Make a splash in Washington

U.S. Capitol building and reflecting pool

How’d you like to help create national policies that make things better? At URI, there’s a good chance you can do that.

Graduate students Brandon Elsner, Leigh Habegger and Kerry Whittaker are headed to Washington, D.C., to put what they’ve learned about economics, marine affairs and oceanography to work shaping government policy about the world’s oceans. It’s an opportunity that students across the country can apply for, but URI students are more successful than those at most schools in obtaining a coveted John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.

I know the science side of things really well, but I also know there are some gaps between the science and the decisions being made. To be on the front lines of where the decision making happens will be a very valuable step in my career. ~ Kerry Whittaker

Brandon will spend his fellowship working for Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi on a wide range of marine and environmental issues; Leigh will address fisheries and ocean policy while working for Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine; and Kerry will work in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Protected Resources, where she will help administer the listing of endangered species.

“I really care about our environment and the decisions that are being made about our natural resources,” Kerry said. “I know the science side of things really well, but I also know there are some gaps between the science and the decisions being made. To be on the front lines of where the decision making happens will be a very valuable step in my career.”

The national fellowships are named for the former dean of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, who also served as NOAA administrator. They provide qualified grad students interested in national policy decisions affecting ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources with hosts in the federal legislative or executive branches of government. Rhode Island candidates are selected by the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program at the URI Bay Campus and forwarded to the National Sea Grant College Program, which administers the program and chooses the finalists.

“The Knauss fellowship appealed to me because it provides an unparalleled opportunity to be at the nexus of national marine policy issues where science, industry and politics meet,” Brandon said.

For many students, the fellowships are a launching point for securing jobs at government agencies working in marine policy, ocean-related research, science communication or other disciplines.

So if you’re planning to make a splash in Washington and protect the marine environment at the same time, you may want to start by getting your feet wet right here.

 

Related links:

National Sea Grant College Program

John Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

 

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Every February—snow or no snow—the URI Pink Out Games bring together members from all segments of the University community for a common cause. The Pink Out Games are now their eighth year, and their proceeds, along with those from the sale of URI Pink Out T-shirts, benefit the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. This year’s Pink Out games are on Feb. 12, when the URI women take on Dayton, and on Feb. 19 when it’s the Rhody men against St. Joseph’s.