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Student Spotlight 2021: Get to know the newest members of the COS student team

August 18, 2021

We're excited to highlight seven members of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions student team. These Stanford undergraduate and graduate students exhibit passion for ocean issues in their studies and in their work with COS. All student bios are listed here. Below, you can learn more about Lilli, Alema, Margaret, Ryan, Mao-wei, Natalie, and Diego.  

 

Lilli Kalani Wakinekona Carlsen

Communications Assistant / Research Assistant
M.A. in Environmental Communication, '21
B.A. in International Relations. Minor in Human Rights, '20

 

What are you working on at COS?
I have two main projects that I’m working on. First, as communications assistant, I’m developing communications strategies and publishing content for all the projects that COS is working on. When one of our researchers publishes a new paper, I work on promoting their work to make sure their science gets shared as widely as possible. I work with Laura Anderson and Katie Jewett on the COMMS team to engage with the center’s core audience and reach new audiences. Second, as a research assistant, I’m developing a data visualization training course for scientists in Micronesia. This project is a really exciting opportunity to help build capacity for ocean researchers in the Pacific.

 

What motivates you to work on ocean issues?

The ocean is an integral part of who I am. I grew up on the coast of Southern California; my dad is a SoCal surfer; and my mom is Native Hawaiian. Because of this upbringing, I am very passionate about helping coastal communities and working my hardest to make sure that the communities that I am a part of can thrive for generations to come.

 

Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?
In 2017, I participated in Stanford’s BOSP seminar in Palau where we learned how to do coral reef research. The first day we went to five different sites to explore the area and get used to swimming around the reefs. During that first dive, I was shocked. That was the healthiest, most diverse coral reef I had ever seen in my life. I didn’t know that coral reefs could be so abundant! When I saw the potential for what a healthy coral reef ecosystem could look like, I was inspired to help revitalize other coral reefs in places like Kane’ohe Bay, Hawai’i, where my family lives.
 

What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I love open-water swimming and surfing! This summer I’ve been going for long swims with my mom at Torrance beach to explore the kelp forest.

 

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?
I am very interested in elevating integrating indigenous science with the multidisciplinary ocean science that is already happening at COS.

Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?
Step 1: Find the Y2E2 building where the School of Earth and the Earth Systems Program is located. I didn’t do that till junior year.
Step 2: Talk to people! Join the clubs, get on the group chats, and find communities of people who have similar interests.
Step 3: Join https://www.ejstanford.com/ if you’re interested in intersectional ocean issues!

 

 

Alema Senesesa Malietoa Fitisemanu

Research Assistant
B.S. in Science, Technology and Society (Human-Computer Interaction), ‘21
Minor is Studio Art Practice


What are you working on at COS?
I am working on developing data training for data staff and researchers at PICRC. Our COS data training team is also working with NCEAS at UC Santa Barbara to make the training maintainable and as quality as possible.


What motivates you to work on ocean issues?
I would say that my cultural heritage being from the Pacific, Samoa and Tonga, is my primary motivation for working on ocean issues. The ocean is my family’s home, and so anything that supports our oceans communities and ecosystems is of interest to me!


Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?
One of my favorite ocean-related experiences was sailing from Tahiti to American Samoa with our Stanford@SEA 2019 cohort. It was such an awesome experience showing Stanford around my South Pacific home. Also the food on and off the boat was amazing!


What are some of your favorite hobbies?
My favorite hobbies include visual design and acrylic painting. I also like to collect YuGiOh cards, and old Marvel comic books.


Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?
After graduation I hope to continue in the tech design field designing systems, services and consumer interfaces. I also hope to continue being supportive of my Pasifika communities through outreach and educational initiatives.


Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?
I would advise first-year Stanford students to be open to new experiences! Don’t be afraid to explore things that are new and interesting to you. With time, you’ll be able to develop new skills and passions that you may not have ever considered. Also, if learning new things does not not come easy, that’s ok! Steadily apply yourself, and improve little by little at your personal pace.

 

 

Margaret Daly

Research Assistant
B.S. in Science of Earth Systems, Cornell ‘17
M.S. in Environmental Fluid Mechanics, Stanford ‘19
Ph.D. Candidate in Environmental Fluid Mechanics


What are you working on at COS?
I’ve been working with COS on developing a tool to enable seafood companies and retailers to assess the risk of illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) products moving through seafood supply chains (see Outlaw Ocean Policy Practicum and Report).

 

What motivates you to work on ocean issues?
My love of the ocean itself is less of a motivation and more of a gravitation—an undeniable instinctual pull that so many people feel. My motivation to work on ocean issues is to do my small part to both understand and conserve the ocean as well as maintain my personal relationship with the marine realm.

 

Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?
I had the fortune to watch baby sea turtles hatch on a remote beach in North Carolina. I also had some ethereal encounters with sea lions in the kelp forests of Baja during a field campaign.
 

What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy scuba diving, traveling, camping, and practicing yoga.

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?
I’m interested in both academia and marine policy with hopes of finding a life where I can balance both interests.

 

Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?
Explore your interests! There are classes in a variety of departments and there are programs across the world—take those opportunities to delve in. If you’re thinking about graduate school, feel free to reach out to me!

 

 

Ryan Penney

Research Assistant
B.S. in Oceanography, University of Plymouth ‘15
M.S. in Oceanography, University of Plymouth ‘16
M.S. in Anthropology, The London School of Economics ‘18
Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology, Stanford Universit
y


What are you working on at COS?
I’ve been working with a small team in COS on a project entitled ‘Creating a Digital Revolution for Ocean Stewardship’. Our goal is to explore how Stanford can leverage its internal resources and external networks to accelerate the development and deployment of data and tech driven solutions for the sustainable production of blue food.

 

What motivates you to work on ocean issues?
I’m driven by a desire to foster new sustainable ways of interacting with the ocean, so that future generations of people can create the kinds of meaningful relationships with the sea that have been so important for my growth as a person. My passion for protecting what we have, and enthusiasm for finding new ways to enable diverse groups of people to use, know and feel the ocean, underpins everything I do.

 

Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?
Dropping in on my first wave, a long right-hander that eventually wiped me out. It was the first time I surrendered to the onrush, the uncertainty, and the serendipitousness of life. I haven’t quite been the same since.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy diving, camping, swimming, and surfing.

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?
I’m interested in ocean technology as it exists at the intersection of research, philanthropy, and finance. It is my hope to find a role that provides some kind of access to all of these.

 

Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?
There is no single way to learn about the ocean, so immerse yourself in as many of its aspects as you can. Pick up a copy of Barbarian Days at Green library, spend a day down at Hopkins, or flick through the latest edition of Marine Policy. There are so many groups at Stanford doing all kinds of ocean-related things, so don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone who seems to have even remotely similar interests. Me included!

 

 

Mao-wei Lo

Research Assistant
LL.B. 12’ & LL.M. 15’, College of Law, National Taiwan University
J.S.M. 19’, Stanford University School of Law
J.S.D. Candidate, Stanford University School of Law


What are you working on at COS?
I’ve been working with the project developing legal and policy framework to address forced labor in fishing and the related goal of building anti-trafficking/anti-slavery resilience.


What motivates you to work on ocean issues?
Taiwan has a distant-water fishing fleet of more than 1,100 vessels, the world's second largest after China. Unfortunately, Taiwan has been accused of being unable to effectively prevent forced labor in fishing and IUU. However, in fact the government authorities of Taiwan have worked hard to keep improving migrant fishing workers’ rights and benefits. As a Taiwanese student studying in the US, I hope that I can contribute my knowledge and help Taiwanese government to develop effective legal and policy frameworks to address these issues.


Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?
My first kayak experience in 2019 was definitely memorable. My partner and I visited Yilan (a county which is located in northeastern Taiwan) and started sea kayaking at 5 am. We witnessed the most astonishing sunrise on our kayak in our life.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?
In my free time, I like to hike, jog around campus, and play basketball with my friends. After the outbreak of the pandemic I also discovered that I love meditation so much.

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?
I’m interested in International Law and hope to pursue an academic position after graduation. Of course, the legal issue regarding forced labor in fishing and IUU will always be on my research agenda.


Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?
Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone! Just be open-minded and ask people any questions you have. I’m also happy to share my personal experience at Stanford and the COS as an international student. Feel free to reach out!

 

Natalie Cross

MUIR Fellow
B.S. Earth Systems - Oceans, Climate and Atmosphere Track, Class of 2022


What are you working on at COS?
I’m working with the addressing illegal fishing and labor abuses initiative, looking specifically at how port-level infrastructure and regulation can be used to combat these harmful fishing practices.


What motivates you to work on ocean issues?
My motivation stems largely from fascination. There are so many interesting creatures and natural phenomena that occur within and around the ocean. But it also is a resource that countless people rely on. Therefore, it’s very important that we find a balance between preserving the ocean and it’s biodiversity while still leaving space for ethical and sustainable use of its different resources.

 

Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?
Bioluminescent dolphins! I was able to sail as a part of the SEA Semester program this past spring and don’t get me wrong we saw so many amazing things during our voyage but the dolphins were my personal favorite. Technically they don’t bioluminesce themselves, but when they swim through the bioluminescent plankton they leave behind these glowing streaks that are absolutely magical to see.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I really enjoy hiking, camping and photography. My quarantine hobbies included a lot of crafting, with crocheting and embroidery becoming some of my favorites. But nothing can beat watching the sunset at the beach.

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?
I’m really interested in biological oceanography and would love to continue conducting research about marine mammal behavior and distribution.

 

Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?
Do the things that scare you a little bit! Whether it’s taking that new class or sailing on a boat for a semester you’ll discover what you’re the most interested in and excited about when you lean into that fear. Also if you’re any bit interested in Earth Systems feel free to reach out, I’ll be one of the student advisors next year :)

 

 

Diego Perez

MUIR Fellow
B.S. Environmental Systems Engineering, Class of 2023


What are you working on at COS?
I’m using data analytics to better understand how fisheries interact with Large-scale Marine Protected Areas and what sorts of conservation policies impact fishing effort.


What motivates you to work on ocean issues?
I’m motivated by the ocean’s rich and exciting intersection of deeply rooted cultural traditions, spiritual connections, economic resources, and diverse ecology!


Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?
I’ll always remember seeing a two-spot octopus for the first time in a tidepool and being absolutely mystified by how it moved.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy reading (Breakfast of Champions is a favorite), backpacking, and running (when I can). I also love to make art—mostly painting, ceramics, and, more recently, film photography.

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?
I’m broadly interested in engineering for sustainable development—including empowering communities to advocate for environmental issues with data science and helping to inform environmental policy with analytics.

 

Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to upperclassmen (myself included!) or any faculty or staff whose work interests you. You don’t have to have your interests clearly defined, either; just expressing enthusiasm is often enough to form a meaningful connection. Also, find friends to carpool with to the beach!

 

 

Contact Information

For Media Inquiries:

COS Communications at oceansolutions@stanford.edu