Jennifer O’Leary is a marine scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society Western Indian Ocean focusing on the spatial planning and effective management of marine protected areas. Previously, she was the Africa Oceans strategy director for the Nature Conservancy. O’Leary’s research focuses on humans’ impact on marine ecological systems and how they can be managed for long-term sustainability. She has worked with communities in the western United States, coastal East Africa, and Pacific Islands for 20 years to put in place science-based management of marine resources. When O’Leary, Ph.D., began her fellowship she was the co-director of the Science for Active Management (SAM) Program in Kenya, which helps fishing communities and managers of marine protected areas (MPAs) use science in marine conservation efforts.
O’Leary will evaluate changes in social and ecological systems that accompany implementation of a science-based management approach in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Seychelles. The goal is to ensure regionally effective MPAs and active partnerships among managers, communities, and scientists to generate a globally relevant model for making science work for conservation.
She is using her Pew marine fellowship to expand the SAM program to other parts of the western Indian Ocean to help link science with management and boost the effectiveness of MPAs in the region.