Fellow spotlight: Michelle Trifari

Michelle Trifari is an Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow working with NOAA Fisheries. She is currently working with the Protected Resources Division in Juneau, focusing on the conservation, protection and management of Alaska’s marine mammals.

Woman with long hair and wearing white lab coat standing in front of glass lab equipment filled with brown paper in a lab.
photo courtesy of Michelle Trifari

During the course of her year-long fellowship, Trifari is working on a diverse range of projects to gain valuable experience in marine mammal policy. The Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship is providing Trifari the opportunity to expand her professional network.

“I’ve been able to learn about marine mammal policy, network with other professionals, and engage with my community in ways that were previously unavailable to me,” said Trifari. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity. I have really enjoyed applying my interests, background, and education to this fellowship program while continuing to learn.”

Trifari’s diverse projects include developing an “unusual mortality event” contingency plan for Steller sea lions, identifying human disturbances at local haulouts, assisting with the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Program, and providing support to the Pinniped Entanglement Group to reduce entanglements in marine debris and fishing gear.

Trifari is originally from New Jersey, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in marine science from Stockton University. She received her master’s degree in marine biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Prior to graduate school, Trifari worked in various capacities, including as a naturalist on whale watching boats in Alaska, as a fisheries technician, doing humpback whale research in Hawaiʻi, working as a fisheries and protected species observer on vessels, and teaching marine science in South Carolina.Aside from working on marine policy, Trifari’s fellowship has allowed her to pursue her interest in marine science education through the NOAA Ocean Guardian School Program. The program promotes ocean conservation in schools and local communities. “This program allows me to go to schools and assist teachers and students with various ocean stewardship projects,” explained Trifari. “The way that students rally their community to protect our oceans and natural resources is really inspiring.”