Leif received a B.S. in Business Economics from Willamette University in 2001. He attended graduate school at the University of Washington's Department of Economics, receiving a M.S. in 2004 and a Ph.D. in 2009. Leif began working for the NWFSC as an intern through the NMFS-Sea Grant Fellowship in marine resource economics. Leif joined the NWFSC in October of 2009.
Leif is currently applying discrete choice models to saltwater sport fishing survey data collected in Oregon and Washington, examining the trade-offs anglers are willing to make among fishing trip attributes in order to quantify the effect of changes in regulations, the distribution of catch, and the distribution of size on angler welfare and participation in the fishery.