Ashleigh Epps

Aquaculture Specialist


  • Shellfish Aquaculture
  • Education and Outreach
  • Coral Reef Ecology
  • Science Communication

Ashleigh works to address challenges and opportunities with shellfish aquaculture in Western Washington. This work includes collaborating with industry members, scientists, Tribes, organizations, and the surrounding communities to ensure the best strategies for current issues.

Ashleigh began working in the aquaculture industry at seventeen when she had her first internship researching geoduck farming methods in Puget Sound. Following this internship, she attended school at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology. While there, she earned her scientific diver and divemaster certifications, interned and volunteered for the NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and interned in the Coral Resilience Lab at the Hawai’i Institute for Marine Biology. Simultaneously, Ashleigh continued working in the shellfish industry during the summers, where she had the opportunity to conduct various projects, including burrowing shrimp mitigation strategies, predator identification and control, and water quality analyses.

To further her knowledge of coastal ecosystems, Ashleigh earned her Master of Science degree in marine biology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Her graduate work focused on an undocumented coral species residing in an area that experienced large fluctuations in environmental conditions. Upon graduation, Ashleigh continued working in coral reef ecology with Florida Sea Grant as the Coral Disease Associate, working at the national level to support the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Coral Disease Working Group. Specifically, Ashleigh’s work focused on stony coral tissue loss disease and the mitigation strategies of a large-scale disease that was being transmitted at an alarming rate.

These experiences taught Ashleigh the importance of coastal ecosystems and surrounding communities, ultimately bringing her back to the Pacific Northwest, where she can now serve the coastal communities she grew up in.

Person scuba diving