Andrew Shamaskin, a Ph.D. candidate studying land conservation at Mississippi State University, has been selected as a finalist for the Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. A panel of professionals selected him to serve as one of 74 fellows through a highly competitive process.
He will spend one year in Washington, D.C., gaining experience with the policy-making process in agencies and committees that deal with marine and coastal issues at the federal level. He will participate in interviews with several executive and legislative offices during a virtual placement week this fall, and his fellowship will begin in February 2021.
"I'm honored to be selected as a finalist for the Knauss fellowship and look forward to the opportunities that await from this experience," he said. "Having spent the last five and a half years at Mississippi State University, it feels bittersweet to be leaving soon, but I'll always appreciate what I gained from here and the Gulf Coast. And I'll be sure to share that wisdom with my host office in D.C."
At MSU, Shamaskin is studying the strategic conservation of resilient landscapes in the Gulf Coast region, and he is also a graduate research assistant. He has a master's degree in wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture from Mississippi State University. His thesis was "Evaluating multisystem length limits for inland fisheries." He also worked as a fisheries observer in Alaska, a research technician at Virginia Tech and an Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Summer Intern at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
"We are excited to welcome the 2021 class of Knauss fellows and look forward to the skill and perspective that they will provide towards addressing critical marine policy and science challenges," said Jonathan Pennock, program director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Sea Grant College Program, which sponsors the Knauss fellowship program. "As the government and the sciences adapt to new norms for working driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Knauss fellowship will create novel opportunities for the fellows to redefine how government and science interact and operate for the benefit of society."
The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium endorsed Shamaskin's application for the fellowship. He was the only finalist from Alabama and Mississippi applicants.
"Andrew is an exceptional early career professional who will do well as a Knauss Fellow," LaDon Swann, director of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, said. "He has a broad range of research experiences in fisheries management, and he also has considerable experience in engaging fishermen to help them make science-based decisions."
Shamaskin is self-motivated, highly observant and adaptable, Swann said.
"These character traits will be of benefit to him as he takes on the challenges of working in Washington, D.C.," Swann said.
The Knauss fellowship program started in 1979 and is named in honor of John A. Knauss, a former NOAA administrator and a founder of the National Sea Grant College Program. The 2021 Knauss finalists will become the 42nd class of the fellowship and will join a group of over 1,400 professionals who have received hands-on experience transferring science to policy and management through fellowship appointments with federal government offices in Washington, D.C.