Plastic Fibers, Anti-Fouling Boat Paint, Aquatic Invasive Species, and OASE Interns!

It’s been a busy spring, and I’ve continued to work on projects ranging from the impacts of synthetic fibers on overall plastic particle pollution, the use of copper in anti-fouling boat paint, ways to increase education and outreach to reduce invasion by aquatic invasive species, and providing administrative support for the Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE) summer intern program.

It’s common knowledge that plastics are accumulating at unprecedented levels in oceans around the world.  In response, increasing numbers of people participate in beach cleaning efforts, and are changing their daily practices to reduce single-use plastics in their homes (re-usable bags/straws/ cups/ containers).  Although research indicates that large pieces of plastic (bottles, bags, straws, etc.) contribute most to the overall mass of plastics in the oceans, new studies are demonstrating that large pieces produce only a small share of the plastic particles (microplastics).   Of significant concern are the impacts of synthetic fibers from clothing made from nylon, polyester, and synthetic blends, which in turn, break down into microplastics found in our oceans and on local beaches.  These fibers aren’t reaching the oceans because clothing is thrown into the sea.  Rather, hundreds of thousands of fibers (plastic) may be released from our washing machines and into our municipal wastewater effluents every time we wash our fleece pullover and/or spandex/nylon/polyester tights.

As a first step toward understanding the magnitude of the issue, I completed a review of research on the significance of synthetic fibers in overall microplastic pollution, and included recommendations for follow-up.  Suggested studies for the future include projects that will trace the release of synthetic fibers during typical processes of washing clothing and subsequent discharge of fibers through current wastewater effluent systems, and assessing the volume of synthetic fibers that may be re-introduced into the environment as embedded particles in sludge applications on land.

As a joint project for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB), I am continuing research on the use of copper biocides in anti-fouling bottom boat paint and potential aquatic impacts in Oregon.  Anti-fouling boat paint is designed to slowly release varying levels of biocides (like copper) on contact with water.  Some paints are called an ablative paint, which is softer and allows the paint to wear off at a controlled rate, and much like a bar of soap, once the boat moves in the water or there is a current and or tide, the outer layer slowly wears away. Ablative paints generally contain lower levels of biocide toxins, but the toxins are released at a steadier rate as fresh paint is exposed. Copper in anti-fouling paint can also be released into the environment during boat maintenance and repainting practices.


It turns out that boaters who leave their boats moored at marinas in both salt and fresh water environments often use a biocide in anti-fouling paint on the bottom of boat hulls to prevent the attachment and spread of aquatic organisms, including invasive species.  Originally I thought that the use of copper in anti-fouling boat paint in freshwater environments was less common as there are very few organisms that are classified as “boat fouling” that would be of concern for attaching to the bottom of a boat in fresh water.  However, it turns out that fresh water boat enthusiasts may also use a biocide paint that repels the accumulation of slime (biofilm to algae) on their boats, and the most common anti-slime boat paint includes a copper component.

Although copper occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust and surface waters and is an essential nutrient at low concentrations, too much copper can negatively impact aquatic organisms, including the ability of fish to successfully reproduce and grow. In fact, numerous studies on fresh water fish and salmon have shown that high levels of copper can reduce resistance to disease, alter swimming patterns, impair respiration, blood chemistry, and more.

I am continuing to collect data, read studies, learn about typical boat cleaning and maintenance practices, and connect with water quality experts in Oregon.  By the end of this summer I will compile a report that summarizes the use of copper in anti-fouling boat paint, provides some clarity on current anti-fouling paint practices, and begins to trace known levels of copper Oregon’s salt and fresh water environments.

A new project that I started this month is the development of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) education and outreach materials for boat yard operators. The state of Oregon through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and the OSMB has a fairly robust program to educate boaters about the importance of identification and removal of AIS in Oregon. However, most of the current outreach information identifies species found in fresh water boating environments.

I am working on developing materials that will help boat yard operators identify and report species that could invade Oregon shores through marine (saltwater) environments – many of those were recently studied during the examination of tsunami debris from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Approximately 380 species of algae, invertebrates and fish were identified in Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris (JTMD), and as recently as spring 2017, live Japanese species were still documented arriving on JTMD objects in North America and Hawaii. Although the number of live organisms from JTMD is now reduced, an introduction of AIS from salt water environments is still a significant concern. The new outreach materials will assist boat yard operators to act as front-line deterrents to invasions by providing information on identification and reporting of some of these less commonly known marine organisms.

Last, but not least, the OASE program is off and running for summer 2019. Interns, host businesses, and supporting partners had the opportunity to mingle and hear about this summer’s projects at a Meet & Greet event in May, and our 2019 interns gathered during an Orientation event this month to learn more about the OASE program and goals, expectations and deliverables, project assignments and developing project scopes, Pollution Prevention concepts, and administrative resources and support. I will continue to assist with the organization of the administrative portions of the program and provide mentoring support to the interns during their summer experience. I’ve included a picture of the 2019 Interns taken during Orientation and I wish them much success as they design waste reduction and pollution prevention systems for their host businesses.

(2019 OASE Interns – Anna Burton, RiverBend Materials; Jack Hobbs, Stanley Infrastructure; Nuchwara “Aam” Youngcharoen, Yogi Tea; Maya Hurst, Grand Central Bakery; Lara Andenoro, Stumptown Coffee Roasters; Olivia Bain, Green Hammer; Not pictured – Angelique Brown, AntFarm; Jacob Taddy; Rachel Mattenberger).

Reflections and Take-Aways on My Outreach Experience

Earlier this spring, I delivered my activity for the spring Challenge Events, hosted by OSU’s SMILE (Science & Math Investigative Learning Experiences) program, at the Marine Geology Repository (MGR). Over the course of two days, I guided ~60 high school students, ~100 elementary school students, and ~25 K-12 teachers through my hour-long lesson.

When students first arrived, I introduced them to the MGR and talked briefly about my experience as a woman in geoscience. I encouraged them to stick with STEM and pursue their dream careers. I then began the demonstration with a ~10-minute presentation about Oregon salt marshes, ecosystem services, threats to coastal areas, and how salt marshes record history. I then broke the students up into three groups of ~7 at three different tables, each with similar materials. Each table had a sediment core from a different Oregon salt marsh that displayed a 1700 Earthquake tsunami deposit (Picture 1). The students were able to touch the cores and look at samples under microscopes. After walking the students through a few lines of reasoning about where they observe the tsunami deposit based on visual changes, differences in grain size, and what they could observe on the microscopes, I led an experiment to compare carbon content within the sediment core. First, I had students predict which parts of the core had the most carbon, and which parts had the least amount of carbon. They then took three samples from the core and placed them into beakers. I placed these beakers on a hotplate and added hydrogen peroxide. After a few seconds, the samples began to bubble. We then debriefed the experiment, assessing whether their hypotheses were correct and why that was (or was not) the case. If there was time left, I encouraged the students to walk around the classroom and see the other cores for comparison to their own (they varied quite a lot). After each group had finished the experiment, we came back together as a whole group and I asked them a couple of questions: What was something cool that you saw? Did everyone find that you had a tsunami deposit? What did you predict would happen in your experiment? What did you actually see? Why do you think that was the case? Following this, the remainder of the time (~5 – 15 min) was spent touring the core lab facility, until they were transported to their next activity.

Picture 1. Activity set up.

I wanted to highlight some of my takeaways from the demonstrations in no particular order.

First, I learned that I have to be flexible and capable of altering my lesson plan in the moment. This requires constant assessment of how my audience is receiving information. If the material is too confusing or jargon-heavy, I need to slow down, simplify, and explain. Some of the groups found certain aspects of the demonstrations more interesting than others and so I was constantly altering the activity. I was really glad that I scheduled the tour at the end because we were able to extend this portion if we had finished earlier than expected or cut this portion short if we were running low on time.

Picture 2. Two students excited about touching 300-year-old, tsunami sand.

This may seem trivial, but the time of day really affects engagement. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I found that both students and teachers were the least engaged directly after lunch and at the very end of the day. I would watch people’s eyes glaze over if I spoke for too long or attempted to engage them in a difficult subject. During these times, I also noticed that the students were more poorly behaved – distracting other students or engaging a bit too roughly with the demonstration materials. I was also much more energetic and enthusiastic in the middle of the day. In the mornings I was nervous and a little out of practice. By the end of the day, I was tired and ready for dinner.

Everyone loves looking under microscopes. Even though I rarely look under the microscope for my own research, I will always incorporate microscopes into future demonstrations. The MGR has a number of very simple stereoscopes that were perfect for students to see the sediment up close. Some of the students were able to find foraminifera and Radiolaria (Picture 3). One student got so excited by it, that we preserved his Radiolaria between two pieces of packing tape so he could keep it.

Picture 3. Students trying to find Radiolaria and foraminifera.

It seemed like students were unfamiliar with salt marshes in their state, or the fact that Oregon is an active subduction zone that experiences large earthquakes. Despite this, they picked up the information quickly and I was constantly pleasantly surprised with their depth of questioning. Multiple students came up to me and said they wanted to become geologists when they were older – these were certainly the most rewarding experiences.

So, I think I was able to accomplish my goals:

✓ describe how sediment cores are collected in marine environments and how these samples are stored and processed at the MGR

✓ discuss the unique features of Oregon’s estuaries, the services they provide, and the threats they face

✓ visually analyze and compare salt marsh stratigraphy

✓ identify tsunami sand layers and place them within the context of Cascadia seismic history

I won’t know whether I’ve achieved my broader goal of influencing kids to pursue careers in STEM; however, I feel confident that I piqued their interest in geosciences.

Moving forward with my OSG Malouf Scholarship, I plan to present at Corvallis’s Di Vinci Days. Also, I will submit my lesson plan and materials to the MGR so that they are able to continue using my outreach activity. I’ll also be looking into ways to share my lesson plan with a broader audience, such as Carleton College’s SERC (the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College) program.

A (Very) Brief History of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Fishery


Drawing by H.L. Todd, from No. 2553, U.S. National Museum. California, William Stimpson.

Landings of Dungeness crab were first recorded in Oregon in 1889 and have continued to constitute a major fishery resource ever since. Over time, the fishery has seen increased participation, changing technology, and improved understanding of crab biology and population dynamics which have shaped the management system that is in place today.

Crabbing began in the major bays and other protected waters along the Oregon coast. Gradually, these efforts expanded to the open ocean where the vast majority of commercial crabbing in Oregon now takes place. From 1909 to 1933, commercial fishers were subject to daily and/or annual bag limits. When these catch limits were repealed in 1933, a sharp increase in landings occurred and continued until 1948 with crabbing for both male and female crabs open year round.

In 1948, the first seasonal closures began in Oregon with the goal of reducing the catch of crab that are in poor condition (i.e., low meat yield) during times when molting takes place. At the same time, the harvest of female crabs was first prohibited (which was practiced long before it was set in rule) in an effort to support the reproductive output of the population. Size regulations were first implemented in the early 1900s and have remained largely unchanged. Size limits were enacted with little knowledge of the species biology, however, research now supports a 6.25” (159 mm) minimum carapace width which allows male crabs to reproduce for at least one season before being targeted by the fishery. These three components (i.e., size, sex, and season) constitute the “3-S” management strategy that is employed by Dungeness crab fisheries along the coast.

Over time, additional management measures have been adopted to limit effort in the Dungeness crab fishery and to reduce the impacts of lost or abandoned gear. In 1995, a limited entry program was implemented allowing for a set number of available vessel permits. In 2006, a three-tiered pot limit system (200, 300, and 500 pots) was adopted to control the gear capacity of the fishery. Regulations are also in place in the commercial fishery requiring 4.25” escape rings, biodegradable release mechanisms, and buoy marking for identification.

Dungeness crab has always been managed at the state level, but there is a history of interstate cooperation to standardize measurement methods, coordinate opening dates, and maintain consistency in other regulations. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Washington, Oregon, and California was first signed in 1980 and subsequently amended to formalize each state’s commitment to mutually supportive management of the resource. In 1990, the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee was coordinated by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) to provide a forum for negotiating issues that affect more than one state’s fishery.

During my fellowship with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), one of the major challenges is researching and documenting the changes that have taken place in the fishery over time and the management decisions that have led to the current regulatory structure. In addition to the long history of the ocean commercial Dungeness crab fishery, a targeted bay commercial fishery and active recreational fishery for Dungeness crab also exist. I am working to include a detailed description of each of these fisheries and an assessment of the challenges they face to support coordinated management and minimized complexity.

From the early days of the fishery when crabs were landed by the dozen to the current transition to an electronic Fish Ticket system, the Dungeness crab fishery in Oregon has a long and rich history. As I approach the halfway point in my fellowship, I look forward to shifting gears from describing the current status of the resource (e.g., biological information, threats to the resource, available data, and research gaps) to a closer look at the historical and current management strategy for this important fishery resource.


[1] Demory, D. 1990. History and status of the Oregon Dungeness crab fishery. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Marine Region, 12 pp.

[2] Didier, A. J., Jr. 2002. The Pacific coast Dungeness crab fishery. Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, 30 pp.

[3] Rasmuson, L. K. 2013. The biology, ecology and fishery of the Dungeness crab, Cancer magister. Advances in Marine Biology, 65: 95–148.

[4] Waldron, K. D. 1958. The fishery and biology of the Dungeness crab (Cancer magister Dana) in Oregon waters. Fish Commission of Oregon, Contribution No. 24, 43 pp.

A Reflection on a Master’s Thesis

“Defense Season”: that’s what graduate students affectionally call the last few weeks of Spring term when students finishing up their Master and PhD degrees hurry to submit their thesis and present their research. Last week, I successfully defended my MS in Marine Resource Management with support from the Oregon Sea Grant’s Robert E. Malouf Marine Studies Scholarship (a picture from after my defense is below!).


Over the past two years, I learned a lot about how scientific information is communicated to our natural resource decision-makers. I now understand the importance of an effective science communication process so our decision-makers have the information they need to best manage our natural resources.


My research: a recap

As a reminder, my research evaluated how a webinar series can improve engagement between National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers and Oregon’s natural resource managers. NOAA West Watch currently communicates information about unusual climate and marine conditions to an audience of NOAA experts and key partners (white in the figure below). This type of science communication process is considered “one-way” because information is transferred from the webinar to the audience.

My research proposed that adding natural resource managers, specifically from Oregon, could better help the webinar’s information reach communities that NOAA serves. These managers would participate in the webinars, serving as translators of the science to their community stakeholders. In return, these managers could gather community observations regarding abnormal conditions that individuals experienced in their environment. Oregon’s natural resource managers could then report these observations  back to researchers through NOAA West Watch webinars (blue in the figure above). This movement of information in two directions (from researchers to managers to communities; from communities to managers to researchers at NOAA West Watch) is called two-way communication, and attempts to better match research with community or decision-making information needs.

What we found

We found that Oregon’s natural resource managers need information about our changing environment to make decisions regarding sustainable use of our resources. NOAA West Watch webinars provide this needed environmental information that gives context to Oregon’s changing terrestrial and marine environments. Having this “one stop shop” for information regarding both climate and marine conditions in a webinar saves time for our resource-limited managers.

However, we also found that it’s difficult to have engagement on a webinar. Looking at the diagram above, information is moving to Oregon’s natural resource managers, but it’s unclear how information should be moving back to NOAA West Watch. To improve this engagement mechanism, additional effort needs to be made to build relationships and facilitate discussion. In the case of NOAA West Watch, engagement needs to be incorporated into the goals of this program. To demonstrate why engagement with Oregon’s natural resource managers matter, the webinar needs to leave dedicated discussion time and facilitate engagement by posing questions.

Why this all matters

Science communication is an inherently difficult process, especially between environmental researchers and natural resource managers. These researchers and managers often have different perceptions of the environment and professional priorities. Science itself can be difficult to understand and communicate. Finally, not all science is useful for making decisions about natural resources. These factors all cause challenges when researchers and managers try to communicate science.

However, research has shown that built relationships between researchers and managers results in successful science communication. Relationships help researchers and managers trust each other and the unique skills and perspectives that the other group provides. By better integrating research and management problems, these two sides can work together to solve some of our challenging environmental questions.

Our environment is not static; it is constantly changing due to natural fluctuations, and there’s a continuing shift in “normal” conditions with climate change. Individuals and agencies who manage our resources need access to and an understanding of how the environment changes and what those changes means for our natural resources and communities. We (researchers, managers, communities) are all invested in the long-term sustainable use of environment, but it takes effective communication of sound science for that to be successful.

A Session Reflection

Sine die is the constitutionally defined date that the legislative session ends. There is an interesting feeling of uneasy calmness at the Capitol. While a large percentage of bills died in the first session deadline in April, there are “zombie bills” still floating around. Zombie bills, are bills that were sent to either the Joint Ways and Means or the Rules committees, which aren’t subject to session deadlines. These bills are often kept alive because they have a very broad “Relating to…” clause, like “Relating to the environment” or “Relating to education”, and can be re-written later during the session.

Because zombie bills can be re-written, policies that may have died earlier in the session, may come back. For this reason, the “bad policies” that were a concern in the beginning of the session, could still be a threat. The importance of soft skills, like analyzing human interactions, has never been so clear to me. Some committees are receiving informational presentations about marine reserves and coastal tourism, and some are approving the Governor’s executive appointments some committees are kind of slow, kind of fast, and definitely ominous.

I’ve had the incredible opportunity to help with passing the Governor’s Environmental Protection Act, which seeks to prevent backsliding of state air and water quality standards that occur at the federal level. I’ve been tasked with developing testimony for Governor’s Office staff and floor speeches for legislators, brainstorming responses to potential opposition of the bill, and collaborating with state agencies to develop strategy. While the learning curve is steep, I feel like this have given me a crash course in communicating and developing policy.

What is the goal of the policy? Defining the goal of a policy is critical in ensuring effective development and outcome, as well as garnering support for the idea. What is the purpose? The next step, is to refine the policy by defining what the mechanisms that will be used to execute the goal. I have found that concise and clear marketing of a policy requires the integration of these two aspect. With 1,500 bills circulating during the session, it is impossible for legislators to understand the ins and outs of all of them. A common theme I have seen during committee hearings and floor votes is that legislators are unaware or unsure of what a policy is or does. Furthermore, when politics are concerned, sewing misinformation about a policy is an effective tool to stall or kill a bill.

In my short time observing the legislature, I’ve also been able to reflect on the degree to which messaging and public relations drive politics. The constant balance of context, timing, and substance is a delicate dance. The timing for the introduction of a policy is all dependent on the type of policy and the current political climate. For example, the timing and context of the Governor’s Environmental Protection Act was in direct response to the Trump Administration rolling back several clean air and water protections. The substance was also important, in that the Governor’s policy protected the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Safe Drinking Water Acts; three landmark environmental protection policies that, in general, are viewed positively and as necessary. The timing, context and substance of the policy were critically balanced in demonstrating the urgent need for it.

The Oregon Environmental Protection Act based both legislative chambers and was signed by Governor Kate Brown on March 24, 2019.

Pondering the science-policy interface: Active listening and lifelong learning

The last year has been one of transition and change professionally – almost a year ago exactly, I successfully defended my dissertation. I feel very fortunate that I now have the opportunity to further broaden my experiences as an Oregon Sea Grant Natural Resources Policy fellow. My primary role as a fellow is to assist the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) as they carry out the legislatively-mandated Marine Reserves assessment process. The Oregon Legislative Assembly and other stakeholders will use information from a legislatively-mandated report, due in 2023, to inform adaptive management of Oregon’s Marine Reserves going into the future.

Celebrating my defense in May 2018 – smiles all around!

Although I haven’t blogged much in the past (once to be exact), I really enjoy reading science blogs and essays. I notice that many blogs in the marine science community involve a story about how the writer’s desire to work with marine ecosystems stems from the fact that they were raised near the ocean. I will just let you know right now – I was not. I was born in Kentucky, and in case you just consider that part of “flyover country” I will 1) be sad and 2) let you know that it’s roughly 500 miles, east or south, to the nearest coastal ocean.  The nearest beaches were those of man-made dammed lakes like Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, which are on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, respectively. Although I didn’t know it at the time, these lakes displaced ~2500 people and inundated many cultural and historical sites. At the time, I simply delighted in the fun that these not-quite-natural wonders offered: swimming, fishing, and hiking are just a few fond memories.

Growing up in a rural community, I wasn’t exposed to many scientists. I never really thought about science as a profession, and then I effectively ruled it out at a too-early age when I decided that math was too hard. Now, if I could go back, I’d like to tell my younger self a lot of things – but not writing off math at such an early age would be a big one. But early experiences like these, along with discovering the wonders of backpacking during my early 20s probably helped lead me back to school a few years later.

So at first, my desire to pursue a career in science was really driven by pure curiosity about the natural world I was spending more and more time in, but moving to Colorado during a major drought and wildfire period very quickly expanded my interests to include better understanding the ways humans both rely on and impact important natural resources. I happened to take my first-ever geology class unintentionally (I was planning to major in biology and it filled a needed elective spot). I arrived bleary-eyed at 8:00 AM so that I could also squeeze in 30 hours of work/week only to have my eyes opened to an entirely new world, and a career in water resources was born. As a master’s student studying how river systems change through time, I realized that I was very interested in applied research (how can lessons learned be translated into effective management actions), and a PhD in Environmental Resources & Policy broadened these interests even more – how do we get to policies that consider evidence from scientific disciplines (life, physical, social sciences) but also address other important concerns?

Although some may consider my outsider status a liability, I choose to look at my journey as an opportunity. I can’t help but be amazed by the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to ponder water and all that depends on it as a part of my academic career. From semi-arid headwaters streams that I could step across in sandals to the nation’s largest river swamp, I’ve had the chance to study water and the many ways we impact this vital resource. As an outsider, I don’t have many preconceived notions about whether marine reserves are “right” or “wrong” as a management tool, but I hope a few of the lessons I’ve learned so far will help me perform my work as I learn more about the relevant policy landscape. A few themes stand out and seem to be common regardless of the resource or its geographic location:

  • We (humans) have often believed natural resources to be inexhaustible in their bounty.
  • We altered/used the resources in many ways without fully understanding the consequences of our actions.
  • Many of these systems are resilient and we didn’t realize the impacts immediately.
  • We now understand that we are at risk of losing vital services these systems have historically provided to us.
  • Often, groups most dependent on these resources for their livelihoods are most impacted even though they are not typically the ones responsible for the major changes.
  • Often, groups dependent on these resources for their livelihoods have been left out of decision-making processes.

Well, these are complicated problems. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how various audiences do (or don’t) engage with science. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about how lessons learned from science are used (or not) to make decisions. Many scientists realize the need to share the results of their research and why it’s important, but much evidence points to the fact that just expanding the availability of information doesn’t necessarily translate into science that that’s usable. Another really valuable component that could improve the science-policy interface, perhaps, is realizing that scientific findings are just one piece of information that ultimately affects policy; listening and trying to understand the other pieces are also important. Even though scientists are trained to be objective, the reality is that humans (including scientists!) make decisions based on other valid ways of knowing. I bring this up not because I’m an expert on the subject, but because I am genuinely interested in finding ways to improve “evidence-based decision making for sustainability.” 1

So the initial phase of my fellowship has been an intense phase of learning and listening. I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with STAC members and ODFW’s Marine Reserves Team, and their insight and expertise have greatly improved my understanding of the science behind marine reserves. The resources available to me through Oregon Sea Grant – through conversations, publications like this one, and workshops and seminars – have proved to be invaluable resources for learning about coastal issues and how they affect local communities. My deep dive into Oregon’s Marine Reserves process so far has revealed this: the process wasn’t always pretty, it was sometimes contentious, but it has incorporated many of the factors needed for conservation success. And perhaps more importantly, it revealed this – all stakeholders ultimately want the same thing: healthy ocean ecosystems that will provide for current and future generations. There may be disagreement on how best to do this – but that’s where the listening comes in. We may not agree on all the finer points, but we can agree to listen to each other.

Participation in the many learning opportunities available through Oregon Sea Grant and Oregon State University has been a key part of my fellowship so far. Photo credit: James Dewhirst


  1. Bednarek, A. T. et al. Boundary spanning at the science–policy interface: the practitioners’ perspectives. Sustain. Sci. 13, 1175–1183 (2018).



Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE) – Call for student applications!

The Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE) is offering paid internships for its 10-week program this summer. Internships are open to any student in Oregon who are juniors or seniors or have obtained graduate or advanced undergraduate training in business, economics, engineering, environmental science, green chemistry, physical science, or sustainability science. Projects address pollution prevention solutions for Oregon businesses and pair students with an industry mentor to gain hands-on experience in project development and management, as well as science communication to interdisciplinary audiences. Project topics include energy or water audits, toxics reduction, green chemistry, and life cycle assessment.

Application materials include a brief résumé, transcripts, and short statement expressing your interest (how you might benefit from the opportunity and how your skills align with the project(s) of interest). More details about application requirements and the available positions are provided on our website:

For full consideration, submit your application by April 12. Applicants will be matched to the opportunities based on experience and interest areas. Program dates are June 17 through August 30, 2019; stipends and training will be provided to eligible students. Please contact Valerie Stephan-LeBeouf ( for more information

2019 OASE Host Businesses:

  1. AntFarm; Sandy, OR
  2. Grand Central Bakery; Portland, OR
  3. Stumptown Coffee Roasters; Portland, OR
  4. East West Tea Company, LLC (Yogi); Eugene, OR
  5. Green Hammer; Portland, OR
  6. RiverBend Materials; Salem, OR
  7. Stoller Wine Group; Dayton, OR

From the Oregon Legislature to Research and the Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE)…

Here’s to my first blog post as an Oregon Sea Grant Fellow!  It’s been a busy winter as I have transitioned from supporting the Coastal Caucus at the Oregon State Legislature to working with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB), and helping to coordinate logistics for scholars applying to the 2019 Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE).

As a joint project for DEQ and OSMB, I am beginning research on boat anti-fouling paint usage and potential aquatic impacts in Oregon.  In case you didn’t know, boaters who leave their boats moored at marinas  in salt-water environments often use anti-fouling paint on the bottom of boat hulls to prevent the attachment and spread of aquatic organisms, including invasive species.  The use of anti-fouling paint in freshwater environments is less common as there are very few organisms that are classified as “fouling” that would be of concern for attaching to the bottom of a boat.  Boat bottom paint comes in many different forms with an array of different chemicals (or no chemicals such as an epoxy based paint).  In addition, the majority of boats in Oregon are “trailered” meaning they hardly ever spend an extended amount of time being moored in the water and are primarily day use boats where applying an anti-fouling paint to the boat bottom, would not be necessary.  One of the more common elements in anti-fouling paint is copper. As this chemical slowly leaches out of the paint, any organisms trying to attach to the surface of a boat, find it undesirable and thus don’t attach.  However, numerous studies indicate that high levels of copper can negatively impact salmon and potentially cause other unwanted harmful water quality conditions. DEQ and OSMB developed this project to increase place-based knowledge relating to anti-fouling paint usage, and potential, if any, aquatic impacts in Oregon.

It’s a new-to-me research area, plus fascinating and challenging, as copper is an essential nutrient at low concentrations, and is an abundant trace element that occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust and surface waters. In fresh water environments, levels can frequently fluctuate (toxic/not toxic) due to changes in temperature, pH, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), concentrations of cations such as calcium, magnesium and sodium, variations in alkalinity, etc. Too much copper can be a serious issue to aquatic organisms, and it can negatively impact salmon by impairing their sense of smell, which in turn, may negatively impact their ability to travel for spawning, avoid predators, etc. And it’s not just salmon, if copper levels are too high, other fish in fresh water, like trout, can experience reduced resistance to diseases, altered swimming, impairment to respiration, blood chemistry, and more.

That’s where I come in… I am currently in the processing of collecting data, reading studies, connecting with water quality experts, and beginning my connections with boaters/marinas/boatyards to compile a report that will summarize and provide some clarity on current anti-fouling practices and known levels of copper in some of Oregon’s salt-water and fresh water environments.

I am also currently assisting with the 2019 Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE). A joint program of Oregon Sea Grant and DEQ, OASE will place seven student interns at host businesses in Oregon to help analyze the company’s waste streams and to research and recommend process improvements that will lower operating costs while reducing negative environmental impacts. For the past month, I have been assisting with the preparation and organization of the administrative portions that will assist the team at Oregon Sea Grant and DEQ, and me, as I provide near-peer mentoring support to the selected candidates during their 10 week experience. Host businesses have been selected and students can apply now. This should be an exciting and fun project and I can’t wait to hear about the creative ideas for reducing waste that the interns develop over the upcoming summer months.

Getting My Hands Dirty ~ Designing a Series of Interactive Experiences Using Sediment Cores

Every spring, Oregon State University’s SMILE (Science & Math Investigative Learning Experiences) program, which is part of the Office of Precollege Programs, hosts Challenge events for high school, middle school, and elementary school students. These K-12 students are involved in SMILE clubs all over the state of Oregon. SMILE’s mission is to “increase underrepresented students’ success in STEM degree programs and careers and deliver high-quality teacher professional development” [1].

I am designing an activity for the spring Challenge Events at OSU’s new Marine Geology Repository (MGR) for elementary students (4th and 5th grade) and high school students (9th through 12th grade). Each group of ~25 students will visit the MGR for 1 hour.

I have designed each event with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in mind. For the high school students, I’ve drawn from HS-ESS2-6, which strives to, “develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere. [emphasis is on modelling biogeochemical cycles that include the cycling of carbon through the ocean, atmosphere, soil and biosphere (including humans), providing that foundation for living organisms]” [2]. For the elementary students, I’ve drawn from the disciplinary core ideas for 4th graders related to understanding the history of the Earth and how living things affect the physical characteristics of their regions. For all K-12 students, the NGSS seeks to instil an enduring understanding of the scientific method. Thus, my broad objective is for learners to have an enduring understanding of estuarine habitats and their ecosystem services (especially carbon burial) so they can rationally use and advocate for conservation of coastal resources. Another important goal is for students to see themselves as scientists. I will therefore both speak about my pathway into science and also set up the activities to follow hypothesis-based lines of reasoning.

This is a lot to accomplish in only one hour! I’ve been working to design a lesson plan that covers all of these topics in hands-on activities that fit into my limited timeframe. I plan to allocate 10 minutes to welcoming the students to the core lab, describing the MGR, and talking about my path into science. We’ll then have a 10-minute discussion about the carbon cycle, why it’s important for global climate, and where carbon gets stored. I’ll also play our video of how we collect sediment cores.



Students will then be divided into groups of three and the next twenty minutes will be devoted to a hands-on activity assessing carbon concentrations within a sediment core. The cores I’ve chosen for each group will have obvious stratigraphy, with many different layers of sand, silt, and clay (below is an example). Along the length of the core, I will have a timeline so the students can get a sense of the timeframe over which salt marshes record environmental history. Samples from the core that vary in terms of organic matter content will also be set up under stereoscopes for students to look at the core material in detail. The students will have the ability to feel the sediment and look at it using hand lenses, as well. After the students have been able to observe the core, the aid at the table will ask the students to formulate a hypothesis about what kind of sediment from the core will have the highest carbon content. They will then take small samples (~3) and put them in beakers on a hot plate. A little bit of hydrogen peroxide will then be poured over the samples and the ones that bubble the most will have the highest organic matter content. They will then assess their hypothesis and the aid will lead them through a series of follow up questions. For instance, what kind of sediment (mud or sand) stores the most carbon? What other kinds of factors might influence the amount of carbon buried in salt marshes?

CT scan of an example sediment core used in the activities. The lighter portions of the image are more dense, sandy material. Darker portions of the image are less dense, organic-rich sediment. The left side of the core is the top, which is present day.

Following the activity, we’ll all come back together for a short, ~10-min discussion of what they learned, and I will answer final questions from students. In the remaining time, students will be led on a short tour of the MGR.

Throughout this process, I’ve received a lot of helpful advice and support from friends and colleagues. Members of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS) Science Communication group, including Abby Metzger (the Communication Manager in CEOAS), have provided me with advice along the way and have donated their time to a mock demonstration at the MGR. At the OSU MGR, the education and outreach coordinator, Cara Fritz, and other staff (Maziet Cheseby, Coquille Rex, and Valerie Stanley) have been wonderful sources of knowledge. Cara has additionally graciously agreed to help during the Challenge Events. Additionally, I’m very grateful to the staff at Precollege Programs. I’ve been working with Jay Well, who has been extremely helpful and generous with his time. Outreach takes a village!


Life in Newport: My Introduction to Oregon’s State Crustacean

Posted on behalf of Brittany Harrington

For those of you who have spent time on the Oregon coast in December, you’ve almost certainly heard talk of the commercial crab season opening. These conversations aren’t confined to the docks or a visit to the ODFW office, they can be heard over dinner at any one of the local seafood restaurants, in line at the grocery store, or casually discussed on the city bus.

As the most valuable single species fishery in Oregon, Dungeness crab represent an important source of income to many of the people and communities along the coast. Landings of Dungeness crab have been recorded in Oregon since 1889 and, since that time, three very active targeted fisheries have developed surrounding this species. The fisheries are managed at the state level with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) as the lead agency. However, managers currently face a number of complex management challenges associated with this key resource.

Over the past three months, I have had the opportunity to closely observe many of the conversations about Dungeness crab between fishery managers, industry members, and the broader coastal community. In December, I was brought on to work alongside staff from ODFW’s Marine Resources Program (MRP) to develop a Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) for the Dungeness crab fisheries in Oregon. My position is supported by the Nature Conservancy, who shares the goal of developing FMPs that allow for equitable access to marine resources while promoting the sustainability of fishery species.

I have a degree in Marine Resource Management from OSU and have spent many hours learning about different principles and practices in fisheries management, but I was particularly excited about this fellowship because it would allow me to be a part of the process and experience the practical applications of those topics that I knew largely from textbooks. I looked forward to learning from the many years of experience of the fishery managers that I am working with and from the complex interactions between stakeholders. What I had not anticipated, was how much I would learn simply from living in the town of Newport and exploring my new coastal community.

So far, the list of experiences that I’ve had in this position have been extremely diverse and rewarding. I’ve been able to dive into research on historical and existing policies surrounding the commercial and recreational crab fisheries in Oregon. I’ve assisted with hold inspections and dockside sampling which allowed me to interact with fishermen in a variety of positions and on different vessels ranging from small boats that fish for several hours and hold less than 1000 lbs of crab, to those that spend two weeks at sea and return with 150,000 lbs. I’ve attended meetings of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Advisory Committee (ODCAC) which has provided me a glimpse of the unique needs and perspectives within the commercial crab industry that we will strive to encompass in the crab FMP.

However, I would add to that list that I have also eaten in restaurants eagerly anticipating the influx of fresh crab that draws crowds of locals and tourists alike. I have witnessed the community mourning the loss of their own after the tragic death of three crab fishermen in the capsizing of the Mary B II in January. And I frequently walk along the working waterfront in Newport and observe the many indirect ties between crabbing and other local businesses.

Given the suite of emerging issues and changing ocean conditions related to this fishery, a fisheries management plan for Dungeness crab will not only provide an important, comprehensive tool for managers, but will also help to support a fishery that is central to the culture and identity of the Oregon coast. I look forward to learning more as I continue to become a part of the Newport community.

Trying my hand at recreational crabbing back in 2017 with former OSG Fellow, Deanna Caracciolo, and my husband, Cole (note: we did, in fact, get some crab that day!)

Much to my dismay, I have yet to take the obligatory headshot holding a crab for use in all work-related presentations, so instead, here is a picture of me and my pup, Charlie, enjoying a beautiful day exploring our new home!”