About Me



I grew up in the Inland Northwest and spent my early years exploring the Selkirk Mountains and the Columbia Basin. I began my scientific career working as an undergraduate researcher within the Civil and Engineering Department at the University of Washington. As a Mary Gates Undergraduate Research Scholar, I worked with Dr. Jessica Lundquist to investigate air temperature variability in the Sierra Nevada and its impact on hydrological forecasting.

Following graduation, I moved to Palo Alto and began my Masters in the Environmental Fluid Mechanics & Hydrology program at Stanford University. During my time at Stanford, I found my way downstream from snowpack hydrology to coastal oceanography and ultimately decided to make it my career.

I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Maryland/University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in 2017 under the direction of Dr. Larry Sanford at Horn Point Laboratory. For my dissertation research, I studied the effects of surface gravity waves on air-sea momentum transfer and turbulent mixing in Chesapeake Bay as part of an NSF-funded collaborative investigation of wind-driven estuarine physics.

In March of 2017, I moved to Southern California and joined the Coastal Oceanography & Autonomous Systems (COAST) Lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara led by Dr. Nick Nidzieko. As a Postdoctoral Scholar in the COAST Lab, I use an autonomous underwater vehicle as a platform for observing transport and mixing processes in the coastal ocean.


Education & Training

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California Santa Barbara                    2017-present

University of Maryland/
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science                          Ph.D.  2017
Stanford University                                                                                             M.S.    2012
University of Washington                                                                                   B.S.     2011

EIT Certification (#30861), Washington State

For my full CV, please email me at awfisher (AT) ucsb (DOT) edu


Research Area

Broadly, my research foci lie in the response of coastal seas to atmospheric forcing and how physical dynamics influence the fate and transport of material. In coastal margins, where natural and built environments often interact, understanding the specific nature of wind- and wave-driven physical dynamics can inform research and management efforts in predicting the fate of sediments, nutrients, and pollution.

Wind-driven surface gravity waves act as a dynamic link between the air and the sea and are fundamental to the exchange of momentum, energy, heat, and gases between the atmosphere and the ocean. Using a combination of field observations and numerical modeling techniques, I study the role of wind and waves in structuring turbulent exchange across the air-sea interface and in driving vertical mixing in the surface ocean.


For a summary of my past and current research projects, check out my Research page