Texas A&M, Colorado State postgrads nominated by Texas Sea Grant named Coastal Management Fellows

May 03, 2018

By Cindie Powell

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Two postgraduate students nominated by the Texas Sea Grant College Program have been awarded prestigious 2018 Coastal Management and Digital Coast Fellowships.

The program matches postgraduate students with state coastal resource agencies and nonprofit organizations to work on projects proposed by the hosts and selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office for Coastal Management. Applications are submitted through the nation’s 33 state Sea Grant programs.

This is the first time that applicants nominated by Texas Sea Grant have received the highly competitive two-year fellowship, which was established to provide on-the-job education and training opportunities in coastal resource management and policy for postgraduate students. Only nine fellows nationwide are placed each year. The fellowships will begin in August.

Ellen Bartow-Gillies will be traveling to Augusta, Maine, to work with the Maine Coastal Program in the state’s Department of Marine Resources, and Katie Wilson will be working in Chicago under the Illinois Coastal Management Program in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

“I am thrilled that two of our applicants were awarded this prestigious fellowship,” said Dr. Pamela T. Plotkin, Director of Texas Sea Grant. “They are both outstanding early-career scientists who will provide tremendous intellectual capacity to their host offices and benefit greatly from these experiences as they tackle real-world challenges.”

Bartow-Gillies, who will be graduating with a master of science in geography from Texas A&M University this summer, has been working as a graduate research assistant at the university’s Stable Isotope Geoscience Facility. Her graduate field work has included two stints at sea as a research assistant on deep-sea coral recovery cruises for the Hawaii Undersea Research Lab, including 10 dives in a Pisces submersible, and spelunking expeditions in Cobbs Cavern in Central Texas to collect samples for her research, which centers on using stable isotopes found in Texas cave formations to learn more about climate variability in the southern Great Plains.

She received her bachelor of arts in environmental studies and economics from Tulane University in 2016. She was an undergraduate research assistant in the university’s School of Architecture, where she documented community input on coastal hazard preparedness, and she also updated the “Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Protection in Louisiana” while an undergraduate research intern in the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.

In her fellowship assignment in Maine, Bartow-Gillies will help protect critical ecosystem services by designing and applying a method to prioritize habitats at risk and inform robust policies and strategies that will increase the resilience of important resource areas.

Wilson will graduate with a master of science in the human dimensions of natural resources from Colorado State University in July. Her graduate research has focused on the human dimensions of large Marine Protected Areas, specifically the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, and in particular stakeholder perceptions of the monument designation process and the resulting social outcomes. She also has experience in hands-on coastal ecosystem restoration and marine conservation activities and in developing educational content on topics from invasive species to the impacts of overfishing and pollution on marine environments.

She received her bachelor of arts in anthropology from the University of Idaho and was an undergraduate research assistant in the university’s Aleutian Fisheries Anthropology Laboratory, editing and preparing reports about the archaeological, geological, ecological and cultural history of Sanak Island in Alaska for publication for indigenous audiences. Her career goal is to work directly with coastal community stakeholders to help shape marine management decisions.

Wilson’s work in Chicago will focus on enhancing coastal tourism and regional-identity branding in the three northernmost Illinois coastal communities by strengthening outreach and communications about Illinois Beach State Park.

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Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.