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2017 Knauss Fellows

Delaware Sea Grant sends two Knauss Fellows to Washington, D.C.

University of Delaware graduate student Lauren Knapp will get a first-hand look at marine policy decision-making when she heads to Washington, D.C., in February to begin her Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.

Sponsored by the National Sea Grant College Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational experience for students interested in the national policy decisions that affect the ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources. It also affords unmatched access and opportunities for career development for graduate students interested in marine science and policy at the federal level.

Knapp, a doctoral candidate in marine studies in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, will spend a year as a research adviser fellow with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Engineer Research and Development Center. In this role, she will gain experience in valuation work on beach replenishment, living coastlines, dams, wetland restoration, fish passageways, and related activities.

“This position offers the coastal and electricity generation focus I seek to pursue, while allowing me to stay close to research,” said Knapp.

Applications for the 2018 Knauss Fellowship are being accepted until Feb. 21. To learn more about applying for this or other Sea Grant fellowships, visit the Delaware Sea Grant website.

A total of 62 fellows were selected from across all Sea Grant programs for 2017. Knapp is one of two graduate students selected by Delaware Sea Grant for 2017.

The other is Katrina Tomacek, who earned a doctoral degree in law at American University in May 2016. Tomacek will serve as an executive fellow for NOAA’s Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement. She is the first Knauss Fellow that Delaware Sea Grant has sent to Washington, D.C., from American University.

A valuable, yet individualized experience

Since 1979, Delaware Sea Grant has sent more than 37 Knauss Fellows to Washington, D.C.

The fellowship, named after John A. Knauss, one of Sea Grant's founders and a former NOAA administrator, enables the selected graduate students to complete one-year paid assignments in a host organization in the legislative and executive branch of the federal government located in the Washington, D.C., area.

Each placement is individualized based on the host organization’s needs and the selected graduate students desired experience. Erica Wales and Symone Johnson, both 2016 Knauss Fellows from Delaware Sea Grant, called the experience “incredibly positive.”

Wales had the opportunity to focus on policy implementation and communications at the Department of the Interior.

Her work involved interagency coordination and focused on the National Ocean Policy and the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. In addition, she led her team’s social media efforts and helped produce a quarterly newsletter to educate the general public, opening her eyes to the value of science communication.

She hopes to gain additional federal experience while completing her UD doctoral degree.

Johnson, a graduate student at Delaware State University, spent a majority of her fellowship focused on public outreach to general audiences, particularly youth, to inform them about NOAA science and programs.

In particular, she enjoyed organizing and serving as a panelist for several outreach events; hosting the Ocean Today, Every Full moon introduction videos; and sharing her science as a featured shark biologist expert for the Smithsonian of Natural History “Expert Is In” science education program for school visitors.

Additionally, she spent time helping to advance NOAA’s education priorities, coordinating a network of 25 North American aquariums and marine institutions, and working across all Line Offices to encourage the recruitment and advancement of minorities in NOAA.

About Delaware Sea Grant

The University of Delaware was designated as the nation’s ninth Sea Grant College in 1976 to promote the wise use, conservation and management of marine and coastal resources through high-quality research, education and outreach activities that serve the public and the environment. 

UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment administers the program, which conducts research in priority areas ranging from aquaculture to coastal hazards.


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