UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS

Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows

Learn more about the State Fellowship

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Nyssa Baechler

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.

young woman with long brown hair smiling with water and trees in the background

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.

Young women with red jacket smiling, mountains in the background

Dianna 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.

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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.”

Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow Alumni

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 and Research Interests: At the Duke University Marine Lab, Sara focused on optimizing conservation benefits of a pelagic marine protected area for highly migratory species, using longline catch data for the Charleston Bump. “This fellowship will enable me to gain first-hand knowledge of the Council process and how fisheries research is utilized within the management framework,” she said. “I hope to work at the intersection of fisheries science and policy to conserve marine species. I seek to develop science-based management solutions that benefit resource users as well as promote healthy marine ecosystems.”

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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 and Research Interests: Genevieve will finish her MS in fisheries in fall 2018. Her graduate research at UAF is on the genetic population structure of Tanner crab in Alaska. In Juneau she will work on an arctic ecosystem monitoring project, and a genetics project on juvenile chum salmon. “In addition to skill development, I hope that this opportunity will improve my knowledge of how the federal government is involved in fisheries research,” she 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 and Research Interests: The focus of Meeker’s graduate research was climate adaptation planning in Alaska Native communities. She conducted her master’s research 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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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 and Research Interests: Kim will complete her master’s degree in fisheries at the University of Maine in 2017. For her research, she has examined Maine’s sea urchin fishery as a coupled socio-ecological system. “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,” Kim said.

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 and Research Interests:  Since completing her fellowship with the National Park Service in 2017, Sarah has continued to work with the agency. She spent the past summer gaining field experience working for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Homer, AK. She is looking forward to starting another contract with the NPS this fall. She has been enjoying living in Anchorage and exploring the surrounding area.

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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.

Young woman on a boat deck holding large crab

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 and Research Interests: 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

man smiling

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.

Face of young woman, outdoors, smiling.

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