Dhanju, above, and Snyder, below,
will begin their placements next month.
Photos by Mengyang Liu and Elizabeth Boyle
Two doctoral students from the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) will spend the next year in the nation’s capital thanks to a prestigious award they’ve both earned. Marine policy students Amardeep Dhanju and Caitlin Snyder are among just 46 students from across the nation to receive 2010 Dean John A. Knauss Fellowships.
The National Sea Grant College Program in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sponsors the fellowships, which begin in February. The 31-year-old program matches qualified graduate students with host agencies in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government for paid assignments.
UD students have been remarkably successful in receiving the highly competitive Knauss Fellowships over the years, said CEOE Dean and Delaware Sea Grant Director Nancy Targett. Since just 2001, for example, 17 Delaware Sea Grant students have earned fellowships.
“We are so proud to have Amardeep and Caitlin represent us in this respected program,” Targett said. “For these students to have the opportunity to help shape federal marine programs, policies, and procedures is very exciting in terms of the chance it will give them to apply their skills and the preparation it will provide them for their careers.”
Dhanju will be working for the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that manages the nation's natural gas, oil, wind, and other resources on the outer continental shelf. His assignment is to assist with marine spatial planning, a process that evaluates multiple ocean uses such as shipping, fishing, and various wildlife habitats in order to help decision makers when it comes to the use of marine areas. He will focus on mapping areas suited for offshore wind energy.
“There’s a concern that we need to look at how these different uses can conflict,” he said. “So we need to plan out where some of the uses should go.”
Dhanju will draw on his experiences researching wind energy at UD. Among the projects he’s completed here are ones that have quantified the wind resource in Delaware as well as the entire Mid-Atlantic Bight, from Massachusetts to North Carolina, and compared the resource to the region’s energy needs.
Under the guidance of adviser and Marine Policy Professor Willett Kempton, his findings — that the mid-Atlantic’s large resource could meet most of the energy needs in the region — have supplied critical information for energy policy and developing wind energy projects.
Dhanju, who is scheduled to graduate this spring, has also studied how states can regulate the wind resource. A current project is conceptualizing a way in which residents can store surplus energy from wind using home heating units.
After growing up in northern India and earning an undergraduate degree in economics at India’s Panjab University, Dhanju came to UD, where he received a master’s in political science and international relations.
Snyder will be working in the Congressional Affairs Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which works to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats. Serving as a liaison between Fish and Wildlife and Congress on ocean issues, her duties will include preparing Fish and Wildlife officers for congressional testimony and keeping both entities up-to-date on each other’s activities.
In her new position she’ll tackle a wide range of issues, from coral reefs and sea otter recovery, to various types of fisheries. She said she’s looking forward to seeing how policy is developed and then implemented at an agency level.
“I’ve worked overseas, which gave me a better understanding of the ways in which the U.S. participates in the development and implementation of policy at the international level, but to actually see it at the domestic level is something that I didn’t have a lot of exposure to in terms of coastal and ocean policy,” she said.
Snyder, in her third year at UD, has been working on a Sea Grant project to identify research priorities for the mid-Atlantic region. Other projects have looked at the governance of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction and climate change adaptation.
Most recently she helped the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, housed at UD, prepare for Oceans Day at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December. The Global Forum, directed by Snyder’s adviser Biliana Cicin-Sain, was a co-sponsor of the special day organized to focus on the need to protect the world’s oceans.
Snyder grew up in Ithaca, N.Y., and received her bachelor’s degree in government from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. After working in Washington, D.C., for a trade organization she attended Duke University, where she earned her master’s in coastal environmental management. Snyder also worked as a Fulbright Fellow and research fellow in Singapore studying ballast water management and other ocean issues before attending UD.
For more about CEOE, visit www.ceoe.udel.edu. For more about Delaware Sea Grant, visit www.deseagrant.org.