Michigan Sea Grant is pleased to announce two finalists for the 2024 class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant). The two Michigan finalists will join 84 early-career professionals selected for placement in federal government offices throughout Washington, D.C. This year’s Michigan students, Brenna Friday and Katrina Lewandowski, are both completing degrees at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
The program matches graduate students with host agencies in Washington, D.C., such as congressional offices, the National Marine Fisheries Service, or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For one year, fellows work on a range of policy and management projects related to ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources. Students apply to the state Sea Grant program in which they are completing their degree.
Brenna is a third year doctoral candidate examining the effects of harmful algal blooms (HABs) on amphibian populations. Because her research includes a conservation focus, Brenna is partnering with state and local agencies to ensure her work is of value. She is also active with community programs and volunteering, with a particular focus on underserved communities. She recently helped judge a Science Fair for Detroit Public Schools, and is working with a team of interdisciplinary scholars focused on food security in Detroit.
Katrina is in her fifth year as a doctoral candidate and is investigating how environmental stressors may affect two separate populations of invasive quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis), and how the abundance of mussel veligers has affected Great Lakes food webs. For this work, she partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (NOAA GLERL). She hopes her work will support fisheries management and provide novel information about the health of commercial fisheries. In addition, she is also interested in issues related to environmental justice, co-leading a university course in Detroit that shared stories of systemic injustices in the city.
Finalists are selected after completing a rigorous competition at state and national levels. Students who are enrolled in or have recently completed master’s, Juris Doctor (J.D.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs with a focus and/or interest in marine and coastal science, policy, or management apply to one of the 34 Sea Grant programs. If applicants are successful at the state program level, their applications are then reviewed by a national panel of experts.
Over the next few months, the 2024 finalists will participate in the placement week process to get to know each other and interview with potential host offices. Following placement, they will begin their fellowships in February 2024.
The 2024 Knauss finalists will become the 45th class of fellows, joining more than 1,600 professionals who have received hands-on experiences transferring science to policy and management through one-year appointments with federal government offices in Washington, D.C.