Scripps Student Ayana Johnson Wins Switzer Fellowship

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Fourth-year Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego marine biology graduate student Ayana Johnson has been selected to receive a prestigious fellowship by the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation.

Johnson, who studies marine resource management in Scripps' Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, was awarded $15,000 as a Switzer Environmental Fellow. The Switzer Foundation awards annual fellowships for emerging environmental leaders "to advance their skills and develop their expertise to address critical conservation challenges."

Johnson researches the sustainable management of coral reef fishes through field work on the island of Curacao in the Caribbean. Last summer she completed an ecological and economic assessment of Curacao's trap fishery and developed a method to reduce fish trap bycatch by 80 percent. She aims to produce a gear-based approach to sustainable fisheries management that could serve as a blueprint for other coral reefs.

In the fall Johnson will return to Curacao to assess the gill net fishery and conduct a socioeconomic survey of the island's 200 fishermen.

Prior to joining Scripps, Johnson received a bachelor's degree in environmental science and public policy from Harvard University. She spent two years as a policy analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., developing and analyzing marine regulations and policies. After completing her Ph.D., she hopes to return to environmental policy work and apply her expertise in both the natural and social sciences.

Johnson is among 20 Switzer Environmental Fellowship winners in 2009.

The Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation was established in 1986 as an organization that mobilizes leaders from diverse disciplines who focus on integrated solutions to environmental problems.

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