Alaska Sea Grant has selected eight fellows for the Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship Program in 2021–2022. The twelve-month fellowship offers soon-to-graduate or recently finished graduate students the opportunity to explore marine science and policy-related professional opportunities in Alaska.
Hannah-Marie Garcia will join the Alaska Conservation Foundation in Anchorage to improve collaborative efforts among nonprofit, government, and tribal organizations to address climate change in Western Alaska. One of her tasks will be developing strategies and opportunities to elevate the voices and ideas of Indigenous communities and better address their needs. Hannah-Marie is completing her master’s degree in marine policy from the University of Delaware this summer.
Tav Ammu is working with Alaska Sea Grant and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to increase awareness of and reduce pollution from boats in harbors and on fishing grounds. Tav will develop and conduct surveys of vessel owners and harbor staff to determine current practices and problem areas, then develop a communications and outreach plan to encourage best practices. Tav is the captain of a commercial fishing vessel and has a Master of Science in Marine Systems and Policies from the University of Edinburgh.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) has the potential to revolutionize how scientists monitor invasive species and collect data about species distributions and abundance. A team of scientists at NOAA and Oregon State University are developing a submersible eDNA autosampler that can collect, filter, and preserve eDNA samples. Kyle Neumann, who recently earned a PhD in marine sciences from the University of California Santa Barbara, will be contributing to this project through his fellowship at NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Juneau.
Ashley Bolwerk will join NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region’s Habitat Conservation Division to develop a plan for a Habitat Focus Area (HFA), a targeted area where NOAA focuses its programs and investments to address a high priority habitat issue. Ashley will focus on pinto abalone and its habitat, as pinto abalone is a species of concern due to its low abundance. She will also explore the potential for aquaculture cultivation of pinto abalone in Southeast Alaska. Ashley recently graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a master’s degree in fisheries.
Jamie Musbach is graduating with a master’s degree in fisheries and will begin a fellowship with the National Marine Fisheries Service Protected Resources Division in Juneau. She will focus on understanding the likelihood of recovery of the Western Distinct Population Segment (WDPS) of Steller sea lions, and work on education, outreach and planning to reduce pinniped entanglement in fishing gear. She will conduct a review of information on mercury contamination in samples collected from the western and central Aleutian Islands during the past 20 years. This will inform how disease or contaminants may be limiting recovery of the WDPS Steller sea lion. Jamie will also assist with the Juneau Ocean Guardian School Program, contributing to student stewardship projects, producing an Alaska Ocean Guardian School newsletter, and recruiting new schools to the program.
Becca Cates is finishing a master’s degree in fisheries from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her fellowship with the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center Auke Bay Laboratory will focus on mariculture, the commercial cultivation of seaweeds and shellfish. Becca will participate in research projects to improve understanding of mariculture farm species and production, and support the growing mariculture industry in Alaska.
Noelle Helder is completing a master’s degree in marine ecology from the University of Alberta and will serve her fellowship with the Alaska Center for Energy and Power in Fairbanks. Noelle will conduct literature surveys and publish analyses of data sets related to emerging renewable technologies, such as wave, tidal or riverine hydrokinetic energy.
Hannah Wilson is continuing as an Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow for a second year and will be working with the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region office. She is continuing a project to develop guidance and tools for prospective mariculture farmers to use when navigating the multi-agency aquaculture permitting process, including an online permitting application portal.