2009 State Fellows Awarded

Caitlin Coomber

California Sea Grant is pleased to announce the 2009 State Fellowship winners.

Each of the five fellows selected will receive a $2,750 monthly stipend for up to 12 months to intern at a host agency in California active in marine issues. This year’s hosts include: California Ocean Protection Council; California Ocean Resources Management Program; California Ocean Science Trust; Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and NOAA Coastal Services Center.

“This fellowship is the perfect blend of science and policy, and how science informs policy in the real world,” says State Fellow recipient Steve Choy, who studied the environmental implications of tradable catch quotas for his master’s thesis, which he earned from UC Santa Barbara in June 2008. “It is what I was looking for all along.”

Choy will spend his fellowship at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s research program, working under the tutelage of its director, Andrew DeVogelaere, on characterizing groundfish habitats. DeVogelaere hopes that better habitat maps will help the sanctuary protect sensitive areas from new cable laying or trawling.

“We are excited to have Steve on board,” DeVogelaere says. “He’s bright; he’s young; he’s energetic. He also has experience with GIS, and he likes and has experience at sea.”

Fellowship recipient Sarah Henkel, the only doctorate in this year’s class, studied the invasive kelp Undaria pinnatifida for her thesis and was dubbed Weed Queen by her lab-mates for her enthusiasm for seaweed science.

Beginning this fall, Henkel will be working at the California Ocean Science Trust, under the direction of its Executive Director Amber Mace, herself a former State Fellow in 2005.

The state is conducting an aquatic invasive species risk assessment for six “vectors” – ways in which invasive species are introduced and spread – besides ballast water, Mace explained. Henkel will participate in this project and help assemble an aquatic invasive species expert panel to evaluate the state’s invasive species program.

“I anticipate that through the fellowship I will participate in the development of solutions to address environmental threats and economic challenges facing communities dependent on marine resources,” Henkel wrote in fellowship application.

“California is at the forefront of ocean protection,” says Shauna Oh, manager of the California Sea Grant State Fellowship program. “Our applicants realize they don’t have to relocate to Washington, D.C. to get the experience they need to have top-level careers in marine policy.”

2009 California Sea Grant State Fellowship winners:

Ashley Blacow, who plans to earn a master’s in international environmental policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in December, placed at the California Ocean Resources Management Program.

Steve Choy, who holds a master’s in environmental science and management from UC Santa Barbara, placed at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Rachelle Fisher, a master’s in marine biology and conservation at UC San Diego, at the California Ocean Protection Council.

Sarah Henkel, a doctorate in marine science from UC Santa Barbara, at the California Ocean Science Trust.

Megan Wood, a master’s degree in biology from Sonoma State University, at the California office of the NOAA Coastal Services Center.

Written by Christina Johnson