Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Tsunami Preparedness Week: Spotlight on Sea Grant Extension Agent Ian Miller

Coastal Hazard Specialist at Washington Sea Grant

A skilled science communicator and media spokesperson, Dr. Ian Miller is Washington Sea Grant’s coastal hazards specialist, working out of Peninsula College in Port Angeles as well as University of Washington’s Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks. Dr. Miller works with coastal communities on the Olympic Peninsula to increase their ability to plan for and manage coastal hazards, including tsunami, chronic erosion, coastal flooding and hazards associated with climate change. To accomplish this, he uses a suite of tools including outreach, applied research, synthesis of existing science, and coordination to help coastal communities access funding and expertise to achieve their goals and implement their plans.

Before joining Washington Sea Grant, Dr. Miller served as the education director of the Olympic Park Institute and as Washington field coordinator for the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation. Dr. Miller holds a bachelor’s degree in marine ecology at Western Washington University’s Huxley College of Environmental Studies and a doctorate in ocean sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz. His graduate research focused on the transport and fate of sediment in the coastal zone adjacent to the Elwha River delta. Find him online blogging at the Coast Nerd Gazette.


What is the one thing everyone needs to know about tsunamis?

LARGE tsunamis can happen here, in the Pacific Northwest. They have happened in the past and will happen again.

What is something cool you learned while working on tsunami outreach?

Tsunamis leave a distinct “signature” on the shoreline when they occur, and if you know what to look for, those markings are all over the place in coastal Washington state.

What drove you to work on coastal hazards outreach?

I first got into coastal geomorphology through surfing, and that interest carried me into science. It’s not a far leap from an academic interest in coastal geomorphology to trying to figure out how to predict and manage problems like coastal erosion in support of coastal communities.

How did you get involved with Sea Grant? When did you join Sea Grant?

I started at WA Sea Grant in 2011. I was finishing my PhD and applied for a position in coastal hazards that I saw advertised in my adopted hometown.

What is your favorite part about being a Sea Grant Extension agent?

How varied it is. I work on a variety of different projects and problems.

What is the biggest challenge you face at your job?

How varied it is!  I miss getting to focus on one project or problem.

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in science?

I picked marine science when I was early in high school, but took a “brief” hiatus from science to get into education and advocacy after graduating with my bachelor’s of science. After I became involved with the Elwha restoration in 2006, it reinvigorated my interest in science and I ended up pursuing my PhD with that project.

What part of your job did you least expect to be doing?

I didn’t necessarily expect to continue some of my work studying the coastal response to the Elwha dam removal, but it is one of the more rewarding and valuable components of my job!

What’s at the top of your recommended reading list for someone wanting to explore a career in science?

Find the nearest textbook about probability and statistics. It won’t be super inspirational, but it will pay off over and over again.

And how about a personal favorite book?

Steinbeck’s The Log of the Sea of Cortez:   “It is usually found that only the little stuffy men object to what is called “popularization,” by which they mean writing with a clarity understandable to one not familiar with the tricks and codes of the cult. We have not known a single great scientist who could not discourse freely and interestingly with a child.”

Do you have an outside hobby?

I used to have all sorts of interesting hobbies. Now I mostly wrangle my two young boys, try to keep them alive and myself fed and showered. That is about all I can handle.

What surprised you most about working at Sea Grant?

How little, as a field agent, that I actually work with other Sea Grant staff. I spend most of my time directly engaging managers, coastal communities, tribes and local leaders.


Check out our whole Tsunami Preparedness Week Profile Series:

Spotlight on Pat Corcoran

Spotlight on Jamie Mooney

Spotlight on Dr. Kwok Fai Cheung




Related Posts

Virginia Sea Grant Launches the USDA and NOAA-Supported Aquaculture Information Exchange Online Community Platform

The Aquaculture Information Exchange (AIE) online community platform website is now live and open for new user registrations. The AIE represents a joint effort between NOAA’s National Sea Grant Office, NOAA’s Fisheries Office of Aquaculture, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and Virginia Sea Grant.

Read More >
Image of Capitol Hill with a bright blue cloudless sky and blooming cherry blossom tree in the right corner
Academia to Government

Sea Grant Announces the 2024 Class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2024 class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program. The 85 early-career professionals selected will be placed in federal government offices throughout Washington, D.C., and join the over 1,600 individuals who have participated in the program since its inception in 1979.

Read More >
Image of plastic debris on Oregon’s Clatsop Beach by Tiffany Woods | Oregon Sea Grant.

Sea Grant announces funding opportunities to support community-engaged marine debris removal and prevention

Sea Grant announces $19 million in federal funding opportunities to address the prevention and removal of marine debris. These opportunities are a component of nearly $3 billion in targeted investments for NOAA in the areas of habitat restoration, coastal resilience and weather forecasting infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Read More >
Scroll to Top