2021 Knauss Marine Policy Finalist: Hally Stone

My research partner Kendall Valentine (now Dr. Kendall Valentine) and I after taking sediment core samples during our fieldwork in Wee Wee Caye in Belize...

My research partner Kendall Valentine (now Dr. Kendall Valentine) and I after taking sediment core samples during our fieldwork in Wee Wee Caye in Belize. This trip was part of Marine Semester at Boston University, which solidified my interest in oceanography. (December 2011)


Graduate student from the School of Oceanography, Hally B. Stone has been awarded the Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship. She will be leaving for Washington D.C. for a year long program. The fellowship places graduate students into a national policy position to help with decisions about resources in their expertise.

--Interview Fall 2020 by Lauren Bayne, UW Oceanography class of 2022

What has been your path through oceanography? Where did you get your undergraduate degree and what did you major in? 

I attended Boston University, originally majoring in Astronomy & Physics because I’d long been fascinated by astronomy and its potential to be interdisciplinary, and I really liked physics. While there, I learned about BU’s Marine Science program and decided to take a couple of classes and I loved it. Like astronomy, I appreciated how interdisciplinary oceanography could be, but I also loved how relevant it is to people, especially coastal oceanography – something that I didn’t have in astronomy. Once I learned about physical oceanography, I was hooked because it seemed like a perfect fit for me as an astrophysicist-turned-oceanographer. I graduated from BU with a double major in Astronomy & Physics and Marine Science in 2011. After graduating, I worked a couple of different jobs in Boston, including for an outreach program for BU’s Physics Department, before deciding to attend graduate school to study coastal oceanography in 2013. 

How many years did you spend at the University of Washington? What did you work on during your graduate school time here? 

I spent seven years at UW, initially working with Neil Banas, and then working with Parker MacCready when Neil got a position at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and I needed a local advisor, too. I wanted to study coastal oceanography, particularly how physics affects chemistry and biology, and Neil did just that. My research throughout my time here fits under the broad topic of “transport effects on coastal productivity and harmful algal blooms'', with a focus on the Pacific Northwest coastal ocean and greater California Current System. My first project used ROMS model output to study how variability in coastal upwelling and in large-scale along coast advection north and south affect shelf bottom water properties, ultimately estimating the effects that variability in these mechanisms would have on dissolved oxygen and dissolved inorganic carbon of shelf bottom water. From there, I moved to the surface and studied how phytoplankton respond to different wind patterns and retention on the shelf using satellite data as well as particle tracking experiments in a ROMS model. Lastly, I worked on how harmful algal blooms (HABs) are transported from known HAB hot spots to the coastal beaches as part of a larger collaboration called the Pacific Northwest’s HAB Bulletin program. This program is a partnership between academic, government, and tribal stakeholders, uses a combination of monitoring programs and modeling to better understand the formation, evolution, and transport of HABs in this region, as well as produce periodic bulletins to inform local stakeholders of current and forecasted conditions. My role in this program was to improve how the model is used in forecasting by comparing results from particle tracking experiments with historic beach observations of HABs.

In addition to my research, I was also involved in a few different programs while in graduate school. I was able to come to UW because I was awarded a fellowship from UW’s Integrative Graduate Educational and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program on Ocean Change, led by Terrie Klinger in SMEA. It was through this program that I became interested in science policy because it provided me with the opportunity to take classes outside Oceanography, including in the Law School. More importantly, I got to work with WA state senators and state agencies, including work on a project quantifying the economic value of blue carbon stored beneath eelgrasses in the Puget Sound. In addition to my involvement in this program, I was also involved in the Engage Science Communication program, an all-graduate student led science communications course developed at UW, where I served as Program Manager for a year and on the Board of Directors for two years. Before becoming involved in its leadership, I was a participant in the program, which gave me an advanced communications toolkit that I employed in a public talk about my research at Seattle Town Hall. 

Also, thanks to UW Oceanography alumna Sarah Dewey (who also participated in the program and helped me with my application), I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium in 2019. During this 10-day intensive program, I learned about the science policy process in both the legislative and executive branches, and I met with a variety of people involved in science policy, including members of Congress, federal officials, and congressional staffers. Overall, this experience provided me with insight into the science policy field and solidified my interest in pursuing a career in science policy. I would highly recommend this program, or similar programs, to anyone interested in science policy. 

When you heard about this fellowship what inspired you to apply? What led you to pursue oceanography through policy? 

I have long felt that the opportunity to pursue scientific research comes with the responsibility to engage with society and offer solutions. As a coastal oceanographer, this responsibility motivated my interest in science and policy. Nearly half of the country’s population lives near the coast, making them directly connected to issues like sea level rise, ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, and fisheries collapse. Throughout my time in graduate school, my work has centered on issues relevant to my local community; Puget Sound and the Washington Coast. As a result of my research, I have had the opportunity to engage with coastal Washington communities. Throughout this experience, I have become increasingly interested in moving towards a career where I can help connect science and policy, facilitating the use of science to make the best policies to solve problems. 

What branch will you be working under and what will you be doing in that office? What do you hope to change or improve while you are there? 

I will be working in the legislative branch, where I will be placed either in a Congress member’s personal office or working for a Congressional committee (placement will happen right before the fellowship starts in February). My role will be to represent the scientific community and make sure that members of Congress have the best available science to make decisions. I hope that through my position I will be able to help elevate voices and concerns of marginalized groups, especially those who are most impacted by issues like climate change. 

How will this fellowship affect your future plans and what do you want to do after the year is done? 

I’ve long been interested in science policy, but I haven’t had that much experience working in that field. I’m hoping that this fellowship will help solidify my career path in the science policy field. After the fellowship is over, I hope to continue working in the science policy field, in whatever position best utilizes my skills and expertise to help make the best science-based policies. 

What are you most excited for moving to Washington DC not related to the fellowship? 

I grew up just outside of Buffalo, NY, so I’m excited to be closer to my family. Beyond that, I’m really excited to visit all of the amazing museums in DC, which I’m hoping will be possible in a post-pandemic future. Lastly, I’m perhaps too excited to eat some East Coast delicacies like bagels – they’ve been sorely missed these past seven years. 

What advice would you give to other oceanography students that want to pursue the policy side of science and are looking to apply to this fellowship? 

My advice for other oceanography students is to branch out beyond your research and the department and pursue other experiences and opportunities. I don’t think I would have had this opportunity without the IGERT Program on Ocean Change and the Engage program. Science communication is especially important even if you decide to stay in academia, as is making connections with stakeholders who might be interested in using the results of your research. Recognize the responsibility that comes with the opportunity to do research and engage with your community.


My research partner Kendall Valentine (now Dr. Kendall Valentine) and I after taking sediment core samples during our fieldwork in Wee Wee Caye in Belize...

My research partner Kendall Valentine (now Dr. Kendall Valentine) and I after taking sediment core samples during our fieldwork in Wee Wee Caye in Belize. This trip was part of Marine Semester at Boston University, which solidified my interest in oceanography. (December 2011)