​​​CSU graduate students and recent alumni are making a positive impact on the​ state's coast through the California Sea Grant State Fellows Program.

The highly prestigious and competitive fellowship is a unique educational opportunity for graduate students or recently graduated students interested in the intersection of marine science and policy. The program matches students with California state agencies for a 12-month paid fellowship to learn about the implementation of marine policy and management in California.

In this year's Class of 2017, 10 CSU students and graduates have been selected from six different campuses—Fullerton, Long Beach, Monterey Bay, Northridge, San Francisco and San Luis Obispo—as well as the CSU's multi-campus Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

Since the program's inception in 1988, 55 CSU students and alumni have been assigned to numerous state organizations, including the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC).

"During my time with the California Ocean Protection Council, I had the pleasure of supervising several CSU students through the California Sea Grant State Fellowship Program," says Amy Vierra, former OPC deputy director and now policy and communications consultant for CSU COAST (Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology).

"The students became integral members of the OPC team very quickly, leading projects that required high levels of scientific knowledge, project management skills and excellent interpersonal skills… We've found these students to be extremely well-prepared to apply ocean and coastal science to state policymaking," adds Vierra.

The State Fellows Program has served as a launchpad for the careers of a number of CSU students.

For Nick Sadrpour, an alumnus of the program and CSU Monterey Bay and currently the science, research and policy specialist at University of Southern California Sea Grant, his fellowship with the OPC was a major milestone in his career.

"The fellowship was a springboard into the deep end of the dynamic relationship between science and policy," says Sadrpour. "The exposure to state government through the OPC allowed me to fully develop my communication techniques, project management skills and understanding of policy… My current position, in no small way, would not have been obtainable without the skills I gained through the fellowship with OPC."

The California Sea Grant State Fellows Program is just one fellowship available through California Sea Grant, which is administered by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

California Sea Grant is a partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the state of California, and universities across the state, providing opportunities for research, outreach and networking.