Four Texas students selected to be Knauss Marine Policy Fellows

June 06, 2007

By Cindie Powell

COLLEGE STATION — Four advanced students in marine science from Texas universities will be among 52 individuals serving one-year fellowships in 2008 in the Washington, D.C., area as Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellows.

They were nominated by the Texas Sea Grant College Program, a component of the National Sea Grant College Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and also part of the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. 

“I am extremely pleased that four outstanding graduate students from Texas universities have been selected for the 2008 Knauss Fellows class,” said Dr. Robert Stickney, director of Texas Sea Grant. “Our four new Fellows will be joining an elite group, and we at Texas Sea Grant know that their year in Washington will be the first step in what will be outstanding careers.”

Jessica Beck is a doctoral student in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University at Galveston. She holds a master of science in marine biology from the Florida Institute of Technology and a bachelor of science in biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Beck has conducted research on hatchery-reared red drum to study how early life conditioning effects the fish’s probability of survival and quantifying several behavioral responses for both hatchery and wild fish. 

Edward Gorecki is completing a master of public administration with an emphasis in environmental science from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He holds a bachelor of science degree in biology with a concentration in marine/field biology from the same university, and he has assisted with research on legal and policy issues relating the oil and gas development in the Western Gap Region of the Gulf of Mexico, state laws regulating cultural artifacts on state submerged lands, the status of claims filed at the United Nations to extend coastal state continental shelves, and offshore wind power development policies. 

Charlotte Hieke is a graduate student pursuing a master of science in oceanography at Texas A&M University and is conducting her research on the Texas A&M University at Galveston campus. She holds a bachelor of science in marine biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston. A native of Germany, she attended high school and received a diploma as a foreign exchange student from Roswell High School in Roswell, N.M. Her most recent research involves studying bacterial diversity and sediment pollution in the Houston Ship Channel.

Lara Hinderstein is a doctoral student at Texas A&M University at Galveston in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. She has been studying aquatic invertebrates found only in underwater caves through SCUBA diving in caves located in the Yucatan region of Mexico and in the Bahamas. Some cave systems contain species that are found nowhere else. She holds a master of arts in biology with a marine biology concentration from San Francisco State University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Trinity University in San Antonio.

The Knauss fellowship, established in 1979, provides a unique educational experience to students who have 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 and executive branches of government located in the Washington, D.C., area, for a one-year paid fellowship beginning in February. The program is named in honor of one of Sea Grant's founders, former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss.

The Knauss Fellows meet with sponsoring agencies in December to be matched to the locations where they will serve their fellowships. In addition to a wide range of offices and departments within NOAA, past and current fellows have also served with the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and in Congressional offices. 

Texas Sea Grant is one of a network of 32 university-based programs in coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico modeled after the Land Grant Colleges. Students apply to become Knauss Fellows through one of the Sea Grant programs, which select candidates to sponsor. The final decision is made by a review panel convened by the National Sea Grant Office. While the number of fellowships offered varies with the availability of positions, the Texas Sea Grant College Program has had at least one accepted each year over the past decade.

Three Knauss Fellows from Texas are currently serving 2007 fellowships. Lisa Iwahara, who has a master of science degree in ecology from the University of Houston, is working in the office of Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD); Reagan Errera, who has a master of science in wildlife and fisheries management from Texas A&M, is serving her fellowship with the Office of Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes in NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR); and Amy Wagner, who holds a Ph.D. in oceanography from Texas A&M, is working with OAR’s Climate Program Office.

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Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.