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.
Category: Graduate School
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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: 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: 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: Maggie Beetstra. As a social scientist in the Midwest, I spent hours and hours having conversations with farmers, visiting their farms, meeting their families, and trying to understand how they make conservation decisions. Now, as a Knauss fellow, I’ve traded the corn and soybean fields for community resilience and marine education, but the same approaches still hold true. Here are some of the lessons I learned in science communication while out in the fields.
From professional development plans to interpersonal skills, how the Knauss Fellowship offers unexpected and lifelong lessons
By: Kaitlyn Lowder. As a Knauss fellow who just finished up her fellowship year, I can confidently say I had the opportunity to gain the experience that I envisioned and more. Yet, reflecting on this past year, there is an aspect to this fellowship that I had not expected but now cannot imagine advancing my career without: a wealth of professional development experiences that are simply not prioritized in academia.
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: Taylor Goelz. In honor of National Mentoring Month, I wanted to add my two cents to the #WomenInSTEM mentorship conversation and use my Knauss Blog to highlight the female mentors that have made a difference in my life and journey. These women, among many others that I’ve interacted with over the years, exemplify the type of mentor that I will strive to be going forward in my career.
By: Lauren Bonatakis. When I decided to quit my full-time, benefitted job to move to a new state for a year of service with AmeriCorps on a whim, it was a surprise to those who know me best. It was also one of the best decisions I have made.
By: Michelle Harris. There’s a common joke that geographers “know where it’s at” – but for this geographer, a sense of direction is not something I’m inherently adept at. No matter how much I plan, there is always an unexpected turn somewhere along the way to be laughed about later. When comparing this to my life roadmap, it is because of fateful turns that this “lost geographer” ended up becoming a Knauss fellow.
By: Grace Roskar. From a summer internship in North Carolina to policy work in D.C., graduate school in Florida, and a research cruise in the Southeast, the variety of experiences I had and the people I met over the years are what influenced my journey to the fellowship.
By: Naomi Lewandowski. For nearly 10 years, I’ve made career choices based on one very sacred metric: would my eight-year-old self be proud of me? As I navigated college, temporary lab jobs, and graduate school, I held this metric dear. However, after becoming a Knauss fellow, and starting down an unexpected and, potentially, brand new career track, it’s been more difficult to figure out what my eight-year-old self would think.
â€œSo, tell meâ€¦â€ How in-depth conversations propelled my work with communities in graduate school and the Knauss fellowship
By: Maggie Chory. When thinking about my experience so far as a Knauss Fellow, I am struck by the fact that many of the skills I learned and practiced as a graduate student play into my day-to-day work now. One skill that I was surprised to discover would have so much importance this year is the ability to conduct a productive and meaningful interview.
By: Rachel Hager. I’m a Knauss marine policy fellow at NOAA because of a poster. Seven years ago, I saw one small poster pinned to a brown cork board in the hallway of a research center in Maryland. I decided to apply for the Knauss fellowship as an inland fellow from Utah because I kept thinking about that poster.
By: Cheyenne Stienbarger. Before we begin, there is something you must know about me. I like organization and need to have a plan, whether it’s a plan for the trip to the grocery store, for the year, or for the next five years. I live to plan. Spoiler alert: you just can’t plan for some things. I discovered the Knauss Fellowship at a critical point in my graduate career where I was uncertain as to what my next steps would be. My decision to pursue the fellowship was not a frivolous one, but it also wasn’t part of my original plan.
By: Kat Montgomery. Did you know that most of the salmon you see in grocery stores and restaurants comes from a fish farm? In fact, aquaculture, which is the farming of fish, shellfish and seaweed in fresh or saltwater, produces about half of the world’s seafood supply. I became interested in aquaculture sort of by accident, and that newfound interest led me to my current position as a Legislative Knauss Fellow.
By: Jennifer Le. Most recipes on the internet begin with a quirky story related to the author, recipe or dish. In a similar vein, this “recipe” is a step-by-step story about how baking has helped me, personally, work through my anxiety both during graduate school and the current pandemic.
By: Connor Fagan. In August of 2005, the winds and waves of Hurricane Katrina smashed through the city of New Orleans. A middle-schooler at the time, my life, along with millions of others, as a New Orleanian would never be the same. Since then, I have directed my studies and career towards environmental policy as a result of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters in the Gulf of Mexico.
August 29th, 2005 is a day that I will never forget. My mother and I had evacuated our New Orleans home several days earlier, and we sat glued to the television, transfixed by the images of Hurricane Katrina inundating our city. In the months that followed, we scoured Google Maps, simply to see if our house still stood. When we finally returned home ten months later, I saw how easily entire ecosystems can be disrupted and destroyed by natural disasters. Hurricane Katrina left a legacy of destruction in its wake, but watching my city recover from the devastation gave me an intimate perspective on the issues associated with living in a coastal environment and compelled me to pursue a career in coastal resiliency.
By Katharine Egan
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the wet lab on the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster watching a video feed from the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that I helped to deploy. The pilot guided the ROV into shallower waters, and I was quick to identify the corals as these depths. I thought about what I was doing this time last year: sitting in front of my laptop using math to find coral reefs just like these for my Master’s thesis research. More specifically, I was using spatial predictive modeling to produce maps showing the potential location of star corals, which can help researchers identify where important reef habitat is located. This year, I didn’t have to predict where the star corals were located, instead I was identifying them as they came across the video feed from the ROV.
By Zac Cannizzo
“Not for you. You just don’t have the mind for science.” The words of my 8th grade science teacher when I asked to be placed in Biology for my freshman year. It hurt. I always liked science, and I loved biology. Some of my earliest memories are watching Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures. From a young age, I wanted to be a biologist. But, I guess it wasn’t for me. I guess I’m not smart enough. I guess maybe I need to do something else. I just don’t have the mind for science.
Two years. I believed her for two years.
By: Andie Chan. I pressed my SCUBA mask to my face as I back rolled off a small catamaran into the warm tropical waters of the Florida Keys. It was my first time SCUBA diving for my Ph.D. research, and I was eager to prove myself. I was starting a project on increasing our understanding of the reproduction and population sizes of pillar corals using genetic techniques, so I needed to collect small pieces of tissue from multiple colonies to bring back to the lab at Penn State. Fortunately, pillar corals at this dive site in Key Largo were conspicuous and prevalent. I swam along a 60 meter stretch of upward-reaching colonies that looked almost furry with their tentacles moving in the current. With great care, I took a small amount of tissue from several colonies to minimize wounding these animals – many of which were likely hundreds of years old.
I hit Submit. I felt anxious. I felt nervous. But, I also felt excited.
I had just taken a leap from my comfort zone to a world of unknown.
Four months later, I found myself in tears as I read “Good News! You have been selected as a Finalist for a 2019 Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.” I was going to transition from academia to the world of policy in Washington, DC.
And I was terrified.
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.
If someone told me a year back that I’d roll out of bed, wear formal clothing I’d never owned previously, and walk into work (with my own desk and everything), I would have laughed my loudest! Prior to 2019 I was the typical graduate student, living the lab life in my jeans and sneakers, and never having heard of the Knauss Fellowship. How did I end up here?