My research focuses on the human dimensions of marine systems and how social-ecological dynamics shape and are shaped by formal and informal institutions. My work aims to be directly relevant to coastal communities and policymakers in Maine and beyond, while also advancing our broader understanding of the concepts of resilience, adaptation, and transformation. I have sought to position myself to engage in this area of work by way of actively participating in different dimensions of fisheries as opposed to being a passive bystander. Through this process, I have had the opportunity to spend multiple seasons as a sternman hauling lobster traps off the coast of Maine; working at a federal salmon hatchery on the Columbia River in Washington State; and being a policy analyst in NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Policy. I have also had the privilege of working with fishermen around the world to develop community-based seafood marketing arrangements and help run LocalCatch.org, an international network of fishermen, researchers, and non-profits engaged in market transformation. These types of direct engagement help to inform my research and are conversely informed by my research in an ongoing and iterative process.
I have a Bachelor’s degree (2016) from College of the Atlantic in Human Ecology with a concentration in Marine Science. For my dual Masters in Marine Biology and Marine Policy at UMaine, I am interested in exploring the human and environmental dimensions of coastal sustainability. My research focuses on resilience and management of Maine’s fishing communities in the face of ecological and social change. Marina is jointly advised by Heather Leslie.
I have an Honors Bachelor’s of Science in biology with a concentration in marine biology from Oregon State University (2017). I am in the dual Masters degree program in Marine Biology and Marine Policy at UMaine and I am interested in studying coastal resilience and the relationships between humans and the environment. I am especially interested in aquaculture policy and how it will affect the potential for aquaculture to increase the resilience of coastal communities. Melissa is jointly advised by Heather Leslie.
Taylor Witkin is the Strategic Planning and Development Associate for LocalCatch.org and a research associate at the University of Maine. Born, raised, and educated in New England, his interests stem from years of exploring coastlines, marine habitats, and local seafood dishes. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colby College and a Masters of Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island, where he studied the social and ecological roles of community supported fisheries, the drivers behind the local seafood movement, and the potential for a farmed seaweed market in southern New England. Prior to earning his masters degree, Taylor worked in Washington, DC at Oceana, helping launch Global Fishing Watch, a technology platform that tracks industrial-scale fishing fleets, shining a light on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices. He has also worked on the supply side of the seafood supply chain, as a fish vendor at farmers markets, and has a background in science communications. Taylor’s professional and academic work has been dedicated toward facilitating a trustworthy, resilient seafood system that supports small-scale fishing communities while maintaining a healthy marine environment.
Bryce Risley is a second year graduate student at the University of Maine, School of Marine Sciences seeking a dual degree in Marine Biology and Marine Policy. His research focuses on the resilience and adaptive capacity of marine ornamental fisheries which supply live reef organisms to the aquarium industry. Risley’s research consists of domestic and international field work where he interviews marine aquarium trade stakeholders to better understand the challenges they face throughout their supply chain. In addition to this, Risley has constructed a marine aquaculture lab at the university where he conducts physiology experiments on ornamental fish to aid in understanding the adaptive abilities of reef organism collected for the trade.
I have a bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College in Environmental Studies. After working for the past five years with food system and food justice nonprofits, I decided to return to school to pursue a career in science research. Before attending an M.S. graduate program this fall, I will be working with Joshua Stoll and collaborating universities to collect data for a case study of small-scale fisheries in the United States. Lead by the FAO and WorldFish, the project, called Illuminating Hidden Harvests, will encompass a comprehensive examination of the social, governmental, and environmental effects of marine small-scale fisheries. This project will merge my research experience with lobsters, a vital fishery in Maine, with my past involvement in food system studies.
I have a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Maine (2018) in Marine Science with a minor in Fisheries Science. I am the Project Coordinator for the Half Shell Design oyster sorter project. My human dimensions research interests include coastal zone management; coastal community sustainability and resiliency amidst changing climate regimes; investigating aquaculture as a tool for diversification; as well as design cost and scale appropriate tools for limited purpose aquaculture license holders. Over this past year my passion for researching aquaculture as a tool for economic growth has developed and I wish to understand how to mitigate coastal water user conflicts by ensuring aquaculture doesn’t displace current working waterfronts, but promote resiliency. My primary biological research interest is gelatinous zooplankton and their growing role (as a nuisance) in ecosystems during climate change.
Former Lab Members
Colin Eimers: Professional Science Masters
Amanda Fall: Marine Policy Masters
Emily Farr: Research Fellow
Jaelee Vanidestine: Professional Science Masters