Lia Protopapadakis Flynn

Lia Protopapadakis Flynn

Doctoral student , UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability

MEM '06

In the fall of 2015 Lia began pursuing her doctoral degree at UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability.  Before this she worked as a Marine Scientist and Project Manager with the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation. The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation (SMBRF) is the non-profit partner of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (SMBRC). The SMBRC is a National Estuary Program of the U.S. EPA structured to embody ecosystem-based management. It is a federal, state, and local partnership but operates as a non-regulatory state entity focused on improving water quality, conserving and rehabilitating natural resources and protecting the benefits and values of the Santa Monica Bay, which includes the 266-square mile Bay and its 400-square mile watershed. 

As the Marine Scientist, Lia’s work spanned the intersection of science, policy, research, and restoration. Lia’s diverse work with the SMBRF focused on marine fisheries, local sustainable seafood, subtidal restoration, and other projects related to living marine resources in the Santa Monica Bay. This work involved monitoring kelp forest restoration projects or testing outplanting methods for green abalone. She could also be found her co-piloting a Cessna spotting boats and whales for an aerial survey program monitoring Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Lab days had her dissecting sea urchin gonads for a study comparing the economic value and secondary production of kelp forests, or scanning halibut with an ultrasound to test a non-lethal method of determining the sex of California halibut that can be used year-round. Other times she could be found down on the docks, interviewing fishermen about innovations in their fisheries that helped them move from low value and high volume to high value and low volume. She attended government meetings: she served on the stakeholder group that designated a network of MPAs in Southern California’s coastal and island waters and currently sits on the advisory committee for the California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan and the Sustainable Seafood Working Group of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. And there was desk work, working on the next edition of the State of the Bay Report, which looks at the latest science related to the Santa Monica Bay and its Watershed through a policy and management lens. 

Lia joined the staff of the Foundation in 2008, after spending a month on a research cruise in Antarctica counting zooplankton and completing a Knauss Legislative Fellowship with Congressman Sam Farr in Washington, D.C. She was one of three Knauss Fellows from North Carolina Sea Grant (all from the Nic School!) As a CEM, she evaluated ecosystem-based management of open-ocean fisheries and assisted the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council develop their Fishery Ecosystem Plans.

School was one of the Top Three best choices I've made in my life. The program let me mold my courses to fit my individual needs. The law classes were invaluable when I worked in Congress. I still refer back to the tricks I learned in public participatory techniques and community based management when preparing for an advisory committee meeting. I cannot say enough good things about the staff at the Career Center. Not only were they fantastic at connecting me to alumni and helping to psych me up for an informational interview, but they've helped me negotiate promotions well after graduation. And it keeps getting better because the Nick School network keeps on expanding west!