2013 California Sea Grant State Fellows Announced

Caitlin Coomber

California Sea Grant has selected the recipients of the 2013 California Sea Grant State Fellowships in marine policy and resource management.

This year’s cohort of 13 hails from the disciplines of marine biology, physical oceanography, paleogeology, fish physiology, environmental toxicology and marine resource management and is the largest class since the fellowship program began in 1987.

"Our State Fellowship program continues to attract a very talented pool of applicants," said California Sea Grant Associate Director Shauna Oh. "Agencies want to host these motivated and skilled recent graduates, and many of our fellows land jobs in marine policy after their fellowship ends, in large part because of the training and networking opportunities. I am very excited about the opportunities awaiting the fellows in the coming year."

All of this year’s fellowship recipients have completed graduate-level training at California universities. Many have volunteered or held positions at non-profits or government entities engaged in public education, management or conservation. For others, the fellowship will offer a “soft landing” from academia to public sector service with yearlong mentorship and on-the-job training.

"I already have a lot of responsibilities and am being exposed to a lot of topics," said recipient Hayley Carter, who started at the California Ocean Science Trust in early January. "It's been really great."

Another recipient Claire Waggoner, a recent master's graduate from CSU Long Beach, said she saw the fellowship as an "opportunity to transition to the next step."

"I would like to have a more direct impact, and make actual changes for the environment, through policy," said Waggoner who studied the endocrine-disrupting effects of pollutants on fish in Southern California.

"The Sea Grant State Fellowships are valuable, unique opportunities for students and scientists who want to understand and protect California's coastal ecosystems and resources," said Joe Street, currently a post-doctoral researcher at UC Santa Cruz, who will spend his fellowship at the California Coastal Commission.

Each State Fellow will receive a stipend of about $3,300 per month for up to a year. Major funding for the fellowships is being provided by the host agencies and the Ocean Protection Council, in partnership with California Sea Grant.

This year's hosts include the California Natural Resources Agency, the Delta Science Program, NOAA's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and the California Coastal Conservancy, among others.

This year’s California Sea Grant State Fellowship winners and their host agencies are:


Bethany Baibak - California Department of Parks and Recreation

Bethany Baibak will earn her master’s degree from Humboldt State University in the spring of 2013 for her research on population genetics of eelgrass in Humboldt Bay. Since 2010, she has held positions as a wildlife biologist at National Council on Air and Stream Improvement in Arcata and as a wildlife technician at Stanislaus National Forest in Groveland, Calif. She has several years experience teaching biology and botany. As a State Fellow, she will work closely with California Department of Parks and Recreation's Division Chief, headquarters staff and field technicians on natural resource management. A major focus of her fellowship will be to develop strategies and policies to protect coastal parks from sea level rise and other climate-related impacts.

"I am excited to build on my teaching experience and interest in communicating science,” said Baibak, who was a California Sea Grant Trainee while in graduate school. “Park rangers and the public need to know why it’s important to prepare for climate change."


Hayley Carter - California Ocean Science Trust

Hayley Carter earned a master’s degree in marine biology from San Francisco State University in 2012 for her studies of ocean acidification's effects on early crustacean development. At California Ocean Science Trust, she is currently helping to assemble an expert panel of scientists who can advise the state on management options and monitoring priorities related to ocean acidification and hypoxia. Part of her fellowship year will be spent identifying commercial fisheries in California that might be top candidates for a California sustainability certification, similar to the Marine Stewardship Council’s. She will also lead peer-reviews of various technical reports and management plans presented to the state, including a biological impact assessment of a new sediment management plan.


Andrea Dransfield - Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuaries

Andrea Dransfield earned a master’s degree in geography, with a concentration in resource management and environmental planning, from San Francisco State University in 2012. For her thesis, she identified feeding areas for humpback whales within NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries off California and then examined overlap between these habitat areas and current and proposed shipping lanes for the San Francisco Bay Area. As a State Fellow at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, she will continue efforts to reduce the threat of ship strikes to the recovery of endangered and protected whales.



Kelly Keen - California State Lands Commission

Kelly Keen earned her master's degree in marine biodiversity and conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego in 2012. Her thesis explored deep-water sound propagation from seismic air-gun surveys in the Arctic, possible consequences for bowhead whales and native subsistence communities, and the effectiveness of mitigation measures put in place to reduce these possible impacts.

As a State Fellow at the California State Lands Commission, she will be "working on a variety of complex and challenging marine and coastal issues concerning offshore geophysical and seismic surveys, marine renewable energy technologies, and marine debris."



Anniken Lydon - San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission

Anniken Lydon earned a master’s degree from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo for her studies of Arctic kelp populations around the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. As a State Fellow, she will help develop the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s Regional Sediment Management program.

"I will be identifying sediment 'hot spots' within the bay and system-wide sediment dynamics that will help flood control and watershed managers evaluate impacts of individual projects to the entire system," Lydon explained. "I am very excited to join the sediment management team."



Katie Morrice - Delta Science Program

Katie Morrice earned a master’s degree in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in 2011 for her research on flows (boundary layer dynamics) and mixing in the Monterey Submarine Canyon. Last year, she was a NOAA Fisheries groundfish observer on several commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea.

"At the Delta Science Program’s Independent Science Board, I will be assisting with programs related to ecosystem restoration and water-supply reliability and addressing how climate change and adaptive management can be incorporated into these programs," she explained.



Emily Mortazavi - Delta Science Program

Emily Mortazavi earned a master’s degree in earth sciences, with an emphasis on marine sedimentology and paleomagnetism, from USC in 2012. Her thesis explored Holocene sedimentation patterns in the western equatorial Pacific Ocean and its implications for understanding past climatic patterns.

She started her fellowship in mid-January and has not yet formulated a specific plan for her fellowship year. Broadly though, she will be working at the Delta Science Program on advancing its science plan and incorporating its science into the greater Delta Plan "to achieve the coequal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem."



Ariadne Reynolds - California State Coastal Conservancy

Ariadne Reynolds earned a master’s degree in coastal marine resource management from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara in 2012. Her thesis examined market-based solutions to reforming the ornamental fish trade a la “saving Nemo.” As a State Fellow, she will be applying her expertise to the State Coastal Conservancy's South Coast Wetland Recovery Project.

"I am so excited to assist with the Coastal Conservancy’s goals of acquiring, managing and restoring vital wetlands in Southern California," Reynolds said.



Mandy Sackett - California Ocean Protection Council

Mandy Sackett earned a Master’s of Arts in International Environmental Policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in
2012 and has held several positions at ocean non-profits, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium ,where she was an ocean policy assistant and fishery research analyst, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, where she was a Marine Protected Area Fellow in Ecuador.

"At the Ocean Protection Council, I will support the functions of the council, including agenda setting, policy recommendations, and project development," she said. "My role will include support on ocean observation and mapping, sea level rise and developing adaptation strategies, spatial data sharing to inform marine resource management, developing a sustainable seafood program in California and leading a working group to address marine debris."



Joseph Street - California Coastal Commission

Joe Street is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, who studies past climate patterns as recorded in marine, estuarine and lake sediments. He earned his doctorate in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford University in 2012. Some of his most recent research has looked at the paleoclimate of the Sierra Nevada, especially as it relates to changes in precipitation patterns over time.

"I hope to apply my scientific expertise to help address urgent issues in coastal zone management, including non-point source pollution and climate change adaptation," said Street who will begin his fellowship with the California Coastal Commission in February.



Marisa Villarreal - California Natural Resources Agency

Marisa Villarreal earned master’s degree in coastal marine resource management from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara in 2012. Her thesis focused on the social, economic and ecological pros and cons of an expanding salmon aquaculture industry in southern Chile.

At the Natural Resources Agency, she will serve as its Coastal Marine Resource Management Fellow and in this capacity, will be the agency’s liaison to a number of initiatives and organizations, including the West Coast Governor’s Agreement and the Ocean Protection Council.



Jessica Watson - California State Coastal Conservancy

Jessica Watson earned a master’s degree in Coastal Watershed Science and Policy from Cal State University, Monterey Bay in 2012. As a State Fellow, she will assist the Coastal Conservancy with its efforts to help the state prepare for climate change.

"I will be researching the most urgent management challenges, and the needs for funding or technical assistance to support climate change adaption," Watson said.



Claire Waggoner - State Water Resources Control Board

Also a former California Sea Grant Trainee, Claire Waggoner earned a master's degree in biology from Cal State University, Long Beach in 2011 for her research linking anthropogenic contaminants (such as PCBs) to specific health impacts on wild fish collected from the Southern California Bight. She has been an analytical chemist at the Institute for Integrated Research in Materials, Environments, and Society at CSU Long Beach and an animal care volunteer at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro and the Long Beach Aquarium.

As a Sea Grant Fellow, she will work on amendments to the California Ocean Plan and other water-quality projects, covering a broad range of issues, including desalination, beach water quality and ocean acidification. Her activities may include: participating in scientific studies, preparing environmental documents, attending public hearings, responding to public comments, making recommendations to policy makers, and preparing administrative records for any changes that the State Water Resources Control Board adopts.


Written by Christina Johnson