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Knauss Fellowship alum Catalina Martinez receives prestigious award for her work in diversity, equity and inclusion

Catalina Martinez, a 2002 Knauss Fellow through Rhode Island Sea Grant, was one of six NOAA experts  recognized at the 2019 annual Women of Color in STEM conference. These awards celebrate women for their outstanding achievements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Martinez received the Diversity Leadership in Government award.

Since joining the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research as a Knauss Fellow, Martinez has gone above and beyond the expectations of her current role as a Regional Program Manager, working tirelessly on breaking down barriers to entry for underrepresented individuals into STEM opportunities. Martinez’s passion and hard work did not go unrecognized by her peers, who nominated her for this prestigious, peer-reviewed award.

Martinez says that the Knauss Fellowship paved the way for her 18-year career at NOAA, recounting several opportunities, from leading a month-long multidisciplinary ocean exploration expedition in the Gulf of Alaska to helping to grow the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, which was in its infancy. She also listed a variety of benefits from participating in the fellowship:


  • In the field of ocean science, the Knauss Fellowship is considered a ‘gateway’ into a career with the Federal Government. I was hired out of my Fellowship year (as many are), and I remain with the same NOAA office 18 years later.
  • I gained mentors and career champions while expanding my professional network.
  • I learned new technical and communication skills.
  • I was able to apply academic training to real world problems, while contributing to innovations and solutions within a team.
  • I gained invaluable insight into organizational culture, structure, and function while increasing my potential for future employment – either within the agency or elsewhere.
  • I built confidence in my abilities through being given elevated levels of responsibility
  • Most importantly, through all of these incredible opportunities and experiences, I really began to develop a sense of belonging in the ocean science world.

Read more about Martinez’s path in life, from a “high school dropout” to a prestigious scientist.
Read more about Martinez and the other five inspiring NOAA experts who received awards.


The application for the 2021 Knauss Fellowship is open. 
Learn more about the fellowship here.

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