Kayleigh Michaelides, a recent graduate of the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, is excited about tackling coastal issues through policy. When she saw the announcement of a brand new fellowship opportunity working on coastal issues in the state capital, she jumped at the chance.
Now she has been selected as the first recipient of the Florida Sea Grant / Florida Coastal Office Fellowship.
“Kayleigh is an outstanding young scholar, and I am certain that this experience will be an important contribution to her professional career,” said Karl Havens, director of Florida Sea Grant.
During her one-year fellowship, Michaelides will work in Tallahassee and assist the Florida Coastal Office in developing or enhancing projects dealing with areas such as water quality, coastal community resilience, and habitat conservation and restoration.
“I believe some of the most pressing issues include sea-level rise and ocean acidification as a result of climate change, habitat loss and degradation, overfishing, coastal and marine pollution, and offshore drilling,” Michaelides said. “I believe all of these issues can be tackled by working at the policy and community level. I believe by bridging the gap between science and policy, greater public awareness, legislative support, and participation, these issues can be solved.”
Michaelides earned her bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Auburn University. She then decided to blend her passion for marine science and conservation by earning a professional master’s degree in marine affairs and policy from the University of Miami.
During her graduate career, Michaelides tested her classroom knowledge by interning at the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, D.C.
At the internship, she helped developed a survey to identify sustainable fisheries across the globe. In addition, she helped build a fishery characterization database for site-specific species in the Philippines and Indonesia.
“I am truly impressed by the work Kayleigh has done for her internship,” said Maria Estevanez, academic program director for marine affairs and policy at the University of Miami. “Her report is very comprehensive and added value to global fisheries literature.”
Michaelides, who likes to play soccer, run, travel and dive in her free time, said she feels protecting the marine environment is her personal duty.
“All of the things that I have accomplished and continue to do throughout my academic career are built upon my personal core values,” she said. “I believe in honesty and integrity foremost, and I have a strong work ethic and an extreme passion and dedication to marine conservation.”