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The Marine Conservation and Policy program helped lead Shannon Davis to her position at FishWise, a non-profit sustainable seafood consultancy in Santa Cruz, CA. Shannon received a BFA in Dramatic Writing (playwriting and screenwriting) from Purchase College and thought that going back to school to study the ocean was “out of the question for me.” When she found the MCP program at Stony Brook University, she said “it seemed like the perfect marriage of scientific study and policy work.” Shannon spoke with Faculty Director Glenn Lopez, who, she says, “was kind enough to take the time to meet with me and answer questions, as well as to take the chance on admitting someone into the program who hadn’t taken a science course in 6 years.”

Shannon believes that the strength of the MCP program lies in its teachers and advisors. She found that “every professor I took class with was an advocate for the program and was invested in our growth and success as professionals.” She acknowledges that “you get out of the program what you put in” so “if you’re not willing to put in extra time and effort to advocate for yourself and follow your interests within the program, it can be hard to find a direction to take your work.” In Dr. Ellen Pikitch’s Marine Conservation class, Shannon gave her final presentation on seafood fraud.  As a result of that presentation, “Dr. Pikitch was kind enough to send outside projects my way and give me invaluable professional experience.” She says that “you never know where a simple class project can take you, or who it will impress, so try to make it something worthwhile!”

On a trip to California during Spring Break, Dr. Pikitch helped Shannon meet with a variety of sustainable seafood organizations, including FishWise and Seafood Watch at Monterey Bay Aquarium. She interned over the summer with NY Sea Grant working on sustainable seafood in NY state and also worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension at the same time. All of those experiences, “plus the ability to juggle multiple projects and timelines and work independently,” helped move Shannon into her current position working in the Business Engagement Division at FishWise.

Shannon believes that your work within the MCP program will speak for itself. “By showing my passion and putting that little bit of extra effort into projects, I was lucky enough to be recognized by some professors who helped steer me on the path I am today.” She is very thankful that “a program exists that recognizes the unique skills that people have beyond the ability to do scientific research, and that those skills can be assets, not liabilities, in marine conservation.”

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