Sophia Troeh, a recent graduate of Northeastern University’s Three Seas program, is dedicated to protecting our oceans and their ecosystems for future generations. Sophia was chosen for the prestigious 2023 Sea Grant Knauss fellowship, where and her work showcases the vital intersection of science and advocacy in safeguarding our marine resources. Her passion for science outreach and a commitment to environmental conservation were influenced by her time in the Three Seas program and through ongoing mentorship from the faculty of the Coastal Sustainability Institute. We connected with Sophia in her current role as a 2023 Knauss Fellow for an update!
What are the details of your fellowship?
I am a 2023 Knauss Fellow placed at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in the Fish and Aquatic
Conservation program. I am a Science Communications Fellow supporting communications around Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funded National Fish Passage Program projects. This involves tracking projects from groundbreaking to ribbon-cutting, as well as documenting their impacts environmentally, culturally, and socio-economically. The office is located at USFWS Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia and my mentors are Shannon Boyle (National Fish Passage Program Coordinator) and Holly Richards (Fish Enthusiast from the Branch of Communications). However, I’ve been very fortunate to work closely with all members of both the Branch of Aquatic Habitat and Species Conservation as well as the Branch of Communications.
What’s been the best/most interesting part so far?
Everything! Everyone I’ve interacted with since starting this fellowship has been supportive and truly invested in the success of fellows. The breadth of the alumni network is incredible across all the agencies. Not to mention, living in the DMV is amazing! There’s so many events, trainings, and opportunities to
learn, especially now that we are transitioning back to in-person. My fellowship cohort is full of talented, passionate folks that already feel like family.
What was it like moving from Three Seas into the policy realm?
The Three Seas program required a lot of flexibility and a desire to learn about a wide range of topics as we transitioned frequently between three vastly different ecosystems. Now, I’m working with another topic completely new to me- fish passage in river systems. Three Seas taught me that keeping an open mind and being resilient to change can help you discover interests you didn’t even know you had. I’ve also reconnected with folks I met along the Three Seas journey, such as Hawaii Sea Grant. I’ll admit there’s been some challenges in transitioning from field work to an office position. I miss being outside and in the water every day. But being in this headquarters level position and seeing the behind-the-scenes of grant management/distribution has given me new insight in the grand scheme of aquatic conservation.
What’s next for you?
I’ll be in Alaska for about a month doing some fish passage project field work. This includes construction monitoring and stream surveys in the Anchorage area and on the Kenai Peninsula. I’m using this fellowship as a “gap year” to evaluate what I’d like to do next as an early career scientist. I plan on either going back to school and pursuing a PhD or finding employment within the federal government. This fellowship has illuminated that the world is my sustainably farmed oyster and I can’t wait for what’s to come!