My interest in marine species and the marine environment began when I started volunteering at The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) in 1991, where I was first exposed to the impact that disease can have on marine mammal species.
I returned to TMMC a decade later, as their first veterinary intern, after earning my veterinary degree at the University of California, Davis.
Following my completion of the internship at TMMC, I obtained a position as a staff scientist and deputy program manager of the Stranding Investigations Program at Mote Marine Laboratory, where I studied the health of marine species and their environment.
During this time, I served as the field veterinarian for the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, conducting health assessments on the local bottlenose dolphin population and conducting research into causes of mortality in this population.
I returned to California to pursue a PhD in Ocean Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. My PhD dissertation research focused on investigating the effects of red tides (Karenia brevis) on sea birds in Florida.
As my doctoral research nears completion I am excited about the opportunity awaiting me in Washington D.C. as a Knauss Marine Policy Finalist. The National Sea Grant College Program, John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, was created in 1979, and provides a unique educational experience to students, exposing them to national policy decisions affecting ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources.
I will be spending a year in Washington D.C. learning how decisions are made to establish scientific priorities and how sound science can be implemented into policy on the national level.
The marine ecosystem is undergoing rapid changes, some natural and some man-made, including increases in harmful algal blooms, changes related to climate change, and the impacts of marine debris.
I feel there is an urgency to confront these issues and to formulate policies that will protect the marine environment in a timely manner.
Although I enjoy being a veterinarian and conducting research, I believe I can make a larger impact by participating in the policy arena. Therefore, the Fellowship will give me the skills I will need in the future to pursue a career where I can advocate for the best possible science to be utilized in protecting the marine environment.