TAMU graduate chosen for national fellowship

May 22, 2009

By Jim Hiney

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A Texas A&M University graduate student has been chosen by the National Sea Grant College Program (NSCGP) to spend a year working on ocean resource issues in the nation’s capital.

Adrian Dahood, who recently received a master’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, was one of 51 people chosen nationally to participate in the prestigious Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program.

“I am honored and thrilled to be a 2010 Knauss Fellow,” said Dahood, who conducted her graduate studies under the auspices of the university’s Marine Mammal Research Program in Galveston, Texas. “I feel very lucky to have been chosen from such a competitive applicant pool. The Knauss Fellowship will give me a better understanding for how science is used to inform marine policy decisions. I believe that is an extremely valuable experience for any researcher who wishes to aid in conservation efforts. I hope that the lessons I learn while a Knauss Fellow will help direct my future research so that I am more effective in promoting marine conservation. In turn, while I am a Knauss Fellow, I hope to use the skills I learned as a graduate student at Texas A&M to help policy makers get the information they need to design the most effective marine policies.”

Dahood was nominated for the fellowship by the Texas Sea Grant College Program, a research center within Texas A&M’s College of Geosciences and one of 32 state programs affiliated with the NSGCP.

The NSGCP’s, whose mission is to conduct marine research, education and outreach activities, is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Administration (NOAA).

“I am delighted that Adrian Dahood was selected as a finalist for the Knauss Fellowship class of 2010. The fellowship represents a unique opportunity and one that has helped launch the careers of many scientists who have gone on to become leaders in their fields,” said Dr. Robert Stickney, director of Texas Sea Grant. “Later this year Adrian will go to Washington, D.C. along with the other finalists from around the country to participate in placement week. At that time she will be paired with an office in the Executive Branch where she'll be working next year.”

“I am disappointed that the other two outstanding candidates we submitted were not selected, however, having sat on the review committee myself a few years ago, I know that the competition is fierce and in the final analysis it comes down to having to eliminate many strong candidates just because there are not enough positions available to accommodate everyone,” said Stickney. “We are extremely proud of the quality of applicants we have the opportunity to interview each year. They come from universities across the state, and in some cases from adjacent states that do not have Sea Grant programs. Adrian will enjoy a unique and rewarding experience, while at the same time sharing her knowledge and skills with her colleagues at the federal level.”

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. 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.

The national Sea Grant network comprises university-based programs in coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico, and is modeled after the Land Grant college concept. 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.

Two Texas A&M graduates are part of the 2009 Knauss Fellowship class, and both are currently working in the Executive Branch of the federal govenment. Walter Cox, who received a doctorate in geography, is working in NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Mridula Srinivasan, a doctoral graduate from the Department of Wildlife Fisheries Sciences, is working for the International Activities Office within NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

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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.