Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Sea Grant’s Knauss Fellows – Legislative Fellows Take on Capitol Hill

Sea Grant’s Knauss Legislative Fellows

By Robin Garcia, National Sea Grant Office


Since 1979, the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship has provided outstanding graduate students  with the opportunity to work in the Executive or Legislative branches of the government for one year in Washington, DC. Historically, up to ten Legislative fellows are part of every class; they represent about 20% of the 2015 class. Legislative fellows have the unique opportunity to assist with marine and aquatic legislation on Capitol Hill.


The 2015 legislative fellows are a diverse group of ten individuals. Half of the legislative fellows have or are in the process of earning a doctoral degree in biological science. Two fellows have a law degree, two have master’s degrees in environmental management, and one has a master’s degree in a biological science. Their specialties include fisheries, ecology, zoology, and freshwater science. The legislative fellows come from programs as close as Virginia and as far away as Alaska. Many chose to apply as a legislative fellow to experience the policy process first-hand and to understand the interaction between science and policy.


Legislative fellows are distributed within Congress. Currently, four fellows work in House staff offices and three in Senate staff offices. Two fellows are working on Senate committees and one is on a House committee. Their general responsibilities consist of conducting research on, and drafting legislation on topics ranging from maritime issues to fisheries to coastal resilience. Other tasks include meeting with constituents and stakeholders. Some accomplishments are professional, such as learning how to draft a bill and assisting with work on the Endangered Species Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Other highlights are personal, such as taking a photo with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the Super Bowl trophy on Capitol Hill. 

Surprises for the Legislative Fellows have included meeting with high-ranking individuals such as university presidents and generals, learning about the significance of engaging stakeholders, gaining insight on the importance of the legislative staff, and the cooperative nature that can be seen on Capitol Hill. Fellow Alexis Rudd from Hawaii Sea Grant explains that “I am happy to say that I have found myself surrounded by an amazing group of people who work together to pass bipartisan legislation on oceans.”

What should everyone know about being a Legislative Fellow? “It’s really a symbiotic relationship between the fellow and the host office” says fellow Thomas Farrugia from Alaska Sea Grant. “The fellow receives a fantastic primer in the legislative process, as well as invaluable experience working in a congressional office and working just like any other staffer. The host office gets an expert in environmental law or marine sciences, somebody who knows how to research and synthesize information and has experience dealing with complicated subject matters.”

Related Posts

Virginia Sea Grant Launches the USDA and NOAA-Supported Aquaculture Information Exchange Online Community Platform

The Aquaculture Information Exchange (AIE) online community platform website is now live and open for new user registrations. The AIE represents a joint effort between NOAA’s National Sea Grant Office, NOAA’s Fisheries Office of Aquaculture, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and Virginia Sea Grant.

Read More >
Image of Capitol Hill with a bright blue cloudless sky and blooming cherry blossom tree in the right corner
Academia to Government

Sea Grant Announces the 2024 Class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

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.

Read More >
Image of plastic debris on Oregon’s Clatsop Beach by Tiffany Woods | Oregon Sea Grant.

Sea Grant announces funding opportunities to support community-engaged marine debris removal and prevention

Sea Grant announces $19 million in federal funding opportunities to address the prevention and removal of marine debris. These opportunities are a component of nearly $3 billion in targeted investments for NOAA in the areas of habitat restoration, coastal resilience and weather forecasting infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Read More >
Scroll to Top