Five graduate students from the College of the Environment have been awarded Washington Sea Grant (WSG) fellowships. Corinne Noufi, Natalie Lowell, Katie Byrnes and Katie Shelledy from the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs (SMEA), were awarded the WSG Hershman Fellowship and Alanna Greene, a recent graduate of SMEA was selected as a finalist for the Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.

The WSG Hershman Fellowship matches highly motivated, qualified individuals with host agencies, nonprofits or tribes throughout Washington State, and  offers students first-hand experiences in crafting marine and natural resource policies. 

Corinne Noufi headshot
Corinne Noufi

Noufi will work with the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP), a state agency aiming to restore and protect Puget Sound. Noufi will work primarily as part of the Vital Signs reporting team, which collects data around the sound that indicate its health. Specifically, she will develop datasets that help visualize and report on the status and trends of Vital Sign indicators, foster technical conversations with experts from the Puget Sound recovery community to develop approaches for reporting, and develop communication products like web maps, meeting presentations and fact sheets. 

“I am really excited to continue growing my skill set for mapping, data analysis and ocean science and policy through the WSG Hershman fellowship,” says Noufi. “My position with Puget Sound Partnership will allow me to do that, here at home in my favorite state!”

Natalie Lowell headshot
Natalie Lowell

Lowell will work with the Makah Tribe, supporting a variety of projects related to oil spill prevention and response, vessel traffic safety, climate resilience and treaty resource protection. 

To prepare for a career supporting equitable and sustainable natural resource management, Lowell pursued joint interests of science and policy during her time at SMEA. While in school, she compared agency use of “best available science” under the Endangered Species Act and researched the effects of urbanization on marine ecosystems in the Puget Sound. For her PhD at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS), Lowell used a multidisciplinary approach to fill knowledge gaps regarding the genetic risks of native shellfish aquaculture. Specifically, she analyzed genetic data from wild shellfish populations to inform aquaculture management, interviewed co-managers to characterize this emerging policy issue, and developed a simulation model for evaluating genetic risks to wild populations under different shellfish production scenarios.

“As a fellow with the Makah Tribe, I’m most excited to learn about the co-management process, and to work in a place-based and community-based atmosphere,” says Lowell. “I’m motivated to work on projects with immediate impacts on people, such as oil spill response planning and vessel traffic safety. Neah Bay also happens to be one of my favorite places in the world, so I’m excited to spend time there and build new connections. Through the fellowship, I’m hoping to figure out whether working in policy is as good a fit for me as I expect it to be!”

Katie Byrnes headshot
Katie Byrnes

Byrnes is a recent graduate of SMEA. As a master’s student she collaborated on a capstone project with NOAA to create an interactive marine spatial planning tool for kelp restoration and aquaculture in Puget Sound. Concurrently, she earned a graduate certificate in Climate Science from the Program on Climate Change where her capstone focused on designing an educational curriculum that taught the effect of ocean acidification on Washington’s nearshore eelgrass ecosystems. As a Hershman Fellow, Byrnes will work primarily with the Port of Seattle in developing a multi-site habitat mitigation bank in the Green Duwamish River Watershed. She is looking forward to working at the intersection of science-based environmental management and policy.

“When I learned about the Hershman Fellowship I knew I wanted to pursue it after graduating from SMEA,” said Byrnes. “I’m so excited to work with the Port of Seattle in developing innovative strategies to advance marine sustainability in Washington. I’m looking forward to getting started this month!”

Katie Shelledy
Katie Shelledy

Shelledy, also a graduate of SMEA, will advance conservation planning and policy to support tribes in preserving the four values associated with treaty-reserved fishing rights: resource conservation; ceremonial, religious, and spiritual values; subsistence values; and commercial values. She will be engaged in compiling and describing the benefits and ecosystem services that salmon and salmon hatcheries provide. 

“Even though the Fellowship just started, I am already enjoying learning about salmon and hatcheries in Washington State,” said Shelledy. “Pacific salmon use so many habitats over the course of their life (streams, estuaries, and oceans), and given that my academic and professional background has included freshwater, brackish and marine environments, I feel like this opportunity is a culmination of my experiences and education thus far. I am grateful to spend this year working with and learning from my colleagues at the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission!”

 The John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship offers a unique educational experience to graduate students who have an interest in the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes, and in national policies that affect those resources. Successful applicants are matched with hosts in the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government for a one-year paid fellowship in the Washington D.C. area. The program is sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program.

Alanna Greene headshot
Alanna Greene

Greene is a recent graduate of SMEA who is interested in the intersection between marine science, policy and communication. As an undergraduate at SAFS, she researched the impacts of low pH on stress related gene expression in the Olympia oyster to discern the effects of ocean acidification on marine invertebrates and researched how urban development has led to changing parasite assemblages along the West Coast. Through her master’s capstone project, Greene provided policy recommendations to improve habitat connectivity in Washington and British Columbia. Through the fellowship, Greene could be doing constituent work, conducting background research for or assisting with drafting legislation, conducting research for hearings, briefing members, or other duties that connect to national marine policy. 

“I am excited to learn more about the policy making process and how science is being used at the national level to equitably protect our marine ecosystems and those who rely on them,” said Greene. “Getting to be at the intersection of science and policy, especially at such a pivotal time for our environment, feels like a dream come true, and I look forward to collaborating with others on such issues.”