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Knauss Fellowship: Meet Delaware Sea Grant's 2016 Knauss Fellows

Knauss Fellowship: Meet Delaware Sea Grant's 2016 Knauss Fellows

Learn more about Delaware Sea Grant's three 2016 Knauss Fellows

By Karen Roberts, Delaware Sea Grant

Three graduate students from Delaware are spending the year in Washington, D.C. as Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellows. 

Sponsored by the National Sea Grant College Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational experience for students interested in the national policy decisions that affect the ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources. 

University of Delaware (UD) graduate students Erica Wales and Frances Bothfeld, and Symone Johnson, a graduate student at Delaware State University, were selected from Delaware Sea Grant, which is administered by UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.

“The Knauss Fellowship is kind of a launching pad. It’s a great opportunity to look at things differently, particularly at the national policy level, and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to work with agencies on both a national and regional level.” says Wales.

Erica Wales is working for the Department of the Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis as an ocean policy and communications specialist. 

Wales works on the National Ocean Policy and works with the National Ocean Council’s Ocean Resources Management Interagency Policy Committee and the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. She also contributes to the agency’s newsletter and social media initiatives.

Advised at UD by professors Jeremy Firestone and Biliana Cicin-Sain in the School of Marine Science and Policy, Wales is pursuing a doctoral degree in marine policy. Her research focuses on a capacity assessment for areas of the ocean beyond national jurisdiction, which is everything outside of 200 nautical miles, or 63 percent of the world’s ocean. 

Symone Johnson, a master’s student in natural resources at Delaware State University, is serving as an education policy fellow with NOAA’s Office of Education. 

In this role, Johnson works in the Department of Commerce’s Office of Education on education projects and programs in different aquariums across the country. One specific focus of her fellowship includes providing minorities and underrepresented communities with scientific information to improve literacy about coastal communities and environmental issues.

Johnson’s research at Delaware State focuses on sand tiger sharks, which serve as apex predators in the northwest Atlantic coastal and estuarine environments. Working under the guidance of Dewayne Fox, assistant professor in agriculture and natural resources, Johnson is writing a regional conservation plan that aims to help remove this Delaware Bay apex predator from the Species of Concern list and to preclude a federal Endangered Species Act listing. 

Johnson is the first Knauss Fellow that Delaware Sea Grant has sent to Washington, D.C., from Delaware State University.

Frances Bothfeld serves as a congressional affairs fellow with NOAA’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs. She acts as a liaison between NOAA and Congress on a variety of subjects, and helps communicate NOAA's mission to members of Congress during congressional hearings or meetings, or individually. She also cooperates with NOAA colleagues to develop legislative language for various ocean, coastal and atmospheric initiatives.

Bothfeld is a graduate student in UD’s water science and policy graduate program. Her research with Angelia Seyfferth, assistant professor in plant and soil science, explores physical and biogeochemical controls on greenhouse gas production and flux in estuaries, which are often known as “nurseries of the sea” for the critical nesting and feeding habitats they provide for various aquatic plants and animals.

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