Columbus Ohio Sea Grant is proud to announce that five Ohio finalists have been selected as part of the 40th class of the prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, a year-long program that places highly qualified graduate students in host offices in the legislative and executive branches of U.S. government. The group represents the largest number of Ohio finalists selected in one year since the program began in 1979.
“We are proud to send such an accomplished group of Ohio finalists into Placement Week for their Knauss Fellowships later this year,” said Dr. Christopher Winslow, director of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory at The Ohio State University. “Each of them brings a unique combination of science expertise and passion for policy work to the table, and we believe they will be outstanding assets to the federal government programs they decide to join.”
Alison Agather is a PhD candidate in environmental science at Wright State University in Dayton, studying mercury contamination and the processes that allow mercury to enter the food chain. As part of her research, she focuses on educating the public about safe seafood consumption, which has sparked a wider interest in science communication and education.
“What stands out the most to me with my oceanographic experiences is the vital role that diplomacy, international collaboration, and policy each play in science,” Agather wrote in her fellowship application. “I think that participating in the Knauss Fellowship program will be an ideal opportunity for me to make connections, learn more about science policy, and help me spread knowledge and ignite interest in marine science.”
Anna Apostel is a PhD candidate in agricultural engineering at The Ohio State University in Columbus, where she focuses on developing computer models that help researchers and agencies study and manage watersheds like the Maumee River. She is currently acting as the liaison between the research team and the stakeholders informing the work, and that experience has encouraged her to look at issues from a number of angles.
“I seek to obtain a position in the environmental policy sector where I will be able to focus on the use of sound science for water policy and citizen outreach,” Apostel wrote in her application. “The Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship provides the ideal opportunity to take the next step towards achieving these career goals. I am excited about the opportunities to work with policy makers and learn more about the processes involved in marine policy development.”
Elizabeth Berg is pursuing a Master’s degree at Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources. In addition to mentoring undergraduate students in laboratory research, she is involved with a number of university governing bodies to develop her skills in governance and networking.
“As a Knauss Fellow and in my future career, I hope to continue working with freshwater resources in the Great Lakes,” Berg said in her application. “Ultimately, I aim to be a representative of the scientific community in the interface of science-policy decisions.”
Amara Huddleston is a Master’s student at Ohio State’s Aquatic Ecology Laboratory. Her research focuses on walleye, an important sport fish in the Great Lakes, and how severe winters affect larval walleye prey. Her true passion, though, lies in communicating science to the public and helping ensure that science-based information guides policy decisions.
“Science policy is the intersection between my passions: research, communication, and outreach,” Huddleston wrote in her fellowship application. “The Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship will set me on a trajectory toward expertise in scientific education and outreach. Most importantly, I hope to learn how research, policy, communication, and education intersect to help protect the economic vitality and resources of coastal and Great Lakes communities.”
Audrey Maran is a biology PhD candidate at Bowling Green State University, just south of her hometown of Toledo, which was severely affected by harmful algal bloom toxins in the summer of 2014. The event, and the reactions of her friends and family to it, pointed out just how important Lake Erie is to the local communities that rely on it for drinking water and focused her research on how soil insects affect the agricultural nutrient runoff that causes harmful algal blooms.
“Though I have started developing solid science communication and research bases, which are necessary to reach my career goals, I have little experience in how research impacts policy. As a Knauss fellow, I would gain invaluable opportunities and firsthand knowledge about developing evidence-based policy that engages key stakeholders,” Maran said in her application. “I can think of no better way to use my knowledge and skills to contribute to society in a way that improves quality of life and protects the environment than to pursue a career in policy.”
The five women join a group of 69 finalists recommended to the National Sea Grant office from 30 Sea Grant programs across the country. Finalists will meet in Washington, D.C. in November 2018 for placement interviews with potential host offices, which can include executive branch appointments in offices like NOAA, the Department of the Interior and the National Science Foundation, as well as legislative placements on Senate and House committees and in legislative offices.
The Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant College Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 33 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For more information, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.