California Sea Grant today announced 21 recipients of its prestigious State Fellowship, awarded annually to highly qualified graduate students and recent graduates to obtain “on the job” experience at a host agency in California involved with marine policy, environmental quality and resource management. For the first time, the Office of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) and NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center will be hosting State Fellows.
“We are pleased to welcome our largest ever cohort of State Fellows,” said California Sea Grant Director Jim Eckman. “With the addition of new host agencies like the lieutenant governor’s office, SCCWRP, and NOAA Fisheries, we continue our history of providing quality training to the next generation of ocean and coastal policy leaders.”
The 2016 California Sea Grant State Fellowship awardees are:
Annie Adelson, Delta Science Program – Independent Science Board
Annie Adelson earned a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering with a specialization in environmental fluid mechanics & hydrology from Stanford University in 2015. Adelson recently returned from Palau, where she studied coral reefs and conducted fieldwork focused on sedimentation in Ngermeduu Bay.
Under the direction of the Delta Independent Science Board (ISB), Adelson will assess the outcomes of management actions taken by Delta Science Programs designed to achieve the coequal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem health.
Alicia Amerson, State of California, Office of Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom
Alicia Amerson received a Master of Advanced Studies in marine biodiversity and conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, in 2015. While in graduate school, Amerson spent more than 200 hours aboard whale-watching vessels along the coast from British Columbia, Canada, to Baja California, Mexico, to better understand how whale-watching tours are conducted and the receptiveness of operators to endorsement programs.
Amerson will assist the Office of the Lieutenant Governor with ocean conservation projects that balance the constraints and opportunities along the California coastline. Specifically, she will explore the changing policies and development of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for scientific and oceanographic advancements, the implementation of a whale-watching endorsement program for the state whale-watching industry, and proposed changes to the Port of San Diego to address sea level rise.
Martha Arciniega, Delta Science Program – Water Supply Adaptive Management Framework Science Communications
Martha Arciniega will earn her doctorate in ocean sciences, specializing in population genetics, from University of California, Santa Cruz, in spring 2016. Her thesis focused on parallel evolution and adaptive genomics of the steelhead summer ecotype in Oregon and California.
At the Delta Science Program, Arciniega will develop a framework for water supply adaptive management and help translate complex scientific information for a general audience.
Paige Berube, Ocean Protection Council – Climate Change
Paige Berube earned a master’s degree in coastal and marine resources management with a focus in strategic environmental communication and media from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2015. Her group thesis work evaluated management scenarios in the California commercial swordfish fishery, focusing on balancing conservation and economic goals through a global lens.
At the Ocean Protection Council, Berube will focus on climate change projects related to changing ocean conditions, including sea level rise and El Niño, as well as ocean acidification and hypoxia.
Heather Dennis, State Coastal Conservancy – South Coast Program
Heather Dennis earned a Master of Environmental Science and Management specializing in coastal marine resource management and conservation planning from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2015. Upon graduation, Dennis worked at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, researching the impact of climate change on global fisheries benefits.
During her fellowship with the State Coastal Conservancy, Dennis will help coordinate wetland restoration projects throughout Southern California by collaborating with scientists, professionals, and stakeholders to implement on-the-ground coastal conservation, restoration, and protection.
Kari Eckdahl, NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region – Aquaculture
Kari Eckdahl earned a Master of Science in biology from California State University, Fullerton, in 2015. Eckdahl studied endangered black abalone abundance and habitat availability in Southern California. While in graduate school, she worked for the National Park Service and wrote the long-term monitoring protocol for black abalone at Point Reyes and Golden Gate Park.
As a State Fellow with NOAA Fisheries, Eckdahl will help coordinate the Southern California Offshore Aquaculture Working Group and the California Shellfish Initiative.
Daniel Ellis, State Water Resources Control Board
Daniel Ellis will receive his M.S. in marine science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in March of 2016. His research focuses on coastal physical oceanography and improving the understanding of how ocean currents can be measured from underwater vehicles called gliders. Additionally, Daniel has experience collaborating with other researchers on projects ranging from ocean acidification to the recent Refugio oil spill.
As part of the Ocean Standards Unit at the State Water Resource Control Board, Ellis will help develop and implement state policies under the California Ocean Plan, which protects water quality in coastal waters.
Maren Farnum, State Lands Commission – Division of Environmental Planning & Management
Maren Farnum earned a master’s degree in international environmental policy with a specialization in ocean and coastal resource management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in 2015. Previously, Farnum was a research associate and data analyst at the Center for the Blue Economy where she authored a report on sea level rise adaptation strategies and implementation decisions for local coastal governments.
At the State Lands Commission, Farnum will assist with projects related to climate change planning for coastal state lands, likely with a focus on ports and harbors.
Madeline Kinsey, California State Parks
Madeline Kinsey earned a Master of Science in animal biology from the University of California, Davis, in December of 2015. During the pursuit of her master’s degree, Kinsey interned with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program where she developed a resilience report for the Gulf of Maine watershed.
During her fellowship with California State Parks, Kinsey will help refine strategies and policies to better address climate change focusing on coastal parks.
Taya Lazootin, California Department of Fish and Wildlife – Invertebrate Management
Taya Lazootin earned a master’s degree in geography and watershed science from San Diego State University in 2015. Her thesis focused on land use influences on nutrient pollution and retention in a protected estuary in San Diego County.
At the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, Lazootin will assist with the red abalone and lobster fisheries management plans.
Mayra Molina, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP)
Mayra Molina received a Master of Science in biology from California State University, Los Angeles, in 2015. Her thesis explored energy storage and indeterminate growth in the purple sea star with implications for prey population regulation.
Molina will work on the Santa Margarita River Watershed Nutrient Management Initiative. This initiative deals with the degradation of water quality of the river and its tributaries as a result of excessive nutrients from various sources. Part of her work will include monitoring and working on an estuary model to develop a numeric target for the nutrients in the river.
Jessica Anne Morten, NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
Jessica Anne Morten earned a Master of Arts in international environmental policy with a specialization in ocean and coastal resource management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in 2015. During graduate school, Morten worked as a conservation assistant at Ocean Champions and served as the Center for The Blue Economy Fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund.
As a State Fellow at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Morten will work within the Resource Protection department to reduce the threat of ship strikes to endangered whales and enhance sanctuary enforcement using new mapping tools that allow for more adaptive management.
Patrick Mulcahy, State Lands Commission – Mineral Resources Management Division
Patrick Mulcahy graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay, in 2015 with a master’s degree in applied marine and watershed science. Previously, he interned with the Center for Ocean Solutions, working in graduate education and outreach.
During his State Fellowship with the State Lands Commission, Mulcahy will research and communicate the history and potential impacts of natural oil and gas seeps.
Monica Oey, Delta Stewardship Council – Planning Division
Monica Oey earned a Master of Science in environmental management from the University of San Francisco in 2015. Since 2013, she has worked as a biologist at an environmental consulting firm, working to eradicate invasive cordgrass and re-vegetate native species in the San Francisco Bay Estuary.
At the Delta Stewardship Council, Oey will evaluate and develop performance measures for the Delta Plan.
Melis Okter, California Coastal Commission
Melis Okter will earn a master’s degree in international environmental policy with a focus on ocean and coastal resource management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in spring 2016. Okter has worked as a summer fellow and intern with the National Marine Protected Areas Center located within NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
Okter will be involved in a broad range of coastal and ocean issues at the California Coastal Commission, focusing on climate change and local coastal program planning work.
Lindsey Peavey, NOAA NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Lindsey Peavey will earn a doctorate in environmental science and management from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in spring 2016. Peavey’s dissertation research examines where and how marine turtles and mammals feed and breed, and how to best protect them in those habitats. She also earned a master’s degree in environmental science and management from Duke University in 2010.
As the first State Fellow with the NOAA NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Peavey will develop ways in which dynamic ocean management (a process to identify where and when resource users can maximize profitability and reduce ecological damage) can be implemented in fisheries management at the state and federal levels.
Canon Purdy, CA Department of Fish and Wildlife – Aquaculture
Canon Purdy received a master’s degree in marine biodiversity and conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, in 2015. Her thesis explored the media perceptions of California sea lions over the last decade, exploring how the general public is presented with positive and sympathetic views of the iconic marine mammal amid stranding crises, fishermen conflicts, and tourist interactions.
Purdy will help guide aquaculture vendors through the permitting process, engage with academia to support aquaculture science, and educate the public about the importance of aquaculture.
Hilary Walecka, State Coastal Conservancy – Climate Ready Program
Hilary Walecka earned a Master of Environmental Science and Management in conservation planning from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2015. Upon graduation, Walecka served as spatial research assistant for Stanford's Center for Ocean Solutions, focusing on conservation planning at the land-sea interface.
Walecka will help strengthen the Conservancy's coastal climate adaptation and resiliency work by refining programmatic priorities, facilitating regional coordination, engaging stakeholders, and developing pilot climate studies and adaptation projects.
Sarah Wheeler, California Ocean Science Trust
Sarah Wheeler earned a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California, Davis, and San Diego State University in 2015. Her research focused on understanding the biological and oceanographic conditions conducive to the replenishment of rockfish populations.
Sarah’s work at the California Ocean Science Trust will focus around the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel. This work will include communicating and integrating the Panel’s findings into management and policy.
Sara Worden, California Ocean Protection Council – Marine Protected Areas
Sara Worden earned a Master of Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in 2015. Her thesis examined the effects of variation in small-scale geological features on rocky intertidal species interactions.
As State Fellow with the Ocean Protection Council, Worden will aid the Council in synthesizing and finalizing a long-term marine protected area (MPA) management program for the state, and help identify the long-term goals of the MPA network.
Lauren Yamane, Delta Science Program – Science Plan
Lauren Yamane will earn a doctorate in ecology from University of California, Davis, in spring 2016. Her dissertation focuses on the causes and consequences of temporal variability in Pacific salmon populations. She also holds a master’s degree in marine science from the University of South Carolina, where she studied the effects of climate change on rocky intertidal invertebrates.
As a State Fellow with the Delta Science Program, Yamane will help organize a panel of experts to share perspectives on salmon hatchery practices and harvest management strategies, and help coordinate and facilitate multi-agency fisheries related research.
UPDATE April 1, 2016
Additionally, Jenna Judge has been named Extension Fellow with the NOAA San Francisco Bay and Outer Coast Sentinel Site Cooperative. She will devote three quarters of her time to support extension and outreach efforts to integrate activities among the Cooperative partners related to improving community and regional resilience to sea-level rise and coastal inundation. The other quarter of the Fellow’s time will be dedicated to work with Specialists from the California Sea Grant’s Extension Program.
Jenna Judge, Extension Fellow with the NOAA San Francisco Bay and Outer Coast Sentinel Site Cooperative
Jenna Judge explored the depths of the ocean and evolutionary time in her PhD work on patterns of diversity in the deep sea at UC Berkeley and earned her degree in May 2015. Towards the end of grad school, she realized that exploring connections between ecosystems and facilitating connections between people interested in those ecosystems was really what fueled her. She is looking forward to building more connections as a Sea Grant Fellow that will carry her into a career focused on bringing people together to solve problems faced by coastal and marine ecosystems.