Catherine Austin

Instructor · she/her/hers


Catherine Austin, PhD, grew up in Seattle, WA, and has worked and played among the North Cascade Mountains all her life. She started her higher education at Lewis & Clark College, then took a break from academia to get her hands dirty for a decade as a trail crew supervisor for the U.S. Forest Service in Darrington, WA, with side gigs in the volunteer fire/EMS service and education in Guatemala. She did not realize that rivers and fish were fascinating until taking a spawning ground survey job with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Catherine returned to school at the University of Washington with Dr. Tom Quinn to investigate the life history and phenology of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) and Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Skagit River basin, particularly as they relate to water temperature patterns. She then joined Skagit River System Cooperative as a research biologist currently managing effectiveness monitoring of the Barnaby Slough and Illabot Creek Restoration projects and developing new freshwater research in the Skagit River basin.


Ph.D. School of Aquatic and Fisheries Science, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. ; B.A. Environmental Studies with a Concentration in Conservation Biology, Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR 2004.

Research Interests

Fisheries biology

Phenological change

Migratory patterns

Floodplain habitat fish use

Restoration fisheries ecology


Austin, C.S., C.E. Torgersen, T.P. Quinn. Temperature, elevation, and discharge control the breeding distribution of six native salmonid species in tributaries within a single basin. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society in preparation.

Tillotson, M.D., Arostegui, M.C., Austin, C.S., Lincoln, A.E., Matsubu, W., McElroy, K., T.P. Quinn. 2021. Challenges in the identification and interpretation of phenological shifts: anthropogenic influences on adult migration timing. Reviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture. 1-33.

Austin, C.S., T.E. Essington, T.P. Quinn. 2020. In a warming river, natural-origin Chinook salmon spawn later but hatchery origin conspecifics do not. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 78(1) 68-77.

Austin, C.S., M.H. Bond, J.M. Smith, E.D. Lowery, T.P. Quinn. 2019. Otolith microchemistry reveals partial migration and life history variation in a facultatively anadromous, iteroparous salmonid, bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus). Environmental Biology of Fishes. 102(1) 95-104.

Austin, C.S., T.E. Essington, T.P. Quinn. 2019. Spawning and emergence phenology of bull trout Salvelinus confluentus under differing thermal regimes. Journal of Fish Biology 94(1) 191-195.

Quinn, T.P., J.M. Helfield, C.S. Austin, R.A. Hovel, A.G. Bunn. 2018. A multidecade experiment shows that fertilization by salmon carcasses enhanced tree growth in the riparian zone. Ecology 99(11) 2433-2441.