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Sea Grant announces 2020 finalists for the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Sea Grant Office are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2020 class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program. Since 1979, the National Sea Grant College Program has provided one-year fellowships working in federal government offices in Washington, D.C. to over 1,300 early-career professionals. The 69 finalists, including one from Wisconsin, in the 2020 class represent 27 of the 34 Sea Grant programs.

“With each year and class, we continue to be more impressed with the Sea Grant Knauss fellows. They bring fresh perspectives and experiences to the coastal and marine science and policy work happening in D.C., and they continue to raise the bar for us all,” said National Sea Grant College Program Director Jonathan Pennock. “Congratulations to the 2020 Knauss finalists!”

Joe Naughton (Submitted photo)

Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Knauss finalist is Joseph (Joe) Naughton, who hails from Brookfield, Wis. As an undergraduate, Naughton majored in civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also completed a certificate in environmental studies. During his UW-Madison career, he was a member of the varsity soccer team, volunteered in Ecuador with Engineers Without Borders, and cofounded a student organization to stop sexual assault on campus.

In May of this year, Naughton completed a master’s in civil engineering at Marquette University, focusing on environmental and water resources engineering. Said Naughton, “My thesis addressed the role that umanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can play in water resource engineering. I learned skills in ArcGIS, remote sensing, statistical analysis and the overall process to carry out independent research. I’m very excited about being selected for the Knauss program!”

Knauss finalists are chosen through a competitive process that includes several rounds of review at both the state Sea Grant program and national levels. Students finishing Masters (M.S.), Juris Doctor (J.D.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs with a focus and/or interest in marine science, policy or management apply to one of the 34 Sea Grant programs. If applicants are successful at the state program level, their applications are then reviewed by a national panel of experts.

This fall, the 2020 finalists will travel to Washington, D.C., to interview with several executive or legislative offices. Following placement, they will begin their fellowships in February 2020.

Executive appointments for the 2019 Knauss fellows included placements throughout NOAA as well as with Department of the Interior, National Science Foundation, U.S. Navy and other agencies. Legislative placements included the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Minority), the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (Majority), the Senate Commerce Committee (Majority and Minority), the House Committee on Natural Resources (Minority), and several placements in both majority and minority offices.

The 2020 Knauss finalists will become the 41st class of the fellowship and will join a group of over 1,300 professionals who have received hands-on experiences transferring science to policy and management through one-year appointments with federal government offices in Washington, D.C.

Curious about the Knauss fellowship? The Knauss blog shares stories from the 2019 Knauss class on their fellowship experiences and journeys to Washington.


Placement of 2020 Knauss finalists as fellows is contingent on adequate funding in Fiscal Year 2020.