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Student Spotlight: Catching up with the COS student team

December 5, 2019

We’re excited to highlight the five members of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions student team. These Stanford co-terminal students are working on ocean challenges both in their studies and with COS.

 

Nahla Achi

Research Assistant
M.A. Earth Systems, Environmental Communication
B.A. International Relations; Minors Human Rights, Human Biology

What are you working on at COS? 

I’ve been working on a project mapping marine resource conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa to better understand which solutions might work for those challenges.

What motivates you to work on ocean issues?

I didn’t grow up by the ocean, but the ocean was always my happy place. It wasn’t until I started studying international relations and human rights that I learned how complicated the ocean is and how human rights abuses so often intersect with illegal fishing and environmental abuses. That made me realize I wanted to work on ocean issues.

Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?

Teaching diving. There was this one incredible dive I did with ostracods (a type of crustacean) at night. Through their mating ritual, they create spiral-like bioluminescence. It feels like you’re diving in a constellation. Coming up from the dive, we had six students that said, “I’m in love with the ocean now.”

What are your favorite things to do around campus?

I’m very outdoor-oriented, so I love to surf and climb and explore nature. On campus, I like going to events like guest lectures and student performances.

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?

I want to work on forced labor issues and supply chains. There are so many ways to approach those issues, from government work to the private sector.

Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?

Go to ocean-related events and meet people. The Earth Department also has so many inspiring people who will support you.

 

Laura Anderson
Communications Intern
M.A. Earth Systems, Environmental Communication
B.S. Biology, Marine Biology

What are you working on at COS? 

I’ve worn a few different hats, but my main focus has been finding ways to communicate through social media, covering events, and writing news stories.

What motivates you to work on ocean issues?

My initial motivation was a sense of discovery. When I started scuba diving, I fell in love with the creatures I was seeing and the idea that so much of the ocean is unexplored. Over time, I’ve learned how important the ocean is to the planet’s health, human health, and the longevity of human society. I’m interested in how effective communication can connect ocean science with decision making.

Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?

I’m very into tide pooling, which really taps into the feeling of discovery. I love thinking about how little critters evolve to survive in extreme and rapidly-changing environments. There are so many stories there.

What are your favorite things to do around campus?

Participating in student organizations has been a great way to meet different types of people. I also love walking around campus and spending time outside. The weather is nice for most of the year, so I definitely take advantage of that.

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?

I’m interested in science-based ocean policy and management, so working in environmental policy would be awesome.

Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?

It is okay to be excited and passionate about what you’re studying. Sometimes there’s a pressure to downplay your excitement in order to be taken seriously, but I think people benefit from sharing enthusiasm.

 

Natasha Batista
MUIR Fellow
M.S. Earth Systems
B.S. Earth Systems, Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate

What are you working on at COS? 

I’ve been working mostly with the Palau team. One of my projects focuses on gender equality in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau.

What motivates you to work on ocean issues?

My first time diving was a surreal experience. Everything felt so magical, calm, and terrifying. I just wanted to get back into the water. When I did Stanford at SEA, I started thinking more about how people interact with their environment, especially Islanders who rely on the ocean for resources and are particularly impacted by environmental challenges.

Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?

When I dove in warm waters for the first time during Stanford at SEA, I was having dreams in kaleidoscope colors. I had never seen so many fish or beautiful, vibrant colors.

What are your favorite things to do around campus?

I like to hike, bake, and go to the beach with my dog. I love to explore. I realized this past year that I’m kind of a land person too. 

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?

It would be interesting to pursue something that combines social and natural sciences. I would love to work internationally for a while to understand how sustainability and marine issues are addressed in other countries.

Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?

Get as many hands-on experiences as you can. See what research or abroad opportunities you can explore and you'll find a community of students who share your ocean passion. Keep working towards your goals, because it will pay off and people will see that you care.

 

Neil Nathan
Research Assistant
M.S. Earth Systems
B.S. Earth Systems, Biosphere

What are you working on at COS? 

I’ve helped with marine protected areas work under the Sustainable Ocean Economies initiative. I’ve also been working on a project which could help facilitate more integrated management of marine resources in small island developing state regions.

What motivates you to work on ocean issues?

I’m from Louisiana about five hours north of the coast – a pretty land-locked environment. I planned to go to medical school, but then spent time at Hopkins Marine Station down the coast in Monterey. Getting that close to the ocean and learning about how much we depend on it changed my view on life. The ocean is critical to the health of our planet.

Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?

Manta rays are my favorite animal. I went diving at a manta ray cleaning station in Palau and six of them came inches from my face. It was a magical moment to be surrounded by these giant spaceships circling around me.

What are your favorite things to do around campus?

Music is probably my number one passion. I grew up playing the cello and had a jam band with friends in high school. I love the improvisation and creativity of it.

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?

I’m curious to explore urban government and corporate sustainability because there’s a lot of accountability in those areas. The target at the end of the tunnel is sustainability and conservation, but there are so many pathways towards those goals.

Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?

Take your current ideas of the future with a grain of salt. You don’t need to know what your path will be. Being able to adapt and change your interests as you change in college is really important.

 

Hanna Payne
Communications Intern
M.A. Earth Systems, Environmental Communication
B.S. Human Biology

What are you working on at COS? 

I’ve predominantly worked on website content like news story writing, job postings, uploading and editing our publication lists, and the newsletter. I enjoy thinking about how the projects connect to the larger goals of COS and finding ways to communicate that in a way that is meaningful and impactful.

What motivates you to work on ocean issues?

The ocean has been a comfortable and rejuvenating space for me, one in which I’ve learned a lot and grown as a scientist and communicator. It can also be dangerous and scary and overwhelming. I’m motivated by this idea that an environment can exist that means different things for different people. I want to contribute to the sharing of what the ocean means for all of us.

Do you have a favorite ocean-related experience?

I grew up in Miami, Florida and a huge part of my childhood was going to the Bahamas. We used to go to this area called White Sand Ridge, which is a favorite spot for bottle-nosed dolphin feeding. Spending time swimming around with them next to my dad was super special.

What are your favorite things to do around campus?

Lots of hiking and photography. I enjoy going to the coast and taking photos of people interacting with natural ecosystems.

Are there areas you want to pursue after graduation?

I’m thinking about environmental policy and natural resource management. I’m particularly interested in community-based resource management, so how local, coastal, and island communities manage their resources and what frameworks might help govern that.

Any advice for a first-year Stanford student interested in the ocean?

Take advantage of Stanford’s abroad opportunities. Spending time off-campus has been really formative for me.

Contact Information

Nicole Kravec
Communications Manager
nkravec@stanford.edu