Although Tess grew up playing in the refreshing lakes and streams of Michigan, the clear tropical waters of the Bahamas are what inspired her passion for marine science and conservation. On sailing trips there as a young girl, she remembers being fascinated by the tiny tropical fish trapped in the tide pools and the wonderful diversity of life and colors beneath the waves. Her curiosity, love of learning and interest in finding real solutions to the many challenges facing our world today lead her to Hampshire College where she focused on marine ecology and global environmental policy. Her final project at Hampshire brought her back to the Bahamas to develop a case study of fisheries ecology and management there. Returning to the Bahamas as an adult gave her a different perspective on marine conservation and highlighted the importance of local communities and local livelihoods in conservation.
She was first introduced to Oceana during an internship shortly after undergrad and was inspired by the passion of the staff and the solution-oriented work being done. A report she worked on for Oceana about the importance of forage fish (small, schooling species like anchovies and sardines) as prey in marine ecosystems lead her away from tropical ecosystems and into research on forage fish-dominated ecosystems. She went on to complete a Master’s degree in Marine Science from Stony Brook University where she looked at the role that menhaden play in the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and the impact that fishing for menhaden and other species has on the ecosystem.
Throughout her graduate work, she became increasingly convinced that scientists’ voices need to be heard more in the realms of business and policy. Following this vein, she worked in seafood sustainability focusing on the role that businesses can play in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. During this time she developed recommendations for seafood sourcing strategies for large businesses, covering large pelagic species such as tuna and swordfish, and species sourced from the Southeast U.S., Central America and South America.
Today her path has lead her back to Oceana, where she is excited to once again be a part of this amazing team. As a marine scientist on the Save the Oceans, Feed the World campaign, her work focuses on efforts to restore the world’s wild fish populations to serve as a sustainable source of protein for people around the globe.