Sometime in February 2004, I was sitting on a boat in the Bay of Thailand getting ready to do my first open water SCUBA dive. I did not know it at the time, but this dive would change the trajectory of my life. I had graduated two years earlier with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women and Gender Studies, working as a waitress and bartender to make ends meet. Being the first college graduate in my family, the field introduced me to powerful critical thinking tools, and instilled in me a deep connection to feminism and social justice that I carry with me to this day. In fact, it was only by exploring the range of human experiences during my studies that I came to recognize my commitment to the preservation of global diversity at multiple scales.
Applying my commitment to diversity
Through diving, I found a new context to apply my commitment to diversity: the marine environment. Since that dive, I have been focused on understanding, preserving, and fostering biodiversity in marine ecosystems. As a California Sea Grant State Fellow hosted by California Ocean Science Trust (OST), I will be putting that commitment into action through projects that incorporate the best available science into ocean and coastal policy and management.
What is a Sea Grant Fellow?
The California Sea Grant State Fellows Program provides an unparalleled opportunity for graduate students who are interested in both marine resources and the policy decisions affecting those resources. The program matches highly motivated and qualified graduate students with hosts in California state agencies for a 12-month paid fellowship. OST is a boundary organization that works at the interface between government, science, and communities to build trust and understanding in ocean and coastal science. OST is an independent non-profit, but linked directly to the State in that the organization was established pursuant to the California Ocean Resources Stewardship Act of 2000. Through innovative approaches, Ocean Science Trust empowers broad participation in policy and management decisions with science.
What I’ll Be Doing for My Fellowship at Ocean Science Trust
Some of my professional goals for the Fellowship year, as I become deeply involved in the work of OST, are:
- to better understand the processes of science integration into policy and management
- to increase my knowledge of marine ecosystems and resources and how they are managed by engaging in projects outside of my experience
- to understand emerging issues for California’s ocean and coastal health in the face of climate change
- and to enhance my professional toolkit through project management, budget development, strategic planning, public presentation, and interagency collaboration
I am excited to be part of the Ocean Science Trust team and look forward to a productive Fellowship year!