Marcy Cockrell Supports Environmental Sustainability and DEI

Dr. Marcy Cockrell is a biologist working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and a member of NSPN’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

A headshot of Marcy Cockrell wearing a blue shirt and black and white beaded necklace in front of a natural scene.

Can you tell us a bit more about your current position?

I currently work as a Biological Administrator for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) in the Division in Aquaculture. In this role, I work to enable growth, innovation, and environmental sustainability in Florida’s aquaculture industry. A key part of my job is to stay current on emerging trends and policy issues at both the state and national levels, to integrate the best available science into policy and regulations for aquaculture, and to work with public stakeholders to move the industry forward. I have a diverse portfolio of projects that includes youth education and workforce training, coastal conservation, marine spatial planning, and public outreach. I also lead the Division’s efforts related to programmatic permitting with federal agency partners. Because the Commissioner of Agriculture is an elected official in Florida, I also have the unique opportunity to engage with aquaculture and coastal environmental issues during the legislative process. The best part of my job is that I can leverage my training as a scientist in a regulatory context and employ my passions for science communication, science policy, and environmental sustainability. I get to consistently work with an exciting array of industry, community, non-profit, academic, state, and federal partners. Every day is different and there is always something new to learn, especially as aquaculture continues to grow in the United States.

How did you become interested in science policy? How did you find NSPN?

I first became interested in science policy as a graduate student at the University of South Florida, through a marine policy course in the Spring of 2013. For the capstone of this course, the students planned a trip to Washington, D.C., where we discussed ocean conservation, management, and fisheries policy issues with staff at various non-governmental policy organizations, federal agencies, and elected officials on Capitol Hill. This was my first experience with science policy and was my springboard into the field. After finishing my Ph.D. in 2018, I earned a Science Policy Fellowship with the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program to gain more experience and explore my options for working outside of academia. The fellowship cemented science policy as my career path, and I’ve been working with FDACS ever since.

I learned about NSPN in 2020 when I was looking for new professional development opportunities. After reading about all the great work NSPN does I became a member and started exploring my options to get more involved. I’ve since joined the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and helped organize and moderate the most recent DEI webinar on science and education policy in rural communities. I’m excited to continue building my professional network and science policy experience with NSPN!

Any recent accomplishments or projects you’d like to share related to science policy, advocacy, or communication?

I co-authored a peer-reviewed paper on science communication that was published earlier this year in Journal of Extension (Brown et al. 2021) and an op-ed on the importance of science-based policy for a safer and more equitable society in the Tallahassee Democrat in 2020. I am currently serving as a mentor for the 2021-22 Gulf Research Program Science Policy Fellow working within FDACS; this role is especially meaningful both as a fellowship alumna and to honor the legacy of my late fellowship mentor, Dr. Lisa Conti.

What do you enjoy doing outside of science policy?

​Outside of science policy I enjoy gardening, hiking, baking, playing volleyball, going to concerts, and playing board games.

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To learn more about Marcy, follow her on Twitter (@Marcy_Cockrell) or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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