New York Sea Grant’s Knauss Fellow Spreads Ocean Optimism Internationally
Education - News

Washington, DC, April 7, 2016 - In an era of rising seas and climate challenges, Erin Eastwood’s catch phrase remains: ocean optimism. And growing up in southern California, it’s no wonder that she’s ready to dive into her new position as International Partnership Fellow with NOAA Research’s Climate Program Office, where she was placed February 1 as New York Sea Grant’s 2016 Knauss Fellow.

Erin’s unique spot at NOAA offers her a cross-line office experience, as well as the ability to sit on interagency working groups alongside international agencies such as USAID with her boss and mentor, Meredith Muth, who was Virginia Sea Grant’s 2010 Knauss Fellow. One of their goals is to help the Climate Program Office develop an international strategy to help coasts prepare for climate change.

Erin is well-suited for international work. After participating in field work on carbon sequestration in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest canopy, her Master’s thesis (awarded from Columbia University) on population dynamics of coral reef species in Fiji brought her back to the Pacific, where her undergraduate work included ecology of Australia’s rainforests and reefs.

Erin Eastwood, doing research in Fiji on marine protected areas. Photo courtesy of Erin Eastwood

“Fiji has its unique climate challenges,” says Erin. “We looked at fishery-targeted species from a genetic standpoint, and determined how populations from different marine protected areas in the country are connected to each other. This ‘connectivity’ plays a role in how resilient marine reserve networks are in the face of climate change, and can help inform decisions made on the ground.” Erin remains optimistic that with proper management, environmental and economic interests do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Despite or maybe because of all the travel to exotic coasts, Erin also has a great desire to communicate the science. That’s where her experience with blogging, writing TED Ed lessons, and running the Twitter account for the Society for Conservation Biology kicks in. “I was interested in making the journal’s scientific publications accessible to the broader public as well as scientific audiences.” To this end, she created a fun video tutorial for scientists, showing how to compose a “tweetable abstract” – that is, the 140-character version.

Good luck, Erin. As New York Sea Grant’s 2016 Knauss Fellow, we hope to follow your ocean optimism along with your future endeavors.

Barbara Branca, NYSG

More Info: Sea Grant's Knauss Fellowship

The 2016 Executive Knauss Fellows during their Placement Week in November 2015.

The Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational and professional experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The Fellowship, named after one of Sea Grant’s founders, former NOAA Administrator, John A. Knauss, matches highly qualified graduate students with “hosts” in the legislative and executive branch of government located in the Washington, D.C. area, for a one year paid fellowship. For more on the Knauss Fellowship, visit the National Sea Grant College Program's Web site.

Erin Eastwood, a Columbia University Masters degree graduate who majored in Conservation Biology, is New York Sea Grant's current Knauss fellow. Eastwood recently began her placement as a International Partnership Fellow with NOAA Research Climate Program Office. Photo: NOAA National Sea Grant Office. 

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

New York Sea Grant maintains Great Lakes offices at SUNY Buffalo, the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark and at SUNY Oswego. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Manhattan, in the Hudson Valley through Cooperative Extension in Kingston and at Brooklyn College. 

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published several times a year.

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