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UMaine Graduate Student Awarded $15,000 Fellowship, Cited as Positive Driver of Environmental Change

A University of Maine graduate student is one of 22 scholars nationwide awarded a $15,000 Switzer Environmental Fellowship for driving positive change.

Caitlin Cleaver, whose master’s thesis is titled “The Maine green sea urchin fishery: Scale mismatches, trophic connectivity, and resilience,” is on target to graduate in May 2014 with dual master’s degrees in marine biology and marine policy.

For marine resource management to be effective, Cleaver says it’s important to understand how science, policy and the fishing industry intersect. She’s interested in incorporating sea urchin harvesters’ knowledge into science and management processes to better understand the collapse of sea urchin stocks and to develop effective strategies for maintaining the fishery.

Cleaver, who grew up in Kennett Square, Pa., works as a marine programs associate at the Island Institute in Rockland, Maine. In 2010, she earned a Master of Public Administration in environmental science and policy at Columbia University and in 2006, she received a bachelor’s in environmental policy at Colby College.

The Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, which is based in Belfast, Maine, annually awards $15,000 to at least 20 promising environmental leaders. The foundation has awarded nearly $14 million in grants over a 27-year period.

“Today’s environmental issues are increasingly complex and require an ability to translate scientific, ecological and social knowledge across disciplines and apply it in real world settings,” says Lissa Widoff, executive director of the foundation. “The 2013 Switzer Environmental Fellows are at the cutting edge of science and policy and will be supported with funding, professional coaching and a network of leaders to help them achieve results. Their problem-solving abilities and innovation will make a difference.”

Other 2013 fellows attend Yale and Stanford universities, as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California Los Angeles. Fellows are pursuing degrees in such areas as library and information science; veterinary medicine; urban planning, human and environmental geography; and biological engineering.

To read an interview with Cleaver, visit

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777



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