California Sea Grant announces largest class of state fellows

Sixteen year-long fellowships in marine policy and resource management awarded in 2014
Caitlin Coomber

Sixteen graduate students and recent graduates were named recipients of the 2014 California Sea Grant State Fellowships, California Sea Grant announced today. This year’s cohort is the largest since the marine policy and resource management fellowship program began in 1988.

Modeled after the highly successful national Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program, the California Sea Grant State Fellows Program provides an opportunity for highly qualified graduate students and recent graduates to acquire “on the job” experience at a host agency in California involved with marine policy, environmental quality and resource management. Each fellow will receive a $3,450 monthly stipend during the year-long placement.

“The program’s growth is the result of our partner agencies recognizing the value of this unique training opportunity. The quality of our applicant pool was stronger than ever,” said California Sea Grant Associate Director Shauna Oh.

The fellows, their host agencies and brief descriptions of their fellowship assignments follow:

1) CA Coastal Commission- Mary Matella

Mary Matella earned her doctorate in environmental science, policy and management from UC Berkeley in 2013. Her thesis explored new methods and tools to plan and evaluate habitat restoration projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

At the California Coastal Commission, Matella will be working on the Coastal Commission Sea-Level Rise Policy Guidance, part of a larger statewide strategy to respond to climate change.

2) CA Coastal Conservancy Climate Ready Program- Kelly Malinowski

Kelly Malinowski earned a Master of Public Administration in international environmental policy and management from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2013. During the pursuit of her master’s degree, Malinowski worked as an ocean conservation intern at Ocean Champions and an ocean policy work study assistant at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Malinowski will assist with the implementation of the SCC’s Climate Ready Program; supporting projects with local, state and regional agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to protect coastal resources and habitats from the impacts of climate change.

3) CA Coastal Conservancy South Coast Program- Evyan Borgnis

Evyan Borgnis earned a master’s degree in biology and systematic ecology from the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies at San Francisco State University in 2013. Since 2008, she has worked on projects for several labs investigating the effects of global climate change on tidal wetlands and subtidal habitats of the San Francisco Estuary. Her thesis explored the impacts of salinity and temperature on native and invasive submerged aquatic vegetation in the upper San Francisco Estuary.

Borgnis will help coordinate wetland restoration projects in Southern California at the California Coastal Conservancy.

4) CA Department of Fish and Wildlife Aquaculture Program- Nicole Bobco

Nicole Bobco will earn a master’s degree in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Labs in spring 2014. Her thesis focused on creating a series of algorithms to quantify rapid light curve results on a PAM fluorometer and increase confidence in measuring low algal biological response.

Bobco will be assisting with the California Shellfish Initiative at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Aquaculture program. The goal of the initiative is to restore shellfish populations through the collaboration of growers, local, state and federal resource managers and environmental organizations.

5) CA Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Region- Anthony Shiao

Anthony Shiao earned a Master of Advanced Study in Ocean Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2013. His thesis explored the integration of mid-water hypoxia related climate science to California’s MPA regulatory structure. He also earned a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School and has worked as a visiting attorney for the Environmental Law Institute since 2012.

At the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Region, he will be drafting part of a fishery management plan as well as offering assistance on the drafting of the accompanying regulatory package, and potentially the regulatory language itself.

6) CA Ocean Protection Council Marine Debris Program- Karen Kayfetz

Karen Kayfetz will earn a master’s degree in marine biology from the Romberg Tiburon Center at San Francisco State University in the spring of 2014. Her thesis research focused on the factors influencing the distribution of an important copepod species in the San Francisco Bay-Delta.

“At the California Ocean Protection Council, my focus will be on the issue of marine debris. I will be collaborating with the West Coast Governors’ Alliance to refine the West Coast marine debris database and to develop a policy layer for the West Coast ocean data portal. I will also be collaborating with the Coastal Commission, the State Water Board, and other groups to develop a report-card for trash reduction on California beaches,” Kayfetz said.

7) CA Ocean Protection Council Policy Specialist- Liz Parissenti

Liz Parissenti received a B.S. and M.S. in Earth Systems from Stanford University in June 2012. Her undergraduate research focused on biological oceanography and she studied Humboldt squid populations in the Gulf of California. During graduate school, she was a marine policy intern with NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program in Washington D.C. and NOAA’s West Coast Region National Marine Sanctuary in Monterey, CA.

She recently returned from Thailand and Cambodia where she spent a year as a divemaster and scientific scuba diver. Parissenti was continually reminded of the importance of strong marine legislation and enforcement, and is very excited to be a Sea Grant fellow with the OPC. She will focus on a number of OPC’s programs and partnerships, including the West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health, coordinating the management of MPAs with partner agencies, and strengthening the OPC’s partnerships with tribes.

8) CA Ocean Science Trust- Eve Robinson

Eve Robinson earned her doctorate in integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013. Her research examined how waves impact planktonic predator-prey interactions. Robinson has previously worked with marine conservation organizations in British Columbia, and as a science writer for non-academic audiences.

At California Ocean Science Trust, Robinson will apply her interdisciplinary background to link science with decision-making on topics ranging from fisheries to the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems. She will work with the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel, which aims to advance decision-makers’ understanding of the drivers and impacts of ocean acidification and hypoxia.

9) CA State Lands Commission- Lauren Bernadett

Lauren Bernadett earned a J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 2013 and a bachelor’s degree from University of California, San Diego. Previously, she interned with the Natural Resources Defense Council and researched subsistence fishing regulations affecting native Alaskans.

As a State Fellow at the California State Lands Commission, she will help research and develop a CSLC public trust and public access policy and outreach program.

10) Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Resource Protection Program- Sean Herron

Sean Herron earned a master’s degree in environmental science and management from the Bren School at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2013. For his thesis, Herron designed a bioeconomic analysis to identify fishery management options that would minimize incidental takes of the endangered vaquita porpoise while avoiding detrimental economic impacts to local fishing communities in the Upper Gulf of California, Mexico.

As a State Fellow at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, he will support a dynamic management program to address marine shipping impacts and conflicts in the Santa Barbara Channel region, which aims to address issues with fatal ship strikes on endangered whales, air pollution emissions, navigational safety concerns, and conflicts with naval operations.

11) Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Research Program- Ryan Freedman

Ryan Freedman will earn a Master of Science in biology from California State University, Long Beach in spring 2014. Freedman’s thesis assessed the functional recovery and connectivity potential of restored estuaries in Southern California using juvenile predator fish movements.

During his State Fellowship with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Research Program, Freedman will recruit scientists and stakeholders to discuss interactions between whales and shipping vessels.

12) Delta Science Program, Delta Stewardship Council- Meiling Roddam

Meiling Roddam will earn a Master of Science in natural resources with a concentration in Fisheries from Humboldt State University in 2014. Previously, Roddam worked for California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a Fisheries Technician in the Klamath River Basin and in the Smith River Watershed. Prior to that, Roddam was an Americorps’ member with the Watershed Stewards Project, a special project of the California Conservation Corps. Roddam earned her undergraduate degree in marine biology at University of California, Santa Cruz, where she studied harmful algal blooms in the Monterey Bay.

During her fellowship, Roddam will be working at the interface of scientific research and policy, and determining how to incorporate that science into the Delta Plan.

13) Delta Science Program, Independent Science Board- Jennifer Bigman

Jennifer Bigman earned a Master of Science in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in 2013. Her thesis centered on the trophic ecology of the North Pacific Spiny Dogfish, Squalus suckleyi. Bigman is a member of the Northeast Pacific Working Group of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, and has previous work experience as a Mote Marine Laboratory intern with the Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Program.

At the Delta Science Program, Bigman will work closely with the Independent Science Board to complete a “Fish and Flows” review during the upcoming year.

14) San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission- Rosa Schneider

Rosa Schneider earned a master’s degree in biology from San Francisco State University in 2013. She studied invasive and endangered tidal marsh plants in the San Francisco Estuary for her thesis.

Schneider will help implement the new Regional Sediment Management strategy in San Francisco Bay during her fellowship at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

15) State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Water Quality, Ocean Unit Fellowship- Meghan Powers

Meghan Powers earned a doctorate in ocean science from University of California, Santa Cruz in 2013. She conducted research on the molecular biology and evolution of bioluminescent genes in a variety of deep-sea taxa at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, CA.

Powers will assist in implementation of the Special Protections for Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) stipulated in the Resolution 20012-0012. She will be involved in other ocean unit priority projects such as the desalination and trash amendments, and will also begin the process of the Ocean Plan Triennial Review. SWRCB is also seeking to use Powers’ scientific background on specific molecular biology projects.

16) West Coast Oceanographic Data Integration Fellowship- Laura Lilly

Laura Lilly earned a master’s degree in marine ecosystem conservation from Stanford University in 2013. She has worked with a NGO in La Paz, Baja California Sur, to create shellfish abundance maps for a local fishing cooperative to manage its fishing stocks and completed a summer internship with the NOAA PIFSC in Hawaii, where she helped conduct an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) of the Kona Coast, HI.

“I am working with the West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health (WCGA) and the West Coast Ocean Observing Systems (SCCOOS, CeNCOOS and NANOOS) to make oceanographic data more easily accesible to managers and policymakers who are working with marine debris and ocean acidification,” said Lilly.