2019 California Sea Grant State Fellows Announced

Tayler Tharaldson

California Sea Grant has selected 23 recipients—the largest cohort yet—for its prestigious State Fellowship. This opportunity provides fellows with unparalleled and hands-on training at the interface of science, communication, policy, and management at either a municipal, state, or federal host agency in California for one year.

“The State Fellowship program is very effective in increasing the capacity of host organizations with talent from California universities, while giving recent graduates an opportunity to apply their scientific training to policy questions,” says Shauna Oh, the newly appointed director of California Sea Grant. “Upon completion of their fellowship, many of the fellows remain in California’s marine policy and management community and have become leaders, making significant contributions to these fields.”

All fellowship recipients have graduate-level training at universities within California. This year’s cohort hails from the diverse disciplines of marine and watershed science, biology and ecology, marine fisheries biology, biodiversity and conservation, resource management, international environmental policy, and environmental science and management, while representing 15 universities throughout the state.

Alexis Barrera, State Coastal Conservancy - Coastal Restoration
Alexis Barrera earned a master’s in biology from California State University, Fullerton in 2019 where she assessed whether environmental temperature affects the aggressive behavior observed in aggregating anemones. She also participated as a student technician for MARINe (Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network) during graduate school.

Barrera will likely work on statewide coastal habitat restoration projects—some of which include the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority and the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project.

Sam Blakesley, State Lands Commission - AB 691/Science
Sam Blakesley, a master’s candidate pursuing international environmental policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, will graduate in May 2019 with a focus in ocean and coastal resources management. To complement his studies, Blakesley chaired the Santa Cruz chapter of Surfrider Foundation, where he played an instrumental role in monitoring, identifying, and managing solutions to water quality impairment at Cowell Beach.

Blakesley intends to build on his experience and enthusiasm for natural resource and coastal protection through his work with tidally-influenced land grantees as he identifies and implements strategies that safeguard and build resiliency to sea-level rise and other imminent climate challenges that California already is, and continues to face.

Jillian Burns, San Francisco Estuary Partnership
Jillian Burns will earn a master’s in marine science from the Estuary and Ocean Science Center at San Francisco State University in 2019 where she investigated larval longfin smelt diets and zooplankton communities in shoal, tidal marsh, and channel habitats of the northern San Francisco Estuary.

Burns will assist in the planning of the 2019 State of the Estuary Conference and support the Wetland Regional Monitoring Program at the San Francisco Estuary Partnership (SFEP).

Meghan Emidy, Port of San Diego - Environmental Conservation
Meghan Emidy received a master’s in marine biodiversity and conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego in June 2018. For her graduate capstone, Meg developed and taught an original and place-based curriculum for high school students to understand the connectivity between climate change and coastal ecosystems.

As a fellow with the environmental conservation team at the Port of San Diego, Emidy will assist on wetland restoration projects that enhance coastal resilience and provide opportunities for mitigation banking.

Corianna Flannery, Delta Stewardship Program - Planning and Performance
Corianna Flannery earned a master’s in fisheries biology from Humboldt State University in May 2018 where she studied the effects of ocean acidification and reduced oxygen on the behavior and physiology of juvenile rockfish. She also worked as a Natural Resources and Fisheries Technician for the Wiyot Tribe Natural Resources Department.

Flannery will assist in developing recommendations and potential policies to guide the Council’s evaluation of the Delta Plan for the Five-Year Review, participate in the development of the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategy for the Delta and Suisun Marsh, and develop spatial data for Delta Plan Regulations and past covered actions with the Delta Stewardship Council.

Timothy Frawley, NOAA/NMFS/Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Timothy Frawley completed his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2019, where he investigated social and ecological change of small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California within the anthropocene.

Frawley will carry out his fellowship at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center and work towards understanding the foraging behavior of fishers in the California Current.

Josh Graybiel, Monterey Bay Aquarium - Policy
Josh Graybiel earned a master’s in environmental science and management with a specialization in corporate environmental management and focus in environmental
entrepreneurship from UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School where he studied opportunities for Software as a Service (SaaS) and Internet of Things (IoT) technology to create a more sustainable, efficient, and profitable aquaculture industry. In addition, he worked with a team of students at the Bren School to research and draft the Best Management Practices for Offshore Shellfish Aquaculture in California and Federal Waters.

Graybiel will research, evaluate and communicate pressing ocean conservation and policy issues that include plastic pollution, climate change, aquaculture, and offshore renewable energy with the Monterey Bay Aquarium conservation and science team.

Tracy Grimes, Delta Science Program - Collaborative Science & Peer Review
Tracy Grimes received a master’s in ecology from San Diego State University in 2019 where she assessed effects of southern sea otters on commercially important crabs in California estuaries.

During her fellowship, Grimes will assist with the Delta Science Plan implementation, Independent Scientific Reviews, the Social Science Task Force, and work on a data synthesis project related to juvenile salmon migration in the Delta as part of the Collaborative Science and Peer Review Unit for the Delta Science Program.

David Hernandez, Monterey Bay Aquarium - Conservation Research
David Hernandez graduated with a Master of Science in ecology from UC Davis. For his thesis work, he researched how the depth preference of blue rockfish changes as individuals progress through their life history.

As a fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Hernandez will work on a project to determine the effects that sea otter reintroductions have on nearby fisheries with the conservation research team.

Anna Holder, State Water Resources Control Board - Office of Information Management & Analysis (OIMA)
Anna Holder received a Master of Science in applied marine and watershed science from California State University, Monterey Bay in 2018. During graduate school, she analyzed survey and fishery catch data to evaluate whether and to what extent there is a relationship between environmental and demographic factors, and the occurrence of multiple brooding in rockfish (Sebastes spp.)

For her placement at the State Water Resources Control Board in the Office of Information Management and Analysis, Holder will combine her science communication and data science skills to analyze, interpret, and visualize environmental data in a way that is informative for water quality managers and the public.

Daniel Hossfeld, State Coastal Conservancy -  Climate
Daniel Hossfield graduated from the Estuary and Ocean Science Center at San Francisco State University earning a master's in marine science in the spring of 2019. He studied the effects of stress on a symbiotic relationship between sea anemones and Symbiodinium spp. (a species of dinoflagellate) and interned with California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology at the Bay Institute in 2017.

Hossfield will work with the State Coastal Conservancy's Climate Ready Program on the protection of important coastal resources and habitats from the current and future impacts of climate change.

Allison Kellum, Ocean Protection Council - Climate
Allison Kellum graduated from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego with a Master of Advanced Studies in marine biodiversity and conservation in 2018 where she assessed the extent to which volunteering with marine protected area (MPA) monitoring efforts affects angler opinions of California’s MPA network. To date, Kellum has experience with the Net Gains alliance, she developed and evaluated school programs, and coordinated volunteers through the AmeriCorps service program at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center in Washington.

At the California Ocean Protection Council, Kellum will be coordinating state-wide efforts to communicate about sea-level rise impacts and options for adaptation.

Marguerite McCann, Fish and Game Commission
Marguerite McCann graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay with a master’s in applied marine and watershed science in 2018. She completed a professional internship with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, where she worked on projects relating to education and outreach.  She supported and participated on a seafloor mapping and exploration mission onboard the R/V Nautilus, interpreted the multibeam sonar and remotely-operated vehicle imagery for the public, and created a digital outreach product to educate the public about deep-sea corals.

McCann’s work with the California Fish and Game Commission will involve developing a strategy to address issues relating to invasive red-eared sliders and bullfrogs. She will work with stakeholders to ensure this strategy addresses the needs of both the ecosystem and the community.

Kate Melanson, Delta Science Program - Science Communication, Synthesis, and Decision Support Unit
Kate Melanson graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2018 where she studied black abalone recovery in the northern Channel Islands and implications of their recovery as it pertains to what happens in the policy realm when two endangered species interact. During this time, she also worked closely with the Partnership for the Interdisciplinary Study of Coastal Oceans (PISCO).

Melanson will help synthesize science articles that are directly relevant to issues in the Bay-Delta region to be accessible for policy and decision makers, as well as the general public for the Delta Science Program.

Emily Read, California State Parks
Emily Read graduated with a master’s in environmental science and management from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara in 2017. Her emphasis was coastal marine resources management with a focus on strategic environmental communications and media and studied the planning and incentivizing of the native oyster restoration progress in Southern California.

With California State Parks, Read will help with the prioritization of restoration projects in coastal state parks located throughout the state.

Katie Robinson-Filipp, State Lands Commission - Environmental Justice
Katie Robinson-Filipp will earn a master’s in marine science from the University of San Diego in 2019. Her thesis examines differences in the diet of the California Killifish, Fundulus parvipinnis, in a natural and created marsh habitat, using gut content and stable isotope analysis. During graduate school, she taught introductory labs and worked as an NSF Intern with the City of San Diego’s sustainability department.

During her fellowship with the State Lands Commission, Fillipp will work with the science policy team on environmental justice and sea-level rise related projects.

Madelyn Roycroft, Port of San Diego - Aquaculture
Madelyn Roycroft graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a master’s in biological sciences in 2018. Her thesis examined how resource abundance interacts with dietary specialization to shape foraging behavior in Caribbean parrotfishes. In between graduate school and the start of the fellowship, she moved to San Diego where she worked for the City of Oceanside’s Clean Water Program and completed a six-month habitat restoration internship for the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy.

As the Aquaculture and Blue Economy fellow for the Port of San Diego, Roycroft is excited to assist with a variety of current and upcoming pilot projects to support the growth of shellfish and seaweed aquaculture in San Diego Bay and promote emerging blue technology businesses. She is also looking forward to having the chance to contribute to a variety of projects that share a common theme to promote sustainable ocean activities for the Port of San Diego and San Diego citizens.

Scott Shatto, Ocean Protection Council - Marine Protected Areas
Scott Shatto graduated from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego with a Master of Advanced Studies in marine biodiversity and conservation in 2018. He studied and communicated ocean deoxygenation and developed recommendations for communicating ocean deoxygenation to California policy makers.

Shatto will be involved with all things related to marine protected areas at the California Ocean Protection Council—from managing grants, to hosting statewide leadership team meetings, and helping guide policy regulations.

Pike Spector, NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
Pike Spector earned a master’s in December 2018 from San Diego State University where he aimed to quantify the contribution of understory algae to levels of seawater dissolved oxygen on temperate rocky reefs, and what happens when these reefs are denuded of macroalgae. He conducted this study across the native range of giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, in Monterey Bay, San Diego, and Baja California. Pike is most proud of Project Pegasus, where he led a team of high school volunteers in the construction of a small remotely operated vehicle.

Spector will assist the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with their bi-monthly Sanctuary Advisory Council meetings, outreach events coordinated with two other National Marine Sanctuaries in California, and with the redrafting of the sanctuary’s 10-year management plan.

Tayler Tharaldson, California Sea Grant - Science Communication
Tayler Tharaldson earned a master’s in biological sciences from Humboldt State University in May 2018. During this time, she studied the mitigation effects of two species of surfgrass (Phyllospadix spp.) on seawater chemistry for surrounding tidepool communities, in relation to ocean acidification. She also took part in the implementation of a long-term monitoring plan of eelgrass (Zostera marina) and associated communities in Humboldt Bay, and contributed to the understanding of how seawater chemistry varies in areas of the Bay with and without eelgrass for oyster aquaculture farms.

At California Sea Grant, Tharaldson’s role as a science communicator will be used to inform policy makers and managers of current scientific findings that are applicable to coastal and marine systems in California. Her work will consist of filling a science communication niche to better address environmental impacts and issues occurring within the Tijuana River Valley.

Madison Thomas, Delta Science Program - Science-Based Adaptive Management Unit
Madison Thomas earned a master’s in biology from California State University, Long Beach in 2018, where she monitored the restoration of a salt pond system into a tidal salt marsh in south San Diego Bay.

At the Delta Stewardship Council, Thomas will help support the Delta Independent Science Board and also work on adaptive management projects in the Bay-Delta region.

Karen Kim Vu, California Coastal Commission
Karen Vu graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Master of Science in environmental management in 2018. She looked at opportunities for sea-level rise adaptation strategies in the San Francisco Bay. Her study included a literature review and comparative analysis between gray and green coastal armoring structures, analysis of the physical and hydrologic conditions of the San Francisco Bay to determine the suitability of specific green armoring structures, as well as opportunities to improve existing gray armoring that promotes species abundance and diversity. During this time, Vu worked for Heal the Bay as a beach water quality analyst. 

Vu will work with the sea-level rise team to help the California Coastal Commission better understand the implications of sea-level rise on public trust lands and resources.

Rachel Wigginton, San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission
Rachel Wigginton earned a doctorate in ecology from the University of California, Davis in 2019 and a master’s in biology from California State University, Long Beach in 2012. Her Ph.D. research focused on tidal wetland restoration and conservation with a specific focus on the role of invasive plants and their interactions with climate change.

During her fellowship, Wigginton will help the San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission with its Adapting to Rising Tides program which helps the Bay Area respond to sea-level rise.