UAF students named Dean John A. Knauss Fellows

Fellows will spend a year in D.C. learning how federal marine policy is made

6/19/2008

Contact Alaska Knauss Fellows:

NR: SG-2008/NR274

Fairbanks, Alaska—Three University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate students have been named Dean John A. Knauss Fellows. The fellows will spend a year in Washington, D.C., learning how the federal government makes national marine environmental policy.

Celeste Leroux
Celeste Leroux. Click image to view or download larger version [336 px, 31 KB].

Celeste Leroux, Erin Steiner, and Mary Bozza, all graduate students at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, were among 51 students chosen in the national competition. The fellowship, begun in 1979 and run by the National Sea Grant College Program, has introduced hundreds of budding scientists to the complexities of federal environmental law and policy. In many cases, the fellowships have served as a springboard to related careers.

"We are extremely proud of UAF's ability to compete with highly ranked universities across the country," said Brian Allee, who recently retired as director of the Alaska Sea Grant College Program. "Last year, we had one exceptional student chosen for this prestigious fellowship. To have three exemplary students chosen this year is wonderful."

Celeste Leroux is completing research aimed at obtaining her master's degree in marine biology. In 2007, she joined the university, federal, and industry–run Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology Program (AKCRRAB), and began studies of how to culture and raise red and blue king crab in large-scale hatcheries. The overall goal is to learn whether hatcheries may be a feasible tool to rebuild low populations of wild king crab in parts of the state.

Leroux said working with the NOAA Aquaculture Program would be a good fit with her current research. "But I want to keep my options open," said Leroux. "Opportunities will come up during placement week that I don't know about yet."

Erin Steiner
Erin Steiner. Click image to view or download larger version [1492 px, 470 KB].

Erin Steiner is a master's degree student on the Alaska Sea Grant research project titled "A Global Analysis of Salmon Prices: How Low Can They Go?" Her economic study of alternative harvesting strategies is aimed at helping Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishermen cope with changing global seafood markets.

Steiner previously worked as a research assistant on arctic stream studies on Alaska's North Slope, and spent a year as a groundfish fisheries observer in the Bering Sea. Steiner is fluent in Spanish, and served two years in the Peace Corps in Bolivia. As a Knauss Fellow, Steiner hopes to work on offshore fisheries issues with NOAA Fisheries.

Mary Bozza is a master's degree student studying immune function in Alaska sea ducks. Her research on the immune response to viral infection in Steller's eiders seeks to improve scientific understanding of disease impacts on population ecology. Bozza has requested placement within the executive branch.

Mary Bozza
Mary Bozza. Click image to view or download larger version [2272 px, 2.3 MB].

"I'm pretty open-minded as to placement, and I'm excited to see what projects are offered," said Bozza. "There are many international issues related to climate change and diseases, and I'm sure there will be many interesting opportunities. There will be a new administration next year, and so Washington, D.C., will be a very exciting place to be."

Former UAF graduate student Seanbob Kelly is currently serving as a Knauss Fellow with NOAA Fisheries. He said Alaska's 2009 fellows will have opportunities and challenges in the nation's capital.

"I'm excited that Alaska will be represented next year and hopefully in coming years," said Kelly. "My experience has been tremendously rewarding in terms of learning about the many facets of how scientific information is used to make decisions about our resources and shape overall policy."

In December, Alaska's Knauss Fellows will travel to Washington, D.C, for orientation and placement interviews with federal legislative and executive branch agencies and committees. They begin their formal service as Knauss Fellows in February 2009. Each fellow receives a $34,000 stipend, as well as health benefits and a moving allowance.

Read Celeste Leroux's blog about her experiences in Washington, DC.