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Virginia’s Graduates Take on Marine Policy

February 11, 2014

By Sydney Mahan, Virginia Sea Grant Correspondent

On February 1, three Virginia graduate students began their placements in the U.S. government for their 2014 Knauss Marine Policy Fellowships. Samantha Bickel of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), Anna Killius of William and Law School, and Bonnie Myers of Virginia Tech will spend a year in Washington D.C., placed with various government agencies.

The Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program places students with host offices in the legislative or executive branches of government located in Washington D.C. Fellows learn more about the national policy decisions that affect ocean, coastal, and the Great Lakes resources while getting to opportunity to contribute their knowledge to current issues facing our nation. The National Sea Grant College Program established the Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program in 1979.

Samantha Bickel, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Samantha Bickel. ©Stephanie Chavez/VASG

Samantha Bickel. ©Stephanie Chavez/VASG

Samantha Bickel will work as an Offshore Wind and Ocean Renewable Energy Environmental Science and Policy Specialist at the U.S. Department of Energy (US DOE).

Bickel will have the opportunity to work on initiatives that will help shape international environmental information for both wind and marine energy technologies. Specific duties she will be assigned may include determining programmatic research priorities, traveling to conferences and other outreach venues or creating and distributing materials that communicate the program’s mission and activities to internal and external stakeholders and partners.

“I look forward to the opportunity to gain exposure to the policy formation process and interact with other government agencies as well as industry partners with a vested interest in the policy formation, while still being able to stay up to date on environmental research in the marine environment,” Bickel said.

Bickel obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology and Mathematics from Carthage College. She then went on to receive her masters in Marine Science and Ph.D. in marine science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).


Anna Killius, William and Mary Law School

Anna Killius. ©W&M

Anna Killius. ©W&M

Anna Killius will spend her Knauss Fellowship as a Natural Resources Committee Fellow for U.S. Representative Carol Shea-Porter, who represents the First Congressional District of New Hampshire.

As the Natural Resources Committee Fellow, Killius will work with legislative staff on issues related to the Congresswoman’s position on the Natural Resources Committee and her two subcommittees, the Public Lands and Environmental Regulations Subcommittee and the Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs Subcommittee.

Killius expects to research policy issues that arise during hearings and briefings and will help to create questions for the Congresswoman, which can potentially be used to develop legislation.

Killius sees her Knauss Fellowship as a way to gain experience with the legislative process as well as connect the fields of science and law.

“I think I would like to work on environmental policy in a state agency or non-profit organization. Having experience with the legislative process, specifically how environmental policy can become law, will help me, as a lawyer, identify the obligations and opportunities for local government action,” Killius says.

Killius earned her bachelor’s degree in history with an applied mathematics concentration from the University of Dallas and J.D. from William & Mary School of Law.


Bonnie Myers, Virginia Tech

Bonnie Myers.

Bonnie Myers.

Bonnie Myers will be working as the Communication Specialist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean and Atmospheric Research (OAR) Communications Office. Myers chose to work for OAR because she wanted to help increase awareness about the societal impacts of the research conducted at NOAA.

As the Communication Specialist, Myers will brief senior OAR leaders and work with subject-matter experts to create accurate and exciting presentations of OAR’s research in order to promote NOAA’s initiatives. Myers will also gain hands on experience involving staffing exhibits and working in educational outreach.

Through her Knauss Fellowship Myers hopes, she will have the opportunity to utilize her background in science and education in order to work with and learn from a broad array of scientists on various research programs.

“I hope to gain an in depth understanding of OAR research, and how that research is translated to the public and other non-scientific audiences,” Myers said.

Myers received her bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries biology and management from the University of Wyoming. She then went on to obtain her master’s degree in fish and wildlife conservation from Virginia Tech.






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