2021 Hollings and EPP/MSI Scholars Prepare for Bright Futures
Each year, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries hosts several undergraduate Hollings scholars and EPP/MSI scholars at sites across the National Marine Sanctuary System. Both the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship program and the EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship prepares students for careers as environmental scientists and educators, by offering practical training experience at sanctuary sites through NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management, and education activities. We’re excited to introduce you to this year’s cohort of scholars throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System!
Chinedu Chukwu is a senior chemistry major, biology minor at Howard University, from Glastonbury, Connecticut by way of Nigeria. She spent her summer as a Hollings Scholar working for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaryand the northern portion of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary under the mentorship of Jan Roletto (research coordinator), Kirsten Lindquist (conservation science program manager), Taylor Nairn (educator), and Sage Tezak (GIS analyst).
Chinedu worked on a new story map that will depict the wildlife and geomorphology of streams and lagoons along Central and Northern California. She populated a new database, which consolidated information on the status of the stream openings and closures, collected images that best represent peak erosion and deposition of the stream openings, and summarized data representing the top three vertebrate species found at each beach. The data products were used to graphically visualize and gather information to build a story map containing a narrative of annual the seasonal opening and closures of streams, targeting salmonid streams. This data will later be used by biologists in the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Park Service to better plan salmonid restoration activities. Chinedu is excited to continue her education on environmental research and expand upon her knowledge.
Grace Collins is a student at American University in Washington, D.C. studying environmental science and international relations. She is passionate about conservation and finding solutions to environmental problems that draw from local cultures and customs. For her summer internship she worked with Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on their SanctSound project, which uses acoustic data to assess the abundance, distribution, movement, and behavior of marine mammal populations that use these waters as important breeding grounds and habitats. Mentored by Marc Lammers and Eden Zang, Grace was able to analyze data from eight locations in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands.
Mid-frequency active sonar and vessel noise have been linked to mass-stranding events of whales and dolphins, as well as non-fatal disturbances and behavioral changes. These disruptions may have long-term impacts on the health of species’ populations that are not yet fully understood. Grace used the collected data to compare the timing and location of human-made noises with that of marine mammal communication in order to better understand how human activity affects the ocean soundscape. In the future, she wants to continue working with island communities to conserve their cultures and environments and to strengthen their resilience in the face of climate change.
Emily Fritsche is a rising junior at the University of Houston-Downtown and is majoring in biological and physical sciences. She spent her remote summer internship assisting Dr. Giselle Samonte, economist, draft the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary 2015-2019 Sanctuary Community Profile. Under the Conservation Science Division , Fritsche organized and analyzed socioeconomic data for the area relevant to the sanctuary, including population and demographic figures and information concerning community engagement, sustainable uses, and local economies.
The data for this profile was obtained from multiple federal sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Once published, the profile will support other sanctuary-related documents, including the condition report, management plan review, and environmental impact statement. Fritsche plans to use the knowledge obtained from this internship to support her future graduate school plans and eventually a career with NOAA.
Samuel Koeck is a senior at the University of Delaware majoring in marine biology and mechanical engineering. He spent his Hollings internship at the He‘eia National Estuarine Reserve (HeNERR) in windward O‘ahu. Central to HeNERR's mission is the biocultural restoration of important land and reef ecosystems, and the improvement of water quality in the historic He‘eia ahupua‘a. Water quality is currently monitored throughout HeNERR through a System Wide Monitoring Program.
Throughout the internship, Samuel and NOAA Hollings Preparation Program member, Mariko Quinn, explored the applicability of an EPA-based protocol that uses Tripneustes gratilla (collector urchin) gamete fertilization success as a measure of water quality. Urchin specimens were collected from locations both inside and outside Kāne‘ohe Bay, and fertilization tests were performed to assess water quality at different sites around HeNERR in which mangrove removal is actively occurring. The data collected establishes a baseline for water quality at HeNERR to be used as restoration efforts continue in the coming years.
This internship greatly increased Samuel's interest in research and the ways that research questions can be applied to solve problems at a greater scale. After completing his undergraduate degree, he hopes to attend graduate school and study the ways that new technologies can be utilized to solve conservation problems in the marine environment.
Tehani Malterre is a rising junior at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where she is majoring in global environmental science. Tehani hopes to minor in Hawaiian language and she is currently pursuing a 4+1 track towards a masterʻs in finance and risk-management insurance. Tehaniʻs research interests include conservation and ecology. After completing her education, Tehani hopes to live in her home, Hawaiʻi, and help solve environmental issues that impact native species and the Native Hawaiian community.
This summer, Tehani was selected as a NOAA EPP/MSI scholar and she worked with the socioeconomics team at NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries on a Sanctuary Community Profile (SCP) report for Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Tehani collaborated with a team of interns and the NOAA socioeconomics team to gather information from various government websites and databases and compile it for the report. The report provides an overview of the demographic and economic profile of the community surrounding the sanctuary, as well as information about site heritage, culture, tourism, fishing, recreation, and much more. SCP reports are an essential tool for management and decision-making processes for each of NOAAʻs national marine sanctuaries and monuments.They are also useful for NOAAʻs education and outreach endeavors, providing important information about the sanctuary community that helps NOAA to tailor outreach materials that resonate with the community.
Mathias Stamper is a rising senior at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg Florida, where he is working towards a degree in marine science. This summer Mathias worked with researchers at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in order to learn more about the introduced orange keyhole sponge (Mycale grandis) in Kāneʻohe Bay, Hawaii. Mathias conducted field surveys to find out more about the percent cover and associations of the sponge in the bay. The field surveys spanned 2,500 meters of transect line. Mathias also helped analyze data from a 2019 study performed by his mentor in order to find how the sponge interacts with different corals in the bay. His work suggests that the introduced Mycale grandis may not be as prevalent or invasive as was initially thought.
Ryan Walsh is a senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington studying biology and environmental science. During the summer of 2021, Ryan pursued his passion for biological conservation and management through a NOAA Hollings internship with Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Under the mentorship of Ed Lyman and Jeannine Rossa, Ryan researched the threat of entanglement to humpback whales in their Hawaiian breeding/calving grounds and Alaskan feeding grounds.
Entanglement is considered a major threat to large whales. The threat and its impacts are broad-based, multifaceted, and dynamic. Fishing effort and gear type, as well as whale distribution and behavior, are some of the many aspects that influence the threat of entanglement; while reporting effort, weather conditions, and response efforts influence our awareness and understanding of this threat. Through the review of confirmed large whale entanglement reports, fishing effort trends, and humpback whale habitat use, Ryan conducted an initial assessment of the entanglement threat to humpback whales in Hawai‘i. Ryan plans to pursue a career in large whale research after he graduates through the research of whale biology, ecology, and anthropogenic impacts.