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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI sends four fellows to the feds

Media Contact: Monica Allard Cox, 401-874-6937

Rhode Island Sea Grantís largest-ever Knauss class goes to Washington

NARRAGANSETT -- January 20, 2005 -- Four University of Rhode Island (URI) graduate students are among 40 nationally who have been awarded one-year, $40,000, National Sea Grant College Program Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowships. Nancy Jamison, Jesse Mechling, Whitley Saumweber, and Gina Shamshak will begin working in the federal government on ocean and coastal issues starting February 1, 2005.

Jamison, recently of Jamestown, R.I., left a career at VISA International, where she had become a senior vice president, managing over $200 million and 100 employees, to pursue her interests in oceans and ecology. Jamison entered the marine affairs program at URI, where she received a masterís degree in 2004. Jamison will be working in the U.S. State Departmentís Office of Marine Conservation.

Mechling, of Providence, R.I., also a URI master in marine affairs graduate, had embarked on a career in natural history filmmaking, producing a documentary, Cape Cod National Seashore, a Journey through the Four Seasons, before discovering the marine affairs program. ďI felt that my photography and documentary work was a way to teach and inspire people about the seas Ö but I realized that I wanted to be responsible for drafting and implementing policies,Ē Mechling says. He will be working in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Oceans Management and Budget, Ecosystems Goal Team.

Saumweber, of Narragansett, R.I., a Ph.D. candidate at URIís Graduate School of Oceanography, once turned down an opportunity to serve as a crewmember aboard a traditional sailing vessel, traveling around the world on an ďadventure out of the pages of Robert Louis Stevenson.Ē Instead, Saumweber chose to teach about oceanography aboard a sailing school vessel belonging to the Sea Education Association of Woods Hole, Mass. He hopes to continue public service through and after his Knauss Fellowship, which will be with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, and Coast Guard (minority).

Shamshak, of Saunderstown, R.I., a Ph.D. candidate in URIís department of environmental and natural resource economics, has worked for the U.S. Department of Laborís Bureau of Labor Statistics and has taught college economics courses. Her interest in protecting marine resources was sparked when, as a child out walking with her parents, she discovered hypodermic needles and medical waste strewn along Revere Beach in Revere, Mass. Shamshak, who plans to pursue teaching at the university level after her Knauss Fellowship, will be working in the NOAA Fisheries Office of Constituent Services.

The Knauss Fellowship, established in 1979, provides a unique educational experience to students with an interest in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The program matches highly qualified graduate students with hosts in the legislative branch, executive branch, or appropriate associations/institutions located in the Washington, D.C., area.