Three graduate students will be serving the Georgia coast and community as Georgia Sea Grant State Fellows. The Georgia Sea Grant State Fellowship Program provides recent graduates the unique opportunity to acquire hands-on experience in the planning and implementation of coastal and marine policies in Georgia.
By coming alongside select host local, state and federal agencies, this fellowship increases the partner’s capacity, promotes integration of diverse perspectives into problem-solving for Georgia to provide richer and more inclusive solutions while training and developing the next generation of coastal and marine leaders.
“Our State Fellowship program continues to draw an incredibly well-rounded and diverse talent pool. We are excited to expand our State Fellowship program to include three host offices this year. In collaboration with our partners, we look forward to nurturing the professional growth and development of the next generation of marine science leaders,” said director Mark Risse.
The three positions available to the applicants were made possible by partnerships with Georgia Audubon in collaboration with Jekyll Island, Gray’s Reef Marine Sanctuary and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division.
Meet the 2020-21 Georgia Sea Grant State Fellows:
Sergio Sabat-Bonilla graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in biology. Now as a master’s student at Georgia Southern University, he is studying how aquatic macroinvertebrate communities will respond to the hydrological variations in wetlands of the coastal plain. As the State Fellow working with Georgia Aubudon and Jekyll Island, he will be tasked with getting the diverse communities in the southern region of Georgia engaged in the enjoyment and conservation of birds. He’ll also be focusing in part on expanding shorebird monitoring efforts on Jekyll Island with ongoing support from the Jekyll Island Foundation. He is most interested in helping make the Georgia coastline more engaging and inclusive, so that any individual can enjoy the diverse ecosystems that shape the Georgia landscape while learning the effect humans’ lives have on the system and what they can do to conserve it.
“With my career goal of becoming a researcher and science communicator, this fellowship is the ideal opportunity to help me develop my science communication skills while pursuing a personal goal of aiding in the efforts to provide minorities and communities of color with the knowledge and resources to enjoy and explore the environments that surround them.”
Cristin Archer graduated from Allegheny College with degrees in biology and environmental science and a minor in psychology. As a marine science master’s student at Savannah State University, she is analyzing the factors influencing the human-interaction behaviors of common bottlenose dolphins. Archer will be serving as the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary’s Sanctuary Program Specialist. In this position, she will responsible for advancing several science, policy and planning projects and programs while gaining the diverse skills and professional experience that are needed to pursue a career in natural resource management. She is most looking forward to developing a scientific plan to help manage marine and conservation as well as building upon her scientific diving experience.
“Understanding policy is an important skill for any job or career, but it will be especially beneficial as I hope to work in marine sanctuaries and help with education and conservation in the future. Not everyone gets to grow up next to the ocean, but we should all understand our connection to it; how it impacts us and plays a part in controlling how we impact it.”
Meghan Angelina, a graduate from the University of Tampa with a degree in marine science-biology and minors in chemistry and environmental science, graduated from Clemson University with a master’s in August where she studied the environmental drivers of southern flounder growth, condition and juvenile recruitment in an estuary along the Gulf of Mexico. Angelina is working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division in their Georgia Coastal Management Program (GCMP). In this role, she will be tasked with conducting flood literacy research, developing flood literacy materials, conducting outreach and displaying and disseminating results. She is looking forward to working alongside diverse stakeholders and gaining first-hand experience in policy and management.
“My career goals are to work for an agency that actively pursues advancements in marine policy that contribute to various ecosystems, and the humans that live nearby. I want to work for an agency where I can inspire the community and promote the value of marine and coastal resources. The Georgia Sea Grant State Fellowship will give me the experience I need to advance to these next steps in my career.”