University of Delaware
Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellows (from left) Frances Bothfeld and Erica Wales, both from the University of Delaware, and Symone Johnson from Delaware State University.

Students Washington-bound

Three selected from Delaware Sea Grant for prestigious Knauss fellowship


3:54 p.m., Jan. 20, 2016--Three graduate students from Delaware will spend the next year in Washington, D.C., beginning in February as Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellows. 

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. 

Honors Stories

National Medal of Science

President Barack Obama recently presented the National Medal of Science to University of Delaware alumnus Rakesh Jain.

Warren Award

Rosalind Johnson, assistant dean for student success in the NUCLEUS Program in UD's College of Arts and Sciences, was presented the John Warren Excellence in Leadership and Service Award during a May 26 ceremony.

University of Delaware graduate students Erica Wales and Frances Bothfeld, and Symone Johnson, a graduate student at Delaware State University, were selected from Delaware Sea Grant, which is administered by UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. A total of 53 fellows were selected from across all Sea Grant programs for 2016.

The fellowship, named after John A. Knauss, one of Sea Grant's founders and a former NOAA administrator, enables 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.

“The Knauss Fellowship is kind of a launching pad. It’s a great opportunity to look at things differently, particularly at the national policy level, and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to work with agencies on both a national and regional level. I’m looking forward to learning how Washington works,” says Wales.

Erica Wales will work for the Department of the Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis as an ocean policy and communications specialist. 

Wales will work on the National Ocean Policy and work with the National Ocean Council’s Ocean Resources Management Interagency Policy Committee and the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. She also will contribute to the agency’s newsletter and social media initiatives.

Advised at UD by professors Jeremy Firestone and Biliana Cicin-Sain in the School of Marine Science and Policy, Wales is pursuing a doctoral degree in marine policy. Her research focuses on a capacity assessment for areas of the ocean beyond national jurisdiction, which is everything outside of 200 nautical miles, or 63 percent of the world’s ocean. 

Her work aims to improve coordination and integration of the regional bodies whose jurisdiction lies outside of 200 nautical miles – like shipping and fishing – by exploring whether they have the resources they need and what else would be helpful to better understand the connections between these different legal jurisdictions.

Symone Johnson, a master’s student in natural resources at Delaware State University, will serve as an education policy fellow with NOAA’s Office of Education. 

In this role, Johnson will work in the Department of Commerce’s Office of Education on education projects and programs in different aquariums across the country. One specific focus of her fellowship will include providing minorities and underrepresented communities with scientific information to improve literacy about coastal communities and environmental issues.

Johnson’s research at Delaware State focuses on sand tiger sharks, which serve as apex predators in the northwest Atlantic coastal and estuarine environments. Working under the guidance of Dewayne Fox, assistant professor in agriculture and natural resources, Johnson is writing a regional conservation plan that aims to help remove this Delaware Bay apex predator from the Species of Concern list and to preclude a federal Endangered Species Act listing. 

The conservation plan takes a multi-perspective approach and builds upon stakeholder participation and incorporation of ecological requirements specific to Delaware Bay, including inputs from anglers, commercial fishers and resource managers. 

Johnson is the first Knauss Fellow that Delaware Sea Grant has sent to Washington, D.C., from Delaware State University.

Frances Bothfeld will serve as a congressional affairs fellow with NOAA’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs. She will act as a liaison between NOAA and Congress on a variety of subjects, and will help communicate NOAA's mission to members of Congress during congressional hearings or meetings, or individually. She also will cooperate with NOAA colleagues to develop legislative language for various ocean, coastal and atmospheric initiatives.

Bothfeld is a graduate student in UD’s water science and policy graduate program. Her research with Angelia Seyfferth, assistant professor in plant and soil science, explores physical and biogeochemical controls on greenhouse gas production and flux in estuaries, which are often known as “nurseries of the sea” for the critical nesting and feeding habitats they provide for various aquatic plants and animals.

Learn more, apply for 2017

Since 1979, Delaware Sea Grant has sent more than 35 Knauss Fellows to Washington, D.C.

Applications for the 2017 Knauss Fellowship are being accepted until Feb. 12. 

To learn more about applying for this or other Sea Grant fellowships, visit the Delaware Sea Grant website.

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.

Article by Karen B. Roberts

News Media Contact

University of Delaware
Communications and Public Affairs

UDaily is produced by
Communications and Public Affairs

The Academy Building
105 East Main Street
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716 | USA
Phone: (302) 831-2792