

Thesis Topic

Coral reefs, climate change, and resilience in the Central Pacific


Simon Donner


B.S., Hons., University of California Santa Cruz
M.Sc. University of British Columbia


I’m a Ph.D. candidate, Vanier Scholar, and Ocean Leaders Graduate Fellow at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada (where I also completed my M.Sc.). Before moving to Vancouver, I lived for five years in Santa Cruz, California, where I earned a B.Sc. in Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. My research interests involve attempting to understand the ways that local and global human impacts interact to influence coral reef health and resilience in the central Pacific Islands.

I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay in rural Maryland where there is a vibrant maritime culture, and as a result, the water has always been an important part of my life. My parents were also avid scuba divers who exposed me to the world of coral reefs at a very young age. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a marine scientist.

I’m currently working in the Micronesia region of the Pacific. My M.Sc. research was based in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (read more about the project here), and my Ph.D. work is based in both the Marshalls and Kiribati. I’ve worked in the Micronesia region before; as an undergraduate student, I spent many summers in the Ulithi Atoll, Yap State in the Federated States of Micronesia as a part of One People One Reef (a group of community members and researchers combining science and tradition to find innovative ways to manage marine resources).

In my work, I partner with local communities and marine managers in the Micronesia region to integrate local and traditional ecological knowledge, biology, and social science in an attempt to understand how local human activities interact with climate change to influence coral reef health. In this way, I hope my research will center the needs of local people and provide communities with the tools they need to make empowered decisions about resource management. To view my research and updates, please see my website that is linked above.


2017 Simons Foundation Doctoral Scholar
Vanier Scholar
Ocean Leaders Fellow
TerreWEB Scholar
2015 Women Divers Hall of Fame Scholarship in Marine Conservation
2015 Legacy Award, Explorers Club
2013 Youth Activity Award, Explorers Club
2013 Student Research and Educational Award, Long Marine Lab
2012 Youth Activity Award, Explorers Club


Peer-reviewed Publications

  • Darling ES, McClanahan TR, Maina JM, Gurney GA, Graham NAJ, Januchowski-Hartley F, Cinner JE, Mora C, Hicks CC, Maire E, Puotinen M, Skirving WJ, Adjeroud M, Ahmadia G, Arthur R, Bauman A, Beger M, Berumen M, Bigot L, Bouwmeester J, Brenier A, Bridge T, Brown E, Campbell S, Cannon S, Cauvin B, Chen C, Claudet J, Denis V, Donner S, Estradivari E, Fadli N, Feary D, Fenner D, Fox H, Franklin E, Friedlander A, Gilmour J, Goiran C, Guest J, Hobbs J, Hoey A, Houk P, Johnson S, Jupiter S, Kayal M, Kuo C, Lamb J, Lee M, Low J, Muthiga N, Muttaqin E, Nand Y, Nash K, Nedlic O, Pandolfi J, Pardede S, Patankar V, Penin L, Ribas-Deulofeu L, Richards Z, Roberts T, Rodgers K, Safuan C, Sala E, Shedrawi G, Sin T, Smallhorn-West P, Smith J, Sommer B, Steinberg P, Sutthacheep M, Tan C, Vargas-Angel B, Williams G, Wilson S, Yeemin T, Bruno JF, Fortin MJ, Krkosek M and D Mouillot. 2019. Social-environmental drivers inform strategic management of coral reefs in the Anthropocene. Nature Ecology and Evolution, in press.
  • Cannon, S.E., S.D. Donner, D. Fenner, M. Beger. (2019). The relationship between macroalgae taxa and human disturbance on central Pacific coral reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 145, 161-173.
  • King, L., L. Mackenzie, M. Tadaki, S. Cannon, K. McFarlane, D. Reid, & M. Koppes. (2018). Diversity in geoscience: Participation, behaviour, and the division of scientific labour at a Canadian geoscience conference. FACETS, 3(1), 415–440.

Posters and Presentations

  • Cannon, S.*, Donner, S. (2016) Climate Variability and the Resilience of Low Diversity Coral Communities to Bleaching in the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati. 13th International Coral Reef Symposium, Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • Cannon, S.*, Pomeroy C., Galligan M., Reilly, P., Culver, C. (2016) Intersections between fishing practices and management: Dynamics of the commercial fishery for California Halibut. Society for Applied Anthropology annual meeting, Vancouver, BC.
  • Cannon, S. (2016). Marine Management Methods in the Ulithi Atoll, Micronesia. TerreWEB Seminar Series, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
  • Pomeroy, C.*, C. Culver, M. Galligan, P. Reilly and S. Cannon. (2015). Filling a Gap: Collaboration to Build Understanding of California Fisheries’ Human Systems. International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM) annual meeting, Charleston, SC.
  • Galligan, M.*, C. Pomeroy, P. Reilly, C. Culver and S. Cannon. (2015). Data Matters in a Commercial Marine Fishery. North American Association of Fisheries Economists Forum: Economic Sustainability, Fishing Communities and Working Waterfronts. Ketchikan, AK.

* = presenter.


Contact Information

Personal website:

Social Media

Twitter: @secanno
LinkedIn: secanno