Two graduate students at Florida universities have received the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, recognizing their outstanding achievement in marine and coastal policy research. The following winners have relocated to Washington, D.C. for one year to work with policymakers in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.
The National Sea Grant College Program created the Knauss fellowship in 1979 to provide educational experiences to students that have an interest in ocean and coastal resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.
Since Florida Sea Grant was established there have been 54 Knauss fellows from Florida universities.
“The Knauss Fellowship is a unique opportunity. It allows graduate students who are excellent marine scientists to spend a year in Washington learning how science is translated into policy,” said Karl Havens, director of Florida Sea Grant. “Florida has truly outstanding fellows this year and I know that they will make substantial contributions to marine policy as well as have great learning experiences.”
Andrew Rubin, a recent graduate from the University of Miami School of Law who has recently passed the Maryland Bar exam, has always been passionate about the ocean. Growing up in Chesapeake Bay, he regularly fished, swam, sailed and explored. As a Knauss Fellow, he will be working in the Highly Migratory Species Division of NOAA Fisheries.
“It ingrained in me a motivation to involve myself in resource issues and to work for a healthy marine ecology,” Rubin said. “But beyond this life-long passion, I also bring concrete experience and knowledge in ocean and coastal law and policy.”
Last summer, he interned at NOAA in the Office of the General Counsel international law section, the Chesapeake Legal Alliance and the Circuit Court for Arundel County, Md. He also worked as a fellow for Oceana on international trade fisheries issues both in Washington, D.C. and Santiago, Chile.
“Andrew clearly has a passion for ocean policy and told me that his large array of experiences reflects a plan to understand how policy works at many levels from local to international,” Havens said.
Robert Ellis, who is earning his Ph.D. in biology at Florida State University, focuses his research on the ecology of red grouper. Although his career goal is to conduct research for a university, he believes the Knauss Fellowship will help him become a better scientist. While in Washington, he will serve as the habitat and ecosystems science coordinator in the NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology.
“Engagement with the public and with policy makers is a fundamental requirement of being a good scientist,” he said. “I believe that one of the most important ways for scientists to aid policy makers is by synthesizing and communicating technical scientific research.”
Ellis received his bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology from the University of California Santa Barbara and his master’s degree in oceanography from Louisiana State University. He is also an active voting member of the special reef fish scientific and statistical committee on the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council.
Ellis’ adviser, Felicia C. Coleman, director of FSU’s Coastal and Marine Laboratory, said she has never known another student to serve on the council so early in their career.
“Having served as a member of the same council, I know how time-consuming it is and understand the attention that must be paid to the often controversial details surrounding policy decisions related to these fisheries,” she said. “On a personal level, Bob has demonstrated that he works hard, works independently, and plays well with others.”
Editor’s note: Dec. 9, 2014 − This article has been updated to more accurately reflect what the fellows hope to accomplish in their respective offices.