Jessica grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she developed a
fascination with the big faraway foreign thing called the ocean. She
got her undergraduate degree at University of California, Santa Cruz,
with a major in marine biology and a minor in psychology. While at
UCSC Jessica worked with the marine mammal physiology project at Long
Marine Lab, where she worked closely with bottlenose dolphins,
California sea lions, and Southern sea otters and became interested in
marine mammal conservation issues. After graduating, Jessica moved to
Hawaii where she worked for NOAA’s Hawaiian monk seal research
program. She spent five summer field seasons in the Northwestern
Hawaiian Islands studying the Hawaiian monk seal in an effort to
understand the threats to this highly endangered species.
Jessica's MSMS project involved studying contaminants in Hawaiian
monk seal tissue from the Main Hawaiian Islands, is the only area in
which the Hawaiian monk seal population is not in decline. However it
is also an area with the potential for a high amount of environmental
contamination which could have a direct impact on the reproductive
potential and immune response of the seals.
Jessica was awarded a NOAA Nancy Foster fellowship to complete her
thesis project . She will be analyzing contaminants in the Hawaiian monk
seal population from the Main Hawaiian Islands in relation to life-history
traits of the seals and geographic patterns of contamination to identify
specific risk factors to this important Hawaiian monk seal population.
After graduating from HPU in May 2012, Jessica continued to work at NOAA's
Monk Seal Research Program in Honolulu, O'ahu.