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Meet Our Past Fellows

American Samoa • Motusaga Vaeoso

Originally from American Samoa, Motusaga (Motu) Vaeoso holds a B.S. in Biology from Chaminade University of Honolulu. During her fellowship, Vaeoso will collaborate with partners of the Coral Reef Advisory Group (a collaboration of five agencies working to manage American Samoa’s coral reefs) to develop, coordinate, and implement a sustainable fishing outreach campaign targeted at local fishers, village communities, and school students. She will also assist with the planning and development of the inaugural Tutuila Ridge-to-Reef Report Card, which rates the health of coral reefs and associated watersheds using existing coral reef monitoring and socioeconomic data. The report card will serve as a decision-making tool for appropriate village community members and leaders.

American Samoa • Valentine Vaeoso

Valentine Vaeoso (Tine) was born and raised in American Samoa and received her B.S. in Marine Science from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. As the Fellow in American Samoa, Tine will be working with the Coral Reef Advisory Group (CRAG) and partners to conduct coral restoration trials in the village of Aua and to identify and reduce land-based sources of pollution (LBSP) and implementing best management practices in the village of Fagasa. In addition, she will help create community working groups for Aua and Fagasa to assist with monitoring restoration after establishment, conduct water quality sampling and village outreach.

CNMI • Ilan Bubb

Born in Gainesville Florida, Ilan Bubb received his B.A. in Environmental Science and Political Science from New College of Florida and his M.E.M. in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University. As the fellow for Saipan, CNMI, Ilan will be working to integrate fire management within the island's three priority watersheds into established coral conservation priorities and goals. In doing this they will fill in knowledge gaps regarding the connection between upland fires and the sedimentation of coral reefs. In addition Ilan will work with Saipan's Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality to implement best management practices to facilitate fire suppression, erosion control and invasive species removal.

Florida • Victoria Barker

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Victoria Barker holds a B.A. in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina and an M.A.S. in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences from Louisiana State University. As the fellow in South Florida, Barker will focus primarily on coordinating the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Response Team across the Florida Reef Tract. This will include working with federal and state partners, as well as universities and non-governmental organizations to better understand and mitigate this coral threat.

Hawaii • Alessandra Shea

Born and raised in Newport Beach, California, Alessandra Shea received her B.S. in Society and Environment from University of California—Berkeley, and her M.A. in Geography from University of Hawaii—Manoa. During the fellowship, Shea will work in the Department of Natural Resources in the Division of Aquatic Resources for the state of Hawaii. Her projects will focus on coral bleaching and fisheries management, developing curriculum for coral bleaching outreach programs through the Eyes of the Reef Network, and standard operating procedures for bleaching events in both her agency and in the Coral Bleaching Collaborative. She also will take a lead role in developing the Strategic Communication Plan and Encouraging Responsible Behavior Objective aspects of the Marine 30x30 Initiative, part of the Sustainable Hawai’i Initiative, a state-led program to effectively manage 30 percent of the state’s nearshore waters by 2030.

Guam • Mallory Morgan

Born and raised in Cocoa Beach, Florida, Mallory Morgan holds a B.S. in both Environmental Studies and International Relations from Florida State University and an M.A.S. in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California—San Diego. As the Coral Fellow on Guam, Morgan will work to engage Guam's growing tourism industry to reduce harmful impacts and foster sustainable recreational use. She will develop various training programs and outreach, based on extensive stakeholder feedback, to build an industry-wide understanding of the threats to Guam’s coral reefs and best management practices. The goal is to generate buy-in from the tourism industry as an active partner in coral reef conservation, critical to Guam’s economy and that of natural resource management. Placed at the Bureau of Statistics and Plans, Morgan also will support the Guam Coral Reef Initiative, including Guam Year of the Reef 2018 community engagement activities.

Guam • Cara Lin

Originally, from New York, Cara received her B.S. in Marine Sciences from Stony Brook University and M.S. in Biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Cara's work during the fellowship will focus on protecting and restoring Guam's mangroves and seagrasses. She will compile information such as historical reports, imagery, interviews, and local regulations to better understand the current state of these ecosystems, and use that knowledge to organize community based restoration initiatives. She will also work with decision makers, local schools, and the public regarding the health and value of seagrass and mangroves communities. Additionally, Cara will assist the Guam Coral Reef Response Team with invasive species removal and monitoring efforts.

Hawaii • Bert Weeks

Bert Weeks was born and raised in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. He received his B.S. in Biology from The University of Puget Sound and a M.A.S in Marine Conservation and Biodiversity from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego. During his fellowship, Bert will work with the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources. His work will focus on developing the State’s capacity for coral restoration, coordinating multi-agency partnerships for coral reef management, and furthering the Marine 30x30 Initiative, a state-led program to effectively manage 30 percent of Hawaii’s nearshore waters by 2030.

Puerto Rico • Melissa Gonzalez

Melissa Gonzalez is from Davidsonville, Maryland. She received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Bridgewater College and an M.S. in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland—College Park. As the fellow in Puerto Rico, Gonzalez will work in the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources to develop conservation and management strategies for key reef herbivore species. She will work with stakeholders to compile data and develop action plans for species that contribute to macroalgal herbivory on local coral reefs. In addition, she will be generating a geospatial database of the areas of need and opportunity for these species, as well as public education and outreach materials.

Puerto Rico • Emma Korein

Originally from Philadelphia, Emma Korein received her B.A. in Psychology, French and Education from Bates College in Maine, and her MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity from the University of Exeter in Cornwall, England. As the fellow for Puerto Rico, Emma will work with the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources to inform, manage, and mitigate the spread of coral reef diseases. She will work with key informants to generate a digital inventory and visualization tool of coral disease distributions and hotspots, which will be used to make recommendations for disease prevention and management. She will also support the implementation of a Rapid Response Protocol to Coral Reef Emergencies to combat the recent spread of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease in the Archipelago.

US Virgin Islands • Matt Davies

Matt Davies is originally from Caerphilly, Wales, but immigrated to the United States in 2018. He received a BSc in Zoology from Cardiff University in 2012 and an MSc in Marine Environmental Management from the University of York in 2017. Davies will work with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources at the St. Croix East End Marine Park (STXEEMP). He will lead the Responsible Boating Initiative, which aims prevent the negative impacts of boaters on STXEEMP’s natural resources, by working closely with the Department of Environmental Enforcement to develop an efficient system of monitoring mooring and anchoring within the territory, and through outreach programs within the boating community. Additionally, with the arrival of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) in the USVI in January 2019, he will coordinate the St. Croix SCTLD Strike Team to facilitate the early detection and response to the disease in St. Croix's waters.

U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) • Austen Stovall

Originally from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Austen Stovall earned her B.S. in Biology from Wake Forest University. As the fellow for the USVI, Stovall will work with the Department of Planning at Natural Resources at the St. Croix East End Marine Park (STXEEMP). Her efforts will focus on developing a Responsible Boating Initiative program to prevent negative impacts of boaters on STXEEMP’s natural resources and to establish infrastructure for interagency response to groundings and derelict vessels. Concurrently, she will work on a Restoration Action Plan that outlines priority areas of restoration and steps necessary for implementation.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) • Malcolm Johnson

Raised in Northern Virginia, Malcolm Johnson received his B.A. in Environmental Sociology from Wichita State University and his M.A. in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey. As the fellow in the CNMI, Johnson will work on the Luta/Talakhaya Revegetation Project, located on the island of Rota. The overall goal of his project is to improve the health of the Talakhaya watershed, including its streams and adjacent coral reef habitat, from land-based sources of pollution. His main activities will include planting grasses and trees in the watershed, as well as assisting with monitoring the stream and coastal water quality on Rota.

American Samoa - Sabrina Woofter

Sabrina Woofter is from Jacksonville, Florida. She received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of North Florida and her M.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina—Wilmington.

American Samoa Project

Guam - Whitney Hoot

Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, Whitney Hoot holds a B.A. in Sociology and Environmental Science from Barnard College, Columbia University, and an M.S. in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland—College Park.

Guam Project

Puerto Rico - Mariana C. León-Pérez

Mariana C. León-Pérez was born and raised in the Caribbean archipelago of Puerto Rico. Her Master's thesis is focused on estimating seagrass cover changes within Caja de Muertos Island Nature Reserve throughout the period of 1950 to 2014, using a WorldView-2 satellite image and historical aerial photographs. This project has been founded by NOAA CREST.

Puerto Rico Project

U.S. Virgin Islands - Hilary Lohmann

From Summit, New Jersey, Hilary Lohmann has B.A. degrees in both Animal Behavior and Spanish from Bucknell University and an M.A. in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island.

U.S. Virgin Islands Project

Florida - Kelly Montenero

Originally from Wisconsin, Kelly Montenero received her B.S. in Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin and her M.S. in Marine Affairs and Policy from University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Florida Project

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