On YouTube: 2023 Community-Engaged Fellowship: Olivia Bonilla — My Perspective, My Field, My Future
Education - News

NYSG summer intern Olivia Bonilla examines locally-collected phytoplankton samples for fish eggs and larvae for DNA barcoding analysis in the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SOMAS) laboratory of Janet Nye, Ph.D. Credit: Olivia Bonilla

Stony Brook, NY, March 1, 2024 - Olivia Bonilla, a Summer 2023 Sea Grant Community Engaged Fellow with New York Sea Grant, assisted the research of Sarah Weisberg, Ph.D. candidate at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences in the laboratory of Janet Nye, Ph.D.

Bonilla aided an ongoing study of the early life stages (eggs and larvae) of fish in the waters off the southern shore of Long Island. The study is working to understand how climate change and warming waters are impacting the abundance and coastal habitats of the young fish. This research is critically important for the sustainable management of economically significant fish species. 

Olivia Bonilla, one of New York Sea Grant's 2023 Community-Engaged Fellowship recipients, created a video about her collegiate experiences.

Bonilla, of Queens, New York, is a 3rd year Biology major at the State University of New York at Oswego. After her summer 2023 fellowship completed, Bonilla finalized a video that highlights some of her collegiate experiences.

"Picture this — you walk into the first class of your college career excited and nervous and as you walk in you're met with a sea of white males with a handful of females and an even smaller handful of women of color," Bonilla says in the video's voice-over. "Your excitement dwindles down into a feeling of despair and you wonder if you belong here. This was my first classroom experience."

"I was quickly snapped into a harsh reality a reality that many women especially women of color out there have to face when they go into fields dominated by males. However, people like Sarah Weisberg, [New York Sea Grant's] Antoinette Clemetson, and Dr. Janet Nye have given the opportunity to many women who traditionally wouldn't have been given these chances."

"By having the opportunity to work with incredibly smart and powerful women, it has given me a chance to have role models that resemble who I am. They have allowed me to believe in myself and show that I am more than capable of continuing being in the field of research in my future."

For more on Bonilla, you can watch the video clip above and read about her and NYSG's other 2023 fellows in NYSG's related news item, "NYSG Students Gain Real-World Environmental Science and Law Experience".

Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in coastal and marine science research is an important programmatic priority for NYSG and the National Sea Grant College Program. Around the country, Sea Grant programs are implementing a Community-Engaged Fellowship (CEI) program for undergraduate students this summer. The overarching goal of this program is to broaden participation in marine and coastal professions by providing training and mentorship to the next generation of scientists, decision makers, and citizens. This training will increase awareness about coastal and marine science extension career disciplines. The program will do so by recruiting, retaining, and engaging diverse students in place-based research, extension, education, and/or communication. 

For more on CEI Fellowships, visit www.nyseagrant.org/ceifellowship.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University and with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County on Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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