Newsletter of the SEAS Islands Alliance 
July 2021

SEAS Spotlight: 
Morgan Leon Guerrero

Morgan has been the Extension Associate I/Program Associate aka “PROGRAM GURU” for the Guam hub since November 2019. New to the grant world, Morgan quickly became an asset to the team and program by taking charge of all program processes and procedures. She helped create, modify, and implement new and existing processes, procedures, and documents to align with our new grant program and create and modify things again as we were adjusting to COVID!  Morgan offered insight to improve participant experiences at the hub level, and she also served as a valuable member of the alliance level cohort-building working group. Morgan will be leaving the University of Guam to start her Master of Sustainable Solutions at Arizona State University, College of Global Futures. Thank you Morgan for all your hard work and we are so excited for you! 

Alliance Happenings: 2021 Summer Bridge Program

The first ever Alliance-wide Summer Bridge Program is happening now! The 10 participants kicked off their virtual experience on June 1st. The group participated in virtual rotations with the Medina, Baums and Iglesias-Prieto Labs at Penn State University.  Over the next weeks, Bridge participants will complete their virtual research project while receiving mentoring from a Penn State faculty member. They will also participate in virtual activities hosted by UMCES.  There will be two events during the final week that SEAS Islands Alliance community members may register to attend.  Bridge cohort members will provide a brief presentation of their Outreach Activity on Monday, July 19th 5pm AST/EST or Tuesday, July 20th 7am Guam.  You may also register to attend their Research Symposium on Thursday, July 22nd 5pm AST/EST or Friday, July 23rd 7am Guam. 

Alumni Spotlight:
Ian Pérez Cruz

Hello! My name is Ian J. Pérez Cruz and I live on the best island, Puerto Rico! I graduated from the biology program at Ana G. Méndez University, Gurabo Campus. During my academic years I was working on projects related to the branches of entomology and ornithology, in which I had the opportunity to work with populations of insects and also with migratory birds and residents of the island of Puerto Rico. Since January 2021, I have been one of the SEAS Workforce Fellows. I have been working with Para la Naturaleza, which is one of the collaborators of the PR Hub. There I have been monitoring fauna and flora to implement good practices in the management of the Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve. In addition, I am developing, together with other biologists, a strategic plan for the management of environmental emergencies such as sargassum. I hope that my time in the SEAS Islands Alliance and Para la Naturaleza team will be a pleasant experience and a contribution of knowledge and experiences for both organizations. My long-term goals are to pursue a master's degree in wildlife conservation biology and a doctorate in entomology.

Making Waves

Jezreelyn Bulaklak from the Guam hub graduated this spring and will attend medical school this fall at the Uniformed Services University, which also comes with commissioning as an officer in the Air Force.

Akacia Halliday-Isaac, a former Bridge participant from the USVI hub who is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Mississippi, won an International Coral Reef Society (ICRS) Graduate Fellowship Award

Two current Alliance undergraduate students from the Guam hub under the wing of Faculty Research Mentor Dr. Chris Lobban have discovered new species of diatoms. Gabriela Prelosky will name two she found so far - one after her grandmothers and one after an influential high school teacher.  Britney Sison is awaiting confirmation of her findings before she names those diatoms! 

Youth Ocean Explorers (YOE) St. Croix student Maleyah Navarro will be completing her Dive Rescue certification.

Former YOE students Odessa Matthew (St. Thomas) and Xavier Hinkson (St. Croix) will be enrolling at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) in the Fall and majoring in Marine Biology.

10 YOE students who completed their Advanced Open Water certification, will be receiving their own scuba gear! They will be able to continue diving both recreationally and with YOE and the UVI Center for Marine and Environmental Studies.

Congratulations on the publication by the UVI Masters of Marine & Environmental Science 2019 cohort which include previous SEAS participant Danielle A. Olive, Bridge cohort members, Stephanie J. Hibberts, Alexys E. Long, Kelsey M. Vaughn, PI Kristin W. Grimes, and Co-PI Marilyn E. Brandt. Link available here.

YOE St. Croix student Xavier Hinkson is now employed working with the Coral Custodians and absolutely loves the job.

Maleyah Navarro (2019 YOE) is returning as a mentor for YOE, St. Croix

Former YOE St. Thomas student Maura Richardson has decided to attend UVI to major in marine science. Maura will also be spending another summer in Florida with the Youths Diving With a Purpose Program.

Guam’s first Bridge to Bachelor’s summer programming commenced! Jude Zachaias is at the College of the Marshall Islands and is partnered with Javier Cuetos-Bueno from Guam. Partnered with Dr. Chris Lobban and his team are: Marlin Lee Ling from the College of Micronesia and who is collecting and analyzing data from Pohnpei and Kosrae, Iverson Allen from College of Micronesia and who is collecting and analyzing data from Chuuk, and Kebang Ngiraklang from Palau Community college and who is collecting and analyzing data from Palau.

There are 17 YOE students on St. Thomas that will be participating in refresher dives over the next month. Some of this is preparatory work for some of the students that are interested in getting Advanced Open Water scuba certified. Photos below were taken by Erik Miles (left) and Elisa Lacatena (right). 

Featured Opportunities

Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship is an exciting two-year fellowship program that will place one graduate student at each of the 29 national estuarine research reserves. Through a research project, fellows address a key reserve management need to help scientists and communities understand coastal challenges that may influence future policy and management strategies. The research reserves represent the apex of estuary science. At these coastal sites, fieldwork, research, and community engagement come together to create the scientific advances that change our communities and our world.

On The Horizon

July 17-25 - Latino Conservation Week

October 25-29 - SACNAS Conference

November 1-4 & 8-11 - CERF 2021
The SEAS Islands Alliance is an NSF INCLUDES Alliance funded by the National Science Foundation Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES). 

Visit our website at for more information. Please reply to this email if you have any questions, if you are interested in getting more involved with the SEAS Islands Alliance, have information you'd like to share in an upcoming newsletter, or If you would like to be removed from the email list.

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SEAS Islands Alliance · 2 John Brewers Bay · St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands 00802-6004 · Virgin Islands (U.S.)

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