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Knauss Fellow Completes Year on Capitol Hill

Anne Cooper sits in the co-pilot seat of a Coast Guard rescue helicopter during a flyover of the U.S. Capitol in September 2009. As a Knauss Fellow, she served on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee which has jurisdiction over the Coast Guard. On this day, the Coast Guard invited committee members to participate in one of their key missions—maintaining security over the U.S. Capitol airspace.

Anne Cooper sits in the co-pilot seat of a Coast Guard rescue helicopter during a flyover of the U.S. Capitol in September 2009. As a Knauss Fellow, she served on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee which has jurisdiction over the Coast Guard. On this day, the Coast Guard invited committee members to participate in one of their key missions—maintaining security over the U.S. Capitol airspace.

Anne Cooper recently finished her year as Minnesota Sea Grant's Knauss Legislative Fellow, and we caught up with her to ask her how it went. Here's what she told us:

What was the most significant thing you were involved in this past year in the Senate?

As a Knauss Legislative Fellow, I was positioned in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee—Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard (Democratic staff). In this role, I had the unique opportunity to be involved in climate, fisheries, and protected resources issues and legislation. I drafted legislation on climate research, and participated with the U.S. delegation at the International Whaling Convention (IWC) and the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). It was also an especially exciting time to work on Capitol Hill in general, with President Obama making important appointments, such as Dr. Jane Lubchenco as Under Secretary of Commerce and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Dr. John Holdern at Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

What did you add to the discussion, and what impact do you think you had?

My office relied on Knauss Fellows to be the voice of science for the office—one reason I selected Senate Commerce Democratic Staff for my fellowship year. My job was to learn about the many issues before the Oceans Subcommittee and assist the staff in finding their way through them, discerning good from bad, and creating workable solutions for people and the environment.

Throughout the year, I drew on experiences from my graduate school training in ichthyology, bio-safety risk assessment, genetics, sustainable development, fisheries population analysis, food policy coursework, my thesis and dissertation research, random books I had read and lectures from conferences I had attended.

As far as having an impact, hopefully I was able to provide thoughtful discourse on ecosystem-based management of fisheries, the interaction of aquaculture and fisheries, and the role of transparency in the science and management of aquatic resources in the United States.

What did you learn from lobbyists, legislators, and just hanging around the Capitol?

Be nice to everyone. Introduce yourself. Shake hands. Ask questions. Don’t lie. Be as inclusive as possible… bipartisan legislation is key to solutions for conservation.

What's next for you?

Senators, representatives, and the President actually “make policy.” Staffers assist elected officials in moving policy objectives, and I am now part of that process, since I accepted a position as Professional Staff to work on the environment portfolio for the House Committee on Science and Technology—Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. My portfolio consists of environment and scientific research issues relevant to NOAA, DOE (U.S. Dept. of Energy), and EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Well done, Anne. Congratulations on the new position. We wish you well in your important work on energy and the environment.

The National Sea Grant College Program Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program matches highly qualified graduate students with "hosts" in the legislative and executive branch of government located in the Washington, D.C. area, for a one year paid fellowship. The program is named in honor of one of Sea Grant's founders, former NOAA Administrator, John A. Knauss.

Minnesota's 2010 Knauss Fellow is Kelly Pennington. Kelly has a Ph.D. in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota. She works with the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.


By Sea Grant Staff
March 2010

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