Kang, above, will work with NOAA's Integrated Ocean
Observing System Program. Photo by Narrae Kang.
Wowk, below, will be at NOAA's National Marine
Protected Areas Center. Photo by Jesse Barrington.
Two doctoral students from the University of Delaware’s College of Marine and Earth Studies (CMES) will spend the next year in the nation’s capital learning the ins and outs of the marine policy process, thanks to a prestigious award they’ve both earned. Marine policy students Ami Kang and Kateryna Wowk are among just 48 students from across the nation to receive a 2008 Dean John A. Knauss Fellowship.
The yearlong fellowship, which begins Feb. 4, 2008, is sponsored by the National Sea Grant College Program in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Recipients of the fellowship are matched to a host agency in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government based on their background and interests.
The fellowship program was established in 1979 to provide a unique educational experience to highly qualified graduate students. It was named in honor of former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss, who was one of Sea Grant’s founders and the founding dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island.
“Knauss Fellowships give our best and brightest students an opportunity to apply their knowledge in ways that have a real impact at the federal level on the implementation of marine programs, policies, and procedures,” CMES Dean Nancy Targett said. “It is an excellent opportunity to gain practical experience and to network with others who are actually shaping the direction of various federal environmental initiatives.”
Kang will be working at NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System Program Office, which facilitates the use of science for decision makers addressing societal goals that include enabling the sustained use of ocean and coastal resources and improving the safety and efficiency of maritime operations. Kang said she expects to contribute to the office’s efforts by helping to streamline and coordinate scientific data from many sources across the country. The position will give her an opportunity to apply science to critical ocean issues and to better understand NOAA operations, she said.
“The Knauss Fellowship gives you a real chance to see how the administration works — to see the real Washington world,” she said. “I think this will be perfect for me.”
Working for NOAA, Kang will add to experiences that include contributing to a United States-Brazil consortium on integrated ocean and coastal management, serving as a Korean-English interpreter for the Korea Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and NOAA, and working as a graduate teaching assistant.
Kang, a graduate research assistant at UD, works under the direction of Professor George Parsons. He said that an ability to work with computer coding and modeling coupled with adept people skills give Kang unique strengths. He agreed the fellowship will help set her apart.
“She has great credentials in her education and she’s going to have a very nice dissertation, but (the fellowship) will give her the realism of some work in a policy setting that will round out her package.”
Wowk also is destined for Washington, D.C. She’ll be working at NOAA's National Marine Protected Areas Center, which coordinates the United States’ network of marine protected areas (ocean areas that have been given added governmental protection for their natural or cultural resources). The center has drafted an executive framework so these areas can operate as a system, and one of Wowk’s tasks will be helping further develop that framework.
“I’ll be speaking with state-level governmental employees, fishermen, anyone who has an interest in the protected areas, and doing an analysis of how we can improve the framework,” she said.
Wowk’s work for the fellowship will complement her dissertation research focusing on regional ocean governance regimes. She works on that project under the direction of Professor Biliana Cicin-Sain. Cicin-Sain is head of secretariat for the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, and is director of UD’s Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy, where Wowk serves as a research assistant.
In her role as research assistant, Wowk — who has a bachelor’s degree in biology, biodiversity and ecology, and a master’s degree in environmental science and policy — has collaborated on projects including a report for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. She also has participated in many international marine policy meetings.
“In the past year has led the organization of eight multinational working groups,” Cicin-Sain said. “She has gained an excellent understanding of global oceans issues, which will contribute significantly to her new assignment at NOAA.”
Wowk is very skilled at problem-solving and has a great “can-do” attitude, Cicin-Sain noted. “She will no doubt excel in her new assignment at NOAA.”
Before coming to UD, Wowk worked with the Connecticut State Office of Policy and Management, where she was responsible for a project on wetlands management. She said she expects to learn a lot more about the federal system during the fellowship.
“One thing I’m lacking is how the United States government conducts its own ocean policy,” she said. “Through the Knauss Fellowship I’m going to gain that experience.”
To learn more about the Delaware Sea Grant College Program, visit www.deseagrant.org. For more about CMES and marine policy at UD, visit www.ocean.udel.edu.