Rae Fuhrman, a first-year master’s student, graduated from the University of Southern California in 2012 with a BA in International Relations and minors in Environmental Studies and Neuroscience. The recipient of two NSF grants, she used the first with the Dean of International Relations to focus on ethical decision making in foreign policy surrounding Bluefin Tuna. The second grant went to completing her AAUS Scientific Diving Certification to assess coral reef health in Guam and Palau, where she met with local officials to help implement conservation policy reform. She interned in Scottish Parliament for the Convener for the Committee on Environment and Climate Change, compiling a comprehensive report on Scottish wind power to track how closely public opinion mirrored current scientific consensus. After graduating, she was the President’s Marine Policy Assistant at the Aquarium of the Pacific, conducting research on sustainable seafood, fisheries and aquaculture, fields uniquely at the intersection of her three biggest passions: influencing global policy, protecting the environment, and providing healthy and sustainable protein options for growing populations. She served as an organizer and rapporteur for major multilateral aquaculture conferences attended by preeminent leaders of scientists, regulators, and industry practitioners, enlightening her to how vital pragmatism and compromise are to avoiding gridlock among diverse stakeholders. Specializing in Coastal Marine Resource Management at Bren continues her focus on advancing aquaculture. She is currently working to create a seaweed startup focused on a specific strain that could reduce cattle’s enteric methane expulsion by 99%.
Sean Goral, a first-year Bren master’s student, graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Sean became fascinated with conservation biology from a young age while visiting controversial salmon farms and logging projects among pristine old growth temperate rain forests on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. In 2013, he experienced a spinal cord injury, which temporarily sidelined his academic pursuits. He started working as a certified peer mentor with the Christopher Reeve Foundation in 2014 so he could help other people with spinal cord injuries. While his peer mentor work continues to be important, Sean wanted to return to his passion of conservation biology. At the Bren school, Sean plans to specialize in pollution prevention and remediation to reduce the use of unnecessary plastics in consumer and medical products. Plastic is the most common anthropogenic debris consumed by marine organisms. Therefore, reducing our plastic production is paramount to prevent environmental degradation and plastic ingestion by various species. His goal is to create an organization that develops and implements viable replacements to plastic products that meet consumer needs while shortening the persistence of those products. He would also like advocate for more people living with disabilities to get involved in scientific pursuits.
Charlene Kormondy, a first-year master’s student, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies. As an undergraduate student, she conducted research on climate change impacts in the Caribbean. During a study abroad program on the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, she worked alongside a team of local students to construct a shade house to serve as a facility for research on sustainable agriculture. She enjoyed working with the Kittitians and Nevisians on this project and remained involved long after the study abroad had ended. Charlene spoke on a panel at the 2013 UNESCO Caribbean Region Climate Change Conference about the viability of using sustainable agriculture to help small island nations remain food secure in the face of climate change. To scale up the project in St. Kitts, she co-founded Standard Hydro, a sustainable agricultural company that aims to increase agricultural resilience in the Caribbean. Upon graduation, Charlene served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA), working as a volunteer program coordinator. She connected college students with service opportunities that fit their interests, helping the students gain valuable work experience while providing enthusiastic volunteers for local nonprofit organizations. At the Bren School, she plans to specialize in Economics and Politics of the Environment. Charlene envisions working for a governmental or nongovernmental organization that helps vulnerable communities face challenging environmental problems.
Jasmine Vazin, a first-year master’s student, graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Philosophy in 2014. Jasmine won a Eureka award and is published in Aquatic Ecology for her first research venture, which involved enzyme kinetics in freshwater systems. She later received grants through the University to study parental care heritability in African cichlids and endemic salamander speciation in Tennessee. After four years of research experience in academia, Jasmine realized she needed a change and moved into the private sector. She worked at Green Source Organics as a regulatory manager in charge of locating sustainable and fairly traded food products for wholesale worldwide. She petitioned to have excess food stores donated to foodbanks around Los Angeles, and launched a retail line to offer healthy food options to consumers at an accessible price. Before attended Bren, Jasmine spent a year traveling and volunteering in food pantries and sustainable building projects across the United States and Central America. She plans to specialize in Conservation Planning at Bren and is hopeful to make strides in food production and waste mitigation while maintaining a global focus in her career.
Molly Williams, a first year master’s student, is thrilled to be back in school after five years in the workforce. As an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College, she majored in environmental studies, pursued minors in marine science and astronomy, and wrote a thesis on a deep-sea microbe. During a semester abroad on the Caribbean island of South Caicos, Molly witnessed the conflict between conservation goals and economic concerns, and began to understand the importance of sustaining both cultural and ecological systems. Upon graduation in 2012, she decided to pursue her passion for educational equity and improving STEM instruction by joining Teach for America. After spending two years as a high school math teacher in Hawai’i, she decided to move 5,000 miles away in order to get reacquainted with scientific research at Algenol Biotech in Fort Myers, Florida. As a research associate in applied ecology, she designed and executed experiments focused on developing alternative fuels. During this time, she became increasingly certain that she had wanted to work in coastal and marine resource management ever since visiting South Caicos. Her goal is to apply the Bren curriculum to community-based conservation policy solutions that will protect resources for future generations. She plans to develop citizen science initiatives that will expand environmental data sets, improve indicators of sustainable resource use, and serve as tools of empowerment at the local level.
James Frew is an Associate Professor at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. His research interests lie in the emerging field of environmental informatics, a synthesis of computer, information, and Earth sciences. He is interested in information architectures that improve the discoverability, usability, and reliability of distributed environmental information. Trained as a geographer, he has worked in remote sensing, image processing, software architecture, massive distributed data systems, and digital libraries. His current research is focused on geospatial information provenance, discovery, and curation, using remote sensing data products generated by his Environmental Information Laboratory as operational test beds. He has affiliate appointments in UCSB's Geography and Computer Science departments.
Niklas Griessbaum is a PHD student at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Niklas is interested in using environmental informatics to develop and improve data methodologies and infrastructures to make data more accessible. Niklas’s previous experience includes studies in energy and environmental engineering and geospatial and data-driven analysis of domestic energy demand, co-generation, and market intelligence for the national energy provider of France.