Matt(hew G.) Burgess
Postdoctoral Scholar
Sustainable Fisheries Group
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, and Marine Science Institute
Bren Hall 4029
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Email: mburgess@bren.ucsb.edu
Twitter: @matthewgburgess

PhD, University of Minnesota, 2014 (co-advised by David Tilman & Stephen Polasky)
BSc, University of Toronto, 2009 (with Distinction, advised by Peter Abrams)

Welcome to my website! 

I am a sustainability, ecology, economics, and fisheries researcher. I am currently a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UC Santa Barbara, co-advised by Steve Gaines and Christopher Costello. See my Research page for my latest research interests and projects.  You can also view my most recent CV here and my Google Scholar profile here.

Featured publication:

Five rules for pragmatic blue growth (Marine Policy, 2016) 

I feature this paper because it is broadly representative of my background, core research mission and interests, and approach to social-ecological science.

The concept of blue growth is the newest of many recent calls for more holistic management of complex marine social-ecological systems. The complexity of ocean systems, combined with limitations on data and capacity, demands an approach to management that is pragmatic—meaning goal- and solution-oriented, realistic, and practical. This article proposes and discusses five rules of thumb upon which to build such an approach. 1) Define objectives, quantify tradeoffs, and strive for efficiency. Understanding stakeholders’ objectives, and the nature of tradeoffs between them, keeps management goal-oriented, aware of its full range of options, and maximizes the likelihood of finding win-win solutions. 2) The data you have can do more than you think. Cross-system similarity, within-system complexity, and general first principles all add informational value to data collected both within and outside the system being managed. 3) Engage stakeholders, but do it right. Co-management and citizen science can be important tools in the science and management toolbox, especially in data- and capacity-limited regions. 4) Measure your impact and learn as you go. This can increase short-term start-up costs but can prevent larger wastes of resources in the long-term. 5) Design institutions, not behaviors. Management does not directly control fishing efforts, pollution rates or other behaviors, but instead controls institutions under which stakeholders make choices. Each of these rules of thumb is inspired by real-world successes and case studies. Concrete examples are used to illustrate key concepts, with the aim of providing a digestible set of guidelines that any manager can follow.
Fig. 2 from Burgess et al. Marine Policy (2016)Sometimes what appears to be inefficient 
(e.g., point 2) 
is actually 
efficient when considering a larger set of objectives.