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
Four people install substrate for an oyster reef.

Biden-Harris Administration invests $60 million to build a climate-ready workforce through Investing in America agenda

Today, the Department of Commerce and NOAA announced $60 million in funding to help train and place people in jobs that advance a climate-ready workforce for coastal and Great Lakes states, Tribes and Territories as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda under the Inflation Reduction Act. To date, awards like these from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda have created more than 270,000 jobs across the country.

The funding will support nine projects around the nation, with $50 million going directly to the projects and $10 million for technical assistance to support the grantees.

Read More >

Sea Grant Aquaculture Academy in New Hampshire

Sea Grant aquaculture professionals from across the country convened in Portsmouth, NH in early April for a 4-day intensive “Sea Grant Aquaculture Academy” hosted by New Hampshire Sea Grant with support from North Carolina Sea Grant.

Read More >
Images of Sea Grant's work in research, education and extension provided by (from left to right) Wisconsin, Guam and Florida Sea Grant programs. Design by Hallee Meltzer | National Sea Grant Office.

Sea Grant takes center stage in Oceanography special issue

NOAA Sea Grant-funded research and work with coastal and Great Lakes communities across the nation are being highlighted in a special issue of “Oceanography,” the official journal of The Oceanography Society. 

This special issue, published in April 2024, features 36 articles contributed by Sea Grant authors across 29 programs and the NOAA National Sea Grant Office. 

Read More >
Scroll to Top