UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS

Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows

Learn more about the State Fellowship

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Katlyn Haven

National Park Service, 2019

Education

  • MS in marine resource management, 2019 (expected), Oregon State University
  • BS in zoology, 2016, Oregon State University

Fellowship plan: Haven will support several management projects including lagoon monitoring, ocean acidification monitoring, and the development of digital image libraries for zooplankton and phytoplankton monitoring.

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Madison Kosma

NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region, Protected Resources Division, 2019

Education

  • MS in fisheries, 2019 (expected), University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BS in marine biology, 2012, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa

Fellowship plan: Kosma will focus on a Cook Inlet beluga whale citizen-scientist project, as well as beluga monitoring research. She will also develop outreach materials for sighting data of North Pacific right whales.

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Meredith Pochardt

NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region, Habitat Conservation Division, 2019

Education

  • MS in fisheries science, 2019, Oregon State University
  • BS in environmental science, 2009, State University of New York

Fellowship plan: Pochardt will be assisting researchers with their habitat conservation and fisheries management needs, including the synthesis of environmental data to develop habitat variables and statistical analyses of habitat data.

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Alicia Schuler

NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region, Protected Resources Division, 2018

Education

  • MS in fisheries, 2018 (expected), University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BA in environmental science, 2012, University of Florida

Professional and Research Interests: Alicia is studying humpback whale movement and behavior in response to whale-watching vessel traffic, as well as potential conservation benefits of whale watching. Her main focus during the fellowship will be the Whale SENSE and Ocean Guardian programs. “The enthusiasm the schools and the community have shown already for this program is contagious, and I think this program has the potential to create positive change and encourage the behavioral changes needed to reduce single-use plastics in the community and ultimately marine debris in the ocean,” she said. She is also hoping to gain exposure to regulatory processes including Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow Alumni

2018

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Nyssa Baechler Russell

U.S. Geological Survey, 2018

Education

  • MMA in marine affairs, 2018, University of Washington
  • BA in environmental science and policy, 2011, Duke University

Professional and Research Interests: Nyssa is interested in research regarding the impacts of climate change on salmon habitat, range, and survival. “I want to pursue a career where I can work with people to help and educate individuals and communities dependent on fisheries to adapt to changing ocean, coastal, and environmental conditions due to climate change and the potential shifts or changes in subsistence resources,” she said.

Young woman with 'Shred Kelly' hat and green jacket holding up a very small fish

Marguerite Tibbles

North Pacific Research Board, 2018

Education

  • MS in fisheries, 2018, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BSc in freshwater sciences, 2014, University of British Columbia

Professional and Research Interests: For the last three years, Marguerite conducted research on Arctic estuarine habitat from Kotzebue in conjunction with the National Park Service and the Native Village of Kotzebue. “Throughout the course of my master’s studies, I got to learn a lot about applied fisheries techniques but took few courses in policy. Policy is an area that I am particularly interested in because it is an avenue to affect change. I am hoping that through this experience I will have the opportunity to observe how marine policy in Alaska is done, and determine if this is a course I would like to keep following for my future career,” Tibbles said.

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Diana Perry

NOAA Auke Bay Lab, 2018

Education

  • MMA in marine affairs, 2018, University of Washington
  • BS in chemistry, 2015, Haverford College

Professional and Research Interests: Diana’s research interests include how the changing climate is affecting fisheries and how management must adapt. She is working on an aquaculture project, focusing on weathervane scallops. “This is a novel project at this facility, so I am very excited to be part of starting something new and working to get it off the ground. Working with my fellowship supervisor, we have been able to work in some of my long-term interests into the aquaculture project,” Perry said.

Young woman with long blonde hair and green knit cap smiling, with glacier ice in the background

Kayla Schommer

Alaska Sea Grant and Alaska Ocean Observing System, 2018

Education

  • MMA in marine affairs, 2018, University of Washington
  • BS in interdisciplinary environmental science, 2015, University of Alaska Anchorage

Professional and Research Interests: Kayla has spent her last three years working with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence. “The dual appointment will allow me a chance to gain experience coordinating a diverse group of stakeholders while also deepening my science communication and social media skills,” said Schommer. “The hands-on experience I will get will undoubtedly prepare me for future marine and natural resource work within in the state of Alaska.”

2017

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Sara Cleaver

North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 2017

Education

  • MSc in coastal environmental management, 2017, Duke University
  • BA in environmental studies, 2012, University of Vermont

Professional update (2019): Cleaver currently works for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council as a fishery analyst. She started her Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship at NPFMC in 2017 and was offered a position upon completion in 2018. Cleaver’s fellowship work helped her gain valuable experience that has been useful in her current employment; she first had involvement with the Council processes during her fellowship, including working on projects involving fisheries science and policy. Now, as a fishery analyst, Cleaver recently contributed to several parts of the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan (BS FEP), including putting together the majority of the maps. “My hopes for the future of the plan is to continue helping to clarify the value the FEP has for our current process, helping people understand how the FEP is going to increase application of ecosystem-based management plans in the North Pacific. That includes successfully implementing the [specific goals in the document], starting with climate change and local and traditional knowledge,” Cleaver said.

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Genevieve Johnson

NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 2017

Education

  • BS in fisheries, 2015, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BS in biological sciences, 2015, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Professional update (2019): Johnson is currently furthering her education, having just completed the first year of her Ph.D. program in integrative biology. She is attending the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, where she is using transcriptomics—the study of the RNA molecules within cells—to study how organisms respond to factors in their environment. “I want to continue to build my skills in molecular ecology and lead innovative projects to further our knowledge about aquatic organisms and ecosystems,” Johnson said. “Although I am currently working in freshwater systems, I would like to shift back to working in marine systems at some point.” Johnson spent her Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center studying chum salmon genetics and Arctic ecosystem research. However, despite her switch to freshwater system research, she said that her fellowship research is what got her interested in her current project and exploring broader topics in molecular ecology. “My fellowship had a large impact on my current and future plans. During the fellowship, I decided that I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. so that I could explore more topics in molecular ecology, and my fellowship experience is part of what helped me secure my current position at the University of Guelph,” Johnson said.

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Danielle Meeker

Office of the Alaska Lieutenant Governor, 2017

Education

  • Master of advanced studies in climate science and policy, 2017, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • BS in marine transportation, State University of New York Maritime College

Professional update: Meeker is currently engaged in research and private consulting. At the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP), University of Alaska Fairbanks, Meeker is pursuing several research interests that are critical to the future of Alaska. Tina Buxbaum, Program Manager at ACCAP, emphasized that Meeker’s research has made a significant contribution to their program. Meeker explained that her current research, focusing on the economic impacts of climate change in various sectors of the state, could not be done without her experience from the fellowship. Specifically, Meeker has focused on fisheries, mixed economies, and wildfire management. “I think that the fellowship was the best possible way for me to get my foot in the door in Alaska. I felt incredibly fortunate to have a front row seat to political decision-making and to be supported by people who are not just experts, but who are deeply invested in the future of the state.”

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Kim Ovitz

NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Alaska Regional Office, 2017

Education: BA, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2013, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Professional update (2019): Ovitz spent the year following her fellowship traveling and completing the manuscript for her graduate research. She spent time in areas around Europe and South America before returning to Anchorage this summer. During her time abroad, Ovitz was able to complete and publish a manuscript in the International Journal of the Commons (Ovitz and Johnson 2019) with her advisor, Teresa Johnson, associate professor at the University of Maine. “Kim was an outstanding graduate student at the University of Maine and brought to our program a very positive work ethic, strong leadership and communication skills, and an interdisciplinary and applied academic background.” Her marine policy research involved working closely with Maine sea urchin fishery harvesters, managers and scientists. Her applied research involved participant observation at management meetings, in-depth interviews with harvesters and other stakeholders, and a structured mail survey of all urchin harvesters. Now back in Alaska, she is contracted by the National Marine Fisheries Service via the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. There, she is continuing the work studying beluga whales that she started as a fellow.  Ovitz will also continue her studies of beluga whales in the academic arena while pursuing her doctorate.

In the news

Sea Grant Fellow leading Kenai River beluga whale 'citizen science' study (KDLL Public Radio, May 3, 2108)

Kenai Conversation: Studying Cook Inlet's white whale with citizen science (KDLL Public Radio, May 2, 2108)

Researcher looks at beluga use of Kenai River (Peninsula Clarion, April 10, 2018)

2016

photo of Sarah Apsens

Sarah Apsens

National Park Service, Anchorage, 2016

Education: 

  • MS in fisheries, 2017, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BS in fisheries science, 2011, University of Washington

Professional Update:  Sarah completed her fellowship with the National Park Service in 2017 and is currently working at the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation as an environmental program specialist with their Water Quality Standards, Assessment and Restoration Program.  She is the local non-point source pollution monitoring lead for the Kenai Peninsula and works to collect water quality information to identify stewardship, protection and/or restoration needs in the region.  Sarah also manages the Alaska Clean Waters Actions grants and works with research groups and local governments in the region on addressing non-point source pollution concerns.

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Jennifer Marsh

NOAA Fisheries, Habitat Conservation Division, Anchorage

Education

  • MS in fisheries, 2010, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BS in aquatic and fishery sciences, 2005, University of Washington
  • BS in ecology, evolution and conservation biology, 2005, University of Washington

Professional and Research Interests: Jennifer will soon complete her PhD in fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her research interests are marine ecology, stock assessment, and resources management. She is interested in pursuing a career with a federal or state agency as a fisheries biologist, and contributing to the science supporting fisheries management and conservation. “I look forward to increasing my knowledge of regulatory policy, process policy of implementation at different governmental levels and the potential to work with a variety of stakeholders,” Jennifer said.

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Jane Sullivan

NOAA Sustainable Fisheries Division, Juneau, 2016

Education: 

  • MS in fisheries, 2017, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BS in wildlife biology, 2012, University of Montana

Professional Update: As a Biometrician for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Jane develops and implements stock assessment models for herring and groundfish stocks. She currently serves on the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Groundfish Plan Team of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, where she reviews federal stock assessments and maintains a pulse on the vast and complex marine ecosystems of Alaska. For Jane, doing stock assessment means working on the front line of Alaskan fisheries, and she continues to benefit from the professional network and technical skills gained during her Alaska Sea Grant fellowship with the NOAA Alaska Region. While not always glamorous, she enjoys rolling up her sleeves every day to support sound, science-based fisheries management.

2015

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Matt Robinson

North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Anchorage, 2015

Education

  • MA in northern history and global environmental policy, 2015, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BA in history, 2012, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Professional and Research Interests: After completing his fellowship Matt was hired by the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation as a Fisheries Quota Manager.  As their Quota Manager, Matt works on developing fish plans for their annual Community Development Quota allocation, attends regulatory meeting and engages in policy development through different forums.  Matt currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Marine Conservation Alliance, the Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation and is a member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s IFQ Committee.  Recently, the Secretary of Commerce has appointed Matt to serve as the Fishing Industry Representative on the North Pacific Research Board.

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Marysia Szymkowiak

NOAA NMFS Sustainable Fisheries Division, Juneau, 2015

Education

  • PhD in marine policy and fisheries management, 2015, University of Delaware
  • MA in international environmental policy, 2009, American University
  • BA in criminal justice/sociology, Rutgers University

Professional and Research Interests: Marysia came from a Polish town on the Baltic Sea where deep cultural traditions around species like cod and salmon are disappearing along with these fish stocks. Similarly, she witnessed on the US East Coast how declines in cod, haddock, and flounder have eroded the cultural threads of commercial fishing in towns on Cape Cod. In Alaska, the culture of fishing is just as deep, but due to successful management practices the fisheries are still highly productive. It is the natural and cultural richness of Alaska’s fisheries that captured her fascination several years ago when she moved to Southeast Alaska. She is eager for the opportunities to apply her knowledge and skills to Alaska fisheries management. As a fellow she has reviewed the halibut and sablefish IFQ program.

In the news