August 18, 2016

Story: COS welcomes aboard new crew members

By Paige Welsh

This summer, we had the privilege of working with many talented visiting interns and scholars. Plus, two new staff members joined the team. We hope you enjoy getting to know them and their work as much as we did.

Stephanie Green, early career science fellow

Stephanie Green is an early career science fellow at the Center for Ocean Solutions where she leads research on the effects of climate change on ocean food webs. She is also a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research focuses on issues ranging from invasive species and climate change to energy development and science policy. Stephanie received her PhD from Simon Fraser University and BS from the University of British Columbia. During her dissertation, she developed trait and size-based foraging models that are used across the Caribbean region to set targets for managing the impacts of invasive Indo- Pacific lionfish on native marine species. In 2013, she was awarded a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship to develop optimal approaches for managing the impacts of invasions within marine protected areas in collaboration with the US National Park Service, NOAA and Oregon State University.

"As a kid I remember wading knee deep into a sandy bay off the British Columbia coast where I grew up to pluck lumpy oysters up off the bottom. We haven't seen oysters there for over a decade, and their return is unlikely as the waters acidify there. Seeing changes like this in my own short lifetime are what inspire me to study and protect the oceans so that others have the chance to experience the amazing creatures in it," said Stephanie.

Even when she's not working, the ocean is always on her mind.

"Some people are 'bird watchers'; I consider myself a 'fish watcher.' When I'm not in the office, I prefer to be on or in the water. My happy place is on a scuba dive searching for unusual critters or watching fish hunt and hide. I'm embarrassed to admit that only a handful of the thousands of dives I've done have been in cold water, but I'm hoping to change that."

Stephanie has also served as an affiliate scientist with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation since 2009 where she designs trainings in marine research and monitoring for international governments and NGOs. She also develops and leads training in storytelling and science communication. Her research and teaching has taken her to more than 20 countries bordering the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

Jessica Williams, geospatial research assistant

Jessica Williams completed her B.S. in Biology at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and then quickly went on to work at the education department of the California Academy of Sciences where she developed a new ocean acidification program. This program educated the public on the science of pH and what community members could do about ocean acidification. Afterwards, she started working on her master's degree in the Applied Marine and Watershed Science program at CSUMB. There she discovered the world of GIS and mapping. She followed her education on GIS with an internship at the Ocean Science Trust.

“I think that GIS is such a powerful data communication tool. To show people on a map where they live and what resources are there is such an engaging and valuable way to communicate data,” said Jessica.

Currently, she is working with the Ocean Tipping Points team to communicate a case study done in Hawaii. A desire to communicate science effectively has guided Jessica’s career. She says that going to aquariums in her youth was very influential on her goals because they exemplified how people can be changed by a personal connection to the ocean.

“It’s really hard for me to just sit back and watch what’s happening to the world. I want to feel like I have some part in making the world a better place. I know that’s so cliché, but I would get restless doing something that wasn’t making progress on solving the environmental issues in the world,” said Jessica.

Héloïse Berkowitz, PhD student at Ecole Polytechnique, visiting student researcher at COS

Héloïse Berkowitz is a visiting researcher from Ecole polytechnique, CNRS, Université Paris Saclay. She is working on her PhD in management science, specializing in organization theory. Héloïse has master's degrees in international business and history and geopolitics. As an undergraduate at University Paris Sorbonne, she majored in history and geography. Her research currently focuses on meta-organizations - organizations which members are themselves organizations - that strive to achieve wider goals (examples include everything from trade associations to international collectives like the European Union). She has worked primarily in the oil and gas industry to see how the sector collectively responds to pressures for sustainability.

“I am confident that businesses are also part of the solution. Interviewing people [in the industry] gives me hope. At first, everyone was laughing at me because my main field was oil and gas and sustainability. They said, ‘That’s an oxymoron.’ Most would imagine [members of the industry] as indifferent to the planet, but I’ve only met people who’ve truly cared both about their organization and the environment. They wanted to make their organizations better,” said Héloïse.

In her short stint at COS, Héloïse hopes to learn as much as possible about the role cross-sectoral meta-organizations play in ocean governance, and to start interdisciplinary collaborations on the issue. She is drafting a collaborative paper on the topic that she hopes to publish. She also has experience in Big Data and will consult with COS researchers to provide insights.

Isabella (Isa) Badia Bellinger, Stanford in government fellow and COS summer intern

Isabella (Isa) Badia Bellinger is a Stanford in Government Fellow and current Stanford undergraduate studying Earth Systems. Her focus on the ocean was spurred by her research experience in Hawaii which included a project on traditional fishponds. Isa has a strong interest in the human side of environmental issues. As an intern at COS, she has been working on a variety of projects including assisting the communications team with video production, developing management tools with the California fisheries team and writing a paper which focuses on how graduate programs can prepare ocean leaders.

“The education project is particularly interesting because it applies so much to myself and my educational path,” said Isa.

On the California fisheries project, she is testing a survey tool for the market squid fishery that hopes to assist fishery managers with assessing their progress with the Marine Life Management Act. Her work with the communications department has also exposed her to other projects such as the coastal adaptation project.

“I like the balance. For the videos, I get to get out and see what people are doing first hand on a variety of projects.”

Isa loves being by the ocean. She's happy whenever she's swimming, surfing or boating in it. She is also involved in Stanford's NAACP chapter and passionate about increasing the representation of women of color in environmental/conservation science.

Allison (Alli) Nicole Cutting, small-scale fisheries intern

Allison (Alli) Cutting graduated from Seattle Pacific University in March of 2015, with a Bachelors in ecology and a minor in sociology. COS’ blend of social and natural science attracted her to the internship. She was also interested in the emphasis on small-scale fisheries and food security because of her background in fisheries research. She completed her senior project on integrative knowledge and cooperation in small-scale fisheries.

“I looked at the link between degraded fisheries and threatened communities. I also investigated different ways of knowing, like traditional ecological knowledge, and how that fits with Western science," Alli said about her project. "That’s where I saw my two areas of study fit together.”

As an intern with the small-scale fisheries team, Alli will work on a literature review of the best practices for small-scale fisheries governance. She will also look at reports from NGOs, practitioners and funders to elucidate what works and what doesn’t work in fisheries management. In the long term, Alli hopes to craft a career where she can be a “practitioner of the ocean.”

“I would love to explore the relationship between man and the sea, then bring what I find back to the public so it can be used in a tangible way.”

When Alli isn’t doing ocean research, she likes to backpack and sail. She is also dabbling in surfing.

Monica Moritsch, science and policy summer intern

Monica Moritsch, a PhD student at UC Santa Cruz, is this year’s Science and Policy Summer Intern. She is an alumni of both the Ocean Policy Course and MARINE’s campus liaison program. She says COS has played a key role in her professional development journey.

“I’m trying to figure out what to do with my life after grad school, and I’ve been really involved with MARINE. Through their events, I’ve gotten to see glimpses of what COS does. I was really curious about what it would be like to work here,” said Monica.

In her internship, she has been working with the geospatial team by creating maps of coastal vulnerability in Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Cruz, creating figures and ensuring the figures are clear to future readers. In her work, she has been making connections to the kelp depletion she’s seen in the mapping, and the consequences of sea star mass mortality, which is the focus of her PhD research.

"The most important thing I have learned so far is to tell your audience what they need to know. People at a coastal planning agency have very different information needs, prior knowledge and ways of acting on that information than people who are conducting ocean research," said Monica.

When Monica isn't working on ocean issues she likes to kayak and swing dance.

Giselle Schmitz, law and policy summer intern

Giselle Schmitz is the Center’s 2016 law and policy intern. She is a current law student at the University of Oregon who hopes to pursue a career in ocean related law. In her undergraduate career, Giselle gained a diverse educational experience studying both biology and literature. She has experience doing scientific and recreational dives along the Washington coast and in the San Juan Islands. She continues to explore uncharted waters by diving in Oregon’s lakes.

“I found policy as a natural way to use my writing abilities and segue them into ocean science,” said Giselle.

In her position as an intern, she has been researching legal questions and editing written materials. She is learning about public trust doctrine which meshes well with her interests in coastal issues related to climate change such as sea level rise and the depletion of resources.