2019 Scientists
Exploring Careers in Surf Science


Dr. Jeff Nessler                                                                                            Professor, California State University, San Marcos

I teach courses in Biomechanics of Human Movement and Human Motor Control in the Department of Kinesiology.  My education was a combination of mechanical engineering and movement science, and my early research focused on gait and locomotion in individuals with neurological injury.  Recently, I have become interested in other forms of locomotion, particularly surfing and skateboarding, and my research has focused on these areas.  More specifically, paddling mechanics, balance and wave riding in surfers.

My career is intellectually stimulating, and each day is different.  I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about interesting research, teaching it to others, and coming up with fun experiments.

I would like to provide important and impactful information for researchers, athletes, and coaches involved in surfing and skateboarding, particularly as they begin to train athletes for the Olympics.

Matt Kibby                                                                                                             Forecaster, Surfline

I studied at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and achieved a B.S. in Meteorology with a minor in math.  Between growing up in, around and on the ocean, and becoming quite the weather nerd in my college years, my career as a Forecaster at Surfline is extraordinary.  I can combine two of my biggest passions.

As a Forecaster, I am responsible for surf reports and forecasts along the West Coast of the U.S. and Hawaii, as well as various international locations.  In addition, I perform statistical analysis of historical surf reports, and model data for use in long term forecasts and climatological studies.

Dr. Phil Bresnahan​                                                                                                Research Engineer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San D​iego

I build tools (sensors and robots) to measure ocean chemistry—especially changes to ocean chemistry resulting from pollution.  Right now, my favorite instrument to work on is called Smartfin; it’s a surfboard fin with sensors embedded in it to measure temperature, wave motion and position (GPS).  We distribute Smartfins to surfers around the world to study their local home breaks, and become more engaged in stewardship and protection of the waves they love.

I would like to help scientists learn how to make stronger connections with their communities.  There is so much scientific information that most people don’t know—partly because we’re learning new things all the time, but partly because scientists don’t always know how to connect with non-scientists.  I think it would be awesome to help a few more scientists, especially those doing environmental work, to figure out what they have in common with their community members outside of the lab.

People come up to me all the time to ask why my fin is blinking and if it scares sharks away.  I do not know about the second part but to the first, I tell them it’s because I’m collecting data while I surf!