In honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month, we are highlighting some of our colleagues who contribute to NOAA Fisheries' core missions every day. Learn more about them and their careers in science and fisheries management below.
Women of NOAA Fisheries
Uvi Ajavon, Fishery Information Specialist
Uvi is the point person for the data access agreement program for the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO) in Gloucester, Massachusetts. She works to make sure our management partners and NOAA grantees have the necessary agreements in place to allow them to access fisheries information for their management and research.
The agreements are also essential to protect the confidentiality of fisheries information. She also plays a main role in implementing GARFO's Limited Access Qualification and Landings History Programs. She researches ownership and permit changes and provides the landings information that accompany those changes and histories.
Kimberla Fairley, Acquisition Management Specialist
As the Acquisition Management Specialist for the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Kimberla's responsibilities involve contracting a wide range of goods and services for the Center. Recently, she helped the Antarctic Division purchase critical parts for modifying gliders that operate remotely in the Southern Ocean, the Information Technology team purchase hardware system maintenance, and continually helps navigate the Government Purchase Program as well.
Kimberla has three degrees, including a degree in accounting, business Administration and a Master’s in Public Administration with the emphasis in Acquisition Management. The latter she earned while she was on active duty military with the United States Air Force. While she started out with a psychology major as an undergraduate at UC Davis, she quickly realized a love of accounting and excelled.
Stephanie Haynes, Microbiologist
As a microbiologist for NOAA Fisheries National Seafood Inspection Laboratory, Stephanie Haynes tests seafood byproducts for Salmonella and other disease-causing bacteria. The most common product she tests is fish meal, but the lab also gets samples of bone meal and krill meal through NOAA Fisheries’ Seafood Inspection Program.
Seafood byproducts are a good source of protein and other nutrients, so they are used in aquaculture and livestock feed, pet food, and fertilizer. Additionally, places like the European Union will only accept seafood byproduct imports if we certify that product meets import/export regulations.
Liana Heberer, Fisheries Assistant Specialist
Liana Heberer works in the Life History Program at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center studying highly migratory tuna, billfish, and sharks. She collects international stock assessment data on Pacific bluefin, manages the international Cooperative Billfish Tagging Program, and analyzes tagging data from satellite tags for a variety of species. Liana also samples tuna at the sportfishing docks in San Diego, and occasionally joins on NOAA research cruises in the California Current.
Born in Puerto Rico, Liana lived her early childhood between Puerto Rico and the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia, but grew up in Oceanside, California. She calls San Diego home. She is very grateful to have grown up in the ocean—tropical and temperate—at all stages of her life.
Terill Hollweg, Marine Habitat Resource Specialist
Terill Hollweg is a Marine Habitat Resource Specialist in Seattle, Washington. She works with the NOAA Restoration Center to restore habitat in the Pacific Northwest region. She is working on the restoration of the Lower Duwamish River, an urban waterway in Seattle. This river was channelized and narrowed during the early 1900s to support industrial activity. And, still today, much of the river is developed with industrial and commercial facilities.
Most of her work is focused on restoring marsh, mudflats, and shoreline habitats for fish and wildlife along the river’s corridor and adjacent bay. Two species of particular focus include the threatened Puget Sound Chinook salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead trout. Restoring and creating new estuarine and channel habitats for them is especially important. These migratory fish species use these habitats as safe places to feed and grow as juveniles as they transition from freshwater to saltwater during their life cycle.
Alicia Keefe, Education and Outreach Coordinator
As the Education and Outreach Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, Alicia says she has "the privilege of educating our youth about their impact on marine and aquatic environments and creating a generation of marine stewards." Alicia is passionate about connecting K-16 students with NOAA science, stewardship, and internship opportunities; the intersection of science and art; and promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion within our products and programs.
Before coming to NOAA Fisheries in 2015, Alicia developed sustainability education tools and resources for K-12 students and educators and taught environmental education. She has a Masters in science education from the University of Washington, a certificate in Education for Environment and Community from IslandWood, and a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Cincinnati.
Su Kim, Visual Information Specialist
As a visual information specialist, Su Kim specializes in graphic design, illustration, and photography for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. She is responsible for creating the Center's outreach materials, maintaining an image library, designing exhibits and displays, producing scientific illustrations and infographics, developing signage for public and internal events, and coordinating the layout and design for special reports. Su also provides video and photo editing services.
Su Kim received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Washington, completed a program in Visual Information at Bellevue College, and continues to take courses at the School of Visual Concepts, the Photographic Center NW and online course with Lynda.com. Prior to her working at the Center, she studied drawing, painting, and ceramics.
Cheryl Lassitter, Lead Chemist
As the lead chemist for the National Seafood Inspection Laboratory, Cheryl Lassitter coordinates and oversees projects and the analyses of chemical and toxic biological contaminants. Her work includes include providing technical support and guidance to chemists as well as justification for new chemistry projects, methods, and protocols.
She works closely with our purchasing officer in generating contracts for chemistry equipment and services. Cheryl reviews and rates technical NOAA Small Business Innovation Research grants. Cheryl has worked as a chemist and in laboratory-related assignments for around 30 years—14 years at the lab. She has seen important advancements in analytical testing during that time. She enjoys working with and learning software algorithms as well.
Yuan Liu, Biologist
Yuan Liu is a biologist at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center Milford Lab and part of our Ecosystems and Aquaculture Division. Her interest in understanding the invisible marine world continued during her Ph.D. work at Stony Brook University. She started learning and applying molecular techniques to study the planktonic microbial communities associated with a harmful algal blooms like brown tides. Her research area is marine microbial ecology.
After graduating from Stony Brook, Yuan started working in the Milford lab first as an NRC postdoctoral fellow, then as a contract biologist. Besides microbial cells such as phytoplankton and bacteria, she now uses DNA sequencing to study fish communities.
Michelle Mansker, Senior Program Analyst
As a Senior Program Analyst for NOAA Fisheries' Pacific Islands Regional Office, Michelle Mansker is responsible for helping to set office policy for staff and ensuring a positive, supportive office culture. She created and teaches a mid-level leadership class focused on key competencies that will help junior staff go on to achieve greatness.
Michelle has been a civil servant for more than 20 years. She started her career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a botanist and moved on to manage the Department of Defense’s largest Natural Resource Program for the Army Garrison Hawaiʻi. In that position, she helped save species from extinction and balanced the military’s mission with its natural resource management responsibilities.
Ingrid Spies, Fisheries Biologist Scientist
Ingrid Spies works as a stock assessment scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington. This involves modeling the abundance of commercially important fish stocks and making recommendations for sustainable fishing quotas. She also conducts genetic research in support of managing our fisheries in Alaska.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and a pre-med degree at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. She worked as a laboratory technician in cancer research labs in Boston and in Seattle to gain relevant experience. Eventually she returned to the idea of working in fisheries. She took a job at the University of Washington in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and got a Master’s degree in that lab studying the origin of sockeye salmon in Lake Washington using genetics. That led Ingrid to a job at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, where she worked as a laboratory technician and had the opportunity to set up a new genetics lab. During her time in the genetics lab, she realized there was a need to bridge the gap between genetics and fishery management.
Samantha Tolken, Investigative Support Technician
Samantha Tolken moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts to begin a career as a fisheries observer in 2011. Before joining NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement as a federal employee, she worked as a contractor with NOAA for nine years in various field and office positions in New England, the Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska.
Her daily duties include assisting agents and officers with data analysis, case preparation, and investigations involving commercial fishing vessel activities. She also monitors fishing vessels using satellite-based computer programs, and assists fishing industry members with compliance in federal regulations. Much of her previous work experience has been very useful in her current role including her experience as a fisheries observer onboard commercial fishing vessels and as a port-side fisheries sampler at seafood dealers.
Women in Leadership
NOAA Fisheries Appoints Nancy Majower as its New Chief Information Officer
The Office of the Chief Information Officer is responsible for website design and development, customer support services, information technology security management, infrastructure management, and software development across NOAA Fisheries. As the Chief Information Officer, Majower will align information management and technology resources with NOAA Fisheries’ mission and priorities. She will lead a unified IT vision across NOAA Fisheries, concentrating on the design, development, and delivery of digital products and services that support staff and constituents.
Majower will work with leadership on the implementation of emerging technologies, including citizen science, omics, uncrewed systems, and artificial intelligence, to address mission priorities and achieve organizational excellence.
LCDR Andrea Battle Joins NOAA Fisheries as the Agency’s First Wellness Program Manager
NOAA Fisheries has created a position and hired its first Wellness Program Manager—Andrea González Battle, Ph.D. She is a Lieutenant Commander for the U.S. Public Health Service.
LCDR Battle will develop and maintain a Wellness Program for all NOAA Fisheries employees and serve as a subject matter expert on behavioral and mental health issues. She will develop specific behavioral health program requirements, objectives, and priorities for the agency and lead efforts to create a total workforce wellness strategy.