Robin Hadlock Seeley, a Cornell senior research associate and assistant director at the Shoals Marine Lab, received a 2010 TogetherGreen Fellowship, a national conservation award made possible through an alliance of Audubon and Toyota for 40 individuals annually.
Each fellow receives training and $10,000 toward a community-focused project to engage local residents in conserving land, water and energy, and contributing to greater environmental health.
Seeley will use her fellowship to continue working to preserve intertidal habitat in Maine by protecting rockweed beds from industrial-scale cutting.
Rockweed, a brown seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) that anchors to shoreline rocks and serves as an essential intertidal habitat for more than 100 other species, is harvested by companies and processed into cosmetics, dog biscuits, sheep and cattle feed supplements, and as a color enhancement in red meat.
Seeley plans to expand her work with the Rockweed Coalition, an organization she co-founded, by working with local educators to design lesson plans for elementary through high school students on the value of seaweed habitat. She also plans to work with state policymakers to promote the value of intertidal habitat for Maine fisheries and wildlife.
"Unregulated, industrial-scale cutting of rockweed threatens the fishing potential, ecological health and natural beauty that are vital to Maine's future," Seeley said. "This award comes at a key time, allowing the Rockweed Coalition to step up our efforts to preserve this critical habitat."
Seeley, a Maine native, received her Ph.D. in biology from Yale University. She is also a visiting fellow in Cornell's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a research associate at the Paleontological Research Institute's Museum of the Earth. Seeley has received numerous grants supporting her scientific work and has published articles in academic and popular journals, as well as local media.
To date, 120 environmental leaders -- half from within Audubon and half from outside organizations -- have received TogetherGreen fellowships since the program began in 2008.