IISG has two Knauss fellows. Here is a post from Priscilla Viana:

I was awarded a 2010 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship through Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant; it started in February 2010. The purpose of this post is to share some of my experiences as a Sea Grant fellow in Washington DC.

The Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship is usually awarded to 40 – 50 students. The selection process comprises two steps. The first selection takes place through state Sea Grant offices. Then, eligible students compete for the fellowship at national level. Finalist students participate in the placement week. It was very interesting to be interviewed by approximately 15 different offices both in the legislative and executive branches. I concluded that working under the guidance of Dr. Phillip Taylor at the National Science Foundation (NSF) provided the best prospects.

Working at NSF has been a very rewarding experience. NSF provides funding for approximately 20 percent of all federally-supported basic research in U.S. I have contributed in the proposal reviewing process and in evaluating grant proposals based on the NSF merit-review criteria. Specifically, I am working on ecology of infectious diseases and I will work on ocean acidification in the near future.

This position offers me not only the experience of working in a federal agency with public policy, but also the benefit of exploring the important process of research funding in U.S. and understanding the necessary features of outstanding research projects. I am now more skilled to evaluate weaknesses and strengths of a research project and also better prepared to write grant proposals for my own research. Thus, it enhances my record of achievements in both academia and public policy. Fostering this knowledge will be helpful in either career I pursue.

This fellowship is very prestigious in Washington D.C. Fellows have the chance to network with researchers and government staff from many different offices, such as NOAA, EPA, USGS, Fish and Wildlife Services, Department of Energy and NSF. As a consequence, we are invited to participate in numerous conferences and receptions. Since February, I have participated in the Ocean Leadership 2010 Public Policy Forum at Capitol Hill and in a conference about ecology of infectious diseases at Atlantic City, NJ. In April, I will participate in a seminar about oceans and human health on Capitol Hill.

Being a Knauss Sea Grant fellow is a unique and gratifying experience. I am looking forward to share more of my experience in my next post!

(Priscilla Viana is finishing her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois – Chicago. Her research focuses on remediation of contaminated sediments. She can be reached at pviana@nsf.gov.)

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