Alumni in ENVS, Internships, Student Field Research

Swimming Against The Tide: ENVS alumna, Emily Reynolds (C’12)

Emily Reynolds (C’12) has always loved the water. As a competitive swimmer, she marveled at the speed at which marine mammals moved through the water. Her swimming career and academic interests brought her to Emory’s campus in 2008 and her passion for the environment, particularly marine science, brought her to the Department of Environmental Sciences!

 Since Emory’s Department of Environmental Sciences (ENVS) does not have a specific track for marine science, Emily took charge of her academic journey – searching out internships and a study abroad experience to complement her academic interests. Early conversations with Professor Yandle planted ideas of opportunities that would bear fruit as an upperclassman.

Emily knew that finding an academic experience tailored to marine science would be critical to her degree experience. She identified a semester study abroad program through The School of Field Studies with a focus on marine resource management and ecology.  Since the program was not one of the pre-approved programs in Emory’s Office of International & Summer Programs, she jumped through some extra hoops to get her experience approved for credit. Everything came together and it was a pivotal experience for Emily:

“Studying abroad was the highlight of my college career and probably one of the best three months of my life. I learned so many things in relation to marine organisms, habitats, small-island developing states, economies, resources, management, and the list goes on and on. Those three months launched me into future internships and countless friends and colleagues to network with.”

Internships proved to be another way that Emily plugged into her interests in marine sciences beyond Emory. An early internship at the National Aquarium in Washington, DC offered a glimpse into the inner-workings of a large conservation focused non-profit. As a senior, Emily was accepted for an REU at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. Engaged in aquaculture research studying the effect of native versus invasive apply snails proved to be an important research and networking experience. Her experience culminated in her co-authoring a published journal article in the Journal of Molluscan Studies.

While not convinced that aquaculture was her future, Emily felt confident about her next step applying to the program that Professor Yandle had mentioned when she was just starting her undergraduate journey, the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Population Dynamics workshop. The week-long intensive workshop brought together faculty from the University of Florida, NOAA and other associated scientists along with 10 other students to examine population dynamics in the world of fisheries. It was at the workshop, that Emily met her future graduate studies advisor, Professor Jim Cowan from the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University.

As an MS student in Oceanography & Coastal Sciences at LSU, Emily conducted field research 100 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. Her research on Louisiana’s Artificial Reef Planning Area focused on data collection using advanced stereo-video and hydroacoustic techniques. Completing her master’s degree in 2015 having examined non-invasive fisheries population sampling in the Gulf of Mexico, Emily found a position with National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) in Portland, Oregon.

In Portland, she was a Fishery Biologist (for the West Coast Region) reviewing and writing policy documents which analyzed the genetic, biological, cultural, economic, and environmental effects of releasing hatchery salmon and steelhead onto the ESA-listed populations of salmon and steelhead in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. She worked with other federal agencies, state agencies, and local tribes. In September of 2018, she made the move to Oahu, where she currently works as a Fishery Policy Analyst in Honolulu for NOAA Fisheries (Pacific Islands Regional Office). In this role, Emily supports the International Fisheries Division while working with eNGOs, other NOAA units, U.S. agencies, international partners and industry to support U.S. interests in the conservation and management of living marine resources, especially in the western and central Pacific Ocean. She works with a small team to compile and analyze data, prepare briefings for the U.S. positions and proposals for international meetings, and prepare briefings for U.S. commissioners and delegations. She also works on implementing terms of international fisheries agreements by preparing regulations and supporting environmental, economic, and other analyses as needed under various legal mandates. Although most of the job takes place in the office, Emily is surrounded by beautiful waters that remind her of why she enjoys fisheries and management of the valuable species in the ocean. She is involved in international travel which allows her to see amazing parts of the world and learn about the value of fisheries in other countries.

Experiences outside of the classroom are an essential component of a degree in environmental sciences. We encourage students to explore research and internship opportunities within and outside of the department and Emory community. As you consider opportunities, please engage faculty in ENVS about their recommendations and utilize the professionals in the Emory Career Center – it is clear that for Emily, the opportunities to engage her learning outside of the classroom were formative in ways that have shaped her early career path. If you are a current student or ENVS alum, we invite you to connect professionally with ENVS students and alumni through our LinkedIn Group: Emory ENVS Alumni & Students Group.