David Ginsburg

Professor (Teaching) of Environmental Studies
David Ginsburg
Email dginsbur@usc.edu Office CAS 116 Office Phone (213) 740-8576

Center, Institute & Lab Affiliations

  • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County,
  • USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies,


  • Ph.D. Biology, University of Southern California, 2007
  • M.S. Biology, University of Guam, 1998
  • B.A. Biology, UC Santa Cruz, 1994
  • Research, Teaching, Practice, and Clinical Appointments

    • Professor (Teaching), University of Southern California, 2021-
    • Associate Professor, Teaching, University of Southern California, 2016-2021
    • Assistant Professor, Teaching, University of Southern California, 2012-2016
    • Lecturer, University of Southern California, 2009-2012

    PostDoctoral Appointments

    • Postdoctoral Scholar, Environmental Microbiology, University of California Los Angeles, 2008 – 2009
    • Knauss Marine Policy and Management Fellow, National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration, 2007 – 2008

    Visiting and Temporary Appointments

    • Diving Safety Officer (Interim), Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Southern California, 2020-2021
    • Assistant Diving Safety Officer, Environmental Studies Program, University of Southern California, 2014-2023
    • Research Associate in Invertebrate Zoology (Echinoderms), Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 2012
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    I am interested in the organization and dynamics of natural communities. My studies have incorporated multiple levels of biological analyses, from the whole organism to the level of individual genes, and bridge the fields of conservation biology, physiology, ecology and environmental policy.

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • Disruptive Supplies of Affordable Biomass Feedstock Grown in the Open Ocean, (U.S. Dept. of Energy Advanced Research Projects), John F. Heidelberg, David W. Ginsburg, $2,140,000, 2017 – 2020

    USC Funding

    • USC Provost’s Office. Structure and Ecosystem Function of Coastal Eelgrass Habitat: Applied Field and Laboratory Research Experiences for Environmental Studies Undergraduates: Students will examine habitat complexity and fish community composition of eelgrass in relation to anthropogenic nutrient loading. These data promote shoreline resilience and habitat for marine taxa., $6000, 2020-2021
    • USC Provost’s Office. Undergraduate Research Associates Program: Students will participate in a project funded by ARPA-E to explore the potential of cultivating macroalgae in the open ocean for large-scale biofuel production., $6500, 2016-2017
    • USC Center for Scholarly Technology. Data-Driven Assignment Grant: Students will learn to use R-Studio and become proficient in the use of Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet application used for data management. , $3000, 2014-2015
    • Office of Undergraduate Programs: Undergraduate Research Associates Program. The Natural History of Catalina Island Summer Internship Program: Internship program designed to immerse 4 undergraduates into hands-on, active learning environment with faculty and staff from ENST, Wrigley Institute, and Catalina Island Conservancy. , $6400, 2012 – 2013
    • Dornsife Faculty Development Grant. Development of New Course Content and Situated Learning Activities for Guam and Palau Maymester Program: Funding to support development of policy network analysis and related experiential learning tools for undergraduate students enrolled in Summer 2014 ENST field course to Guam and Palau., $1500, 2012-2013
    • Center for Scholarly Technology: Teaching with Technology Grant. Experiential Learning and Mobile Technology: Development of online course content and materials for students enrolled in ENST field courses to use in remote locations., $500, 2012-2013
    • Office of the Provost: Fund for Innovative Undergraduate Teaching. Integrative Approaches to Investigating Environmental Water Quality and Water Rights: Case Studies and Field Experiences in California and China: Undergraduate teaching innovations will focus on the intersection between science and policy, and ultimately, will serve as platform for Summer 2013 ENST field course to Guangdong, China
      , $5300, 2012-2013
    • Center for Scholary Technology: Course Continuity in Crisis. Effects of Environmental Stressors on Student Learning Communities: Created two-week lesson plan that did not require students to meet in class, rather used active, online lectures and assignments in lieu of face-to-face class time, $5000, 2011-2012
    • Dornsife College Faculty Development Grant. Environmental monitoring of coastal surfgrass located in Blue Cavern Marine Protected Area: Funding to support environmental monitoring project for undergraduate students at USC Dornsife’s Wrigley Marine Science Center., $500, 2011-2012
    • Office of Undergraduate Programs: Undergraduate Research Associates Program. The Natural History of Catalina Island Summer Internship Program: Internship program designed to immerse 4 undergraduates into collaborative learning environment with faculty and staff from ENST, Wrigley Institute, and Catalina Island Conservancy. , $4500, 2011-2012
  • Journal Article

    • Obaza, A. K., Bird, A., Sanders, R., Ware, R., Ginsburg, D. W. (2022). Variable fish habitat function in two open-coast eelgrass species. Marine Ecology Progress Series. Vol. 696, pp. 15-27. Read Article
    • Ginsburg, D. W., Huang, A. H. (2022). Over, Under, Sideways and Down: Patterns of Marine Species Richness in Nearshore Habitats off Santa Catalina Island, California. Diversity. Vol. 14 (5), pp. 366-379. Read Article
    • Looby, A., Ginsburg, D. W. (2021). Nearshore species biodiversity of a marine protected area off Santa Catalina Island, California. Western North American Naturalist. Vol. 81 (1), pp. 113-130. Read Article
    • Navarrete, I. A., Kim, D. Y., Wilcox, C., Reed, D. C., Ginsburg, D. W., Dutton, J. M., Heidelberg, J., Raut, Y., Wilcox, B. H. (2021). Effects of depth-cycling on nutrient uptake and biomass production in the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. Vol. 141 (May 2021), pp. 110747. Read Article
    • Brooke, C. G., Roque, B. M., Najafi, N., Gonzalez, M., Pfefferlen, A., DeAnda, V., Ginsburg, D. W., Harden, M. C., Nuzhdin, S. V., King Salwen, J., Kebreab, E., Hess, M. (2020). Methane Reduction Potential of Two Pacific Coast Macroalgae During in vitro Ruminant Fermentation. Frontiers in Marine Science. Vol. 7, pp. 561. Read Article
    • Tanner, R. L., Obaza, A. K., Ginsburg, D. W. (2019). Secondary production of kelp bass Paralabrax clathratus in relation to coastal eelgrass Zostera marina habitat in a Southern California Marine Protected Area. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences. Vol. 118 (3), pp. 158-172. Read Article
    • Mika, K. B., Ginsburg, D. W., Chang, C., Lee, C. M., Jay, J. A. (2014). Fecal indicator bacteria do not correspond with incidence of human-associated HF183 Bacteroides 16S rRNA genetic marker in urban Southern California watersheds. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution. Vol. 225, pp. 1-11. Read Article
    • Applebaum, S. L., Ginsburg, D. W., Capron, C., Manahan, D. T. (2013). Expression of amino acid transporter genes in developmental stages and adult tissues of Antarctic echinoderms. Polar Biology. Vol. 36, pp. 1257-1267. Read Article
    • Ginsburg, D. W., Manahan, D. T. (2009). Developmental physiology of Antarctic sea stars with different life-history modes. Mar Biol. Vol. 156, pp. 2391–2402. Read Article
    • Ginsburg, D. W., Paul, V. J. (2001). Chemical defenses in the sea hare Aplysia parvula: importance of diet and sequestration of algal metabolites. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. Vol. 215, pp. 261-274. Read Article
    • Thacker, R. W., Ginsburg, D. W., Paul, V. J. (2001). Effect of nutrient enrichment on algal community structure. Coral Reefs. Vol. 19, pp. 318-329. Read Article
    • Matlock, D. B., Ginsburg, D. W., Paul, V. J. (1999). Spatial variability in secondary metabolite production by the tropical red alga Portieria hornemannii. Hydrobiologia. Vol. 398/399, pp. 267-273. Read Article


    • Haw, J. F., Ginsburg, D. W. (2011). Let Guam decide its own fate. Huffington Post. Read Article


    • Ginsburg, D. W., Heidelberg, K. B. (2018). Scientific research diving: Engaging students with unique STEM training opportunities and place-based field experiences. pp. 32-39. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) 37th Symposium. Eds. Gochfeld, DJ, and TJ Herrlinger. Read Article

    Technical Report

    • Amesbury, S. S., Ginsburg, D. W., Rongo, T., Kirkendale, L. A., Starmer, J. S. (1999). War-in-the-Pacific National Historical Park Marine Biological Survey. National Park Service. Read Report
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, Steven B. Sample Teaching and Mentoring Award, Fall 2014
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, Provost’s Prize for Teaching with Technology, Spring 2013
    • Graduate Intern Scholarship, USC Wrigley Institute, 2004-2005
    • United States Antarctic Service Medal, 2002-2003
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, Outstanding Teaching Assistant, USC Department of Biological Sciences, 2001-2002
    • Best Student Paper, 2nd Asian-Pacific Phycological Forum, Hong Kong, China, Spring 1999
  • Other Advisement or Time Devoted to Students

    • Director of Undergraduate Studies: Environmental Studies Program, 2019 –
    • Director, Environmental Studies Master’s Degree Program, 2009 – 2016
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Assistant Diving Safety Officer, USC Environmental Studies Program, 2013 –
    • Director of Undergraduate Studies, USC Environmental Studies Program, 2019 – 2022


    • Member, Dornsife General Education Advisory Committee, 2021 –
    • Member, University Committee on Curriculum, Off-Campus Studies Panel, 2016 –
    • Member, Diving Safety Control Board, USC Wrigley Institute of Environmental Studies, 2004 –
    • Member, Center for Excellence in Teaching Advisory Board, 2020 – 2022
    • Member, Dornsife College Faculty Council, 2019 – 2021

    Review Panels

    • USC, Fulbright Student Program Evaluation Committee, 2015 –
    • USC, Renaissance Scholars Prize Selection Committee, 2018 – 2020
    • USC, Dornsife Academic Merit Scholarship Review Committee, 2012 – 2020
    • USC, Rose Hills Research Fellowship Review Committee, 2019-2020
  • Professional Offices

    • Member, Board of Directors, Southern California Academy of Sciences, 2011 –
    • President, Board of Directors, Southern California Academy of Sciences, 2016 – 2020
    • Vice President, Board of Directors, Southern California Academy of Sciences , 2014 – 2016

    Professional Memberships

    • Southern California Academy of Sciences, 2011 –
    • American Academy of Underwater Sciences, 2010 –
    • Western Society of Naturalists, 1995 –

    Reviewer for Publications

    • Marine Ecology Progress Series, Inter-Research Science, MEPS is a high-impact ecological journal publishing research on marine, coastal and estuarine ecology., 2020 –
USC Dornsife faculty and staff may update profiles via MyDornsife.