NJ Finalists for 2022 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Announced

July 26th, 2021

JANINE M. BARR is pursuing an M.S. in Oceanography at Rutgers University.

She is currently a staffer at the New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center where she provides municipal planning support to New Jersey coastal towns interested in becoming more resilient to climate change. She also analyzed coastal states’ ocean acidification research and policy actions in consultation with NJ’s Department of Environmental Protection to inform relevant state policy efforts. She was a Science and Research Education Fellow at the US EPA where she assisted the Office of Water’s implementation of water quality standards to protect fresh and marine water consistent with state and federal regulations.

She has pursued professional and academic experiences at the interface of policy, science, and stakeholder engagement regarding our nation’s aquatic and marine resources. This includes research experience in oyster aquaculture at Rutgers University, and training as a Rutgers Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience  (C2R2) Fellow.

Specifically, she is interested in the Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship Program because she would like to further her understanding of how federal offices balance the conservation and management of our nation’s marine resources and how stakeholder collaboration is incorporated into policy decisions.

SCHUYLER C. NARDELLI is presently pursuing her Ph.D. in Oceanography at Rutgers University

She spent a year in Antarctica with research focusing on the impacts of climate change on Antarctic plankton and how future change will affect ecosystem dynamics. In 2019, she joined the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research’s Krill Action Group, which serves as a link between the krill science community and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which manages the Southern Ocean krill fishery.

Living in Antarctica presented many opportunities to directly demonstrate the importance of her  research through public outreach.  Giving  talks aboard cruise ships and to the Palmer Station community with receding glaciers as a backdrop is a powerful way to spur interest in conservation efforts, with hopes that these interactions translate to action when these people return home. Her time in Antarctica helped her realize that beyond her research, she wants to be involved in making impactful decisions regarding conservation and protection of marine ecosystems threatened by anthropogenic influences. Her motivation for applying to the Knauss Fellowship to pursue a career in marine policy.

ASHLYN SPECTOR expects to receive an M.S. in Geology in September 2021 from Rutgers University.

She has been studying beach elevation and sediment change using drone imagery to understand erosion. Although pursuing geoscience, she wants to dedicate time outside of her thesis toward planning and policy work to utilize knowledge in both fields. Her pursuits have become focused on coastal resilience-based projects, such as the development of a flood risk visualization tool for the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the development of coastal resilience assessments for local communities.

It is important to her to incorporate equity in coastal resilience decision-making so that policies enacted do not only benefit those with the largest influence but will actively serve community members who are often under-represented. She plans to expand her career serving coastal communities by partnering with them and the state to understand their needs and their current and future risks.  She intends to facilitate this using her skills in communication and knowledge of current state and federal policies to meet communities’ needs while helping them become more physically and socially resilient.

She feels that the fellowship offers a saturated amount of information in a condensed timeline, allowing her to gain knowledge and experience that would otherwise take years to learn.

ELIZABETH K. WRIGHT-FAIRBANKS  is a Ph.D. candidate in Oceanography at the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University.

Her focus has been to develop novel ocean acidification research, stakeholder collaboration and outreach, and leadership in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in science. She
investigated the dynamics of ocean physics, biology, and carbonate chemistry as they relate to commercially important habitat.
She is now training technicians, students, and tenured faculty at three other universities on
methods to deploy this new technology, analyze physical and chemical ocean data, and ensure
best practices and quality control. She  wants to apply these skills to cultivate a career in policy where she can promote and incentivize socially impactful marine research.

She mentors first-year students who identify as underrepresented in STEM, providing a support network that helps them navigate the transition to graduate school in hopes that it will improve long-term retention of underrepresented scientists.

Her ultimate goal is a career in science policy, where she can drive the field toward both impactful science and collaboration with outreach-focused groups to ensure those impacts are meaningful to stakeholders.

The Knauss Fellowship offers that first-hand experience providing invaluable insight and networking opportunities in a federal office which will help her achieve her next career goal of serving as a NOAA program manager.