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Engagement Coordinator Starts

Photo: Vanessa van Heerden

Vanessa van Heerden has joined Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) as the program’s engagement coordinator. She began her new role on Aug. 14.

Van Heerden is a Baton Rouge native. She completed two bachelor of science degrees at California State University, Channel Islands. One degree is in environmental science and resource management and the other is in biology, with an emphasis on ecology, evolution and organismal populations. She attended Louisiana State University and recently earned her Ph.D. in oceanography and coastal sciences.

Van Heerden has more than ten years of experience in education, research and outreach. She has conducted research worldwide, including sandy beach ecology and microplastics across southern California, big game management in South Africa and coral reef health and fisheries in Aitutaki, Cook Islands. Her dissertation research evaluated how coastal Louisiana residents hold value with nature, and how we can use that value to inform more effective environmental policy regarding coastal restoration.

Van Heerden said, “I am excited to continue my passion for educating and engaging students and the public on environmental issues, especially related to marine debris in Louisiana. I hope that through my role at Sea Grant, I can continue to increase the accessibility of science while aiding in the environmental literacy and workforce development for diverse audiences.”