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Meet Virginia’s 2017 Knauss Fellows

Six graduate students from Virginian universities will serve as Knauss fellows in 2017.


Virginia will send six graduate students to Washington, D.C. as Knauss fellows in 2017.

This year marks the first time that all six graduate students applying from Virginia universities were selected as finalists for the Knauss Fellowship.

The Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program teaches graduate students from around the country about national policy decisions that affect ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources, while also giving them an opportunity to contribute their knowledge to current issues facing the nation. The National Sea Grant College Program established the fellowship in 1979.

Starting in February, Virginia’s six fellows for 2017—whose applications were supported by Virginia Sea Grant—will be placed in host offices in the legislative or executive branches of government in Washington, D.C.

Read a bit about this year’s Knauss fellows below.

melissa-karp-1Melissa Karp, executive finalist

“I am very excited for the opportunity to meet and work with a diverse group of people on marine policy issues. Up until this point I have been primarily on the research side of marine science, and am excited to have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working on marine policy issues, and getting to see how marine science research and policy come together at the federal level.”

Karp graduated from Tufts University in 2013 with a bachelor’s in biology and a bachelor’s in environmental science. She graduated with a master’s in marine science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in August 2016.


Version 2Taylor Armstrong, executive finalist              

“Having researched algae toxins for two years, I am excited to experience the integral next step of marine science: the policies that transform research into action. The Knauss fellowship provides me with the opportunity to move out of the laboratory and contribute to the translation of experimental discoveries that will shape the future of our marine environment.”

Taylor received her bachelor’s in marine science from the University of South Carolina in 2013. She’s currently earning her master’s in marine science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, with concentrations in aquatic health and marine policy.


julia-snouck-hurgronje_editedJulia Snouck-Hurgronje, legislative finalist

Julia earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Clemson University and the Calhoun Honors College in 2010. She’s currently enrolled in a dual master’s program, and expects to receive her master’s in public policy and master’s in marine science in 2016 from the College of William & Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

“I am excited about Knauss because it really feels like the perfect culmination of the dual degree program. I get to use all of the skills I’ve learned in both programs to work on issues that I care about, at the highest levels of our government. I am so excited to get an inside view of Congress, and to learn what it really takes to pass and implement effective environmental policies that are based on sound science.”


gina-digiantonio-1_webGina Digiantonio, executive finalist

“The Knauss fellowship will allow me to work on pressing coastal issues, and I’m very excited to draw connections between scientific research, marine policies, and end users.”

Gina graduated from Drake University with a bachelor’s in biology in 2014, and expects to graduate from the University of Virginia with a master’s in environmental sciences in 2017.


Laverty_Lab_editedAmanda Laverty, executive finalist

“I’m excited to pursue this Fellowship to engage with policy makers, and gain experiences that will enrich my understanding of policy. I’m eagerly looking forward to this broadening my horizons, and aiding me in becoming a more rounded scientist.”

Amanda earned her bachelor’s in ocean and earth science from Old Dominion University in 2014. She expects to receive her master’s at the same school and in the same subject after the fall 2016 semester.


sasha-doss-2_webSasha Doss, executive finalist 

“I am most excited to work with and learn from the professionals that shape our interaction with marine resources and to learn how they translate science into policy.”

Sasha graduated with a bachelor’s in biology and a bachelor’s in environmental studies from Washington and Lee University in 2013. She’s currently a master’s candidate in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Department at Virginia Tech, and expects to graduate after the fall 2016 semester.