Lynn Abramson has a forged a career path that began in marine science and now influences environmental policy on a national level. She was a Ph.D student at SoMAS from 2001 to 2007 working with Bob Aller and Cindy Lee on the biological carbon pump and related biogeochemical processes. Her dissertation focused on how mineral interactions influenced the decomposition of sinking particulate organic matter, using pigments and amino acids as tracers. She recalls knowing early in her time at SoMAS, that she wanted to apply her scientific knowledge in a way that could benefit others.
Upon graduation, Lynn received the prestigious John Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant program. Her one year fellowship morphed into more than five years of work on oceans, public lands, water resources, energy, and transportation issues when she joined the staff of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). After leaving Senator Boxer’s staff Lynn joined the Clean Energy Initiative with The Pew Charitable Trusts where she coordinates their Clean Energy Business Network, that informs and engages over 3,000 clean energy business leaders. At this non-profit, non-partisan organization, she currently conducts research and works on “federal policies to promote cleaner and more efficient sources of energy.
Lynn applies her scientific understanding of complex environmental problems to practical solutions that can be implemented by businesses across the nation. According to Lynn “having a strong foundation in science has given me a much deeper, more holistic understanding of the environmental issues I’ve worked on in my policy career. My Ph.D. work trained me in objective thinking—keeping an open mind and weighing conflicting information and perspectives before making a decision.” Lynn is an excellent example of how a rigorous education in the sciences can be applied to a career in environmental policy.
Lynn has some advice for current students looking towards their future careers. “Try to learn about the diverse range of work being done by the faculty and students there. Take advantage of courses in other departments and opportunities to get involved in your broader community.” She also reminds us that “communication is key to success-in graduate school and later in your career.”