Caitlin Pomerance, a recent graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, said her career goal is to become an ocean policy expert.
During her time as a 2013 Guy Harvey Scholar, Pomerance and her classmate, Alexis Segal, helped develop a marine protected area in the Bahamas.
“This was a largely local stakeholder driven process that involved participatory mapping exercises and stakeholder engagement,” she said.
Her experience engaging with the public to implement change is what made her a prime candidate and winner of the NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship.
The two-year fellowship is intended to provide on-the-job education and training opportunities in coastal resource management and policy for postgraduate students and to provide project assistance to state coastal zone management programs.
The program matches post-graduate students with specific coastal zone programs, which are proposed by the state and selected by a fellowship sponsor.
When Pomerance, a south Florida native, saw the opportunity to work on a project in her home state, she jumped at the chance.
“I knew immediately I had found the perfect opportunity for me to pursue my dream of enhancing the quality of our oceans,” said Pomerance, who also rode her bike 4,000 miles from Baltimore to San Francisco in support of cancer last summer.
“Specifically, the Florida project pertained to my home area, which made it all that more desirable. I was born in Stuart, Fla., the northernmost region of the reef tract I will be helping manage, and moved to Miami, the southernmost region of the reef tract.”
“I honestly didn’t know that other states had projects. I saw Florida’s project and knew that I had to apply, that I had to seize the opportunity to help my home region.”
Pomerance’s project focuses on implementing Marine Industry and Coastal Construction Impact recommendations, which aim to assess what impacts industry and construction have on coral reefs. She will also be assisting with the development of a coral reef management strategy for southeast Florida.
“When I found the fellowship, I knew it was an unbelievable opportunity that, almost frighteningly, directly aligned with my interests and goals,” Pomerance said. “I felt like it was the perfect opportunity that I had been striving so hard to achieve.”