UD grad Christine Hirt starts 2019 Knauss Fellowship

Article by Adam Thomas

Portrait of Christine Hirt, 2019 Knauss Fellow from Delaware Sea Grant

Christine Hirt started her 2019 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship today along with 59 other Knauss Fellows from around the country. They will work in executive branch agencies and legislative offices, helping members of Congress and federal employees on many aspects of policy dealing with our ocean resources.

Hirt completed her master of marine policy degree at the University of Delaware in 2018 and will spend the next year serving in the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management.

There are four programs that make up the Office for Coastal Management: The National Coastal Zone Management Program, the National Estuarine Research Reserves, the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, and Digital Coast. Hirt said she hopes to learn about each program, but is most interested in learning more about the National Coastal Zone Management Program and the National Estuarine Research Reserves.

“I'm originally from Long Island and hope to focus on some of the coastal management issues in the Long Island Sound, while I also hope to continue to pursue my interests in offshore wind development,” said Hirt, who has worked for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities on their Offshore Wind Programs as their Stakeholder Outreach Coordinator.

Hirt said that she is looking forward to working at the federal level and learning the processes that are involved and the collaboration that takes place among various NOAA offices to craft creative and data-driven solutions to solve some of the nation's most pressing marine challenges.

With a passion for protecting coastal communities, Hirt said that she feels it is of the upmost importance to not only conduct effective scientific research but to do so with community needs in mind.

“If the process of science isn't developed with the community in mind, you could end up with wonderful science that is simply not useful or is not really what the community needs,” said Hirt. “Aligning societal needs with good science is critical for maximizing efficiency and the benefits to coastal communities. I think the National Sea Grant Office really wants driven fellows who strive to connect science, government, and society to maximize coastal and marine benefits.”

About the Knauss Fellowship

Sponsored by the National Sea Grant College Program and NOAA, the Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational experience for students interested in the national policy decisions that affect the ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources. It also affords unmatched access and opportunities for career development for graduate students interested in marine science and policy at the federal level.

The 2019 class of Knauss Fellows includes 60 recent graduates nominated by the 33 Sea Grant programs across the country. Applications to be considered for a 2020 Knauss Fellowship are due February 22. More information is available on the Knauss Fellowship Page.

Since 1979, Delaware Sea Grant has sent more than 40 Knauss Fellows to Washington, D.C.

The fellowship, named after John A. Knauss, one of Sea Grant's founders and a former NOAA administrator, enables the selected graduate students to complete one-year paid assignments in a host organization in the legislative or executive branch of the federal government located in the Washington, D.C., area.

Each placement is individualized based on the host organization’s needs and the selected graduate students’ desired experience.

[MJB1]To publish 2/11

Mark Jolly-Van Bodegraven