The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2024 class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program. The 85 early-career professionals selected will be placed in federal government offices throughout Washington, D.C., and join the over 1,600 individuals who have participated in the program since its inception in 1979.
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By: Spring Gaines. Recently, I had the unique opportunity to take a winding tour of one of the most symbolic sites in Washington, D.C.—The Capitol Dome. While climbing the almost 300 steps leading up to an eye-level view of Brumidi and Cox’s work with the Rotunda frieze, the Apotheosis of George Washington and beyond, I was reminded of something I told my best friend when she asked what it is like as a Gulf Coast girl walking around this city, “It’s not the distance; it’s the incline.”
By: Eleanor Pierel. Upon entering the Knauss Fellowship, I was not sure where I would fall on the optimism scale by the end. You see, as the Climate Policy Fellow, my days revolve around climate change policy and action from the local to international scale. Yet, many of the conversations, meetings and trips throughout my fellowship had a theme of optimism and motivation in the face of climate change…
By: Michelle Nguyen. I stand there in the Hawk’s Nest launch viewing area right outside of Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, CA, watching as NOAA’s JPSS-2 satellite, atop an Atlas V rocket, successfully joins its Joint Polar Satellite System comrades in orbit. While my eyes are trained on the ascending rocket, I can’t help but think “How did I, an invertebrate physiologist by training, end up at a satellite launch?!”
As part of the Knauss Fellowship, fellows have the opportunity to engage in professional development and travel related to their placements. This summer, a group of fellows traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, for the United Nations Ocean Conference. Continue reading to learn about their unique experiences.
By: Kate Shlepr. Change invites uncertainty and therefore risk. I feel the weight and exhilaration of this reality as I sit to reflect on events from the past six months, both in my personal life and in our world. For one, it strikes me that I am (now) an openly queer person writing from my desk in a Congressional office two generations after the Stonewall riots; if those aren’t evidence of change, what is?
By: Nicholas Anderson. I work at the NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation in support of one of the agency’s missions, to ensure our nation has sustainable fisheries and recover threatened and endangered species by promoting fish passage at hydropower dams. I visited two hydropower dams in May 2021 to see how at a local level our program provides guidance to the different parties involved in hydropower and fish passage planning.
By: María Mercedes Carruthers Ferrero. “FEMA flexible” is a phrase I have heard many times throughout my Knauss Fellowship. I have learned that the mindset alluded to by this phrase is not only key to achieving community resilience, but to personal and professional success.
By: Megan McKeown. Turn on any of today’s news outlets and it’s easy to believe bipartisanship is dead. But after almost a year of witnessing how the “sausage gets made” on Capitol Hill, I can tell you that there are pockets of Congress where bipartisanship is still alive.
By: Marina Cucuzza. In my work on climate and fisheries issues at the national scale as a Knauss fellow, I am often reminded of the lessons learned from years working with fishers and fishing communities in Maine and in other coastal places. During my Knauss fellowship, I have been able to see firsthand how public input is critical in shaping policy and decision-making.
By: Renee Richardson. The Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship specifically targets students who “… have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.” Although it is not explicitly stated, meteorology does fall under this statement. The atmosphere and the ocean are linked and, in many cases, cannot be considered independent of one another. But what does this mean exactly?
By: Kenneth Erickson. What makes a fisheries biologist qualified to communicate with Congress about satellites and space policy? The same skills that make a successful graduate student: good time management, effective communication and the ability to process and distill complex information.
By: Halle Berger. Over the past decade, the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) has grown through the recruitment of Sea Grant Knauss fellows like myself. In celebration of OAP’s 10th anniversary, I interviewed the former Knauss fellows currently working in OAP to better understand how the program has evolved since its inception.
By: Elle Wibisono. As an Indonesian fishery scientist, I had no previous knowledge of or experience with the inner workings of the U.S. Congress. Now, as a “leg” fellow, I’ve learned I need to be prepared to respond to virtually anything. Here is a glimpse of a calm day in the life of a legislative fellow.
By: So-Jung Youn. There’s something to be said for the strength and comfort you find in being surrounded by a community that’s passionate and dedicated to the same issues you care about. Listening to the Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021 speakers, I was inspired by their stories, dedication and perseverance.
By: Clea Harrelson. “Who is that?” was a constant refrain in my head for the first few months of my Knauss fellowship. The feeling of being overwhelmed that comes with the beginning of any new job is often described as a “crush”, but for me, it was more accurately a sensation of being untethered, floating in interagency space. Who are all these people, what do they do, and how do they relate to my work?
By: Bryan Keller. There are plenty of fish in the sea and some of them taste really good. That is how the saying goes, right? Fisheries management is the reason why plenty of fish continue to be in the sea. But, without fisheries science, fisheries management would not be successful. Transitioning from the world of academia to the world of policy, I saw the important connection between these two fields first-hand.
By: Caroline Wiernicki. Who has the monkey? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. In the words of William Oncken Jr. and Donald L. Wass, the proverbial “monkey” is a concept key to working on a team: an individual’s responsibility or task that contributes towards the team’s broader goals.
By: Jessie Straub. By applying my coastal resilience skills and knowledge during my Knauss Fellowship, I knew I could become a “force” for good. As part of an informal working group for 2020 Knauss fellows, FORCE (Fellows for Organized Coastal Efforts), I have the chance to do just that.
By: Victoria Luu. A quick Google search reveals no shortage of articles and blog posts describing 2020 as what, at the end of 2019, many hoped and believed would be a “Super Year” for the ocean. However, with the travel bans and limits on in-person gatherings imposed in the wake of COVID-19, most of the international meetings have been postponed. Where does that leave someone working in NOAA’s Office of International Affairs?
By: Meredith Richardson. Knauss Fellows have the unique opportunity to follow their own interests during their fellowship year, rather than exact roles laid out in a job description. It’s this flexibility that allows fellows to serve as connectors between departments and agencies, identifying areas for improvement and increasing efficiency.
By: Alexandra Skrivanek. NOAA’s mission of science, service and stewardship is vast in scope, spanning the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean. I can personally attest to this because, in the first 24 hours of traveling with RDML Gallaudet in HawaiÊ»i at the start of my fellowship year, we covered most of this breadth.
By Madi Harris
Speed-walking down 5th Avenue in my suit while fighting early Manhattan summer humidity was not the morning I had planned for myself. Expecting the early Amtrak train from D.C. to New York to be on schedule may have been my own naivety, but I now found myself tempting a late arrival for my very first meeting at the United Nations (UN).
By Liz Berg
As a Congressional and Legislative Affairs Fellow with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), I act as a liaison between the FWS and Congress. One of the issue areas I work on is the conservation of pollinators, including the monarch butterfly. I have responded to inquiries from staff who work for Senators, House Representatives, and Congressional committees, including the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and House Natural Resources Committees. I have also prepared outreach materials, and helped coordinate a Congressional briefing – all concerning the monarch butterfly.
Growing up as an army kid, home was just wherever the military decided to stick my family, never a place I lived. But, as I was walking home from my third day as a Hollings Scholar at NOAA’s Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) in Pearl Harbor, HI, it hit me that this strange new place actually “felt” like home, it was something deep in my bones. Now, I am not typically one for signs from the heavens or one to put much stock in ‘feelings’, but I can tell you that this moment was life altering and set me on a path to one day make it back there.
Annapolis. Honolulu. Oakland. Charleston. Minneapolis. St. Petersburg. Gloucester. My desk is in Silver Spring, but we also work in Saipan, Stennis, and Seattle. Working with NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management means working with regions across the nation’s states and territories and sometimes changing my surroundings, virtually, every hour.
As the air horn blew, I couldn’t help but laugh. Even NBC News caught me laughing. During a committee hearing, Representative Cunningham (D-SC) wanted to illustrate that seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic ocean would be as loud and disruptive to the endangered North Atlantic right whale as his air horn blast was to the hearing.