Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows starting jobs


Danielle Meeker

Five emerging scientists and policymakers are starting new fellowships in Alaska this summer/fall. Three of them study at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the others are from the University of Maine and Duke University.

The five women are Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows who are beginning yearlong positions over the next several weeks with state and federal agencies in Alaska. The program adds capacity to the marine policy workforce of the state and launches new careers with employment in Alaska.

Danielle Meeker began working at the Office of the Lieutenant Governor in Juneau on July 24, researching policy issues including climate change and fisheries.

“The fellowship will give me insight into the needs of Alaska residents and communities, and will highlight aspects of the state that are unique from the Lower 48,” said Meeker.

Meeker’s graduate research focused on climate adaptation planning in Alaska Native communities. She earned her master’s in June from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, based on research she conducted off-site at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“My career goal is to lead climate adaptation efforts in disadvantaged communities, with an emphasis on public outreach and increasing the utility of research. I am thrilled to move to Juneau, and eager to brush up on my kayaking skills!” she said.

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Genevieve Johnson

In August, Genevieve Johnson will start at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Juneau. She will work on an arctic ecosystem monitoring project and a genetics project on juvenile chum salmon.

“In addition to skill development, this opportunity will improve my knowledge of how the federal government is involved in fisheries research,” said Johnson.

Johnson’s graduate research at UAF is on the genetic population structure of Tanner crab in Alaska. She will finish her master’s in fall 2018 after the fellowship.

Kim Ovitz will also start her fellow position in August, at the Protected Resources Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service Alaska Regional Office, in Anchorage. She’ll be assessing management needs associated with endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales, among other projects.

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Kim Ovitz

“This fellowship presents an excellent opportunity for me to support marine mammal conservation and recovery initiatives while engaging in outreach with the public and other partners, strengthening my communication and outreach skills,” said Ovitz.

She will complete her master’s in fisheries at the University of Maine in August. “In my research, I’ve been examining Maine’s sea urchin fishery as a coupled social-ecological system,” she said.

“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity! This will be my first time in Alaska and working on marine mammal/protected resources conservation. I’m really honored to have been selected as a Sea Grant fellow and to be working with the Protected Resources Division,” she said.

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Chelsea Clawson

Starting in September, Chelsea Clawson will work for the US Geological Survey in Anchorage. She will facilitate hazard mitigation initiatives with an emphasis on coastal flood mapping.

Clawson completed her master of science degree in fisheries at UAF, this summer.

“My primary focus is conducting research on fall chum spawning habitat on the Chandalar River. I use a combination of remote sensing imagery and on-the-ground field work to identify groundwater upwellings, and other habitat characteristics that influence fall chum salmon spawning site selection,” said Clawson.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has Clawson’s results, which can assist them in management decisions.

Sara Cleaver will be a fishery analyst for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage. “Because the Council works with many stakeholders and agencies, I believe this opportunity will provide exposure to multiple scales of management, and I look forward to working in-depth on certain projects while being exposed to a broad range of fisheries issues in Alaska,” she said.

Cleaver completed her master’s in coastal environmental management at Duke University. She focused on optimizing conservation benefits of a pelagic marine protected area for highly migratory species, using longline catch data for the Charleston Bump.

“While I will certainly miss living in Yakutat, where I worked as a fisheries technician, I can’t wait to do some backcountry skiing outside of Anchorage!” Cleaver said.

“This is a strong group of fellows. We’re pleased to see them kick-start their careers in Alaska. Their work will benefit both them and the State of Alaska,” said Paula Cullenberg, Alaska Sea Grant director.