As if trying to balance the health of the marine environment with the needs of people weren’t enough, Steven Gaines, director of Marine Science Institute at UCSB and professor of ecology, evolution, and marine biology received the first Marc J. Hershman Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. The award is presented to members of the academic community who exemplify the legacy of Professor Hershman, who also motivated students and young professionals to pursue careers in ocean and coastal policy and management.

Professor Steven Gaines

The focus of Gaines’ research is marine conservation, the design of marine reserves, and the impact of climate change on oceans and sustainable fisheries, but he is being awarded because of his dedication and enthusiasm for mentoring students. Gaines was “surprised” when he was nominated for the award by two of his colleagues who noted that he has been the inspiration for nearly 200 graduate and undergraduate students throughout his career. His nominators, one of them a former student, claimed that his engagement with his students and younger colleagues is strongly reminiscent of Marc Hershman’s style. “I feel extremely fortunate to have both been mentored by Steve and have an ongoing working relationship with him. Now that I am mentoring students, I continually try to emulate Steve’s model of leadership with my own students,” one colleague said in a press release.

Gaines shares the award with Dr. Steven Cadrin, a professor of fisheries oceanography at the School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. “The Joint Initiative is proud to present this award to Dr. Steven Gaines and Dr. Steven Cadrin as they truly exemplify Professor Hershman’s legacy and are working enthusiastically to inspire future leaders in the field of ocean and coastal management and science,” said James Watkins, retired admiral of the U.S. Navy and co-chair of the Joint Initiative, in a press release.

By instilling a passion for oceans in the next generations, the scientists are helping to address the challenges faced by the fishing industry as well as encouraging ocean policy reform.


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