Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego marine biology graduate student Melissa Garren has been selected to receive a prestigious fellowship from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation.
Garren, who studies coastal and marine issues 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."
Garren's research focuses on the effects of coastal pollution on the microbial processes that support large-scale ecosystem health. She studies these interactions on coral reefs exposed to two major sources of coastal pollution - aquaculture and sewage disposal - both emergent problems as overfishing and global population growth accelerate. Her work aims to find more sustainable solutions for aquaculture and sewage disposal practices that benefit the health of people and coral reefs.
"I am incredibly excited about this opportunity in large part due to the amazing network of conservation-oriented people from a huge array of disciplines that the foundation has cultivated, said Garren. "I'm looking forward to working with this diverse group of current graduate students and previous fellows who all have a strong interest in bridging exciting academic research with practical solutions to real-world environmental issues."
After completing her Ph.D. degree, Garren hopes to work at the interface of research and policy by facilitating the integration of microbial processes into conservation planning.
Garren's advisor, Scripps professor Farooq Azam, sees a bright future ahead for his student.
"Melissa is brilliant, highly motivated, and dedicated to environmental conservation," said Azam. "She is articulate, thoughtful, and displays clear potential for leadership. I expect that she will contribute to a transformation of conservation science and its application to better the lives of people."
Prior to joining Scripps' Ph.D. program, Melissa received a B.S. in molecular biology from Yale University and an M.S. in marine biology from Scripps. Garren is among 21 Switzer Environmental Fellowship winners in 2010.
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.