SF State appoints Karina Nielsen as director of Romberg Tiburon Center

SAN FRANCISCO, June 18, 2014 -- San Francisco State University has appointed Karina Nielsen as the new director of its Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies (RTC), effective Aug. 25.

Karina NielsenNielsen, a professor of biology, has taught at Sonoma State University since 2003. She will take over for John Hafernik, who has served as director on an interim basis since the departure of former director Toby Garfield in October 2013.

"Dr. Nielsen is an outstanding scientist and educator as well as a leader on issues of conservation and environmental policy," said Sheldon Axler, dean of the College of Science & Engineering. "I am excited to welcome her as the next director of the Romberg Tiburon Center, and look forward to working with her as she leads the center's continuing efforts to conduct critical marine research and engage with the community on issues surrounding our precious water resources."

The RTC is home to 15 Ph.D.-level researchers, four postdoctoral associates, 25 research technicians and 60 master's-level graduate students. The center has received approximately $30 million in grant-generated funding for its research.

As director, Nielsen will oversee all research, fundraising, outreach and operational aspects of the RTC. Her responsibilities will include leading the development of the center's strategic plan; recruiting new faculty and supporting faculty research efforts; promoting and representing the center at the university, local, state and federal levels; and designing and implementing the fundraising strategy.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to work with the outstanding faculty, students and staff at the Romberg Tiburon Center," Nielsen said. "With its location on the West Coast's largest estuary and its talented team of researchers, the center is well-situated to play a significant role in finding innovative, interdisciplinary and pragmatic solutions for the major environmental problems facing San Francisco Bay and beyond, and educating the community on the variety of ways to use and enjoy the Bay, and other coastal ecosystems, sustainably."

Nielsen's academic focus is coastal ecosystems and intertidal organisms, and she has conducted research in a variety of coastal regions, including Northern California, Oregon, the U.S. Eastern seaboard, Chile and New Zealand. She has been involved extensively in conservation policy issues, and while at Sonoma State has secured more than $3 million in grants to support her work. Among her several positions in professional, educational and other organizations, Nielsen serves as co-chair elect of the California Ocean Protection Council’s Science Advisory Team and on the governing council of the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System.

Nielsen received her bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College and her Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Before arriving at Sonoma State, she was an instructor at the Hatfield Marine Science Center at Oregon State.


The Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies is San Francisco State University's marine field station located 30 minutes north of San Francisco on the Tiburon Peninsula. SF State scientists pursue their research in RTC laboratories, at field sites around the world and through collaborations with colleagues at other universities and institutions. RTC provides SF State students with graduate- and undergraduate-level courses as well as practical and hands-on research experiences.

SF State is the only master's-level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The University enrolls nearly 30,000 students each year and offers nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communication arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies. The University’s more than 219,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.