kellystewartKelly Stewart, a Marine Biologist in the Sea Turtle Genetics Program at NOAA, spoke to Marine Conservation and Policy Students at SoMAS on Friday, November 22nd, 2013.  Stewart’s current work focuses mainly on genetic tagging of Leatherback turtle hatchlings, and has created a huge archive of sea turtle tissue samples that will allow her team to answer important conservation questions.  Stewart and her colleagues are creating a database of genetic “fingerprints” for leatherback hatchlings, and are using genetic techniques to examine aspects of leatherback biology, such as natal homing, population structure, multiple paternity, reproductive success, and age of maturity, that are poorly understood.

Stewart, who first started working on sea turtles during an internship as an undergraduate student, offered advice to students about pursuing careers in Marine Conservation.

“Be brave and expand your network; volunteer,” says Stewart, “At the time you might not think it’s going to last, but you meet people. Someone will start to notice.”