Newsletter of the SEAS Islands Alliance 
April 2021

SEAS Spotlight: 
Rita Kristine Bernardo

Rita is the new Workforce Fellow at the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability. Rita will be supporting research and coordination efforts to advance and scale innovative solutions in the Guam Green Growth (G3) initiative, which champions a resilient and sustainable economy for the island region. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in Statistics with interdisciplinary coursework in Environmental Sustainability from St. Catherine University. Prior to joining the G3 team, Rita worked in the non-profit and start-up sector designing and managing programs and campaigns to educate and mobilize communities on environmental justice and social equity issues. As a Guam native, she is excited to use her skills and experience in data analysis and community engagement in contributing towards a greener Guam. In her free time, Rita enjoys practicing meditation, trying her hand at interior design, and improving her coding skills.

Alliance Happenings: First Annual Summit

We hosted our first annual SEAS Islands Alliance Virtual Summit last month! It was great to see and connect with so many participants and families. Did you attend? If not, the Summit consisted of two synchronous events. The first event was geared toward current and alumni Alliance participants and included activities where groups needed to figure out what they have in common as well as a networking activity where participants practiced their “elevator pitches” (see here for networking tips in English, and here for Spanish). Families were encouraged to attend our second event, where they had an opportunity to share their experiences in the Alliance and they worked together to create collages representing who they think is a scientist. Across both events, we heard lightning talks from seven Alliance participants and listened to the experiences of two families and three alumni.

At the Summit, we also launched a WhatsApp group for all Alliance members and participants. This WhatsApp group is not mandatory to join but will be used as a way to stay connected with each other across the hubs. Click on this link to join the WhatsApp group:

Alumni Spotlight:
Colin Howe

Colin is a former Bridge student and is now a Penn State Ph.D. student. He is doing lab and field work with Mónica Medina in Colombia from March 8 - April 12, 2021. They are working on coral microbiomes of the coral Orbicella faveolata from the Colombian Caribbean, doing capacity training, and starting a citizen science project with Afro-descendent fishing communities near Cartagena, Colombia. This work is funded by both Penn State and the Fulbright Commission. 

Colin has had a busy year, including being featured on the "Out There" podcast talking about resilience through diversity and what it's like to be a Black marine scientist. You can listen to the episode here. Last October, Colin won a 2020 SACNAS  National Diversity in STEM Conference Presentation Award for his Master's degree research on coral nursery transplants. And in December he served on National Aquarium's #BlackInMarineScience​ Panel: Plants vs. Animals, which can be viewed here

Making Waves

The Puerto Rico Hub has 10 undergraduates engaged in the TORTUGA portion of the program who began in January.

USVI Workforce Fellow Joseph Townsend wrote an article that was featured in the latest edition of Reef Encounter. The article, which is titled “Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease in the US Virgin Islands – a collaborative response”, can be found starting on page 35 here.

Kyle Dahlig from the Guam Hub was selected to be part of the 2021-2022 UCSC Doris Duke Cohort.

The Puerto Rico Hub's Workforce Fellows will both be working with partner organizations of the hub. Ian Pérez-Cruz will be working at Para La Naturaleza and Soely Luyando-Flusa will be working with Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

2019 Bridge Program alumna, Kaleigh Schlender, was selected for the Scientists in Parks (SIP) Intern position at Dry Tortugas National Park and has accepted! She starts in May and will be conducting beach surveys for sea turtle nests, working with Clayton Pollock, who she met through the Bridge Program. 

Youth Ocean Explorer students Trinity Richardson, Gabrielle Quetel, Kaylin Wallen, Anushka Chandiramani, Paschal Bryan, Odessa Matthew, and Kadejsha Tonge are current interns at Coral World Ocean Park. Parents have provided amazing feedback thus far, including: “Kids love the internship,” and “What have you done to my child!? Now she is in love with corals and wants to protect them.” The students love the internship so much that they have requested to stay at the park from 9 AM to 4 PM instead of from 9 AM to noon.

Featured Opportunities

The Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation (CERF)  has announced its call for abstracts for its Fall meeting! All Alliance members are encouraged to participate. There are both coastal science and education special sessions; see here for more information. Abstracts are due May 5, 2021.

CERF’s Rising Tides program is now accepting applications. CERF is excited to announce the 2021 Rising TIDES (Toward an Inclusive, Diverse, and Enriched Society) Conference Program, which will support students from groups underrepresented in CERF disciplines to participate in CERF’s 26th Biennial Conference and regional Affiliate Society meetings. Students can now apply for the 2021 Rising TIDES Conference Program to receive financial support toward attending the virtual 26th Biennial CERF Conference, November 1-4 and November 8-11, 2021, and to attend a regional Affiliate Society meeting in 2022. Visit this website for program details, application requirements, and a link to the application which is due April 7, 2021. CERF is committed to broadening participation in coastal and estuarine science and management. Contact Susan Park at if you have questions or need any assistance.

Don’t forget to register for “Tropical Island Water Futures: Water for People and Ecosystems in the Face of Change” Virtual Conference, April 12-15, 2021. You can learn more about the conference here. Early bird registration ends March 31 ($40 for professionals, $10 for students). This is a great opportunity for cross-island learning as all hub locations, plus Hawaii are represented!

The 2021 University of Guam Conference on Island Sustainability is happening now. The Conference is being held virtually from Tuesday, April 6 - Saturday, April 10, 2021, ChST (Monday, April 5 - Friday April 9, 2021). This event is open to everyone! If you are interested in registering please follow the link here. The link will take you to the conference website where you can read up on what the conference theme "Islands are Rising" means, look at past conference highlights, register, find contact information, and more. Be sure to check out the symposium highlighting the SEAS Islands Alliance on April 7 at 6:30pm Eastern (April 8 8:30am ChST). This event will feature Cheryl Sangueza, Isabel Sánchez-Viruet, Soely Luyando-Flusa, Jezreelyn Bulaklak, Pedro Maldonado Rivera, and Kristin Grimes.

The USVI Youth Ocean Explorers Program on St. Croix is looking for applicants. Application Deadline: April 19, 2021. To apply: 
  1. Parents should complete this application which provides our team with information such as contact details, t-shirt size, and any possible injuries of the applicant. 
  2. Students should complete this application which contains a series of essay-type questions that provides our team with some additional insight on each applicant. 
  3. Applicants should upload a short 30 second - 1-minute video to this Dropbox folder explaining to our team why they would make a great candidate for the YOE Summer Program. Be creative; you can film your video at the beach or even use props.
The Inclusive NOAA Fisheries InternSHip (IN FISH!) program is looking for applicants. While the program is built for Freshman and Graduating Seniors, all undergraduates are welcome to apply! Applicants from under-represented groups and backgrounds are highly encouraged to apply. This is a 10-week, virtual internship with a $5,000 stipend at the completion of the program. There is a two-week Ecosystems Dynamics workshop held during the start of the internship. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, but offers will be made as they begin to review completed applications. To learn more or to apply click here. For questions, please email

On The Horizon

April 23 - Bridge to Micronesia Applications Due

April 25/26 - Bridge Program Orientation, 5pm Eastern/7am Guam

May 11-18 - NSF STEM For All Video Showcase, including a video about the SEAS Islands Alliance

Late Spring - Communications Training
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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