Knauss Fellow Spotlight: Charlotte Regula-Whitefield
January 19, 2017
With a freshly minted PhD in hand, University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate Charlotte Regula-Whitefield is heading to Washington, D.C., in February to begin a Knauss Fellowship in the office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Her fellowship application was sponsored by Alaska Sea Grant as part of National Sea Grant’s longstanding Knauss program. She is one of two 2017 Knauss Fellows from Alaska. Regula-Whitefield, who will work on natural resource issues as a legislative fellow, studied marine biology at the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Her research interests have focused on marine invertebrate fisheries, aquaculture, and reproductive biology.
Why did you decide to pursue a doctorate in marine biology?
I have always been interested in research and teaching, and pursuing my doctorate allowed me to write my own grants and teach university students. I also always wanted to be a doctor. I am now the third person in my family to have the title Dr. Regula, although the other two are MDs, not PhDs.
What is it about marine biology that fascinates you?
I enjoy nature, working with my hands, and solving problems—all of which are important aspects of being a field biologist.
Were you always interested in science as a kid?
Yes, I have always wanted to be a scientist or a chef. Now I can combine both interests by working with aquaculture of a commercially harvested species. It is always great to be able to eat what you study. =)
Why did you decide to apply for the Knauss Fellowship?
I have been working with Alaska dive fisher associations for six years, developing a sea cucumber aquaculture program in Alaska. The program has now developed into a working group, which incorporates fishermen, aquaculture facilities, seafood-processing personnel, state managers, and scientists including myself. In order to move forward with culturing initiatives, the Alaskan Sea Cucumber Enhancement Working Group will have to begin discussions with state and federal managers and legislative bodies. At this time, none of the members of the working group have the required training or experience to tackle such policy issues.
What do you hope to get out of the Knauss Fellowship? Where do you hope the experience will ultimately take you?
I would like to become a marine scientist who is also a liaison to managers and policy-makers. These skills would be beneficial to me as I continue to work toward my career goal of developing multidisciplinary research alongside industry, community, and resource partners.
Where will you be working, and what will you be working on?
I will be working in Senator Murkowski’s office on issues pertaining to Alaska natural resources, including marine issues.
What's your relationship to Alaska?
I have lived in Alaska for six years conducting research in Fairbanks, Kodiak, Seward, and Ketchikan. I am originally from New York, but have lived in Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Bermuda. After completing my MS in Maine, my husband and I were looking for an institution for us both to continue our graduate studies, and UAF was a great fit for both of us.
What do you think about Alaska's marine resources?
Alaska has so many ecologically and economically important resources; for a scientist Alaska is an exciting place to live and work.
What do you think about Alaska Sea Grant's work in the state?
Alaska Sea Grant is a wonderful resource for Alaska researchers and local communities alike.