Texas A&M oceanography student named as 2019 Knauss Fellowship finalist

July 11, 2018

By Alex Hood

A Texas A&M University oceanography doctoral student has been selected to receive the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship for 2019.

Andrea Kealoha will spend a year starting next February in Washington, D.C., on a paid fellowship with either the Legislative or Executive Branches of the federal government. The Knauss Fellowships pair highly qualified graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources with “hosts” in the legislative and executive branches of government. This provides a unique educational opportunity for students to learn about national policy decisions affecting these natural resources.

Placement of the 2019 class of finalists will mark the 40th anniversary of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, which has paired more than 1,200 early career professionals with federal government offices since its inception in 1979.

Kealoha is studying the effect of climate change on the health of coral reefs by looking at how water chemistry changes affect coral growth. She said that the importance of such ecosystems is something she learned early on as a Hawaiian. “Where I’m from, coral reefs are a critical component of our culture, economy and food supply,” she said. “After moving to Texas and visiting the Flower Garden Banks, it helped opened my eyes to the importance of coral reefs at the national and global scale.”

Kealoha said she is excited to work with some of the most influential ocean professionals in the country and for the chance to have an impact on a much larger scale. “The Knauss Fellowship will give me the chance to learn how science supports and translates into policies, and to engage in national policy efforts and discussions to protect ocean resources,” she said. “Coral reefs are threatened by many local and global stressors, and I think it’s really important that we do as much as we can to learn about and protect them so that they can continue to provide services for future generations.”

The Knauss Fellowship program is open to students who are enrolled toward a degree in a graduate or professional program; they are required to apply through the nearest state Sea Grant program. The fellowship is named in honor of one of Sea Grant’s founders, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator John A. Knauss.

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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.