Orleans, MA – The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is pleased to announce the hiring of its first staff scientist.
An experienced fisheries biologist with expertise in shark-related research, Megan Winton joins the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) at a time when public interest in great white sharks is at an all-time high and seaside communities wrestle with how to best manage the presence of sharks in area waters.
“Over the last six year we have learned a significant amount about white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic, but there are still gaps in our understanding of the species. With the hiring of Megan, we will be able to expand and accelerate critical research along our coast," said AWSC Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Wigren.
“With Megan spearheading the Conservancy's efforts, we are better equipped to collaborate, facilitate and lead," Wigren said. "She brings tremendous quantitative skills to the table and her expertise will provide valuable input as the state and local communities look to balance public safety and conservation.”
For her part, Winton said she is thrilled to join the AWSC at a time when there is heightened interest in great white sharks.
“I am passionate not just about scientific research but applying the best available science to inform fisheries management and conservation efforts. That’s at the heart of the Conservancy’s mission so we’re really a perfect match,” Winton said.
For the past decade, Winton’s research has focused on the collection and analysis of ecological data needed to assess the status of marine populations -- from ageing and reproductively staging elasmobranchs and bony fishes, to modeling satellite and acoustic tagging data, to designing and analyzing surveys used as the basis for estimating population sizes. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where she has been developing and applying statistical methods to improve understanding of white shark and loggerhead sea turtle populations in the northwest Atlantic.
Before deciding to pursue her Ph.D., Megan worked at several research institutions in the region, including the Coonamessett Farm Foundation and NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Megan earned her M.S. in Marine Science at California State University’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratory and received her B.S. in Biology from Emory University.