Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Maryland Funds Knauss Marine Policy Fellows in Leadership Roles in Washington, D.C.

February 24, 2014

Graduate Students Will Support Federal Programs Addressing Ocean and Coastal Policy Issues

Maryland Sea Grant is sponsoring three dedicated graduate and post-graduate students who recently began Knauss Marine Policy Fellowships in the Washington, D.C., area. The program, coordinated by the National Sea Grant Office, places fellows in legislative or executive branch offices in the federal government that work on ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes policy issues.

The three fellows, all of  whom studied at the University System of Maryland, will serve one year using their research knowledge and graduate experiences to help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop marine and coastal resources policies and programs. The issues they will work on include climate change, coastal resources, and the conservation of rare and endangered marine species.


Tammy Newcomer Johnson is spending her fellowship year in the National Sea Grant Office at NOAA. She will serve as a national resource specialist.

Originally from Maryland, Johnson has dedicated her career to exploring and understanding how humans can live sustainably within their environment.

Tammy Newcomer Johnson is serving at the National Sea Grant Office at NOAA. Credit: Tammy Newcomer Johnson

As a doctoral student in the Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences (MEES) program at the University of Maryland, College Park, she explores the impacts of urbanization on the ecology and water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. Her research focuses on the capacity for stream restoration and stormwater management projects to reduce excess nitrogen flowing from urban areas to the estuary.

Before beginning graduate school, she worked on a number of research projects through a program called the Baltimore Ecosystem Study. These included efforts to map the occurrence of flash floods in the city. She also served as a fellow at the National Science Foundation and collaborated with students and teachers at the K-12 level to design hands-on environmental science lessons revolving around water, biodiversity, and carbon.

Johnson has also spent many years volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to construct affordable housing for underserved communities in Maryland and Florida. She’s now in the midst of renovating her own 1947 bungalow in Reisterstown, Maryland, with her husband.


Seth Sykora-Bodie will be serving at NOAA’s Office of Protected Resources, a division charged with conserving the nation’s threatened species, including sea turtles, Atlantic sturgeon, and several species of whales.

As the special assistant to the director and deputy director, he will help to coordinate ocean policy between the office and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

Seth Sykora-Bodie is spending his fellowship year at the Office of Protected Resources at NOAA. Credit: Seth Sykora-Bodie

As part of a new initiative in collaboration with the Office of Science and Technology, he will also work to incorporate planning for climate change into efforts to conserve and manage aquatic species.

Sykora-Bodie is a dual master’s degree student in environmental policy and conservation biology at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research originally focused on climate change adaptation. In particular, he explored the best ways for small island nations to prepare for climate impacts, including rising sea levels.

Recently he turned his attention to conserving marine protected areas -- habitats where regulations curtail commercial fishing to give struggling fish populations the chance to recover. He’s studied how changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions could harm or help marine species living in these areas.

A Pennsylvanian native, Seth grew up near Lake Erie, where he spent his days horseback riding, rock climbing, and playing soccer and Frisbee. He’s lived abroad in France, South Korea, England, Costa Rica, and India and studied Arabic in North Africa with the U.S. State Department. Before beginning graduate school, he worked on a sea turtle conservation program in the Caribbean.


Emily Tewes will dig into climate change as she works with the Assistant Administrator Climate Goal Board at NOAA.

This group, made up of assistant administrators from different line offices of NOAA, advises the agency’s top leaders about issues related to climate change as they develop national policies.

Emily Tewes is assisting NOAA's Assistant Administrator Climate Board in its efforts. Credit: Emily Tewes

The board is addressing issues like extreme weather events, how climate affects water resources, building more resilient coasts, and ensuring the sustainability of marine ecosystems.

In 2013, she earned her master’s degree from the Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. There, she studied how offshore wind development might affect organisms living along the ocean’s bottom on Maryland’s Atlantic Coast.

Tewes hails originally from Kansas City, Missouri. She decided to pursue a career in science after spending a year studying sharks off the coast of Florida as part of NOAA’s Shark Population Assessment Group. She’s participated in research studies exploring a wide range of topics, including plant chemical ecology, ornithology, and fisheries science.

She’s broadly interested in research on creating sustainable fisheries and is excited to assist NOAA in its mission to promote climate science and help communities respond to climate change. She’s an avid snorkeler and scuba diver and also enjoys yoga, tennis, and bird watching.

The Knauss Fellowship, begun in 1979, is designed to present outstanding graduate students with an opportunity to spend a year working with policy and science experts in the federal government. The program, named for marine scientist and former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss, is coordinated by NOAA’s National Sea Grant Office.

Fellowships run from February 1 to January 31 and pay a yearly stipend plus an allowance for health insurance, moving, and travel. Applicants must apply through the Sea Grant program in their state. 

For more information on the program, see Maryland Sea Grant's resource page here. You can also visit NOAA's Knauss Fellowships page.