Sara M. Maxwell

Associate Professor

Sara M. Maxwell

B.S., Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida
Ph.D., Ocean Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz

Office: UW1 231
Phone: 425-352-3482


My approach to teaching science goes beyond imparting knowledge. Rather, my goal is to support the development of critical thinkers across a suite of topics including geographic information systems, biology and ecology, and conservation and natural resource management. I aim to bring students to a new level of understanding of how our world functions, and create confident and competent scientists and citizens. I approach teaching the way I approach research – by using tools and methods with a demonstrated history of success. My teaching is therefore focused on guided inquiry-based learning, and around the concept of teaching less and learning more. In my classes, I use interactive and inquiry-based learning, with the goal of having students think critically and engage in active learning, and I focus on giving students the opportunity to learn from each other through structured peer-to-peer learning. This kind of interactive discussion helps to solidify concepts and expose less understood topics that require further focus. These kinds of interactive methods focus on integrating different types of learning techniques for different types of learners, and the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills to contextualize science in real-world situations.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 342 Geographic Information Systems


My research focuses on the development of science-based solutions to sustainability issues in the ocean, and my expertise is in the application of spatial tools, such as satellite tracking and oceanographic modeling. I use these tools to understanding the distribution of large marine predators, how these predators interact with ocean processes, and how this knowledge can be applied to managing predator populations, human activities and ocean resources. Through my research, I aim to fulfill three goals: (1) conduct innovative science that is applied to conservation and management issues, (2) build knowledge and capacity in underdeveloped regions of the world, and (3) use research as tool for teaching and engaging students. I was chosen as a 2016 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Ocean Sciences, awarded to early career scientists in ‘recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field’.

Selected Publications

For a full list of publications, see Publications or Google Scholar page.

  • Maxwell, S. M., M. J. Witt, G. Abitsi, M. Aboro, P. Didier Agamboue, G. M. Asseko, F. Boussamba, E. Chartrain, M. Gnandji, B. Didier Mabert, F. Makanga, J. Manfoumbi, J. Nguema, J. Nzegoue, C. Oliwina, G.-P. Sounguet, A. Formia (2018) Sea Turtles and Survivability in Trawl Fisheries: Do Comatose Sea Turtles Survive Post-Release? Animal Biotelemetry 6: 11.
  • Hazen, E. L., K. Scales, S. M. Maxwell, D. K. Briscoe, H. Welch, S. J. Bograd, H. Bailey, S. R. Benson, T. Eguchi, H. Dewar, S. Kohin, D. P. Costa, L. B. Crowder, R. Lewison (2018) A dynamic ocean management tool to reduce bycatch and support sustainable fisheries. Science Advances 4: eaar3001. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar3001.
  • Davies, T. E., S. M. Maxwell, K. Kaschner, C. Garilao, N. C. Ban (2017) Large marine protected areas: a safeguard for the future. Scientific Reports 7: 9569.
  • Dawson, T. M., A. Formia, P. D. Agamboué, G. M. Asseko, F. Boussamba, Floriane Cardiec, E.Chartrain, P. D. Doherty, J. M. Fay, B. J. Godley, F. Lambert, B. D. K. Mabert, J. C. Manfoumbi, K. Metcalfe, G. Miton, I. Ndanga, J. Nzegoue2, C. K. Kouerey Oliwina, P. D. Plessis, G.-P. Sounguet, D. Tilley, M. J. Witt, S. M. Maxwell (2017) Informing marine protected areas and bycatch mitigation in sea turtles using satellite tracking. Frontiers in Marine Science 4:312.
  • Maxwell, S. M., M. G. Conners, N. Sisson*, T. Dawson* (2016) Potential Benefits and Shortcomings of Marine Protected Areas for Small Seabirds Revealed Using Miniature Tags. Frontiers in Marine Science 3:264.
  • Dunn, D.C., S. M. Maxwell, A. Boustany, P. Halpin (2016) Dynamic ocean management increases the efficiency and efficacy of fishery management. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi/10.1073/pnas.1513626113.
  • Maxwell, S. M., E. L. Hazen, R. L. Lewison, D. C. Dunn, H. Bailey, S. J. Bograd, D. K. Briscoe, S. Fosette, A. J. Hobday, M. Bennett, S. Benson, M. R. Caldwell, D. P. Costa, H. Dewar, T. Eguchi, L. Hazen, S. Kohin, T. Sippel, L. Crowder (2015) Dynamic Ocean Management: Defining and Conceptualizing Real-Time Management of the Ocean. Marine Policy 58: 42-50.
  • Young, H. S., S. M. Maxwell, M. G. Conners, S. A. Shaffer (2015). Pelagic Marine Protected Areas Provide Effective Habitat Protection for Multiple Seabird Species. Biological Conservation 181: 226–235.
  • Maxwell, S. M., N. C. Ban, L. E. Morgan (2014) Pelagic Marine Protected Areas: Elements of Effective Ecological Management. Endangered Species Research 26: 59–74 (Special Issue on ‘Geospatial Approaches to Support Pelagic Conservation Planning and Adaptive Management’).
  • Hobday, A. J., S. M. Maxwell, J. Forgie, J. McDonald, M. Darby, K. Seto, H. Bailey, S. J. Bograd, D. K. Briscoe, D. P. Costa, L. B. Crowder, D. C. Dunn, P. N. Halpin, J. R. Hartog, E. L. Hazen, B. G. Lascelles, R. L. Lewison, G. Poulos (2014) Dynamic ocean management: Integrating scientific and technological capacity with law, policy and management. Stanford Environmental Law Journal 33(2): 125-165. (Special Issue from the Symposium on ‘Emerging Perspectives on the Law, Science, and Policy of Dynamic Marine Conservation’, Stanford Law School, May 10-12, 2013. 
  • González Carman, V., E. M. Acha, S. M. Maxwell, D. Albareda, C. Campagna, H. Mianzan (2014) Young green turtles, Chelonia mydas, exposed to plastic in a frontal area of the SW Atlantic. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 78: 56-62.
  • Rosenbaum, H. C., S. M. Maxwell, F. Kershaw and B. Mate (2014) Quantifying broad scale movements and range-wide cumulative potential impacts for humpback whales in the South Atlantic Ocean. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12225.
  • Maxwell, S. M., E. L. Hazen, S. J. Bograd, B. S. Halpern, G. A. Breed, B. Nickel, N. M. Teutschel*, S. Benson, H. Bailey, M. A. Kappes, C. Kuhn, M. J. Weise, B. Mate, S. A. Shaffer, J. Hassrick, R. W. Henry, L. Irvine, B. I. McDonald, P. W. Robinson, B. A. Block, D. P. Costa (2013) Cumulative human impacts on marine predators. Nature Communications 4:2688.
  • Pietri, D, G. Gurney, L. Whiting, N. Benitez-Vina, A. Kuklok, S. M. Maxwell, M. A. Vina, L. D. Jenkins (2013) Practical Recommendations to Help Students Bridge the Research–Implementation Gap and Promote Conservation. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12089
  • Maxwell, S. M., J. Frank*, G. Breed, P. Robinson, S. Simmons, D. Crocker, J. Gallo-Reynoso, and D. P. Costa (2012) Benthic foraging on seamounts as a specialized foraging behavior by a deep diving marine mammal.  Marine Mammal Science 28(3): E333–E344.
  • Jenkins, L.D., S. M. Maxwell and E. Fisher (2012) Increasing Conservation Impact and Policy Relevance of Research Through Embedded Experiences. Conservation Biology 26(4): 740-742.
  • Maxwell, S. M., G. Breed, B. Nickel, J. Makanga-Bahouna, E. Pemo-Makaya, R. Parnell, A. Formia, S. Ngouessono, B. Godley, D. Costa and M. Coyne (2011) Using Satellite Tracking to Optimize Protection of Long-Lived Marine Species: Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Conservation in Central Africa. PLoS ONE 6(5): e19905.