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More Minnesotans Catch "Potomac Fever" Through Prestigious Knauss Fellowship

Warning to graduate students you could be next! The National Sea Grant College Program has lured yet another University of Minnesota graduate to Washington, D.C. with the offer of a prestigious Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.


Barb Peichel is this year's Knauss Fellow.

Barbara Peichel, a recent graduate in Water Resources Science and a Minnesota Sea Grant program assistant, will leave in February to work in the office of Senator Akaka, who represents Hawaii.

"Minnesota winters had nothing to do with my decision," said Peichel, "I think this will be an excellent opportunity to broaden my perspective on federal policy procedures and refine skills for a successful career focused on water resources."

With notable dedication and energy, Peichel has already built a sturdy professional foundation. Her masters of science research, funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, prioritized wetland restoration efforts in the St. Louis River Watershed of Minnesota. As a Minnesota Sea Grant staff member, Peichel conducted surveys on urban watershed practices, led educational efforts about water quality issues, and collaborated with national experts and community members to combat invasive aquatic species.

Peichel is one of 34 Knauss Fellows in the class of 2003. "The Knauss Fellowships seem to attract exceptionally talented applicants," said Nikola Garber, Knauss Sea Grant Fellows Program manager. "Each Sea Grant Program can nominate up to five candidates and they do an excellent job of sending us their best." This year a panel of ten chose Knauss recipients from a pool of 69 applicants.

Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowships pay homage to one of Sea Grant's founders and former National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) administrator by placing promising young professionals with water-related interests into the heart of federal activities. Recipients of these annual awards simultaneously contribute their talents and learn about the intricacies of US politics, water policy, and global water issues. The applicants' career goals encompass marine or Great Lakes resources and the national policy decisions affecting those resources. While in D.C., fellows generally work on topics that range from oceans, fisheries, environmental issues, energy, and agricultural policy.

As Peichel begins, Minnesota's 2002 Knauss Fellow, Erik Heinen, will end a productive year in D.C.

"Working on projects that have nationwide impacts, and to influence how those projects are structured is exciting," said Heinen. Heinen's fellowship year has focused on helping the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Oceans and Coastal Protection Division reduce the amount of waste discharged into the ocean by the cruise industry through voluntary partnerships and regulations.

The yearlong fellowships provide stipends and historically launch about half of the recipients into careers based in and around Washington, D.C. Both Heinen and his Minnesotan predecessor, Jonathan Pundsack (2000 Knauss Fellow) have no immediate plans to leave D.C. Ron Baird, National Sea Grant Program director joked during his visit to Duluth that it is Potomac Fever, a condition for which there is no vaccination, that keeps former Knauss Fellows in the area.

"I don't know if I'll catch the fever," said Peichel, "but I'm looking forward to at least one exciting and challenging year in D.C."

To learn more about the Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, contact Minnesota Sea Grant at (218)726-8106 or click here.

By Sharon Moen
December 2002

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