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Jen Salerno
Knauss Fellow 2011

2525 Correa Road, HIG 238
Honolulu, HI 96822

Jennifer Salerno was selected to be a legislative fellow in the office of Representative Lois Capps from California’s 23rd district. She worked on issues ranging from ocean observing systems to national sustainable offshore aquaculture legislation. She met with California constituents to address concerns about salmon fisheries and attended briefings on the President’s National Ocean Policy. Every day was different and every day was guaranteed to be filled with learning something new. She felt fortunate to have had gained such a wide range of experiences at UH and says that these experiences not only prepared her for the new job, but were also part of the reason she was selected for the fellowship.

Jennifer originally grew up on the east coast, but came out to Hawai‘i to pursue her PhD. The interdisciplinary research being conducted in the Zoology Department, the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology program, and at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, is what drew her to UH. Jennifer was interested in using science to help conserve and manage marine resources. Her dissertation research focuses on using molecular tools to examine bacterial communities associated with corals and determining if bacterial assessments could be used to monitor coral health. Most of her research took place in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and throughout her tenure as a student, she had the opportunity to work with resource managers on implementing science and ecosystem-based management into the area. Witnessing this confluence of science and policy propelled her to apply for the Knauss fellowship.

Jennifer feels fortunate that her research has taken her to a diversity of marine ecosystems – from Antarctica to the bottom of the ocean. Throughout all of these experiences, one factor has remained constant –human impacts have been conspicuous despite the remoteness of the locale. It has become increasingly evident that human actions are affecting ocean resources on a global scale. Increased communication between scientists, resource managers, policy makers, and stakeholders is critical to effectively sustain these resources. With each group having different needs, this collaborative effort is challenging.