Maryland's 2018
Knauss Fellows

The Knauss Fellowship, established in 1979, provides an educational experience to students interested in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The program matches highly qualified graduate students with "hosts" in Congress or the executive branch of government in the Washington, D.C. area for a one-year paid fellowship. Meet our fellows!

Aixa Alemán-Díaz Aixa Alemán-Díaz has joined the NOAA Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research (OAR), National Sea Grant Office as the coastal ecosystems and resilience specialist. She obtained her Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology at American University in Washington, D.C. Her research compares the way in which the social background — place of residency, employment, education, and age — of residents, technical experts, and short-term visitors influences their social relationships with Puerto Rico's beaches and coastal bioluminescence. Like land, the coasts face pressures due to the multiple uses, or on-site activities, such as recreation, biodiversity conservation, scientific research, and public uses. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Aixa earned an M.A. in anthropology at Rutgers University and bachelor's as a double major in psychology and anthropology at the University of Michigan.
Lauren Tavar Lauren Tavar is serving as a legislative fellow for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. She will be working on environmental and agricultural issues. Lauren earned her bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Miami. She then went on to study environmental law at American University's Washington College of Law and has since become a member of the DC bar. Throughout law school, Lauren worked with environmental nonprofit organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Species Coalition, Environmental Integrity Project, and Natural Resources Defense Council. Upon graduating, she completed a legal fellowship at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, working on environmental whistle-blowing cases.
Noelle Olsen Noelle Olsen is serving as the bycatch, release mortality, and observer program specialist in the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service's Office of Science and Technology. She is a master's student in the Marine Estuarine Environmental Science program at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. Noelle studied the reproductive biology and sexual maturity of Jonah crabs (Cancer borealis) in the Mid-Atlantic Bight with Bradley Stevens. After discovering a love for lobsters, she began looking at the prevalence of epizootic shell disease in lobsters while working aboard commercial fishing boats. Noelle received her B.A. in biology with a specialization in ecology and conservation biology and a minor in marine science from Boston University in 2013. After graduating, she was a marine mammal research intern with Whale and Dolphin Conservation, collecting data and educating passengers on whale-watching boats. She enjoys traveling, cooking, and concerts. She is proud to be a part of the LGBTQ community.
Ammar Hanif Ammar Hanif joined NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Monitoring and Assessment Branch as a senior scientist studying the presence and environmental impacts of microplastics in the Great Lakes using bioindicators in mussels. He focuses on using molecular techniques and bioinformatics as tools to study the marine environment and answer ecological questions to better manage marine resources. His Ph.D. work, at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, focused on the diet and microbiome of menhaden using DNA barcoding and bioinformatics. His master's work involved developing a molecular tool to study the ecology of a parasitic dinoflagellate that infects blue crabs. His expertise includes extracting DNA from difficult samples, marine and estuarine ecology, handling large datasets, bioinformatics, and analyzing high-throughput sequencing results of microbial communities using statistical methods. He enjoys fishing, running, cycling, boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The Knauss Marine Policy Fellowships run from Feb. 1 to Jan. 31 and pay a stipend plus allowances for health insurance, moving, and travel. Students can apply through the Sea Grant program in their state. For more information, please visit:
Maryland Sea Grant Program mdsg.umd.edu/education/knauss
National Sea Grant Program seagrant.noaa.gov/Knauss
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