Featured Alumni: Brennies in the Marine Resource Management Career Field

Coastal marine ecosystems provide a plethora of essential goods and services. The oceans are drivers of climate; they are highways for marine commerce and navigation; they hold potential for energy development, and are a major reservoir of natural resources. Managing these resources requires an understanding of natural and social sciences, economics, decision-making, law and institutions, and ethics.

Unsurprisingly, the Coastal Marine Resource Management (CMRM) specialization at the Bren School is a popular discipline among MESM students. Advised by the ever-impressive Chris Costello and Hunter Lenihan, CMRM  students are provided with the interdisciplinary training necessary to bridge the gap between coastal science and policy. Moreover, the Bren School’s ideal location offers considerable inspiration for those studying coastal issues. The UCSB campus is incredibly unique given it is the only university that is situated directly on the coastline, bordered by the Pacific Ocean on three sides.

Check out the following ‘Featured Alumni’ to see what these past CMRM students have moved on to do post-Bren and what role they play in protecting our oceans.


Byler_HeadshotKristen Byler, MESM 2014 

Kristen recently accepted a position with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in Washington, D.C. as a Fisheries Conservation Manager under the Marine and Coastal Conservation team. She is managing the strategic development and implementation of the Foundation’s sustainable fisheries programs, specifically the Fisheries Innovation Fund, Fishing for Energy, the Fishery Improvement Partnership Fund, and the River Herring Program. Kristen explains her desire to work for NFWF: “I was drawn to NFWF because of their unique ability to forge both public and private partnerships in order to produce meaningful conservation outcomes. I find the Foundation’s ability to effectively work with diverse stakeholders really exciting.”



Alisan Amrhein, Jocelyn Christie, Heather Perry, Morgan Visalli, MESM 2014

Alisan, Jocelyn, Heather, and Morgan are joining the Class of 2015 California Sea Grant (CASG) State Fellows, making up a large percentage of the 17-person class. Many Bren alum have completed this Fellowship (11 to be exact), though this is the largest Bren group to be admitted to the same Sea Grant Class. The CASG State Fellowship matches recent graduates with “hosts” in state or federal agencies in California for a 12-month paid fellowship that provides on-the-job experience in the planning and seagrant2implementation of marine and coastal resource policies and programs.

Alisan is joining the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Region and will work on their Abalone Management Program, helping to develop a Fishery Management Plan to improve the sustainability of the depleted red abalone fishery.

Jocelyn is headed to the California Coastal Conservancy’s South Coast Program where she will help support the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project. The Project is dedicated to acquiring, restoring, and expanding coastal wetlands and watersheds throughout Southern California.

Heather will be working for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, specifically joining their Sediment Management Team and assisting in the implementation of the Regional Sediment Management strategy for San Francisco Bay.

Morgan is joining the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) at their new office space on the UCSB campus near Bren Hall. She will support two main initiatives: (1) Reducing the threat of ship strikes on endangered whales, and (2) Enhancing sanctuary enforcement efforts.


McDonaldGavin McDonald, MESM 2013

Gavin did not stray far from his Bren roots– in fact, his office is in Bren Hall, though you won’t find him there often given the many international travel opportunities his work provides him. Immediately following graduation, Gavin began working for the Sustainable Fisheries Group (SFG) as a Project Researcher. His biggest current project is Fish Forever, a partnership between SFG, Rare, and the Environmental Defense Fund, that is working to establish sustainable fisheries management in tropical developing countries around the world including Indonesia, the Philippines, Belize, Brazil, and Mozambique. When asked what drew him to SFG, Gavin lists many perks, such as being a part of cutting-edge research that guides exciting applied projects around the world and working with some of the most respected leaders in this field. His biggest achievement thus far has been playing a large role in developing new national fishery management plans for conch and lobster in Belize. When discussing the career expectations he had while completing his MESM degree, he exclaimed “This is exactly what I was hoping for. It’s a dream job for me!”

Kelsey Jacobsen, MESM 2012

Following her year-long Knauss Marine Policy fellowship in Washington, D.C., Kelsey began working at Blue Earth Consultants, LLC, an environmental firm dedicated to enhancing resource management, promoting sustainable practices, and improving environmental and social resiliency. One particular project that she is proud of involved evaluating the progress jacobsenof Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Belize Program that aims to improve Belize fisheries and marine reserve management. Blue Earth performed a mid-term evaluation of WCS’ progress, and generated a report that discussed lessons learned and the associated challenges, and made recommendations for the program moving forward. With this project, Kelsey was given the opportunity to travel to Belize to interview numerous fishermen, government officials, NGO partners, and others involved in their work. Before entering the consulting world, Kelsey claims that to her, consulting was a somewhat nebulous sector, and sought to learn what role consultants play in environmental projects. She explains, “I have indeed learned a huge amount – not only about consulting, but about the other sectors that we serve as well. Not many consulting firms are as specialized as Blue Earth, and because I’m interested in the ocean, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to focus (mostly) on that environment.”


To all Bren alum who also specialized in CMRM, we want to hear your story too! Have you gone on to a different marine-related career field? Please leave a comment below to share what you’ve been up to!


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  1. Taylor 9 December, 2014 at 21:20 Reply

    I had so much fun in the CMRM specialty and am working for National Marine Fisheries Service in Long Beach working on highly migratory species management!

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