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Sea Grant Announces 2021 Finalists for the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program

Sea Grant Announces 2021 Finalists for the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program

Hallee Meltzer

Silver Spring, MD -- NOAA and Sea Grant are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2021 class of the Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program. The one-year fellowship places early career professionals in federal government offices in Washington, D.C. The 74 finalists in the 2021 class represent 27 of the 34 Sea Grant programs. Since 1979, over 1,400 fellows have completed the program, becoming leaders in science, policy, and public administration roles. 


Within the 2021 class of Knauss finalists, 37 finalists are completing Masters programs, 36 finalists are completing Ph.D. programs and 1 finalist is completing a J.D. program. (Infographic by Hallee Meltzer)

Knauss finalists are chosen through a competitive process that includes several rounds of review at both the state Sea Grant program and national levels. Students that are enrolled in or have recently completed master's, Juris Doctor (J.D.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs with a focus and/or interest in marine and coastal science, policy or management apply to one of the 34 Sea Grant programs. If applicants are successful at the state program level, their applications are then reviewed by a national panel of experts. 


A class with a diversity of experiences, the 2021 finalists’ engagements go beyond completing rigorous academic programs. Many have held campus-based leadership positions and served their communities as volunteers and mentors. Others have previous work experiences with a variety of federal agencies, such as the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An accomplished group, these finalists have received impressive awards and scholarships (including ones from the National Science Foundation, National Geographic and Fulbright Program), speak multiple languages and traveled or worked in 47 countries outside of the U.S. The class includes NOAA scholars, fisheries observers, former delegates for the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties, marine animal rescuers, outdoor adventurers, science communicators and an Olympic athlete. 


The 2021 Knauss finalists have traveled or worked in 47 countries outside of the U.S., as indicated by the countries shaded in blue. (Infographic by Hallee Meltzer)


“We are excited to welcome the 2021 class of Knauss fellows and look forward to the skill and perspective that they will provide towards addressing critical marine policy and science challenges,” said Jonathan Pennock, National Sea Grant College Program Director.  “As the government and the sciences adapt to new norms for working driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Knauss fellowship will create novel opportunities for the fellows to redefine how government and science interact and operate for the benefit of society.”


This fall, the 2021 finalists will participate in a virtual placement week to get to know each other and interview with potential host offices. Following placement, they will begin their fellowships in February 2021.



Executive appointments for the 2020 Knauss fellows included placements throughout the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as with the Department of State, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Navy and other agencies. Legislative placements included the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Minority), the House Committee on Natural Resources (Majority), Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Majority and Minority), and several placements in both majority and minority personal offices (House and Senate).


The 2021 Knauss finalists will become the 42nd class of the fellowship and will join a group of over 1,400 professionals who have received hands-on experiences transferring science to policy and management through one-year appointments with federal government offices in Washington, D.C. For many fellows, this opportunity helps launch their careers at NOAA and other federal agencies, like alumni Emily Larkin and Stuart Levenbach.


Want to learn more about the Knauss fellowship? The Knauss blog shares stories from the 2020 Knauss class on fellowship experiences and their journeys to D.C.


Placement of 2021 Knauss finalists as fellows is contingent on adequate funding in Fiscal Year 2021. 


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