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Woods Hole Sea Grant Sponsors Two 2020 Knauss Finalists

Two candidates sponsored by the Woods Hole Sea Grant program are among the finalists for the 2020 class of the of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program. The announcement was made on July 24 by NOAA and the National Sea Grant College Program.

Approximately seventy individuals are selected nationally for the prestigious Fellowship to spend a year in Washington, D.C., working in Congress or the Executive Branch on critical marine policy and resource management issues.

We’re thrilled to be able to send two Massachusetts-based students to D.C. to gain first-hand experience applying science to policy and decision making,” said Matt Charette, director of the Woods Hole Sea Grant program and a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “Many of the challenges our country faces require a deep understanding of science and the ability to communicate it effectively. Being selected for this program is an honor and an experience they will benefit from no matter where their career path takes them.”

The two finalists from the Woods Hole Sea Grant program are:

Amanda Dwyer Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Amanda Dwyer, Northeastern University
Amanda is a Ph.D. student conducting research of the role of zooplankton on coral reef health in Dr. Mark Patterson's lab at Northeastern University. She earned her Bachelor's degree in biology from Lawrence University in Wisconsin. Amanda has a strong interest in developing her communications skills to effectively translate science into policy. As an undergraduate, Amanda led a team of students in Sierra Leone to collect water samples from local wells surrounding their primary school to better understand their access to clean water. As a graduate student, Amanda designed and executed ecological studies that are now being used to develop a tide gate monitoring system to provide tide gate mangers across the state with real-time water quality data to assist them in opening and closing tide gates to best protect nearby homes and salt marsh habitat. She anticipates her Knauss Fellowship will provide new experiences and mentorship to hone her skills and guide her toward a career in science  policy to protect the marine environment.


Photo courtesy of Sean McNally.

Sean McNally, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Sean is a Ph.D. student conducting research on sustainable marine aquaculture at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.  He earned his Master's in marine science and technology from UMass Boston and his Bachelor's in biology from the University of Rhode Island. Sean is partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries and the Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative to better track individual aquaculture leases in Massachusetts. He serves on the MSI assessment committee as the initiative works to compile a situational analysis of shellfish resources in the state. As Sean has worked to finish his PhD, he has learned the importance of forging relationships and listening to the views of multiple parties. The placement in either the executive or legislative branch will bring Sean a greater opportunity to continue to hone these skills through a different lens other than his PhD research bringing with it new challenges and experiences he looks forward to learning from.



The 2020 finalists will travel to Washington, D.C., this fall to interview with several executive or legislative offices. Following placement, they will begin their fellowship in February 2020.

Since 1979, more than 1,200 Knauss Fellows have received hands-on experiences transferring science to policy and management through one-year appointments with Federal government offices in Washington, D.C.

More information is available at

About Woods Hole Sea Grant

Based at WHOI, the Woods Hole Sea Grant program supports research and education, and a marine advisory program in concert with the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, that encourage environmental stewardship, long-term economic development, and responsible use of the nation’s coastal and ocean resources. It is part of the National Sea Grant College Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a network of 33 individual programs located in each of the coastal and Great Lakes states.

» See a full list of Woods Hole Sea Grant-sponsored Knauss Fellows