Patricia Perez, who is pursuing her master's degree in fisheries oceanography at UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST), is a recipient of the 2022 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. The program provides a unique educational and professional experience for graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources, according to the NOAA Sea Grant website.
Patricia, a Brookeville, MD native who now resides in Newport, RI, says she was drawn to ocean fisheries science for its link between people and the sea. "My experience within this field has connected me with fishermen, seafood dealers, scientists, policymakers, and seafood consumers. I have also tallied up many days at sea, growing my appreciation for what we harvest, the ocean, and its power."
Her master’s thesis is centered on yellowtail flounder on Georges Bank. "Despite reduced catch limits, the abundance of yellowtail flounder continues to decline, suggesting other drivers of stock status. Yellowtail flounder appear concentrated inside a closed area that is rotationally opened for scallop fishing, leading to bycatch of yellowtail," Patricia explains. "I am using our video trawl groundfish survey, drop camera scallop survey, and FVCOM temperature data (all three data sources are developed at SMAST) to understand what ecological factors could be driving the lowered abundance of yellowtail in this area."
Upon completing her master's degree, Patricia says she hopes to take a position that works to bridge the gap between different stakeholders in this field as better science, offshore wind, and climate change evolves. As one of the 73 Knauss Fellowship finalists, she will be placed in federal government offices in Washington, D.C. for a one-year fellowship beginning in February of 2022. "I look forward to learning how our government operates and makes decisions regarding ocean science and meeting other fellows and mentors," she says.
"The Knauss Fellowship has been on my radar since undergrad. To finally be in the position to apply and be awarded the fellowship is overwhelming. I’m so proud of myself for all the work I have put in to learn about my passion, and I can’t wait to bring my perspective to D.C." Learn about the NOAA Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship.