College of Science

Environmental Science MS

AMWS Graduate Student tackles projects, wins awards, and promotes student success prior to graduation

April 12, 2019

Jessie Doyle is a soon-to-be graduate of the Applied Marine and Watershed Science master’s program (now known as Environmental Science) at CSUMB. Throughout her time as a graduate student, Jessie has tackled an array of natural resource management projects that span the Central Coast – and the arctic. In addition to her impressive list of research experiences, she has also dedicated countless hours to volunteering and working with her undergraduate peers to ensure they find success as future science professionals.

Assessing environmental response to regional events

On a regional scale, Jessie has been leading a research project on the effects of the 2016 Soberanes Fire on near-shore environments. She presented on her research findings at the Greater Vision 2017 New Frontiers Water Forum, a CSUMB-sponsored event that addressed innovative water management strategies for the Central Coast.

Jessie also led a project that monitored the ecological recovery of the Carmel River following the removal of the San Clemente Dam – the largest dam removal in state history. More specifically, she assessed the ability of steelhead to migrate past the previous dam site, the amount and quality of fish habitat in the surrounding area, and the overall ecological health of this section of the river. Jessie’s work revealed that although the river has not fully recovered since the dam removal, the monitored section was already starting to show signs of ecological improvement. She presented on these findings at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Bioassessment Workshop and at the annual meeting of the Association of Environmental Professionals – where she won the award for Best Student Poster.

Establishing methods for remote research in the North Slope of Alaska

Her work not only benefits the local region, but has also had a profound impact on a remote area in Alaska. Utilizing satellite data, Jessie developed methods for characterizing stream environments on the often-inaccessible parts of the North Slope of Alaska. These methods helped to predict the distributions of 19 fish species and assist the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with oil and gas resource management practices. Moving forward, these techniques may help improve the management of fish diversity in developing regions across the globe, where data and access to rural sites are often limited. She has since presented this work at several international and national meetings, where she won a COAST Travel Grant and an award for Best Student Presentation.

Jessie’s work on this project was recently selected to represent CSUMB at the 33rd Annual California State University Student Research Competition at Cal State Fullerton. This competition will display the innovative research activities of undergraduate and graduate students from across the CSU system.

Supporting undergraduate students and the nearby community

Aside from her own research, Jessie has dedicated her time to teaching over 80 students in the undergraduate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course and mentoring four undergraduate researchers. Her dedication to guiding undergraduate students has set many of them up for success in a highly competitive workforce.

As a professional science master’s (PSM) student, Jessie interned with the City of Seaside, where she developed and managed the GIS system for city operations. While serving as the city’s engineering intern, she collaborated with Dr. Daniel Fernandez on the Sustainable City Year Program to bring real-world GIS projects from Seaside into the classroom. Her collaborative work consisted of completing 70 mapping projects in a variety of fields including transportation, fire and police response, sewer management, and water conservation. Jessie delivered an influential presentation on this work to the City of Seaside, strengthening the relationship between CSUMB and city officials. According to Dr. Fernandez, three other CSUMB students are currently working for the City of Seaside, partly because of the professional relationships Jessie helped to forge.

Leaving a lasting impact

In collaboration with her academic advisor, Dr. John Olson, Jessie is currently developing a GIS internship program with the local CalFire unit. They hope to secure funding that can support the work of future graduate and undergraduate students; including updating the fire danger rating system maps for Monterey and San Benito County.

Jessie is looking forward to applying the spatial analysis, fieldwork, and technical writing skills she gained throughout the graduate program towards her career. Although she wraps up her time here in May, her graduate work will certainly leave a lasting impact on CSUMB, the surrounding community, and beyond.

Congratulations on a job well done, Jessie!