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A Fond Farewell: Michelle Staudinger Departs NE CASC, Joins UMaine Faculty

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Over the past decade, many in the NE CASC and UMass Amherst communities have had the good fortune of working with Dr. Michelle Staudinger, the center’s dynamic Science Coordinator. During this time, Michelle has distinguished herself on multiple fronts–as an innovative researcher, generous collaborator, and dedicated mentor. Within NE CASC, our team members have come to know Michelle as a vital force in the center’s growth, an effective leader who has helped guide the center from its startup phase to its current state as a mature research initiative encompassing more than 150 projects and a dense network of partnerships. Given Michelle’s prominence within the climate adaptation science community, it is with mixed emotions that we are announcing her departure from NE CASC to accept a faculty appointment in the Darling Marine Center at the University of Maine. While the NE CASC team is sad that we will no longer benefit from Michelle’s many talents, we are delighted that our colleague and friend has earned this exciting opportunity to return to her roots in marine science and fisheries. 

Following completion of her PhD in Marine Science and Technology from UMass Amherst, Michelle accepted a postdoctoral appointment at the U.S. Geological Survey in 2012. There she rapidly increased her knowledge of climate science while contributing to the 3rd National Climate Assessment (NCA3).  After NCA3 was published, Michelle joined NE CASC (then known as the Northeast Climate Science Center) as one of the center’s first federal staff members. Over the next decade, Michelle helped build the center’s research and operational programs while devising strategies to provide high-quality science to a complex region and helping navigate a variety of administrative challenges. Among her numerous accomplishments, Michelle has been a leader or co-leader of many NE CASC projects, including work on state wildlife action plans, climate-induced changes in phenology, adaptive capacity, coastal and Tribal adaptation, and climate communication. 

“From the moment I met her, I understood that Michelle was both a unique presence within the CASC Network and  a uniquely gifted person who possesses a great passion for her work,” said Will Farmer, NE CASC Acting Federal Director. “During the time that I have worked with Michelle, I have learned an enormous amount from her. She is a caring and committed colleague who has consistently helped the center find the high ground through many challenges and guided us toward developing a center with true staying power and a lasting legacy. NE CASC will miss her greatly, but we are also looking forward to seeing her ascend to new heights in the next phase of what has already been an impressive career.” 

Although Michelle is leaving NE CASC, she expects to remain an active member of the regional climate adaptation community. “There is much work to be done in the Gulf of Maine, which is one of the fastest-warming ocean bodies in the world,” she said. “I am truly grateful to have been part of an organization like NE CASC, which has helped advance actionable, co-produced climate science while prioritizing more diverse and inclusive working environments. I thank everyone in the greater NE CASC network for what they have given me and look forward to re-engaging many within our community as I dive deeper into understanding how we can conserve and adapt coastal and marine ecosystems in the midst of global change.”