Ohio Sea Grant Announces Knauss Fellowship Finalists and Placements for Year in Washington, D.C. | Ohio Sea Grant

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Ohio Sea Grant Announces Knauss Fellowship Finalists and Placements for Year in Washington, D.C.

12:00 pm, Mon November 13, 2023 – Ohio Sea Grant’s five 2023 Knauss fellowship finalists will work in year-long positions in federal host offices in Washington, D.C

Ohio Sea Grant is proud to announce five Ohio finalists are part of the 44th 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. Four of the Ohio fellows were placed in executive branch positions in October, while one fellow will be placed within the legislative branch in January.

“Our program continues to send accomplished groups of Ohio finalists to Washington, D.C. each year,” said Dr. Kristen Fussell, associate director for Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory. “Each of these outstanding finalists will be assets to the federal offices in which they are being placed.”


Zachary Amadon

Zachary Amadon is a Ph.D. candidate in biology at The University of Toledo, studying the early life mechanisms influencing recruitment variation of lake whitefish in Lake Erie. He was placed in the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Office of Science and Technology, under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“My career goal is to obtain a federal fisheries scientist position that focuses on understanding how food web connections relate to important commercial and recreational fisheries, so resource managers can effectively balance human and environmental needs to create a sustainable future,” Amadon said.

A headshot photo

Elyse Bonner

Elyse Bonner is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering, where she earned a master’s degree in environmental engineering. She was placed in NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service line office, where she will join the Ocean Remote Sensing and CoastWatch programs.

“My professional career goals include providing science to inform policy about water resource monitoring and treatment and effectively communicating research to preserve water resources,” Bonner said. “It is known that underserved communities are disproportionately affected by poor environmental conditions. Therefore, I want to promote outreach, equity, and justice to marginalized communities and communicate the experienced environmental and socioeconomic disadvantages.”


Sarah Rair

Sara Rair is a Ph.D candidate in biology at Bowling Green State University, studying the movement of vertebrates in a mixed disturbance landscape. She was placed in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Maritime Law Enforcement Policy, where she will join the Fisheries Enforcement Division.

“I would like to provide research and scientific expertise to ensure that critical knowledge relating to the conservation of our water resources is used by decision makers when shaping policies that affect everyone, while also bridging the gap between research and implementation,” Rair said.

Jai Tiarks is a Ph.D. candidate in Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, where they are researching how turbidity affects the visual sensitivity of an African chiclid fish. They were placed in NOAA’s Oceanic and Atmospheric Research International Activities Office.


Jai Tiarks

“My career goals center around my passion to actively protect aquatic ecosystems,” Tiarks said. “My time in research has highlighted a lack of application of scientific findings outside of academia, which is why I believe it is imperative to become involved with the federal government to assist with creating policy and/or legislation directly informed by science.”

A fifth Ohio finalist, Chelsea Hunter, Ph.D. candidate and distinguished university fellow in Ohio State’s Department of Anthropology, will be placed in a legislative branch position in January.

“As an anthropologist trained in the human dimensions of natural resource management and conservation, I seek a career that enhances the socio-environmental and economic sustainability of marine and coastal communities,” Hunter said. “I want work at the nexus of
policy, practice, and research, applying integrative and interdisciplinary research to pressing
environmental issues.”


Chelsea Hunter

The finalists join a group of 85 graduate students recommended to the National Sea Grant office from 30 Sea Grant programs and 66 universities across the country. More information about the program is available at

Applications for the 2025 Knauss Fellowship are now open. To apply through Ohio Sea Grant, please contact Dr. Fussell at Ohio Sea Grant asks that all applicants contact our office at least a month prior to the application deadline, and all application materials must be received by February 15, 2024.

Ohio Sea Grant is supported by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension, and NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 34 Sea Grant programs nation-wide dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. Stone Laboratory is Ohio State’s island campus on Lake Erie and is the research, education, and outreach facility of Ohio Sea Grant and part of CFAES School of Environment and Natural Resources.

ARTICLE TITLE: Ohio Sea Grant Announces Knauss Fellowship Finalists and Placements for Year in Washington, D.C. PUBLISHED: 12:00 pm, Mon November 13, 2023
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