Ms. Alexi Meltel, a former Palau International Coral reef Center (PICRC) intern, has been accepted to the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UH Mānoa) Marine Biology Graduate Program for Fall 2020. Her master’s thesis advisor is Professor Robert Richmond, who is the director of UH’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory and also a member of the Board of Directors of PICRC.
Ms. Meltel attended Palau Mission Academy, as well as Palau Community College (PCC). She interned with PICRC in the summers of 2009 and 2016, assisting PICRC researchers with seagrass surveys at different marine protected areas in Palau. She learned about the work that the researchers do, such as data collection and analysis, as well as sharing of results. “I learned a lot about how important it is as a local scientist to involve the community in your work,” Ms. Meltel said when asked about her experience as an intern.
After PCC and her internships at PICRC, Ms. Meltel continued her studies at the UH Mānoa, earning her Bachelors of Science Degree in Marine Biology in 2017. After her graduation, she worked in Hawai’i for a few years, interning with Kupu, an environmental education organization, at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Currently she is an Education and Research Assistant at HIMB, mentoring high school students through different topics such as ocean acidification and sea urchin fertilization, as well as their own mini research projects.
Ms. Meltel and her advisor Professor Richmond are planning for her to do part of her field research work in Palau, based at PICRC. When asked why she chose to conduct her graduate research at PICRC, Ms. Meltel said, “Because it’s a great facility that conducts meaningful and significant research for the people of Palau, by Palauan scientists. I’m excited to have the opportunity to aid in that research and learn even more about Palau’s marine environment.”
PICRC has always been committed to mentoring young Palauans who are interested in science and conservation. Many students who have gone through programs at PICRC have returned home to contribute to the environmental sector and various other sectors.