Q & A With Hannah Russell

 Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Marine Affairs?

I decided to pursue an MMA because I knew that to get to my goal of working in fisheries management, I would need a specialized degree. The MMA degree is inherently interdisciplinary, as are my interests, which made it a good fit for me.

Why did you decide to come to UW’s SMEA for graduate school?

I’ve always known that SMEA was where I wanted to go to graduate school, because it was the most interdisciplinary program available for those interested in equity in fisheries management. Further, one of my the people whose work I was most interested in academically, my now-advisor Eddie Allison, had moved to Seattle to work at SMEA and I was thrilled to meet with him and discuss plans for a potential project focusing on West African fisheries.

Are you doing a thesis or capstone project? If thesis, what are you writing your thesis about and why? If capstone, what is the project about?

I’m on the thesis track, and my thesis is titled “Nutritional Security of Fishery Dependent Communities in Coastal Ghana.” I’m attempting to describe the potential linkages between the reported decline of small pelagic stocks and the nutritional security of the communities who depend on these fish for their livelihoods. I lived in Ghana for three months and was funded through the UW Boeing Travel Fellowship grant. There, I conducted surveys with three all-female subject groups: fish processors, fish sellers, and fish consumers. My hope is that this work will continue the important conversation between fish stock health and nutritional security.

What has been your favorite class at UW so far? Why?

I enjoyed Marc Miller’s interviewing class. It made me get out of my comfort zone and interview people I normally wouldn’t have talked with. Also it helped me greatly with my thesis, since I used the methodologies I learned from this class. I also loved Eddie Allison’s SMEA 550 Fall class, where first- year students can go on field trips to learn about the marine issues facing the Seattle area.

What do you like most about SMEA?

I appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of the program. I was able to take other classes throughout the University and justify why they were relevant to my work, thesis, or resume. I have always felt supported by SMEA, including my advisor, the staff, and my cohort. SMEA has worked to create a community and network that will continue to be an asset to me after I graduate. I especially liked having a small lab group, Marina Lab, where we met and discussed our work regularly.

What’s it like to live in Seattle? What do you do in your spare time?

I’ve enjoyed living in Seattle. I nerd out over craft beer, so I spend a fair amount of my time checking out the large number of craft breweries in and around Seattle. Luckily I live in Ballard so I don’t have to go very far to find fun beer. Besides that, the seasons are beautiful here, right now the city is covered in cherry blossoms and daffodils and I love it.

If you could design your ultimate job after graduating, what would it be and why?

My ultimate job would be somewhere I can work to advocate for equity, resource stewardship, and human health in small scale fisheries. To do this, I am interested in either working in academia as a professor, or doing management work with an NGO.

What is your favorite form of marine life, and why?

I love octopuses. They’re so smart and interesting! None of my work has to do with octopuses but they’re just so cool.