April 5, 2004
UCSC grad student working on national report
on marine resources
By Tim Stephens
A prestigious Knauss Fellowship in marine policy has given graduate
student Kristan Blackhart the opportunity to spend a year working at
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offices outside
Graduate student Kristan Blackhart, right, with Vice Admiral Conrad
C. Lautenbacher, who is head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Adminstration Photo: NOAA
other outstanding UCSC students are available online.
One of Blackhart's tasks during the fellowship is coediting the sixth
edition of "Our Living Oceans," a status report on the nation's
living marine resources.
The National Sea Grant College Program administers the Knauss Fellowships,
which provide each fellow with a one-year stipend to work with "hosts"
in executive and legislative offices involved in marine science and
policy. The program awarded a total of 33 fellowships for 2004, including
three to students from California.
For Blackhart, a master's student studying rockfish populations, the
fellowship is an opportunity to gain experience on the policy side of
marine science and fisheries. She began working at the NOAA Fisheries
Office of Science and Technology in Silver Spring, Md., in February.
"So far, my experience has been really great," she said.
"The office I'm working in is very supportive, and I'm getting
to do a little bit of everything."
Blackhart's thesis adviser, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary
biology Mark Carr, said the NOAA report she is working on is very important.
"When that report comes out, everybody looks to it for assessments
of the state of the country's fisheries," Carr said.
In addition to assessing the species targeted by fishers, the report
also focuses on species protected under federal laws, such as marine
mammals and sea turtles, Blackhart said.
Each of NOAA's regional fisheries science centers around the country
sends in reports on the marine species in its region, and Blackhart
is currently coordinating that process. As the regional reports come
in, she will be editing them, and she will also be helping to write
the national overview that is an important part of the final document.
The previous edition of "Our Living Oceans" was published
in 1999. Blackhart said the agency aims to have a draft of the new edition
by the end of the year and issue the final version in 2005.
At UCSC, Blackhart has been working toward an M.A. in ecology and evolutionary
biology, studying the settlement patterns of larval and juvenile rockfish.
Together with Carr and Margaret McManus, assistant professor of ocean
sciences, she is investigating the role of currents and other physical
oceanographic processes in determining how and where the young of different
rockfish species settle and grow to adulthood.
"We want to see if these physical processes may be acting as delivery
mechanisms for larval and juvenile fishes," Blackhart said.
She has completed all of the fieldwork and most of the analyses of
her data, and hopes to complete her thesis within the next year or so.
Although she hopes to end up back on the West Coast eventually, Blackhart
said she would be glad to stay on at the NOAA Fisheries Office beyond
the one-year fellowship.
"For a lot of people, the fellowship opens doors within NOAA,
and if that works out for me it would be great," she said.
Return to Front Page