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This past Tuesday I was confronted with a shocking sexist letter directed at a woman applying to the College of Forestry in 1957. The woman was blatantly told that she could not enroll in the College of Forestry because the social constructs of the time would not allow it. The forestry jobs post college are only suitable for male employees, field trips for the college require sharing sleeping quarters, which would “pose a definite problem as far as a girl is concerned”, and a woman would not be able to fulfill the internship requirement because no forestry organization would hire her. Yikes. The culprit college behind this letter? Oregon State University. Fortunately the College of Forestry has come a long way since 1957. In 2015, 142 men graduated from the College of Forestry as well as 91 women, from 0% female graduates to 39%, a significant improvement.

This letter was brought to my attention during a search advocate training workshop I am taking this week put on by Anne Gillies, the Associate Director of Affirmative Action and Advancement in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access at OSU (what a mouthful!). Working in the research and scholars department at Oregon Sea Grant puts me directly in the process of requesting and reviewing applications, and therefore I figured I should know how to navigate this process in a fair and equitable manner. While I certainly do not purposefully attempt to introduce any bias into this process, I am also aware that many employers believe that they are conducting a just search such as I do, and yet there is still a stunning lack of diversity in many STEM fields. Now why is that? Due to this vast discrepancy, I, and the rest of the research and scholars team, am taking action to ensure we are aware of potential biases and how to avoid them.

Focusing on increasing diversity in applicants applying for and selected for OSG fellowships is necessary seeing as there is very little diversity currently in the fisheries field. A fellowship with OSG gives fellows unique opportunities to network and expand their skill sets, as well as provides a competitive edge for their resume when applying to future jobs. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that OSG fellows may have an advantage when applying for some fisheries positions. A study conducted by Arismendi and Penaluna in 2016 found that women and racial/ethnic minorities are sorely underrepresented in fisheries science both in higher education institutions and in federal employment. Despite the fact that slightly more (52%) women are earning PhDs in biological science, the majority (74%) of federal fisheries scientists/managers are male, and over 70% of tenure-track faculty in fisheries are male. This study points out that there is not a lack of well qualified women and minorities in the fisheries field, however, these groups are not ending up being selected for the tenure-track faculty or federal positions. Clearly something needs to change.

Why should we focus on increasing diversity in the fisheries workforce? The main reason is that every individual, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., deserves the same unearned privileges and opportunities. Another important reason is that diversity in general is actually beneficial to a workforce. “Previous research has shown that a diverse workforce generates new ideas, promotes innovation, leads to better problem-solving (Østergaard et al. 2011), enhances scientific productivity (Horta 2013), and increases the chances that the science will be high impact (Freeman and Huang 2015).” – Arismendi and Penaluna 2016. There is nothing to lose, and much to be gained, by incorporating diversity into the workforce. I look forward to entering into day two of the search advocate training workshop tomorrow and furthering my knowledge on this topic.

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The Final Post

Posted by: | September 15, 2016 | 1 Comment |

First Results for Tillamook Bay!

It seems as though the end of the Malouf scholarship is drawing nigh and that this will be my last blog post. I’m not quite sure where a year went as it seems just a month ago that I was meeting with Dr. Malouf and the other scholarship recipients, happily discussing our research and the work ahead. That said, from another perspective it seems a lifetime spent over the last year slowly grinding forward. In terms of progress, much of the hard computer modeling work is nearing a close and we are transitioning into the significantly more fun results stage. In this pursuit I am working with Jon Allan at the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) to make flood maps for public consumption. There is a wealth of progress to be made in this regard, comparing our results to DOGAMI’s and FEMAS flood maps and tracking down the important processes controlling flooding. It feels like a breath of fresh air to be finally getting close to the answers and (hopefully) community shaping results that I began working on years ago. For a problem of this size it’s sometimes easy to get lost in the little details and forget the big picture and the reason why you are here!

While this part of the project is nearing an end, I am considering it only part one of the story. Many lessons have been learned and part two will incorporate these changes as well as input from communities and stakeholders. The two main points that will be tackled in this new approach are:

  1. As per community and stakeholder request, a fully probabilistic approach that both encompasses scientific uncertainty and allows a determination of risk to be placed in the hands of local communities
  2. A generalizing of the modeling process that allows for assessment at multiple locations instead of single study sites.

I have just started spinning up this new part of the project via a collaboration with Peter Ruggiero at Oregon State. I have also restarted a collaboration with Sally Hacker in the integrative biology department to try and transfer our predicted future hydrodynamics to changes in the biosphere. So while the sun is setting on the first stage of the project, it only means a rebirth of these important questions.


Newport Sunset

I want to end by expressing my vast gratitude to the Oregon Sea Grant folks for funding this project initially (before I was even a student here) and then funding me through the Malouf scholarship. Their vote of confidence has provided me the funding and motivation to continue onward when things get hard. I hope that when my PhD eventually comes to a close, everyone who has read this blog will be at my defense for the true final blog post update. Thanks Everyone!

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Posted by: | September 14, 2016 | 1 Comment |

The summer is just about over and school is starting again in a couple weeks. But what a summer it has been!

Just after school ended, I had the opportunity to go to the upper peninsula of Michigan to attend the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM). Students and professionals from all over the world were in attendance. I got to go on a field trip hosted by the Keweena Bay Indian Community, who showed us around their fish hatchery, native plant greenhouse and garden, nursery, a restoration area that was a previous stamp mine dump site, and their dance ground. They were very hospitable and answered our (numerous) questions.

There were a lot of talks, on a wide variety of natural resource and human dimension topics, and the keynote speakers were extremely interesting. On the last day of talks we were eating lunch and looked outside; it looked like midnight. Then the wind came. Then lightening. Then torrential rain. I was one of the few (ahem, unwise) adventurers to walk the 10 minutes back to the afternoon talks through the brunt of the storm. I had to wring out my pants and still had my own personal puddle at the end of the talk. Ah, the Midwest. Despite that, we had a wonderful picnic on Lake Superior with one of the local delicacies: meat pasties. It’s like a hearty oblong meat pie, and is delicious.

I got to present my poster at the poster session, and had people from several countries as well as from the local Native American community asking questions. I had a particularly interesting conversation about the differences in the meaning behind “tribe” with a fellow from Africa.

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The rest of the summer was quite busy as well, including helping a couple fellow students with field work, getting my field work off the ground, and a phone survey job that had me asking questions of Oregon residents on their opinions and knowledge of Oregon marine spatial planning and reserves.

Currently, I am traveling back and forth between Portland (my current home) and the Oregon coast conducting interviews with tribal members for my thesis. This is extremely exciting and is going extremely well so far.

The amount of work to get to the point of interviewing tribal members is a lot more than I initially thought. Each tribe is a sovereign nation, meaning in part that they each have different procedures and timing for approving any type of research. This is especially important when the research includes traditional knowledge, which is the topic of several of my interview questions. I have had to draw upon my experience working for a tribe prior to going to graduate school. There are extensive data protections that have to be put in place, as well as a sensitivity when interviewing tribal elders that can only be learned with experience. Nonetheless, I have found the experience to be a great learning experience and I look forward to continuing the project.

Since this is my last blog post, I would like to take the chance to express my tremendous thanks to Sea Grant for accepting me and my project into the Malouf scholarship program. The funding has made my graduate experience much more extensive, with being able to go to several local and one larger conference. The funding also allowed me to get the equipment needed for the interview set-up, as well as the travel up and down the coast for interviews, meetings, and trainings that helped make this project possible. I am also thankful for the connections that Sea Grant has made possible, which has made for a very rich networking experience. I highly encourage students to work with Sea Grant if at all possible for the opportunities this great organization offers.

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Week 10: The End (and Beyond)

Posted by: | September 13, 2016 | 1 Comment |

I am writing this from my cute little house in Bloomington, Indiana. I am already in my fourth week of classes at IU – can you believe it?

My last week at ODFW was spent finishing up my final report of my results. I polished the report, cleaned out my desk, and caught a glimpse of Portland on Wednesday before boarding a plane back to St. Louis on Thursday. Four days later, I was sitting in my Evolution class in Jordan Hall, IU’s biology building.

A rushed transition, to be sure (I think I am finally getting settled into a routine), but Newport has not yet left my mind, and I think a few thank-yous are in order.

The crew at ODFW helped shape both my project and personal experience this summer. My mentor, Justin Ainsworth – along with other members of the Shellfish Division, Mitch Vance and Steve Rumrill – offered superb guidance, patience, and support. Carri Andersen, Marilyn Leary, Anne Vandewalle, and Adrian Cardoso made my data collection not only possible, but also enjoyable. They are, and will continue to be, missed.

I could not have asked for a better group of Sea Grant Scholars with which to spend the summer and explore Oregon. Steph, Erin, Jess, Lexi, Collin, Angus, Justin, Ed, and Skyler – it was lovely getting to know you, and you made my summer what it was.

And finally, thank you to Oregon Sea Grant for making this experience possible. Thanks to Sarah, Mary, and Haley in particular for running the program flawlessly. Such a special program requires outstanding leaders, and Oregon Sea Grant has certainly found them.

Moving forward: I will graduate this May with a B.S. in Biology (and some other stuff). After that, I plan to take a year “off” before applying to graduate school. For once, I am not sure what my plans are for the immediate future, which is thrilling. And who knows – maybe I will see Oregon again sooner than I expect.


under: Claire Mullaney, Summer Scholars

Welcome to the first blog post of the 2016-2017 Oregon Sea Grant Natural Resources Policy Fellow! It feels like an impressive title compared to PhD student, the hat I’ve been wearing for the past 5 years. Basically everything about this fellowship is different from what I experienced as a full-time PhD student and I find that I can’t stop marveling at the contrasts.

For one thing, I have a regular schedule. My husband has heard me say a million times “Science waits for no one” to explain why I unexpectedly needed to stay late at the lab, work weekends, and go into the lab early in the morning.

An imposing building to work in to go with my imposing - maybe just long - title.

An imposing building to work in to go with my imposing – maybe just long – title.

Bench science – experiments in a lab – often take more or less (ha! never!) time than expected, which means making plans with friends and family are constantly derailed or postponed. Now, as a Policy Fellow working in the Governor’s office, my schedule is largely confined to regular business hours. There are holidays! I find the more predictable schedule refreshing.

For another, I am surrounded by colleagues excelling in the career I see for myself pursuing. I knew fairly early on in my PhD career that I was not interested in a career in academia, at least not at an institution primarily focused on research. I love doing bench science and field work, and I love the teaching and mentoring I’ve done, but the prospect of packing grant writing and academic service on committees around research and teaching only fills me with dread rather than excitement. I find that I am inspired and focused in ways I haven’t felt in a while because I’m immersed in the field I’m most interested in. I guess I’m also relieved to feel like I’ve made the right choice.


The State of Oregon coffee (tea) cup I bought the first day at the Capitol.

Not everything is so different though. I still work primarily independently, at least so far. I spend some time working as part of a team on projects with tight deadlines, which I’ve always perversely found enjoyable. And I still drink tea almost constantly at my desk. How do people live without hot drinks?

One of the unexpected surprises of my first few weeks has been the commute to Salem, OR. I was dreading it, frankly, but I’ve been riding the Amtrak train and watching the sunrise over the farm fields recalls to me the time I spent driving through corn fields to feed horses and go to horse shows early in the morning when I lived in Michigan and Illinois. It seems I still have a soft spot

The tumble of morning glories on my walk to work.

The tumble of morning glories on my walk to work.

for early mornings in rural America. I’m also enjoying exploring Salem itself on my lunch breaks. I keep finding this beauty out of the blue that stops me, literally, in my tracks.

I don’t have much to report on the actual work I’m doing yet. I’m still getting on all the right people’s radar so they know I’m the person to contact about ocean and coastal issues. Today, I look forward to attending the Oregon Shellfish Task Force meeting where they will finalize their recommendations to the legislature. I’ve been hearing about the progress of Shellfish Task Force for more than a year from Kessina Lee, my predecessor and PSU Biology colleague, so it’s exciting to see the product of all that work.

Next time, I hope to be able to outline the projects I’ll be working on and maybe highlight some of the neat architecture and sculpture I get to walk by every day working around the Oregon State Capitol.



under: Natural Resources Policy Fellow, sea_day
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The Last Week: A Reflection

Posted by: | August 27, 2016 | 1 Comment |

I can’t believe that I’ve already been away from Oregon for a week. As I’m telling my friends back home my experiences, I know that Oregon will always have a place in my heart. My last week at WRCA wrapped up pretty uneventfully, making sure that I put a bow on all of my projects so that they’re easily accessible to those in the future that will use them.

Off work, I spent my time saying see you later to the friends that I made, and trying to cram all of the stuff that I had acquired into my suitcase. I tasted the famous Denny’s Pizza in Coquille (still the best pizza ever) again, and I tried out a few local hotspots that I had been wanting to try – Edgewaters (I tried Halibut for the first time!), Coastal Mist (delicious chocolate company, where you can get their awesome chocolate mixed with coffee for a great mocha), and Broken Anchor (a local bar & grill favorite, where I learned how to play shuffleboard for the first time). I walked all around Bandon and visited their cute artisan stores, finally settling on my favorite sea-glass necklace (made my Sally, who also sells seashells on the Port of Bandon, a.k.a. the Sea Shore).

I learned a lot about development efforts in the rural United States, and I’ve already been able to use this knowledge in a few of my classes in the first week of school. But most importantly, Oregon taught me most about who I am – in the quiet summer, humbled by the giant trees, listening to the sea breeze, I looked inside and was really able to discover who I am, critically reflect on my career path, and determine where I want to go in the future. One of my goals of the summer was to “find peace” –- to learn how to focus my mind and energy and determine what activities allow me to be the most peaceful and productive. I believe I’ve found just that, and it’s allowed me to settle into my school year, with my sights on my senior projects, making new friends, and applying to graduate school. I cannot thank enough Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State, WRCA, and everyone involved in the programs for selecting me to receive this invaluable experience. Thanks to those who mentored me along the way, and for all that you’ve taught and shown me. I will be forever grateful. I know that it is not a goodbye to Oregon – I am already planning my next trip up. See you soon!

under: Lexi Brewer

Giving Thanks

Posted by: | August 25, 2016 | 1 Comment |

I couldn’t think of a better last day than having it be the last Shop at the Dock. I spent Thursday making some baked goods to thank all of the fishermen who participated in the program (and tolerated our presence on the docks). Through all of the events, the best part was getting to see how grateful participants and fishermen were and I’m lucky to have been a part of it.


I am unbelievably proud of this.

With the program over, I’ll look forward to spending some time with my family, getting in some traveling, and finding a job. I’ve always been interested in science and education. Helping with Shop at the Dock and being a part of Sea Grant has solidified my interest in pursuing both. It was really great seeing what a powerful tool education can be and I’d like to find a career where I can incorporate education and outreach with science.


So long Sea Grant

I wanted to finish off by thanking the village of people who worked so hard to make this summer happen. So thanks Haley, Mary, Sarah and every other Sea Grant employee who made the Summer Scholars Program possible. I am eternally grateful to my mentors, Kaety Jacobson and Kelsey Miller, for the wealth of information, the never-ending guidance and support, and for being a constant source of inspiration. Also huge thanks to the rest of the Shop at the Dock crew- Jess Porquez, Amanda Gladics, and Mark Farley- for teaching me about Newport, fisheries, different career paths, and how to be understanding and gracious towards others with conflicting opinions.

Thank you to my fellow Summer Scholars, who made this summer unforgettable. I’m so grateful to have been surrounded by such incredible, kind, and caring people and I will miss you all dearly. Cheers to the many outdoor adventures, the endless sass and sarcasm, the great meals and conversations, and everything in between.

And finally, thanks very much for reading and (hopefully) listening along with me. I’ll finish this post with my final song of the summer from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros called Home. Partly because I’m happy to be headed home for a bit, but mostly because I’m so grateful to have found a little piece of home along the Oregon Coast. Newport, you will be missed.

under: Stephanie Ng, Summer Scholars
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All things that begin must end. But not all things have to end the way they began. Friends made, memories of the journey, and the momentos of progress and challenge all are forged in time. Each token of time will remain a keepsake to me forever. Things certainly did not end the way they began: the Oregon coast has been explored, several estuaries have beeen preserved in cyberspace and eagerly await analysis, and my curly mug has been etched into the brains of at least 20 people. A journey like this teaches many things, but as with all teachings the lessons are unique to the one experiencing  it. My mentors include my team, SEACOR, the tides and the ocean, my fellow summer scholars, the Sea Grant Staff, and of course practically the entire Hatfield Marine Science Center staff; all of which deserve personal thanks.

Perhaps my favorite part was personally experiencing (and at least partly responsible for creating) the beauty of images taken 7-60 meters above the ground (click on them!):

Final Alsea Bay Flight; collected via TurboAce MAtrix-E w/ Sony RX100 M3. A Labor of love, these mosaics require intense attention to detail for long periods of time.

Mill 18, Courtesy Erik Suring.

Trask River Dam Removal


Or perhaps it was the places I went, the way the sun rised and set, or the things I met:



But I know for sure it was the people I encountered and befriended, the people who taught me so much, the friends who became family, and the family who I will surely miss:

under: Skyler Elmstrom, Summer Scholars

Week 10 – fin: The Naturalist

Posted by: | August 23, 2016 | 1 Comment |

Way back during my sophomore year of college, I took a course on general natural history – although the way the professor taught, it was more like story time than a lecture. He was one of those old school naturalists from the 1960s who built their careers simply by walking around and observing the subtle ecological interactions that you and I would have obliviously strolled past. Even now half-deaf from countless doses of antimalarial drugs and wizened from decades of work in the tropics, he retained a noticeable enthusiasm in his voice every time he regaled us about this particular insect or that peculiar plant.

His passion for nature was one that was superseded only by his mission for conservation, something that he strove to emphasize in every lecture. I took the following passage from an assigned article of his, one that I was reminded of as I reflected over the past ten weeks.

Science and society are uneasy partners in the wildland garden: In the best of worlds we may achieve a very fine and finely negotiated partnership, and in the worst of worlds, annihilation of one by the other. A wildland garden with gentle trodding from caring gardeners just might achieve the partnership. A wilderness faces certain annihilation as a battlefield.

This description is a summary of a larger ideal, one in which we humans view nature not as an unfathomable wilderness, but as a giant, valuable garden. It’s an ideal that has yet to be realized. In this modern age of technology and industry, the only way to ensure we have wild spaces left is to appeal to human authority and market the wilds as pragmatic and worth saving. An intact nature certainly does provide a wealth of ecosystem services and a multitude of other assets (not to mention aesthetics), but as it stands now, the magnitude of these benefits is lost to the majority of society.

The way things are going these days, this is the approach that we must pursue. But at the same time, I think there’s still hope for a paradigm shift, one where we will eventually acknowledge nature not just on its tangible worth, but also on its intrinsic values. My time here with the ODFW Marine Reserves Program has been an enlightening experience of what has so far been accomplished and also what needs to be done further in this regard. If there’s anything I can pass along to those of you who are reading, it would be these few lessons that I’ve learned both here and in years past.

  1. Nature has been extraordinarily resilient against humanity’s “management,” but there is a breaking point.

One of the greatest follies of human nature is that we think we know best (the operative word here being “think”). But the truth is that we have learned after the fact too many times for us to know what is and isn’t good for the environment:

And yet people still think ventures like the Pebble Mine are good ideas. I could go on and on, but the message is that most of the time our intentions are neutral at best and irreparably catastrophic at worst. We’ve seen it countless times already, we’re still seeing it happen in the present, and we’re bound to repeat it in the future if something doesn’t change.

The solution? Allow our scientists and their research to inform and guide us, which takes us to my next point.

  1. Science takes time.

…but right now there is no time, which is why endeavors such as the marine reserves that conserve the study area throughout the research process are so critical. The reserves are due for an evaluation by legislature in 2023, more than a decade after they were created. A lot can happen in ten years, and already for many places it would be too late to begin research without some kind of protection plan in place, as is the case here.

In the meantime…

  1. We need to tap into our inner naturalists.

There is a very real and ongoing disconnect between humans and nature, a phenomenon that I believe is at the heart of the problem. It seems to me that there’s a correlation between technological advancement and a diminishing appreciation for nature. That isn’t to say the modern world we’ve created is inherently bad, but as we stray farther from our primitive roots, we lose the ability to identify with the outside world. The society we’ve become is one that is incapable of recognizing the well-being of anything outside of its own domesticated bubble. Simply put, if we don’t have any reason to care, then we have no reason to shoulder any responsibility.

Amidst all of the contention, there is a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Oregon’s marine reserves (and indeed, all of our protected areas) are serving as the models we need going forward. Put science at the forefront in dictating policy, set definitive boundaries that give biodiversity a fighting chance to bounce back, and communicate the virtues of a robust ecosystem to the rest of the world. Until there is a universally understood obligation to maintain our wild spaces, it’s perhaps the only way we’ll attain any semblance of harmony.

The alternative if we don’t? Human encroachment continues until there are only isolated and ecologically useless patches of wilderness left, pollution sullies the rest, and our natural resources are eventually depleted as we consume with reckless abandon. Society will be left to ponder what went wrong. As with many things past, we’ll only know what we lost when it’s well and truly gone.

under: Edward Kim, Summer Scholars

To Alabama and Beyond

Posted by: | August 23, 2016 | 2 Comments |

My experiences this summer were incredible. I wish that I could stay a Sea Grant Scholar forever. Unfortunately, this is not possible and I will have to continue on my career path through different avenues.

This fall I will return to the University of Alabama to complete my final semester. I will graduate with a B.S. in Marine Science/Biology and a minor in Geology. During my last term on campus, I will be taking slightly fewer classes that I have before. This will allow me to increase my participation in research opportunities on campus. I will continue to serve as a research assistant in the geology department. This semester will be unique in that I have been given the opportunity to conduct my own project on oyster shells from gulf coast aquaculture. Secondly, I will begin work at the Geological Survey of Alabama. I will be working in the survey’s ecological monitoring department. My duties will require my participation in field work and the entry of data from the fish we collect.


After graduation in December, I plan to pursue a fisheries observer position in Alaska. My observer training would begin late February. My intentions are to hold this position for approximately a year and pursue a master’s degree starting in the Fall of 2018. I also have aspirations to work as a raft guide in the summer leading up to my graduate studies. I am at an exciting point in my life where my path could go many different directions. I look forward to my future adventures and am grateful for all I have learned and all who I met during my time as a Sea Grant Summer Scholar.


under: Uncategorized

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