NOAA MPA Center: End of Fellowship Reflection

Hello everyone! My 11 week internship with the NOAA Marine Protected Areas Center has officially ended on August 19th. While I provided updates on my internship in my last two posts, I hope to do more of a reflection in this blog post.

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

My primary accomplishment with the NOAA MPA Center this summer was the development of a guidance report for sanctuary staff on the potential role and deployment of marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (mCDR) technologies in national marine sanctuaries. The report categorizes the six technologies based on their level of environmental risk—low, medium, or high—and then by their likely acceptance in sanctuaries—allow or encouraged, considered with caution for experimental scale, and considered with the utmost caution with regard to the precautionary principle. This guidance report was developed since there is increasing Congressional interest in marine CDR and results from a survey conducted with select Office of National Marine Sanctuary staff indicate there are external inquiries for mCDR deployment in sanctuaries as well as an interest among concerned parties in learning more about the subject. The guidance report will likely be distributed internally to sanctuary staff and hopefully published in NOAA’s Conservation Series to expand its impact to MPA staff and beyond.

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?

There were numerous benefits I gained from this internship both professionally and personally. Professionally, this project has brought together my marine science background and my marine policy education that I am currently learning. This nexus has been a focus of my career goals and I am thrilled to have been able to conduct such research. It is my aim to be able to communicate marine science to a broad audience and generally have marine policy better reflect the sciences. Thus far, most of experience has consisted of local scientific research and interning with non-profits. Through this internship I was able to gain perspective on how our nation manages and protects our marine resources. Next, I hope to use my past experiences to learn more about marine resource management on an international scale.

Since I am still young in my career, this internship is one of the few longer term working experiences I have had. It took some adjustment going from a school schedule to a work schedule and I felt myself taking many breaks. However, I enjoyed the work-life balance I developed for myself and felt that it was actually possible to achieve. Additionally, I personally really enjoyed my co-workers and engaging with them on a day-to-day basis which made it easier to take on the work day everyday.

Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

During my internship, I had the great fortune of having incredible supervisors, Lauren Wenzel, MPA Center Director and Zac Cannizzo, Climate Coordinator. Lauren and Zac, along with her numerous responsibilities, gave much of their time and effort to the interns on both the intern’s projects and professional development. For my main project, they consistently highlighted the importance of my contribution and spent a significant amount of time providing suggestions and revisions. Lauren and Zac often looped me into NOAA meetings so I could learn about various projects and initiatives and would introduce me to different NOAA professionals. I am so fortunate to say that Lauren and Zac were great examples of truly good leadership. Moreover, it is great to witness inspiring woman in leadership in such a male dominated field. It is my only hope that everyone can have this positive leadership experience in their working career.

Thank you to The Center for Blue Economy, CBE donors, MIIS professors, and NOAA staff for a great summer internship!

Although my internship was remote, below are some images of meeting locations for my internship that were in-person:

I met with some Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary staff outside of the office in the heart of Monterey.
Also in beautiful downtown Monterey, I met with a retired NOAA MPA Center staff member from the Monterey office who was also a previous adjunct professor at MIIS

Prati Rosen: NOAA MPA Center Mid-internship Post

Happy August everyone! I can not believe how fast the summer is zooming on by. 

A lot has been going on at my internship so far. 

My main project, mentioned in my first blog, is to create a guidance document for sanctuary managers on whether to allow or disallow innovative marine carbon carbon dioxide removal technologies in national marine sanctuaries. This document is in its finalized draft and is currently out for review by NOAA staff and eventually outside experts. It is intriguing to see the review process and the different opinions, thoughts, expertise, suggestions, etc from varying reviewers. I look forward to seeing how I can improve the report and for it to potentially influence ocean policy. 

Recently, I attended a workshop on the climate change vulnerability of Flower Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Having done a climate change vulnerability assessment in Professor Jeff Langholz’s Applied Conservation and Policy class this past spring, I was well equipped to tackle this workshop. On the first day of the workshop, various experts discussed the non climate change stressors to various habitats and select species and the projected impacts when these stressors are combined with climate change stressors. The second day, this discussion was continued and we brainstormed about potential adaptation measures that can be taken to mitigate these stressors. I am very fortunate to have attended the workshop and be in the company of so many experts. 

In the upcoming weeks I will work on revising, editing, and formatting my report for distribution and potentially publishing in the future. I also plan to meet with members of the Monterey Bay NMS in person to discuss the results of my report and gather their thoughts on carbon dioxide removal in national marine sanctuaries. Additionally, I plan to meet in person with Charlie Wahle, a former NOAA MPA Center staff in Monterey and adjunct professor at MIIS. I am very thankful to get these in person opportunities in a remote working world. 

I look forward to sharing my experiences in my next blog post!

Summer with NOAA – Marine Protected Areas Center

Marine Protected Areas Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Remote in Monterey, California (Office is located in Silver Spring, Maryland)
June 6 – August 19, 2022

For this summer, I have the immense pleasure of interning with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Protected Areas Center. The MPA Center is located within NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and serves as a resource to all federal, state, territorial and tribal programs responsible for the health of the nation’s oceans.

For my internship, I am specifically focusing on the role of marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (mCDR) technologies in National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS). What is mCDR, you may ask? I had the same question when I started this internship but now I feel very well versed in the topic! Marine CDR technologies are a variety of approaches that can be deployed in the ocean to enhance the ocean’s natural ability to absorb carbon (e.g., photosynthesis by phytoplankton) and ultimately help curb climate change. These technologies include anything from restoring coastal wetlands to artificially adding nutrients to cultivating seaweed to artificially inducing upwelling and downwelling. While this is a promising prospect for mitigating climate change, their experimentation or deployment in National Marine Sanctuaries may not align with the Sanctuary’s mission and objective to protect its species and environment. Therefore, I have been working on creating a document that provides background knowledge and recommendations on mCDR in NMS for Sanctuary managers and staff, helping them make key decisions regarding the safeguarding of National Marine Sanctuaries in a changing climate.

The research I have conducted is facilitated by conversations with various NOAA staff, throughout the country, as well as CDR experts in the field. Interviewees have consisted of scientists, permitters, lawyers, legal consultants and more. It is incredible getting an interdisciplinary perspective on this very nascent topic.

In addition to my particular research, I have been very fortunate to sit in on departmental meetings and attend internal NOAA webinars that provide me with insight on the inner workings of the organization. At the start of the internship, I attended the Capitol Hill Ocean Week that was put on the Marine Sanctuary Foundation and facilitated by the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Various ocean topics were discussed by numerous experts in the field. It was wonderful to see the knowledge being shared as well as the optimism on facing climate change.

This is my work space at my home in Pacific Grove. I am extremely lucky to have a little view of the ocean and remind me of my inspiration everyday. Most of the workday, my dog sits next to me because she also loves learning about the ocean 🙂

The future of my internship will include finalizing the internal mCDR document, sharing the findings and recommendations with NOAA’s CDR working group, Blue Carbon team, and others as well as attending a CDR workshop and learning about the topic further. Although I am remote, I am excited to be able to have in-person meetings with NOAA staff who are located in Monterey and work for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. I hope to get out into the field, explore the behind the scenes of the local sanctuaries and discuss with managers on how marine CDR might fit into the future of their National Marine Sanctuary.

Prati Rosen: Marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (mCDR)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Marine Protected Areas Center
June 6, 2022 – August 19, 2022
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

Working with the National Marine Protected Areas Center and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the intern will explore if, how, and where, marine carbon dioxide removal (mCDR) could be deployed in National Marine Sanctuary waters and the authorities that sanctuaries have in regulating, permitting, and deploying such technologies. Participant will gain practical and technical experience in the application of marine carbon dioxide removal technology and planning to marine protected areas, as well as developing skills in policy applications, protected area manager engagement and leadership support.