Knauss Marine Policy Finalists Receive Official Host Office Placements

March 8, 2022

Texas Sea Grant Knauss Fellows Lauren Howe-Kerr and Ed Higgins have received their official host office placements, effective Feb. 1, 2022.

Howe-Kerr is an executive fellow at the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences, Office of the Division Director, while Higgins is a legislative fellow working at the Office of Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii.

“I am excited to apply my scientific experience towards policy and management solutions that tangibly address climate change and ocean conservation,” Howe-Kerr said. “I am also looking forward to learning how researchers can be more civically engaged in national policy.”

As a Ph.D. student at Rice University, Howe-Kerr studies coral reef microbial ecology. By tracking the microbiomes of coral colonies, she examines how viruses, algae and bacteria can be used to support resilience in coral reef ecosystems. She is interested in learning about the intersection of science and policy to tackle multifaceted issues.

Higgins, a Ph.D. student from the University of Oklahoma, studies the interactions between bivalves and environmental microbiomes, which have an increasingly clearer connection with each other and their ecosystems. He is also interested in the relationship between the language used in scientific policy documents and the legislative outcomes.

Higgins said, “I’m excited for the chance to play a role in federal science policy and learn about the intricacies involved in integrating scientific knowledge with decision making on a national level. It seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun!”

Higgins and Howe-Kerr are part of the 43rd class of the Knauss fellowship and join nearly 1,500 professionals who have received hands-on experiences transferring science to policy and management through year-long appointments with federal government offices in Washington, D.C.

Knauss finalists are chosen through a competitive process that includes several rounds of review at both the state Sea Grant program and national levels. Students that are enrolled in or have recently completed masters, Juris Doctor (J.D.), and Ph.D. programs with a focus and/or interest in marine and coastal science, policy or management apply to one of the 34 Sea Grant programs. Applicants who are successful at the state program level are then reviewed by a national panel of experts.

For an inside look at the fellow’s experiences, visit the Knauss blog.

Media Contact: Sara Carney, Texas Sea Grant communications manager,, 713-435-9585.