Professor, Physics and William D. and Flora McCormick Chair in Biophysics
Rachel Pepper’s research interests span physics, biology, and engineering, with a focus on biological fluid mechanics. She has worked on projects that investigate how microscopic organisms interact with moving water around them. Her research adds to understanding of how tiny ocean organisms can navigate through turbulent ocean flows to environments where they might thrive. Ultimately such work may lead to new strategies for creating desired communities in aquaculture, such as mussel farms, or point to new ways to maintain and restore marine communities. The recipient of many awards and fellowships, Pepper earned the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science Fellowship for 2011–2014. Publications include “Zooplankton in flowing water near benthic communities encounter rapidly fluctuating velocity gradients and accelerations,” in Marine Biology (2015). Prior to joining Puget Sound, Pepper worked with marine larvae and aquatic filter feeders, in conjunction with the Koehl Lab and Environmental Fluid Mechanics group at U.C. Berkeley. Pepper also has an interest in service and outreach programs, and she has been involved with Techbridge Girls Dinner with a Scientist, the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics Committee on Educational and Career Outreach, and Science Club for Girls.