I joined the Georgia Sea Grant team in January 2015. At the time, I was wrapping up my final semester at the University of Georgia School of Law, where I focused my legal studies on environmental law and policy. I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to conduct legal and policy research on issues facing Georgia’s coast.

My first assignment as a Georgia Sea Grant Legal Research Assistant involved immersing myself in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Community Rating System, a voluntary incentive program that encourages local governments to enact enhanced floodplain management and improve local resiliency to flooding in exchange for reductions in flood insurance premiums across their communities.

Tackling the inner-workings of the Community Rating System was no easy feat, but it was exciting to explore a policy matter–– flood insurance––that I had not been exposed to before. Once I learned the basics of the Community Rating System, I explored the steps those in Georgia’s coastal communities can take to further reduce flood insurance premiums. Specifically, I focused on activities and measures communities can adopt to address rising sea levels.

While concluding my research, I compiled my findings into a paper for submission to the National Sea Grant Law and Policy Journal. I recently learned my paper was accepted and will be published in Spring 2016. I am hopeful the publication will provide guidance to communities (along the Georgia coast and elsewhere) interested in participating in FEMA’s Community Rating System. In addition to sharing my research through the National Sea Grant Law and Policy Journal, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to design and present a poster of my research at the Southeast Climate Consortium’s (SECC) Fall Meeting in October 2015.

Presenting my poster at SECC’s Fall Meeting provided an opportunity for me to strengthen my public speaking skills as well as an opportunity to share my research with scientists and policymakers throughout the Southeast.

I enjoy the art of researching, but research can only be appreciated and applied if it is shared with others. Georgia Sea Grant recognizes as much and encourages its students to share their research. I am grateful to Georgia Sea Grant for giving me the opportunity to challenge my research skills and to share my findings with others. Here’s to another year of protecting and preserving the coast we call home.

Here’s to another year of protecting and preserving the coast we call home.

About the Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program

The Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program, developed in partnership with and administered by UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, advances informed decision-making by providing objective legal and policy analysis of coastal, environmental, and land use issues affecting the state’s coastal resources. Georgia Sea Grant Law Fellows are assisted by Institute faculty as they conduct research, analyze coastal issues, and develop educational and outreach materials. Highly interdisciplinary, the Georgia Sea Grant Law Program works with scientists, local and state government leaders, extension agents, and business owners to integrate the latest science with legal and policy analysis to improve hazard resilience, encourage sustainable development, and promote healthy ecosystems throughout coastal Georgia.