WWU’s Marco Hatch Awarded a Coveted 2023 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation

Western Washington University Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences Marco Hatch has been selected by The Pew Charitable Trusts as a recipient of the 2023 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation.  

Marco and a student pick through items on a rocky beach

Hatch is one of seven researchers from around the world awarded the fellowship this year and will receive $150,000 over three years to complete a research project that produces new data, knowledge, or methods to advance the protection and sustainable use of the world’s oceans. 

“I am honored to be part of the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation program,” said Hatch. “To be considered among many of the giants like Anne Solomon (Simon Fraser University) and Paul Dayton (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), who are both former Pew Fellows, is a remarkable achievement. I owe this award to them for their dedication to ethics and their championing of young marine scientists.” 

During his fellowship, Hatch, who is a member of the Samish Indian Nation, will help create a collaborative network of Indigenous community members and researchers throughout the Pacific Northwest aiming to support Indigenous-led restoration of ancestral sea gardens. Sea gardens are terraced intertidal areas created to extend habitats suitable for cultivating clams as food. 

Indigenous people along the Pacific coast of Canada and the U.S. states of Alaska and Washington have been building sea gardens for at least 3,500 years. The impacts of colonialism interrupted active management of most sea gardens. But a growing movement to reactivate sea garden stewardship in the Pacific Northwest provides an opportunity to combine mainstream science with intergenerational ecosystem knowledge to restore these culturally important shellfish areas and support marine conservation. 

Growth, community and scholarship outside the classroom 

Hatch’s work goes beyond the lab (his latest paper, from the journal Ecology and Society, was published just days before the Pew announcement) and the field; he is dedicated to the students in his classroom and has a special passion for mentoring the next generation of scientists from underserved communities and populations. 

Octavio Cruz, a graduate student in Marine and Estuary Sciences at Western, said Hatch’s lab has proven to be not only a place or learning, but a place of community, and of personal growth. 

“As a Latin-American immigrant from Venezuela, I often found myself isolated and challenged by the systemic barriers in STEM present to our communities, as we are often not well represented in these fields compared to many other groups. I found a safe haven in Dr. Hatch’s lab that allowed me to grow both professionally and personally in a way that I had not experienced before,” said Cruz. 

Marco has worked tirelessly to connect these people with information relevant to Indigenous marine management, and that, in turn, has been critical to decision making in their communities.

Fellow graduate student Jackelyn Garcia said Hatch’s mission of inclusion and for continued outreach to Indigenous communities sets him apart. 

“In the time I have gotten to work with him, I have seen his incredible ability to build meaningful relationships with others,” Garcia said. “These people are Indigenous communities and non-native peoples; academics and non-academics. Marco has worked tirelessly to connect these people with information relevant to Indigenous marine management, and that, in turn, has been critical to decision making in their communities.” 

“Marco has also been a very supportive mentor, and has had a way of offering guidance that has nudged me towards the right direction, but has also provided me the space and agency to make my own decisions, and build confidence in myself through the process of learning from both my successes and my downfalls,” she said. 

Hatch’s dedication to his students is just one of the defining characteristics of his work at Western, said Teena Gabrielson, dean of Western’s College of the Environment. 

“The Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation is a prestigious award that recognizes impactful, actionable research, and I can think of no one better than Marco,” said Gabrielson. “Dr. Hatch’s research stretches and spans disciplinary and cultural boundaries to simultaneously restore sustainable Indigenous aquacultural practices and the social, communal, and knowledge infrastructures that support them. Marco is a leader in the field, and it is an honor to work with him. We congratulate him for being chosen for this well-deserved award.” 

WWU Provost Brad Johnson echoed Gabrielson’s thoughts on the importance and quality of Hatch’s teaching and research. 

“I am pleased to congratulate Marco on this extraordinary achievement. It is another example of a very talented and dedicated member of the Western faculty making a mark on the broader stage, but at least as important, it is support for, and recognition of, important work to build not only scientific advancement, but also advancing valuable partnerships with indigenous communities,” said Johnson. 

An international community of scientists focused on the world’s oceans

Hatch joins Pew’s global community of 202 marine fellows from 42 countries working to expand knowledge of the ocean and advance the sustainable use of marine resources. The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation supports mid-career scientists and other experts seeking solutions to challenges affecting the world’s oceans. Fellows are selected by an international committee of marine science experts with a range of expertise following a rigorous nomination and review process.  

Hatch holds a doctorate in biological oceanography and a master’s degree in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego. He earned a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and aquatic sciences from the University of Washington, and has taught at Western since 2016. 

Hatch joins Phillip Cleves from Johns Hopkins University as the only other scientist from the United States to be named a 2023 Pew Marine Conservation fellow. The other members of the 2023 Pew cohort are Leandra Gonçalves from Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil; Emma Lee, trawlwulwuy woman, Federation University Australia, tebrakunna country, Tasmania, Australia; Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood, University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom; Juan Patino-Martinez, Maio Biodiversity Foundation, Cape Verde; and Stan Shea, BLOOM Association Hong Kong and ADM Capital Foundation, China. 

Learn more about Hatch and the research he will work on as part of his Pew Fellowship here.