2022 Knauss Fellows: How Are They Faring?
Education - News

Last year, (l-r) Giselle Schmitz, Liang Wu, and Celeste Zumwalt were named as New York Sea Grant (NYSG)’s 2022 Knauss Fellow finalists.

By Chris Gonzales, Freelance Science Writer, New York Sea Grant

New York, NY, September 12, 2022 - Since the 44th class of Knauss Fellowship finalists was recently announced, we thought we’d reach back out to NYSG's 2022 Knauss fellows to see how they’re doing.

NYSG’s 2022 Knauss Fellows: In Their Words

(At left) Celeste Zumwalt. Credit: Aryeh Schwartz; (At right) Celeste Zumwalt appears with NOAA Administrator Richard (Rick) W. Spinrad. Credit: Karen Hyun

Celeste Zumwalt
Knauss Fellow, Office of the Under Secretary/NOAA Administrator Policy Analyst

“I have enjoyed my time working at the Office of the Under Secretary/NOAA Administrator as a Policy Analyst supporting the Chief of Staff Karen Hyun, a former Knauss Fellow,” said Zumwalt. “In this role, I have seen how policy is developed and implemented across the agency. Moreover, I have had the unique opportunity to see the decision-making process at the leadership level working with the Senior Advisors to the NOAA Administrator. My projects have been fast-paced and have ranged from supporting Dr. Spinrad’s priorities for the agency to being a part of the Implementation team for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

 “One of my favorite parts of the fellowship so far was having the opportunity to go inside NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters which play a significant role in collecting data for hurricane forecasting. Seeing the planes up close as well as the technology used to gather the data was fascinating. This experience has been invaluable for me and pushed me out of my comfort zone in many ways. I am very grateful for this fellowship and look forward to carrying my new skills from this office to the next chapter of my career.”

Liang Wu pauses in the shadow of a lifeboat aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in April of 2022. During the monthlong research assignment, Wu participated in deep-sea mapping work which took place along the length of the U.S. East Coast and in the waters around Puerto Rico. Read more about the deep-sea mapping expeditionCredit: NOAA Ocean Exploration

Liang Wu
NOAA Ocean Exploration Science Communication Fellow

“The John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship has allowed me to bridge natural and social sciences and policy in ways that I would have never imagined,” said Wu. “I wasn’t sure at first that a humanist like me would be qualified. Then a Knauss alumnus told me that it is people, not fish, who make marine policies and it is people whom policymakers are trying to influence first.”

“Since February this year, I have been working across the science and technology, and outreach and education divisions of NOAA Ocean Exploration. My Knauss mentors helped me grow from an ethnographer to also becoming an ocean explorer on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in April for a deep-sea voyage.”

As an anthropologist, I also offered my unique perspective of the ship's operation by carrying out informal interviews and participant observations, and analyzing the shipboard structure and social dynamics to generate insights for furthering the office’s science mission.”

“Another dream of mine came true when I went on a mission to Alaska in May to learn about indigenous engagement and build connections with Alaska Natives. It was a perfect way to marry my humanistic commitment with policymaking.”

Scientists are increasingly aware of their role in affecting social well-being. I believe it is time that we bring together interdisciplinary knowledge and diverse perspectives to tackle the unprecedented challenges facing humanity.”

“I invite you all to do our part for our community, society, environment, and future generations!”

(At left) Fellow notetakers gather at the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum Ministerial Event, July 14, 2022. In the photo, Schmitz is on the far right. Credit: All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum; (At right) With fellow SEFIS science party members in front of NOAA Ship Pisces (from left Jamie Clark, Justin Pearce, Giselle Schmitz). Credit: Executive Officer John Kidd

Giselle Schmitz
National Stock Assessment Program at the NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology

“I was placed in the National Stock Assessment Program at NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology for my fellowship this year,” said Schmitz. “In this role I’ve had the opportunity to support improved information access and analysis capacity through platforms such as the Distribution Mapping and Analysis Portal. In addition, I’ve explored the organization’s current processes and next-generation stock assessment tools and science. I also became involved in broader science policy initiatives including acting as a notetaker at the recent All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum 2022 Ministerial Event in D.C. alongside other Knauss Fellows.”

“The ministerial event featured discussions on the significance of Atlantic cooperation for early-career professionals and future generations as well as the signing of the first-ever All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance Declaration,” she continued. 

“Two particular highlights of my fellowship so far have been the opportunity to present research on behalf of my team at the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting in August on the opportunities and challenges for incorporating citizen science in fisheries stock assessments as well as joining the Southeast Independent Fisheries Survey (SEFIS) to support scientific fish sampling in the US Southeast region and participate in data collection processes leading to important data inputs for various reef fish stock assessments in the region.”

2023 Knauss Fellow Finalists Announced

In August, the National Sea Grant College Program announced the 2023 Knauss Fellow finalists, five of whom are with New York Sea Grant.

Nationally, the 2023 class represents the largest in recent years with 86 finalists. Since 1979, over 1,550 fellows have completed the one-year Knauss fellowship program, applying their experience to lasting careers in science, policy, and public administration.
This incoming class of finalists comprises students and recent graduates from 62 distinct universities, including 16 finalists from nine minority-serving institutions. The finalists represent 29 of the 34 Sea Grant programs, and they completed coursework and research in a range of fields, such as biology, chemistry, ecology, engineering, environmental science and management, law, marine and coastal sciences and policy, and several disciplines of oceanography.

Learn all about the Knauss Fellowship in a video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program: bit.ly/Knauss-video. The application period and guidance for 2024 fellowships will open in Fall 2022.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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