Knauss Fellow Update: Michael Acquafredda

June 16th, 2020

NJSGC Knauss Fellow Michael Acquafredda (Rutgers University, Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory) enjoyed just six weeks at the Silver Spring office before having to telework. Thankfully, he’s still getting a lot accomplished remotely.

(To learn more about the 2020 Knauss Fellows from NJSGC, please click here)

Dealing with international affairs, Acquafredda has been busy working with the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON). He works in the Secretariat, putting out newsletters, organizing meetings with its executive committee, and serving as a point of contact for its membership. He also supports the needs of some of the regional hubs of GOA-ON, including the Latin American Hub, the Pacific Islands Hub, and the North American Hub. Acquafredda acts as Coordinator for the GOA-ON Pier2Peer Program, a professional mentorship program. He continues reshaping the matching process to give mentees more opportunities to select mentors whose interests and expertise align with their own. Additionally, he publishes the monthly Pier Review, a newsletter that highlights the work of successful P2P pairs and shares information about relevant news and events, upcoming funding opportunities, and the latest ocean acidification-related open access articles.

He’s also been helping to organize the 5th International Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World, which is now postponed. To maintain momentum, the symposium’s steering committee and the GOA-ON executive committee are discussing the possibility of hosting a virtual “Ocean Acidification Week”, which would be a series of publically-available webinars and panels. Acquafredda’s working hard to transform this idea into a well-organized and impactful event by September.

On the bilateral front, Acquafredda’s managing a joint funding initiative of NOAA OAP and DFO to enhance collaboration between ocean acidification researchers in the USA and Canada. He’s had the opportunity to write the RFP for this initiative, and is now reviewing proposals and organizing a selection panel.

Finally, his work around capacity building efforts in the Pacific Islands has been slow and limited, mostly due to COVID-19 related delays. The funding from the Department of State was secured, so now they’re working towards distributing funds to its partner, The Ocean Foundation.

Along with all of those initiatives, Acquafredda is also busy with the domestic side of his portfolio. He’s working closely with the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Acidification Network (GCAN). The team is restructuring that network to encourage better communication and more robust engagement by its members via the Ocean Acidification Information Exchange (OAIE). Acquafredda also restarted GCAN’s webinar series and so far has hosted two, with more to come.

The activity most exciting for Acquafredda has been working to develop a new NOFO aimed at studying multistressor impacts on shellfish aquaculture. OAP is looking to use a co-production of knowledge framework to fund collaborations between growers and academics to produce both foundational data and industry-relevant deliverables.

He’s also been active with some of the Knauss Committees. Acquafredda’s most involved with the Lunch and Learn Committee that works with the NOAA Central Library System to host monthly webinars that highlight the work of Knauss Fellows. He also gave a talk in March (right when COVID started), which is archived on Youtube.

He’s also involved with the Knauss JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, inclusion) Committee. In light of the murder of George Floyd and the ongoing protests calling for an end to racial injustice in our country, the committee created a document of resources many may find useful. JEDI Committee members are also reaching out to individual Sea Grant programs and inquiring about the different ways these state programs address JEDI issues in their activities, with a particular focus on recruitment activities regarding the Knauss Fellowship.

Although it’s really unfortunate that the two components of the fellowship Acquafredda was most excited about (the travel and in-person networking) have been thwarted by COVID-19, he’s making the most of this opportunity and still learning a lot about working in the marine policy realm.