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Kathy Mills, Ph.D.

Dr. Katherine Mills is a research scientist at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. Kathy has studied ecosystem change and fish-ecosystem relationships in the Gulf of Maine and Northeast U.S. Shelf regions for over a decade. She uses statistical analysis and modeling to understand (1) how physical and ecosystem conditions are changing; (2) how these changes affect fish populations, biological communities, and marine fisheries; and (3) how fisheries and fishing communities can effectively respond. 

Kathy’s research spans a range of topics to investigate how physical changes affect ecological patterns and processes, such as the productivity, distribution, phenology, growth, and size structure of different species. She is also interested in how species-specific changes shape multispecies interactions and community-level dynamics. Much of Kathy’s research also seeks to understand and inform management of fisheries as coupled social-ecological systems. This research integrates physical, biological, social and economic information to link changes in the ecosystem and management system to societal outcomes. Climate adaptation within marine fisheries is a major focus, with emphases on assessing climate vulnerabilities, evaluating climate adaptation strategies, and providing information to support adaptation planning by fishery participants, fishing communities and fishery managers. 

Research Interests

Identifying and modeling effects of climate, environmental, anthropogenic, and ecological interactions on fish populations, communities, and fisheries

Developing seasonal and longer-range forecasts of population characteristics and fishery patterns based on climate conditions

Providing scientific information and conceptual frameworks to support climate adaptation for marine fisheries and ecosystem-based fisheries management


Ph.D., Natural Resources, Cornell University

M.S., Natural Resources, Cornell University

B.S., Environmental Science and Policy, Political Science, Duke University

Service to Science and Community

Co-chair, Workshop on regional climate change vulnerability assessment for the large marine ecosystems of the northern hemisphere (ICES-PICES, 2017)

Author, Northeast Region chapter for Fourth National Climate Assessment (2016-present)

Ecosystem Based Management Work Group (Northeast Regional Planning Body, 2015-present)

Convener, Session on Vulnerability and Adaptation of Marine Socio-Ecological Systems to Climate Change, 4th International Symposium on Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans (2018).

Convener, Session on Marine Ecosystem Forecasting for Decision-Making, Ocean Sciences Meeting (2018)

Organizer, Session on Extreme Oceanographic Events (Ocean Sciences, 2014)

Participant, Workshop on Climate Effects on Productivity in Arctic and Sub-Arctic Ecosystems (ICES, 2013)

Participant, Workshop on Norway-United States Climate Change and Marine Ecosystems (2014)