Q & A with Danielle Edelman

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

I got my undergraduate degree in Aquatic Biology at UCSB, but after I graduated I got a job in regulatory affairs that involved ensuring compliance with the FDA. I think a lot of people would have been turned off by the bureaucracy and paperwork, but it made me realize how important it is to understand the regulatory processes that govern how science and industry interact. I also really wanted to get back into learning about the ocean, so the MMA degree was a perfect combination for me.

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

I had to decide between a few different programs, but SMEA was definitely my first choice. The expertise and diversity of the professors in our department drew me in, but visiting Seattle for the first time during Orientation really sealed the deal. Seattle is definitely the place to be for marine affairs!

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 writing my thesis on the regulatory barriers for native oyster restoration in Washington. I was initially interested in aquaculture and seafood when I arrived, but then I started learning more about the oyster industry up here. I was especially interested in the recovery efforts for Olympia oysters, and I was lucky enough to attend a meeting with the Northwest Straits Foundation to discuss the county-level restoration projects. Everyone was talking about how difficult it is to navigate the permitting process, so I volunteered myself to help with figuring out the most streamlined regulatory pathways for the different counties. I got a thesis topic out of it, so I’d say it’s a win-win situation.

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

It’s really hard to pick favorites! The most fun have been Eddie’s SMEA 550 classes because there are so many excursions, and I really enjoyed exploring the ethics of seafood. Dave’s US Fisheries Management class and Ryan’s Environmental Law class have been the most directly useful for my internship at NOAA this summer.

What do you like most about SMEA?

I really enjoy being surrounded by so many diverse, intelligent, passionate people. It’s such a refreshing learning experience, and I like being able to gain new perspectives on science and policy.

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

I love Seattle! I know I’m kind of a stereotype as a Bay Area transplant who moved north, but it’s such a fun city to live in. I enjoy getting out of the city to hike, kayak, ski, and explore, but there’s so much to do inside the city too. Mostly I wander around nursing my caffeine addiction and enjoying the craft beer scene.

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

I’ve really enjoyed learning about aquaculture policy and regulations, so it would be great to continue working to improve the regulatory framework for aquaculture in Washington from either the industry or government side of the equation.

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

I have way too many, but I’ve always loved fish with cool behaviors like the sarcastic fringehead (watch how they fight here).