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: 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: 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: 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: Lu Wang. To take full advantage of all this year has to offer, I adapted a mindset early on in the fellowship to try to say “yes” to every opportunity. And so when my host office asked me if I wanted to go to sea as part of my fellowship, my response could only be, “Absolutely, I do.”
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: 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: 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.
While I now live in Washington, D.C., and have committed to a career in science, it was only six months ago that I packed up my favorite corkscrew and bottle opener to begin my adventure as a Knauss fellow. Five of the lessons I learned through my bartending experiences stand out as those that I believe make me successful as a scientist.
By: Christine Bassett. Given my experience thinking about past climate and oceans, it might seem peculiar for me, a geoscientist, to spend my Knauss Fellowship year in the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Office of Observations. Read about how my work at the NWS gives me the opportunity to bring my focus on past human-climate interactions into the present and future.
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 Roxanne J Carini
In graduate school, I would quip that I studied everything about the ocean, except what lived there! So, imagine my surprise when I wound up at the Marine Mammal Commission for my year-long Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.
Falling in love with the world of marine mammals didn’t take long! But, not for the reasons you may think.
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: Alicia Wilson
While spending my first field season of graduate school on the coastal barrier islands of Georgia, I thought I was lucky to witness a record number of loggerhead sea turtle nests for the state. Three years later, as I watch from my fellowship in D.C., I am even more amazed. Loggerhead sea turtle ladies are kicking butt in Georgia. They are poised to break all nesting records in the state, with an anticipated final nest count of over 4,000! Just 15 years ago, the count hovered around 400 nests total for the entire state.
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.
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.
“Look! This is where we live?! I can’t believe we’re still on Guam! It’s so beautiful!” That was the genuine reaction of a middle schooler as our bus climbed a hill, revealing to us a breathtaking view of Sella Bay in southern Guam. We were en route to our first stop on the Humatak Watershed Adventure, which I was co-leading as a part of my extension project for my University of Guam Sea Grant Fellowship.