Fellowship institution:NOAA, Restoration Center, Office of Habitat Conservation
Metthea Yepsen worked in NOAA’s Restoration Center in the Office of Habitat Conservation as a policy and science coordinator on the office’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill restoration efforts. She assisted in ensuring that science and adaptive management are integrated into restoration initiatives.
Yepsen received an M.S. degree in environmental science and technology from the University of Maryland with a focus on wetland ecology and restoration. For her thesis research, she worked on a U.S. Department of Agriculture project to evaluate the effectiveness of federal wetland conservation practices and restoration in agricultural areas. To measure ecosystem services provided by wetlands, she compared plant communities in natural, restored, and farmland sites in several Mid-Atlantic states, including Maryland.
Yepsen’s background is different from that of many Knauss Fellows. She completed a bachelor’s degree in the humanities, studying diplomatic history. Her career path changed when she joined AmeriCorps in Hawaii. There she performed conservation work in natural area reserves, attached sling loads to hovering helicopters, and climbed through sharp lava rock. Those experiences sparked an interest in a career in environmental science that led her to return to college to take post-baccalaureate science classes and then to study native and restored ecosystems in graduate school.
Following her fellowship, Yepsen accepted a position at the Nature Conservancy.