Kats’ current research is on the causes of amphibian decline in Southern California. He and his students focus their studies on the effects of ultra-violet radiation, wildfire, and the introduction of exotic species. He has significant background in the areas of animal behavior, conservation, animal ecology, tropical biology, and stream ecology. He conducts most of his research in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California; however, he also leads classes and conducts research in Costa Rica and Argentina.
Kats has taught at Pepperdine for 19 years. He currently serves as the Associate Provost for Research. He received his Ph.D. in animal ecology from the University of Kentucky in 1990. He has published numerous research articles on amphibian ecology and conservation ecology and has served on the Board of Editors for the scientific journal Conservation Biology since 1996 and recently joined the editorial board of the European scientific journal on freshwater biology, Hydrobiologia.