Erin Satterthwaite awarded 2021 Zhu-Peterson Early Career Scientist Award

Elyse DeFranco

Erin Satterthwaite, California Sea Grant extension program specialist and California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) Coordinator, received the 2021 Zhu-Peterson Early Career Scientist Award from the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES). This annual award recognizes one scientist who is performing innovative research at the frontier of science in the North Pacific. Satterthwaite accepted the award at the 2021 PICES Annual Meeting.


Satterthwaite’s appointment as the CalCOFI Coordinator marked the start of a new partnership between California Sea Grant and CalCOFI. In this role, she builds connections between the research program and stakeholders, including state, federal, and academic partners. Started in 1949, CalCOFI is a collaboration between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), NOAA Fisheries Service, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. It supplies invaluable data about California’s marine environment that is used to manage fisheries and other resources, as well as to monitor weather patterns and climate change indicators.

“CalCOFI is the longest marine ecosystem observing program,” says Satterthwaite. “These long-term ocean observations are so valuable, especially in the context of climate change. So I was excited to plug into it and really think about how we might connect the observations to people and better use them.”

After receiving her doctorate in ecology at the University of California, Davis, in 2018, Satterthwaite served as a California Sea Grant State Fellow with the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Her research focused on using eDNA methods to deepen our understanding of the marine biodiversity present along California’s coast, and how organisms change across space and through time.

Satterthwaite joined the PICES community in 2018, and was drawn to the emphasis on international science collaboration. Recognizing that early career professionals were often under-represented in international processes, she set about leading efforts to build early career professional engagement opportunities at PICES. She led workshops at the annual meetings to bring together mentors and early career professionals, and is working to establish an advisory panel within PICES focused on diverse engagement.

Satterthwaite’s focus on building connections is an idea that infuses her ecological research as well as her approach to scientific collaboration.

“I think some of the work in terms of early career professional engagement is really about bringing more diverse voices to the table and building lasting relationships,” says Satterthwaite. “What I value about ecology, and also these long-term observations, is that both are about developing connections to more holistically understand the system and how it changes over time.”

Her dedication to marine science as well as her involvement in the PICES community made her an ideal recipient for the 2021 Zhu-Peterson Early Career Scientist Award. Satterthwaite will continue her work with CalCOFI and California Sea Grant to build even stronger connections with CalCOFI’s state, federal, and academic partners.