Public Affairs

CSU Coastal Science Fellows Serving California

February 23, 2012
By Stephanie Thara

Four California State University graduate students and recent graduates were inducted into the 2011-2012 California Sea Grant State Fellowship Program, where they will explore marine issues, environmental quality and resource management.

The State Fellows Program is a prestigious and unique educational opportunity that matches highly motivated students with marine-based state and federal agencies in California. Each fellow will receive a $3,166 monthly stipend for up to 12 months to receive “on the job” experience in the planning and implementation of marine and coastal resource policies and programs in the state. Since the program’s inception in 1988, only 73 students have been funded by the program—20 being CSU students.

This year’s CSU recipients detail insights about their fellowship:

Sara HuttoSara Hutto (M.S. in Marine Science; Moss Landing Marine/ CSU Monterey Bay)

Fellowship details: Working with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary to collaborate with other West Coast sanctuaries on reducing ship strikes on endangered whale species and developing a workshop on ocean acidification with sanctuary education and outreach specialists.

Favorite task: Learning the ropes of how extremely different organizations and community groups can come together and collaborate to solve very important ocean health issues.

Advice to aspiring fellows: Have varied interests, reach outside comfort zones and be ready for the next challenge.

Final thoughts: “The CA Sea Grant State Fellowship is providing me a unique opportunity to work with a federal agency in resource protection and is greatly expanding my career options as a marine scientist.”

Scott ToewsScott Toews (M.S. in Coastal and Watershed Science & Policy [candidate]; CSU Monterey Bay)

Fellowship details: Assisting the Ocean Protection Council with establishing a state data portal for geospatial data, developing tools from existing mapping data and raising ocean conservation awareness.

Favorite task: Adjusting from a singular existence as a graduate student who does field work to becoming part of a team working toward shaping ocean management and policy for California.

Advice to aspiring fellows: Spend time on the application, really sell yourself on the personal statement and resume, and do research on the agencies you’re applying for.

Final thoughts: “[The fellowship] provides a unique opportunity to become a part of the policy and science interface helping to shape California coastal management at the highest level.”

Johanna WestonJohanna Weston (M.S. in Biological Science; Cal Poly San Luis Obispo)

Fellowship details: Collaborating with the State Water Resources Control Board in the Ocean Unit of the Division of Water Quality on projects researching issues such as harmful algae blooms and nutrient standards for enclosed bays.

Most challenging task: Applying knowledge gained through thesis work to the agency’s management and policy initiatives, and learning to examine these topics from an opposite perspective and approach.

Advice to aspiring fellows: Have your background and previous experiences align with the objectives of the Fellowship and fit in with the mission of your target agency.

Final thoughts: “I am grateful to Sea Grant and the State Water Board for the opportunity to apply my skills to management and ocean policy topics, and to continue to develop as a scientist.”

Hayley ZemelHayley Zemel (M.S. in Marine Ecotoxicology [candidate]; CSU Long Beach)

Fellowship details: Building the image and infrastructure of the Ocean Science Trust to maintain the organization’s mission of integrating the best available science into environmental management and policy decisions.

Favorite task: Interacting with experts and reviewing reports regarding water management decisions in California.

Advice to aspiring fellows: Take every opportunity to get involved with as many projects/activities as possible to gain a diversity of experience, develop a network of people and find out which path is right for you.

Final thoughts: “I view this fellowship as a great way to build great skills, fine tune my career decisions, and meet amazing people.”