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SoMAS PhD Student Receives National Marine Fisheries Service-Sea Grant Joint Fellowship

Sarah Weisberg, a PhD student in Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS), has been selected as a 2022 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)-Sea Grant Joint Fellowship recipient. The focus of her project, “Advancing climate-informed, ecosystem-based fisheries management through food web modeling, indicator development and risk analysis in the rapidly warming Gulf of Maine,” is to understand how human-caused climate change can alter fish distribution and abundance.

Sara weisberg
Sarah Weisberg holds the bottom of a plankton net — used for catching small critters that drift in surface oceans and are key links in the marine food webs — as part of an effort to gather data aboard the R/V Seawolf. Credit: Ellie Heywood

Weisberg works with faculty advisor Janet A. Nye, an associate professor at SoMAS, and Sean M. Lucey, her mentor at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Ultimately, she seeks to know how an ecosystem’s overall properties, like resilience and efficiency, emerge from species-specific numbers.

“We hear a lot about resilience these days,” said Weisberg. “It’s perhaps even become a buzzword — and with good reason, since climate change is putting both social and ecological systems under intense stress. My research focuses on developing quantitative indicators of ecological resilience, specifically in the Gulf of Maine, and probing how we can use these indicators to inform fisheries management.”

“New York Sea Grant [NYSG] is excited to congratulate Sarah on her selection as a 2022 NMFS-Sea Grant fellow,” said Becky Shuford, director of NYSG. “As one of only eight doctoral students awarded this highly competitive fellowship experience, Sarah’s timely research incorporates climate information to inform responsive, integrated ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management. In this work of direct application to NOAA Fisheries’ efforts, she will contribute to the leading-edge body of knowledge needed to inform proactive, anticipatory science-based management of our nation’s trust fisheries resources. Furthermore, Sarah will gain real-world applied experience that will be of benefit to her career development, to the future fisheries workforce, and to the resilience of fishing communities that rely on access to sustainable, living marine resources in the face of ecosystem change.”

About the NMFS-Sea Grant Joint Fellowship

Since 1999, this program has trained the next generation of specialized experts in fisheries management as it addresses the critical need for future fisheries scientists with expertise in stock assessment by supporting students pursuing doctoral degrees in related fields. The field of population and ecosystem dynamics is vital to making high-quality fishery stock assessments to properly manage U.S. fisheries.

Fellows are chosen through a competitive process that involves national review by an expert panel. The 2022 fellows are geographically diverse, attending universities in Alaska, California, Florida, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and Washington. 

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

For more information about this work, visit the NYSG website.

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