Megan Hepner

Megan Hepner's picture
Real name: 
Current Position: 
MS Student
B.S. Environmental Science and Policy - 2012
M.S. Marine Science: Marine Resource Assessment - 2017
Research Interests:

Today, my angst over the extensive damage caused by overexploitation and pollution fuels my mission to preserve marine ecosystems, particularly in light of the impending effects of accelerated climate change. My strong personal devotion is geared toward protecting our marine and coastal ecosystems by integrating my education in Marine Science and Environmental Science and Policy and my experience advocating prevalent issues to government officials and the public. I believe both a strong scientific background on Earth’s biota and a comprehensive understanding of the idiosyncrasies of policy is essential in making adept decisions regarding marine policy and global change. 

My unwavering desire to protect our marine and coastal waters began by conducting scientific impact assessments. Collecting research off boats was not always luxurious, but my physical strength and energetic attitude created a positive atmosphere when working in unfavorable conditions like strong currents, torrential rain and blazing heat.

I gained scientific experience both at sea and in our nation’s capital. I recorded over 200 hours volunteering at the Washington, D.C. National Aquarium where I educated visitors and took care of the exhibits and species. Between school, work, volunteering and balancing a social life, I mastered the art of time management.

After graduation, I applied my marine science background to convey an in-depth understanding and respect for the marine environment to students in the Florida Keys. It was my responsibility to make a fun and engaging learning environment, be impeccably organized, teach with clarity and be a positive influence. I have applied the same skill set to better engage and educate the public on marine resources.

Given my desire to practice science and promote policy, I sought the opportunity to work as a legislative affairs intern with NOAA at the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries to gain practical experience in public policy with a government institution. I witnessed firsthand the interactions and relationships among federal, state and local governments. I developed a better understanding of the intricacies of government bureaucracies and I broadened my education through extensive research and writing about fishing regulations in federal and state marine conservation areas. I quickly discovered that it is imperative to have a strong scientific background in marine science to better manage our coasts.

I continued to work at the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries as a contracted Research Assistant. I became well versed in the research studies being conducted in sanctuaries, including the chief pressures on marine resources, the research required to strengthen sanctuaries Science Needs Assessments, and new and innovative technologies being used to conduct research. My breadth of knowledge on the sanctuaries marine resources led me to work as a graduate assistant under the guidance of Frank Muller-Karger on the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network. I have since applied my knowledge to help design a model that indicates the status and trends of biodiversity in a sanctuary to improve our capacity for science-based decision-making. 



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