New York Sea Grant (NYSG) has hired Jimena Perez-Viscasillas as its Long Island Sound Study (LISS) outreach coordinator. Based at Stony Brook University, her role is to provide science-based information about Long Island Sound to residents of New York.
As one of her first tasks, she assisted in this fall’s successful second annual Estuary Day, which focused on microplastics and marine debris education. Perez-Viscasillas will continue her career efforts to promote community engagement with natural resources by working to increase the appreciation, stewardship, awareness and understanding of Long Island Sound and the projects to restore and protect it. She will create educational programs designed to help people protect the Long Island Sound resource.
As an undergraduate, Perez-Viscasillas earned a BS in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez (UPRM). Initially interested in genetics and marine science, she worked in the UPRM Marine Genomic Biodiversity Laboratory for three years. Wanting to pursue her interest in aquatic sciences, but with a larger emphasis on applied environmental conservation, Perez-Viscasillas then attended Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, where she earned a master’s in Environmental Management; Ecosystem Science and Conservation Concentration and a certificate in Community-Based Environmental Management.
As a graduate student, Perez-Viscasillas gained a breadth and depth of experience providing effective outreach to and engaging with natural resource communities, including co-authoring the paper, “Exploring the Potential Influence of Citizen Science Water Monitoring Programs on Water Resources Management and Policy in the Global South.” She also served as a Stanback Fellow in the Center for the Environment at Catawba College, where she assisted in communications, survey-design research, and planning the annual Redesigning Our Future Youth Environmental Summit.
While working as a student fellow at the Duke Superfund Community Engagement Core, Perez-Viscasillas partnered with town officials to provide environmental health information to a local community. She also contributed to the development of a social marketing campaign targeting fish consumption behavior in North Carolina.
“That’s where I discovered social marketing, and where I learned I really love working directly with stakeholders,” Perez-Viscasillas said.
All of Perez-Viscasillas’ educational experiences helped shape her love for communicating science and passion for working with natural resource communities and providing thoughtful and effective outreach to take care of those resources.
“During my master’s program, my focus became connecting people to their environment, regardless of the ecosystem. I am thrilled to work for Sea Grant and the Long Island Sound Study because it allows me to continue to interact with natural resource communities and takes me back to the marine sciences, which, coming from Puerto Rico, has always had a very special place in my heart,” she said.
The Long Island Sound Study, conducted under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Estuary Program, is a cooperative effort between the EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York to restore and protect the Sound and its ecosystems.
Learn more about Long Island Sound stewardship and how you can get involved.