2018 California Sea Grant State Fellows Announced


California Sea Grant has selected 21 recipients for its prestigious State Fellowship. The unique educational and professional opportunity provides each fellow with hands-on training at a municipal, state, or federal host agency in California for one year.

“The California Sea Grant State Fellowship program continues to attract top-level talent and this year’s group is especially strong,” said California Sea Grant Director Jim Eckman. “The new graduates are introduced to a blend of science and high-level policy, and the experience has helped jump-start the careers of coastal and marine policy professionals.”

All fellowship recipients have completed graduate-level training at California universities. This year’s diverse cohort hails from the disciplines of marine and watershed science, ecology, marine and fisheries biology, biodiversity and conservation, international environmental policy, and environmental science and management.

Meet the fellows

Whitney Berry, Ocean Protection Council – Climate Change
Whitney Berry earned a master’s degree in international environmental policy, with a concentration in ocean and coastal resource management, from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in 2016. In addition to her work at Monterey Bay Aquarium’s conservation and science department during her graduate studies, Berry has international work experience and previously spent time in Pohnpei, Micronesia, developing a “ridge-to-reef” management plan for the local government. She also worked with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Global Marine and Polar Program in Switzerland where she studied the potential impacts of deep seabed mining and presented her findings at the IUCN Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii.

At the California Ocean Protection Council, Berry will work on issues and projects including sea-level rise, ocean acidification, hypoxia, and other ocean conditions resulting from a changing climate. She will help develop California’s Ocean Acidification Action Plan and advance the recommendations from the International Ocean Acidification Alliance.

Carrie Boyle, State Coastal Conservancy – Climate Ready Program
Carrie Boyle earned a master’s degree in applied marine and watershed science at California State University, Monterey Bay, in 2017. During graduate school, Boyle helped characterize acoustic telemetry work within national marine sanctuary waters. Additionally, she interned at KQED Science, writing science news stories and developing video stories for the Deep Look team.

As the Climate Ready fellow, Boyle will help run the 2018 Climate Ready grant program, which funds projects that use natural infrastructure along the coast to adapt to the impacts of climate change. She will also be the coordinator of the California Coastal Resilience Network and the Conservancy's climate committee.

Michael Esgro, Ocean Protection Council – Marine Protected Areas
Michael Esgro graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay, with a master’s degree in applied marine and watershed science in 2016. While in graduate school, Esgro worked as a scientific diver, assisting with remotely operated vehicle monitoring of deep marine ecosystems in Monterey and Southern California. His thesis focused on the role of "de facto" marine reserves in protection of fish and invertebrate communities in the Channel Islands.

During his fellowship with the Ocean Protection Council, Esgro will help coordinate an ongoing, multi-agency effort to monitor and manage California's network of marine protected areas.

Stephanie Gad, Port of San Diego – Ocean Planning Fellow
Stephanie Gad received a master’s degree in environmental science and management with a focus on conservation planning from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2017. Her group thesis work assessed the ecological connectivity of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary by modeling larval dispersal in order to inform areas of priority conservation.

Gad will work with the Port of San Diego's planning team and the California State Lands Commission to identify current ocean uses and their relationships to plan for present and future uses of the ocean space offshore of San Diego County. She will also help with other environmental projects in and around San Diego Bay.

Julie Gonzalez, State Coastal Conservancy – South Coast Program
Julie Gonzalez received a master's degree in marine science from the Romberg Tiburon Center at San Francisco State University in January 2018, collaborating closely with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center for her thesis project. Her research focused on an invasive crab and its impacts on a native cordgrass being restored to San Francisco Bay. Previously, Gonzalez was a research technician in biological oceanography labs at Georgia Tech and UC Santa Barbara, and a marine ecology lab at UC Davis.

Gonzalez will support the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project, helping to edit and supplement the regional strategy update for southern California wetlands, and other Coastal Conservancy work in Southern California.

Nicole Hack, State Water Resources Control Board – Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP)
Nicole Hack will earn a master’s degree in biological sciences from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, in March 2018. Her studies focused the potential use of hormones as biomarkers for the health of rockfish.

As a fellow, Hack will work on SWAMP's statewide monitoring programs to ensure pollution and toxicants have not reached unhealthy levels in bodies of water or accumulated in consumed fish species. She will also be validating the efficacy of a new spatial mapping tool for monitoring freshwater harmful algal blooms via satellite.

Leslie Hart, California Fish and Game Commission
Leslie Hart will receive a master’s degree in biological sciences from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, in March 2018. During graduate school, Hart worked as a laboratory and field technician, monitoring eelgrass density and health in intertidal Morro Bay habitats and sea star recovery after a massive decline due to sea star wasting syndrome. Hart’s thesis investigated the seasonality of red abalone recruitment dynamics and the physical oceanographic parameters that may correspond to peaks or troughs in recruitment.

Hart will help draft a coastal fishing communities policy to be adopted by the Fish and Game Commission, reevaluate the Commission's policy on restricted access for commercial fisheries, and review best management practices for aquaculture.

Ian Kelmartin, San Francisco Estuary Partnership
Ian Kelmartin graduated from Humboldt State University with a master’s degree in fisheries biology in 2018. He worked with charter captains and volunteer anglers to survey the reef-associated fish communities in Northern California marine protected areas as part of the North Coast MPA Baseline Monitoring Program, and later as part of the statewide California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program. Kelmartin’s research used data from collaborative fisheries research to create high-resolution habitat suitability models for nearshore fishes.

At the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, Kelmartin will assist the Wetlands Regional Monitoring Program, which aims to design and implement a monitoring program plan for wetlands and streams in the Bay Area.

Jaclyn Mandoske, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)
Jaclyn Mandoske received a master’s degree in marine biodiversity and conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego in 2017. During graduate school, she worked as the sustainability policy intern in the City of San Diego’s economic development department. Mandoske’s thesis work explored ecosystem services; she conducted a spatial and economic analysis of blue carbon stored in mangroves and seagrasses to understand their contribution to sustainable development in the Bahamas, and evaluated the potential policy pathways to utilize a blue carbon analysis to further conservation.

Mandoske will work on Adapting to Rising Tides (ART), a project that evaluates sea-level rise and provides a portfolio of resources to support and guide coastal planning to address and adapt to climate impacts.

Lindsay Marks, NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
Lindsay Marks will earn a doctorate in ecology from University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2018. Her dissertation research focused on the ecological causes and consequences of an invasive seaweed in California.

During her fellowship, Lindsay will work with the Resources Protection Unit of the sanctuary to research and help develop effective policies for marine invasive species management, among other pressing conservation issues. She is also excited to engage with local sanctuary stakeholders by coordinating sanctuary advisory council meetings.

Erik Martinez, California Coastal Commission
Erik Martinez earned a master's degree in conservation planning with a focus on strategic environmental communication and media from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017. Erik previously conducted biological surveys of wetlands as a technician for the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station Mitigation Monitoring Project based at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute.

At the Coastal Commission, Erik will support the agency's efforts to create an environmental justice policy by conducting outreach with local groups and engaging staff members.

Jessica (Flower) Moye, California State Controller's Office
Flower Moye received a master’s degree in coastal and watershed science and policy from California State University, Monterey Bay, in 2017. Moye's thesis examined gender-mediated habitat associations of kelp greenling along the north coast of California using predictive modelling techniques.

Moye will work with the State Controller's Office on projects related to climate change mitigation, greenhouse gas reduction efforts, sea-level rise preparedness, and offshore renewable energy.

Abby Newman, California State Lands Commission
Abby Newman received a master’s degree in marine biodiversity and conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego, in 2017. Her graduate research explored the effectiveness of consumer-facing seafood labels, and their potential role in reducing Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Upper Gulf of California, Mexico. Prior to receiving her graduate degree, Newman worked on a number of projects in the academic, government, and non-profit sectors surrounding climate change and its impacts on listed species.

At the State Lands Commission, Newman will work with the science policy team on a variety of projects related to sea-level rise, shoreline armoring, marine spatial planning, environmental justice, and offshore renewable energy.

Stephen Pang, Delta Stewardship Council –  Planning and Performance Division
Stephen Pang will receive a master’s degree in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Labs in 2018. His thesis research examined the effects of size-selective fishing on the reproductive output of sex-changing fish species.

At the Delta Stewardship Council, Pang will assist with performance measures and ecosystem amendments in the Planning and Performance Division.

Catarina Pien, Delta Science Program –  Adaptive Management & Independent Science Board
Catarina Pien will earn a master’s degree in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Labs in 2018. Her thesis focused on the distribution of sharks and rays in Elkhorn Slough, and analyzed how environmental variables influence the abundance of different species at varying life stages.

Pien will work with the Independent Science Board to assess and provide management suggestions for wetland monitoring in the Delta.

Matthew Robbins, Delta Science Program – Science Plan and Infrastructure Unit
Matt Robbins earned a doctorate in ecology from University of California, Davis, in 2018. His research used a social network analysis to model the evolution of marine resource governance networks.

During his fellowship, Robbins will support the Delta Stewardship Council in its effort to increase the representation of social science in the Delta Science Plan.

Erin Satterthwaite, NOAA Fisheries – Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Erin Satterthwaite will earn a doctorate in ecology from University of California, Davis, in 2018. Her dissertation is an interdisciplinary project focused on understanding the movement of marine young, also known as marine larvae, to better identify habitats that are priority marine conservation areas and ensure that areas will maintain healthy populations. She uses ecological fieldwork to study the relationship between habitat characteristics, reproduction, and settlement of a model crab species along the California coast.

At the NOAA NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Satterthwaite will assist the environmental research division with the development of an ecosystem-based fishery management plan to comprehensively manage marine species as part of an ecosystem.

Laura Schwebel, Port of San Diego – Environmental Conservation and Mitigation Banking
Laura Schwebel earned a master’s degree in marine science from the University of San Diego in 2017. Her research focused on the growth and development of California yellowtail in aquaculture.

Schwebel will work on a variety of collaborative projects involving aquaculture, blue technology, and natural resources management at the Port of San Diego.

Lark Starkey, State Water Resources Control Board – Division of Water Quality
Lark Starkey graduated from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, with a master’s degree in marine biodiversity and conservation in 2017. Starkey conducted her thesis fieldwork in Palau, exploring the challenges to plastic upcycling and management in small island communities.

During her fellowship, Starkey will help create and revise water quality policies and plans for the California Ocean Plan, including sections regarding bacteria provisions, program development for constituents of emerging concern, water quality objectives in marine protected areas, and stormwater and wastewater infrastructure.

Michelle Succow, California Department of Parks and Recreation – Natural Resources Division
Michelle Succow received a master’s degree in biology from Humboldt State University in 2017. Her thesis focused on population interactions between fish and invertebrates in northern California’s sandy beach marine protected areas.

Succow will help address sea-level rise impacts on California’s coastal state parks through working groups, policy revisions, outreach, and education.

Amanda Wasserman, Delta Science Program - Water Supply and Science Communication Unit
Amanda Wasserman earned a master’s degree in applied marine and watershed science from California State University, Monterey Bay, in 2017. During graduate school, Wasserman examined the ecology and habitat preference of nearshore marine fishes using diver-operated stereo video and geospatial technology. Upon graduation, she has been involved in the development of a fisheries management plan for Pacific herring in California, and completed an internship at the NASA Ames Research Center where she used remote sensing to contribute to a better understanding of air quality in California.

At the Delta Science Program, Wasserman will help translate complex scientific information concerning the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to a form that can be easily understood by non-scientists like policymakers and the people who live and work around the Delta.

About California Sea Grant

NOAA’s California Sea Grant College Program funds marine research, education and outreach throughout California. Headquartered at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, California Sea Grant is one of 34 Sea Grant programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.