Texas Sea Grant nominee selected for marine policy fellowship in Washington, D.C.

August 04, 2014

By Mona Behl, Ph.D.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Doctoral student Kaitlyn Schroeder-Spain will be traveling to Washington, D.C., next year as a 2015 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow.

She was nominated for the prestigious National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fellowship by the Texas Sea Grant College Program at Texas A&M University. In November, she and other Knauss Fellows will attend a series of interviews in Washington to be matched with the executive branch agency or congressional office where they will spend the yearlong fellowship that will begin in February 2015.

Schroeder-Spain, a Texas native, will earn her doctorate in Coastal and Marine System Sciences from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi (TAMUCC). Her research focuses on marine ecotoxicology. She is currently investigating the effects on blue crab, an ecologically and commercially important species, of several common toxicants used to eradicate insects that transmit diseases. Before attending TAMUCC, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from The University of North Texas in Denton.

“I want a career that revolves around science and requires me to keep learning and solve problems, and until recently, that always translated into academia,” Schroeder-Spain said. “There are many talented scientists publishing policy-relevant research, but there seems to be a deficiency of scientists that have the time, or desire, to track how science influences public policy. It also seems that some research may be overlooked or missed, and I want to understand why and help improve the communication between scientists and policy-makers.”

Sponsored by the National Sea Grant College Program, the Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational experience to graduate students interested in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. It is named after one of Sea Grant’s founders, former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss. Participants are nominated by one of the 33 Sea Grant programs in the coastal and Great Lakes states and territories.

Texas Sea Grant’s 2014 Knauss Fellow, Kimberly Bittler, is currently at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), an agency within the Department of the Interior. BSEE is evaluating new and emerging technologies for the offshore oil and gas industry and working to mitigate risks associated with the human element of offshore operations. Past Texas Sea Grant nominees have also worked in congressional offices and in departments within NOAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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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.