Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows

Learn more about the State Fellowship

Tav Ammu selfie on a boat

Tav Ammu

Alaska Sea Grant, 2021


  • MSc in marine systems and policies, 2020, University of Edinburgh
  • BA in English, 2007, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Fellowship plan: Ammu will conduct surveys and outreach strategies designed to increase awareness and reduce pollution from boats in harbors and fishing grounds.

photo of Ashley Bolwerk

Ashley Bolwerk

NOAA Fisheries Habitat Conservation Division, 2021


  • MS in fisheries, 2021, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BS in biology, 2011, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay

Fellowship plan: Bolwerk will develop a plan for a Habitat Focus Area (HFA), with a focus on pinto abalone. She will also explore the potential for aquaculture cultivation of pinto abalone in Southeast Alaska.

photo of Becca Cates on a boat holding a crab pot

Becca Cates

NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 2021


  • MS in fisheries, 2021 (expected), University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BS in environmental science and marine ecology, 2016, Western Washington University

Fellowship plan: Cates will participate in research projects to improve understanding of mariculture farm species and production in Alaska.

Woman in front of frozen waterfall

Hannah-Marie Garcia

Alaska Conservation Foundation, 2021


  • Master's in marine science and policy, 2021 (expected), University of Delaware
  • BA in environmental studies and sustainability, 2019, The University of the South, Sewanee

Fellowship plan: Garcia will develop strategies and opportunities to elevate the voices and ideas of Indigenous communities, and improve collaborative efforts among nonprofit, government, and tribal organizations to address climate change in Western Alaska.

photo of Noelle Helder

Noelle Helder

Alaska Center for Energy and Power, 2021


  • MSc in ecology, 2021 (expected), University of Alberta, Edmonton
  • BSc in biology, 2016, University of South Florida

Fellowship plan: Helder will conduct literature surveys and publish analyses of data sets related to emerging renewable technologies, such as wave, tidal or riverine hydrokinetic energy.

photo of Jamie Musbach

Jamie Musbach

National Marine Fisheries Service Protected Resources Division, 2021


  • MS in fisheries, 2021 (expected), University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BS in biology with a minor in marine science, 2016, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

Fellowship plan: Musbach 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.

photo of Kyle Neumann

Kyle Neumann

NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 2021


  • PhD in marine science, 2021 (expected), University of California Santa Barbara
  • BS in Bioresource research, 2015, Oregon State University

Fellowship plan: Neumann will contribute to the development of a submersible eDNA autosampler that can collect, filter, and preserve eDNA samples for the purpose of monitoring invasive species.

photo of Hannah Wilson

Hannah Wilson

NOAA Fisheries, 2021


  • MS in resource conservation, 2020, University of Montana School of Forestry and Conservation
  • BA in geology and environmental studies, 2014, Whitman College

Fellowship plan: Wilson will develop guidance and tools for prospective mariculture farmers, including an online permitting application portal.

Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow Alumni


photo of Nicole Laroche

Nicole LaRoche

National Park Service, 2020


  • MS in fisheries, 2020 (expected), University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • BS in marine biology, 2010, University of California Santa Cruz

Fellowship plan: LaRoche will focus her time on mapping and modeling coastal erosion, as well as benthic habitat mapping.

photo of Hannah Wilson

Hannah Wilson

Alaska Sea Grant, 2020


  • MS in resource conservation, 2020, University of Montana School of Forestry and Conservation
  • BA in Geology-Environmental Studies, 2014, Whitman College

Fellowship plan: Wilson will work to provide information for prospective shellfish and seaweed farmers and increase awareness of mariculture products among Alaskans.

photo of Angela Moran

Angela Moran

North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 2020


  • MS in marine affairs, 2020, University of Washington
  • BS in marine and conservation biology, 2017, Seattle University

Fellowship plan: Moran will work closely with biologists and economists to analyze fisheries management issues in Alaska.

photo by JoMarie Alba

JoMarie Alba

NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC), 2020


  • MS in biology, 2020 (expected), Walla Walla University
  • BS in marine biology, 2001, University of Alaska Southeast

Fellowship plan: Alba will conduct shellfish aquaculture research to help develop and advance the industry in Alaska.

Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow Alumni



Katlyn Haven

National Park Service, 2019


  • 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.


Madison Kosma

NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region, Protected Resources Division, 2019


  • 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.


Meredith Pochardt

NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region, Habitat Conservation Division, 2019


  • 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.

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

Alicia Schuler

NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region, Protected Resources Division, 2018


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

Professional and Research Interests: Schuler 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


Young woman with long brown hair, smiling and hugging a black dog, with snow and trees in the background

Nyssa Baechler Russell

U.S. Geological Survey, 2018


  • 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


  • 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, Tibbles 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 women with red jacket smiling, mountains in the background

Diana Perry

NOAA Auke Bay Lab, 2018


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

Professional and Research Interests: Perry’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


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

Professional and Research Interests: Schommer 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.”


woman with large red beanie on a boat

Sara Cleaver

North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 2017


  • 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.

woman smiling

Genevieve Johnson

NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 2017


  • 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.

Woman with ocean in the background

Danielle Meeker

Office of the Alaska Lieutenant Governor, 2017


  • 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.”


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)


photo of Sarah Apsens

Sarah Apsens

National Park Service, Anchorage, 2016


  • 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.


Jennifer Marsh

NOAA Fisheries, Habitat Conservation Division, Anchorage


  • 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


  • 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.


man smiling

Matt Robinson

North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Anchorage, 2015


  • 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


  • 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