College of Marine and Earth Studies (CMES) doctoral student James Mueller recently began a yearlong assignment working as a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C. Mueller earned the position as one of only 46 Dean John A. Knauss Fellows for 2009.
The prestigious fellowship, which is sponsored by the National Sea Grant College Program in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), matches highly qualified graduate students with host agencies in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government for paid assignments.
In February, Mueller began working as a legislative aid in the office of Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington. Mueller, of CMES’ Physical Ocean Science and Engineering (POSE) program, mainly works on issues related to Cantwell’s assignment as chair of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.
A typical day for Mueller includes researching policy issues, meeting with constituents and interest groups, and writing briefing memos for the senator on topics such as oil spills and fisheries management.
“I think this year is one of the best years to be placed in a Senate office, working on environmental issues,” he said. “There is an energy and excitement that makes the already great opportunity that much better.”
In May Mueller will wrap up his doctoral studies at UD, where he researches the physical exchanges (momentum, heat, and mass) between the atmosphere and the ocean. These exchanges are important for hurricane and climate models, he said, because they help determine the planet’s weather and climate.
He also is a recipient of CMES’ POSE Fellowship, and in 2006 he earned an award for best student poster presentation at the American Meteorological Society’s 14th Conference on Interaction of the Sea and Atmosphere. Mueller, a native of South Bend, Ind., has bachelor’s degrees in history, philosophy, and mathematics from the University of Notre Dame.
His adviser, Associate Professor of Physical Ocean Science and Engineering Fabrice Veron, said the fellowship is an opportunity for Mueller to apply his knowledge in a way that will have an impact at the federal level.
“James’ broad educational background, his training in physical oceanography and related environmental science here at CMES, along with his keen interest in politics and policy and passionate dedication to public service, make him uniquely and unusually qualified for this fellowship,” Veron said. “I am confident James will do very well in this position and beyond.”
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.