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Merra Howe
Knauss Fellow 2017

2525 Correa Road, HIG 238,
Honolulu, HI 96822

As a current executive Knauss Fellow with the class of 2017, Merra Howe is working with the Congressional and Legislative Affairs team at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to communicate with Congress on issues relevant to USFWS. She covers a diverse range of program areas, including the Coastal Barrier Resources System, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act outreach, military partnerships, international affairs, law enforcement, wetlands, and coral reefs. In addition, Merra helps facilitate and staff USFWS meetings with congressional members. When USFWS is called to testify at hearings, she also helps draft briefing papers, write testimony, and prepare the witnesses.

Merra completed her Master’s degree in Marine Biology with a specialization in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation at UH in December 2016. For her thesis research, she chose to examine the occurrence of insular dolphin populations around the Maui Nui islands and Oahu. Under the guidance of graduate advisor Dr. Marc Lammers, president of the Oceanwide Science Institute, she implemented a dual-method approach to accomplish her research goals, which included both passive acoustic monitoring and citizen science components. In addition to providing valuable insight into the distributions of large- and small-bodied dolphin species around the islands, Merra’s research reflects the importance of utilizing innovative techniques to study marine mammal populations in a world of increasingly limited funding.

Moving forward, Merra continues to try to think outside the box to help conserve and manage wildlife populations. Through the Knauss Fellowship, she has the learned the value of communicating with all stakeholders — private landowners, hunters, environmental groups, tribal members, local government officials, and Congress — to further management goals. And, she has learned the power of personalizing the conservation message for each policymaker. She hopes to incorporate all of this knowledge to become a leader in the field of wildlife conservation.