Nicole Crane is a Senior Conservation Scientist and Faculty whose areas of expertise are in coral reef conservation and management, program development, ocean and fisheries science, and marine and environmental science education. She is Co-Director, with John Magul Rulmal, of One People One Reef– working with Pacific outer island communities to support sustainable reef management. Their work is focused on collaboration with indigenous and local communities in the application of conservation and management tools aimed at protecting reefs and the people who rely on them. Nicole is dedicated to linking rigorous science with cultural knowledge and community leadership in conservation. She has established several science education programs in the United States, with a focus on serving underrepresented and marginalized students. Crane was the founder, PI and Director of the National Science Foundation Center for Excellence in Marine Advanced Technology Education and PI/Executive Director for Camp SEA Lab. She is currently serving as the Interim Executive Director for the Smith Fellows Program (Society for Conservation Biology), a program that selects, funds and mentors applied conservation research postdoctoral Fellows. Nicole was nominated for a PEW fellowship, is an associate at the California Academy of Sciences, a National Geographic Explorer and a Fellow National at the Explorers Club.

Areas of Interest

Nicole is motivated by collective wisdom in problem solving, and working in partnership to find solutions to conservation challenges.  She was born and raised overseas in conflict zones, working with NGOs, which has deeply informed my approaches to conservation practice, and a recognition of the importance of cultural context and people’s agency in decision making that affects their communities. She is motivated by the interests and energy of her students, and looks forward to working together to create inclusive learning spaces that recognize diverse lived experiences and worldviews and value and incorporate multiple knowledge systems. Nicole is an avid scuba and free diver, hiker, and traveler.

Nicole’s expertise lies in conservation planning, international policy, non-profit development, grant writing, and teaching/leading programs and workshops.  She has experience in program development and leadership at all levels of education from elementary school through postdoctoral. Nicole has been a technical diver and trainer for the US Military, and scientific diving safety officer for numerous universities.

Academic Degrees

Nicole has two Master’s degrees: One in Marine Science (Moss Landing Marine Labs) and one in Applied Social Science (University of California Santa Cruz).


Selected publications:


  • M.I. Brown; B. Allgood; J. Waugh; R. Martino; S. Cheng; C.C. Kelman; & A.L. Porzecanski on 31 August 2020. Communities, conservation, and development in the age of COVID: Time for rethinking approaches (commentary), Mongabay, 31 August 2020 link here
  • Crane, Nicole, Juliette Tariel, Jennifer E. Caselle, Alan M. Friedlander, D. Ross Robertson, and Giacomo Bernardi. 2018. Clipperton Atoll as a model to study small marine populations: endemism and the genomic consequences of small population size. PLoS ONE 13(6): e0198901
  • Bernardi, Giacomo; Peter Nelson, Michelle Paddack, John Rulmal Jr, and Nicole Crane. 2018. Genomic islands of divergence in the Yellow Tang and the Brushtail Tang Surgeonfishes. Ecology and Evolution 8: 8676–8685
  • Crane, NL, J. Rulmal, P. Nelson, M. Paddack, G. Bernardi. Collaborating with indigenous citizen scientists towards sustainable coral reef management in a changing world: The One People One Reef program. Cigliano, J.A. and Ballard, H.L. eds., 2017. Citizen Science for Coastal and Marine Conservation. Routledge.
  • Crane NL, Nelson P, Abelson A, Precoda K, Rulmal J, Jr., Bernardi G, et al. (2017) Atoll-scale patterns in coral reef community structure: Human signatures on Ulithi Atoll, Micronesia. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0177083. pone.0177083
  • Manon Fourriére, H Reyes-Bonilla, F A. Rodríguez-Zaragoza and N Crane, 2014.
 Fishes of Clipperton Atoll, Eastern Pacific: Checklist, Endemism, and Analysis of Completeness of the Inventory. Pacific Science, 68(3):375-395. 2014.