During his first six months as UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s first Coastal Research and Extension Fellow Isaiah Leach has moderated virtual public programming, cultured algae in the Shellfish Research Lab, assisted with citizen science programs such as Adopt-A-Wetland and the Phytoplankton Monitoring Network, and developed environmental education content for students.

Leach holds a snake at the UGA Aquarium.

“Hopefully, this experience makes it easier for me to get into graduate school, which is one of my major goals now,” Leach said. “This is also a great opportunity to make connections with many important and interesting people.”

A graduate of Georgia Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a strong interest in marine ecosystems, Leach began his fellowship in September 2020.

“The purpose of the Coastal Research and Extension Fellowship is to give recent graduates exposure to the variety of positions held within UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant,” said Nina Sassano, intern coordinator for Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s diverse workforce includes environmental educators, science communicators, and extension specialists who work with communities to address issues related to stormwater management, coastal resilience, water quality and sustainable fisheries.

Leach will continue to work with a variety of faculty and staff throughout his nine-month fellowship, including assisting with the development of a Georgia Seafood Trail, creating marketing and communications materials and helping to organize conferences. He will be exposed to the multidisciplinary work happening across UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s facilities in Athens, Skidaway Island and Brunswick.

“I’m still feeling out what specifically it is I want to do professionally; although it will definitely be within the biological sciences,” said Leach.

The Coastal Research and Extension Fellowship was made possible through support from the Friends of the UGA Aquarium, whose donations help the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s marine education, environmental outreach and coastal research initiatives. If you are interested in becoming a Friend, visit https://gacoast.uga.edu/give/friends-of-the-uga-aquarium/.