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Lisa Adams
Knauss Fellow 2010
MS Tropical Conservation Biology and Enviromental Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
BA Marine Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

2525 Correa Road, HIG 238
Honolulu, HI 96822

At the age of 15, Lisa Adams took a class trip to the Galapagos Islands where she witnessed a sight that will be forever etched into her memory: a lone seal pup basking on the beach, its body pressing against the plastic soda ring around its neck as it breathed. This image, as it clashed with other Galapagos images of beauty and tranquility, ignited in Adams a passion for marine conservation that still burns today. As one of the 2010 Knauss Fellowship recipients, Adams had the opportunity to put her fervor to good use by assisting the National Sea Grant Office (NSGO) with management and policy issues related to coastal and marine resources.

Originally from Colorado, she earned a BA in marine science and a MS in tropical conservation biology and environmental science from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (UHH). Adams’ UH Sea Grant-supported graduate research project on free-living populations of zooxanthellae—a type of symbiotic organism that often lives within corals and other marine life—resulted in two peer-reviewed publications along with presentations at several conferences. In addition, she helped establish a popular UHH community event, Ocean Day Hawai‘i, and served as its volunteer coordinator. The annual event has hosted more than 2,500 attendees in the past three years and educates local communities about threats facing marine resources, communicates current scientific research on marine resources, and connects individuals with marine community groups that teach about ocean conservation.

In Washington, D.C., Adams served as the coordinator for two of NGSO’s four focus teams—Sustainable Coastal Development and Hazard Resilient Coastal Communities. In this role, Adams helped the focus teams ensure that NGSO’s policies and initiatives in hazard resiliency and the built environment fulfilled the goals outlined in Sea Grant’s national strategic plan. In addition, she endeavored to ensure that Sea Grant was well represented at conferences and in reports drafted by Sea Grant’s parent organization, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For example, she prepared numerous documents for the American Planning Association conference to represent Sea Grant and assist planners in recognizing that “the Sea Grant agents in their state were a valuable resource that they could be utilizing to help them make more sustainable development decisions.” Similarly, she worked on the renewal of a Memorandum of Agreement between NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency intended to aid six offices within the agencies collaborate and leverage resources so that developing projects fulfilled the goals and priorities of each office.