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Sea Grant Announces 2022 Finalists for the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program

Silver Spring, MD — NOAA and Sea Grant are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2022 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 2022 class represent 28 of the 34 Sea Grant programs. Since 1979, almost 1,500 fellows have completed the program, becoming leaders in science, policy, and public administration roles. 


Knauss finalists are chosen through a competitive process that includes comprehensive 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. 


“At both the state and national levels, Sea Grant’s active recruitment and student engagement efforts supported one of the most robust applicant pools in fellowship history,” said Jonathan Pennock, Ph.D., National Sea Grant College Program director. “I have no doubt that the finalists’ diverse perspectives will provide great insight towards addressing critical marine policy and science challenges. We look forward to welcoming the 2022 class of Knauss fellows.”


This year’s class comprises students and recent graduates from 51 distinct universities, including 11 minority-serving institutions. The finalists completed coursework and research in a range of fields, such as agronomy, anthropology, ecology, environmental policy and law, fisheries, geology, marine and coastal sciences, several disciplines of oceanography, tourism management, and urban and regional planning.


Beyond completing rigorous academic programs, the 2022 finalists come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. Many of the finalists are multilingual, some of whom grew up and studied in countries outside of the U.S., others engaged in international study and experiences. The 2022 finalists include first-generation college graduates, former service members, and leaders in diversity and inclusion initiatives. They supported their communities as educators, mentors and volunteers; worked in international, national and state political offices; and engaged with scientific research at NOAA and other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Furthermore, finalists are science communicators and artists who demonstrated their skills and desire to translate research to broad applications. This year’s class also includes an ultimate frisbee coach, a pilot, an ocean historian, a beekeeper, a slam poet, an ice hockey captain, a wood-block carver, and a blackbelt in taekwondo. Learn more about the finalists and their interests from their “postcards” at the bottom of this story.


This fall, the 2022 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 2022.


Executive appointments for the 2021 Knauss fellows included placements throughout the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as with the Department of Energy, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Science Foundation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies. Legislative placements included the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Majority), the House Committee on Natural Resources (Majority), the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Majority and Minority), and several placements in both majority and minority personal offices (House and Senate).


The 2022 Knauss finalists will become the 43rd class of the fellowship and will join a group of almost 1,500 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., like alumna and current NOAA chief of staff, Karen Hyun, Ph.D.


“Congratulations to the finalists on being selected for this prestigious fellowship. The Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship is truly an opportunity to launch your careers in coastal and marine science and policy. As a former fellow, my advice to you is to take advantage of all the opportunities the fellowship year provides. The connections you make this year can turn into lifelong professional relationships and friendships. I for one, am so pleased to have come full circle working at NOAA with so many familiar, talented individuals!”


Former Knauss fellow and current NOAA senior advisor, Letise LaFeir, Ph.D., also reflected on the role Sea Grant has played in her career. “I’ve had a deep connection to NOAA and Sea Grant throughout my career. From Knauss fellow to National Sea Grant Advisory Board member, Sea Grant has continued to support me along the way. I look forward to seeing where the fellowship will take this next generation of Knauss fellows, and I’m sure I’ll get to work with many of you in the near future.”


Want to learn more about the Knauss Fellowship? The Knauss Blog shares stories from the 2021 Knauss class on fellowship experiences and their journeys to D.C.


Placement of 2022 Knauss finalists as fellows is contingent on adequate funding in Fiscal Year 2022.


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