Oceans Career Panel

Pathways in Research, Law, and Policy

(brought to you by stanford oceans group)

okay, convince me - why should I check this out?

Before you dismiss this and tackle the 552 things waiting on your to-do-list, consider casual discussion over a hearty pasta dinner with people who have made careers out of ocean-related research, law and policy. Showering is totally important (most of the time), but this should be pretty cool, too. Four panelists will be joining us from Stanford and Monterey, and they will be sharing about the amazing work they do from day to day. Even if you're not considering a career in oceans, this is a great opportunity to learn about what is going on in the field of ocean conservation, and the diversity of careers needed to support the cause. Finally, have dinner on us while you're at it!

the whens and wheres

Monday, May 11th, 5:30-7pm

Old Union Rm 215. First-come, first-serve dinner included.

oh my! the panelists!

They may have illustrious, impressive careers, but our panelists are the coolest (sea) cucumbers around, and they all look forward to sharing their colorful experiences with us. They are:
  • Sarah M. Reiter (COS Early Career Law and Policy Fellow)
  • Ashley Erickson (COS Policy & Education Manager)
  • Cassandra Brooks (PhD Candidate in Environment and Resources)
  • Dan Reineman (PhD Candidate in Environment and Resources)
  • Kristen Weiss (COS Early Career Science Communications Fellow)
See below for bios.

Sarah M. Reiter

Sarah M. Reiter works within a collaboration among Stanford University, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute at the intersection of science, law and policy to solve the major challenges facing our oceans and coasts. Reiter discovered her passion for environmental issues through a NOLS sea-kayaking expedition in Alaska soon after being commissioned as an Air Force officer. She spent her military service leading an operational floor of scientists responsible for providing weather support to military bases west of the Mississippi. Reiter’s leadership in the military’s oceanographic and meteorological programs, graduate work on ecosystem services, and legal experience in the nation’s capital provide the breadth and depth necessary for her life's passion: informing conservation initiatives to foster humanity's ocean and coastal experiences. She enjoys teaching Environmental Dispute Resolution in Vermont Law School’s distance-learning program because of its emphasis on the role that process plays in addressing complex environmental challenges. Her peer-reviewed research is published in Polar Geography and Stanford’s Environmental Law Journal and has been presented at various conferences, including the International Marine Conservation Congress and the Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite.

Ashley Erickson

Ashley Erickson is the policy and education manager at the Center for Ocean Solutions. In this role, Ashley contributes her deep knowledge of ocean and coastal law and policy issues to meet the needs and challenges of decisionmakers whose actions directly impact ocean health. Ashley transitioned to policy and education manager in winter 2014 after working as a law and policy fellow with the Center since 2011. She specifically relies on her previous work with the Center on ecosystem-based marine and coastal planning, the influences of multiple stressors to marine ecosystems and fisheries management. Her current contributions build on these previous activities as she continues to deepen and broaden the Center’s engagement with decisionmakers, collaborators and graduate students, shortening and strengthening the links between knowledge, action and positive change for the ocean and coasts.

A native of coastal North Carolina, she earned a B.A. in both psychology and english from the University of Virginia and a J.D. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Law, where she focused on ocean and coastal law and international and federal fisheries regulation. Before joining the Center, Ashley served as a Knauss marine policy fellow in the office of Congressman Sam Farr (CA-17) in Washington, D.C. where she strove for the overarching legislative goal of improved national ocean policy by collaborating with legislators, committees, agencies, environmental groups and constituents. Ashley is a member of the North Carolina and California State Bars.

Cassandra Brooks

Cassandra Brooks has worked in marine science and public outreach for more than fifteen years. Her writing and research focuses on marine resource exploitation worldwide, from local New England Rivers to the remote reaches of Antarctica. Currently, she is a third year PhD Candidate studying international ocean policy, focusing on marine protection in the Antarctic, which is mandated by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Specifically, her research questions are: What are the major factors that have influenced CCAMLR’s process for marine protection? What are the trade offs considered when negotiating and adopting Southern Ocean marine protected areas? And finally, what are the exemplary qualities that make CCAMLR successful at managing international marine living resources?

Cassandra has worked in the lab, underwater, and at sea and has presented her work at conferences and workshops both nationally and internationally, while publishing in peer-reviewed journals. She’s toiled as a federal fisheries observer on New England groundfish boats and spent a number of years devoted to wilderness therapy and environmental education throughout the United States. Over the years, she’s also worked in traditional ecological knowledge - from uncovering the details of the first documented dam protest in New England to investigating the precolonial cod fishery history. During her Master's graduate work at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, she studied life history of Antarctic toothfish, one of two species known as “Chilean sea bass.” The Ross Sea population she investigated supports the most remote fishery on Earth.

To gain true expertise in communicating science to the public, Cassandra completed a Graduate Certificate in Science Communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2009. As an established science writer and multi-media producer, she has published articles and multi-media about marine science, the environment and human well-being in local, national and international outlets. Prior to returning to school, she worked with the Last Ocean Project to produce media and support outreach to promote policy designed to protect ecologically important regions of the globe like the Ross Sea, Antarctica. She’s also worked with conservation non-profits writing policy reports identifying important areas for marine protection in the Antarctic and elsewhere. She currently contributes to the National Geographic's Ocean Views Blog.


In 2012, Cassandra returned to school to pursue an interdisciplinary PhD at Stanford, seeking expertise in policy and management. For her dissertation, she is studying marine protection in the Antarctic, trying to better understand what it takes to do ocean conservation on an international scale. In the future, she hopes to work at the intersection of science, policy and the public, applying what she’s learned to other ocean regions in need of sustainable management.

Dan Reineman

Dan's dissertation examines the relationships between coastal users, access, and resource management on California’s diverse coastline. His goals are to advance the theory and improve the practices of coastal management and conservation and also to engage people and communities in understanding and protecting the resources on which they depend.
Dan spent most of his life in, on or under the water, beginning with his childhood in San Diego, CA. He received his BS in marine biology from UCLA and his MS in oceanography from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, where he worked and lived at the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology on Coconut Island. During this phase of his career, Dan's work generally focused on how environmental health is measured in different systems. He has conducted field work in ocean, coastal, and even some terrestrial sciences all over California and Hawaii, as well as the Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, Panama, the Galápagos, and Antarctica.
This work underscored the problems in management, policy, and society that are at the heart of environmental problems and in 2009 motivated his move to Washington, DC to accept a Knauss Fellowship in the office of Congressman Sam Farr. There he worked to craft and promote an ocean agenda in the US Congress and witnessed firsthand when and how science enters the policy process.

Kristen Weiss


Kristen Weiss joined the Center for Ocean Solutions as an early career science fellow in September 2014. Kristen works with the Center’s research staff to support the communication of their programs and projects via the COS website as well as targeted materials including management reports and conference materials.

Kristen earned her PhD from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. Her dissertation research focused on social-ecological resilience and the governance of marine natural resources (such as endangered wildlife) in Northern Australia. Using policy network analysis, Kristen mapped and quantified the relationships between different stakeholder groups involved in marine management to identify patterns of knowledge flow and collaboration. After completing her PhD, Kristen returned to her home state of California where she worked with the Aquarium of the Pacific as an education interpreter, then as a lecturer for the University of Southern California’s Environmental Studies Program. At USC, Kristen led undergraduate field courses to Catalina Island, New Zealand, and Micronesia.

From tagging sea turtles in the Torres Strait Islands to making natural history documentaries in New Zealand, Kristen has a passion for traveling the world to connect with people of different cultures and backgrounds, and communicate the importance of ocean science and conservation. In her free time, she also loves diving the beautiful kelp forests of California and the reefs of Palau.