Two College of Charleston graduate students were recently selected as executive fellows in the 2012 class of the Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium nominated these students, who were then selected from a nationwide pool of over 100 candidates. The one-year paid fellowship places recipients in Washington, D.C., with hosts in the Legislative Branch, Executive Branch or an organization with an interest in the ocean or Great Lakes. “South Carolina higher education institutions consistently produce well-prepared graduate students who are ideal candidates for this highly competitive fellowship opportunity,” said Rick DeVoe, executive director of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Jennifer Bennett earned her M.S. in marine biology, and she will serve at the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Ocean Acidification Program. Bennett will be working with scientists in the National Observation Network for Ocean Acidification to help optimize and standardize data collection so it can be easily translated for the public. Bennett will also engage stakeholder groups to determine their information needs for effective decision-making about ocean acidification impacts. “I’m absolutely thrilled about the upcoming year! I’m really interested in how scientific data is translated to and interpreted by stakeholders and policymakers,” said Bennett. “I’m looking forward to learning how to synthesize scientific information and be able to communicate that information to various audiences. I think this year will allow me to see where I can contribute most effectively in the science-policy spectrum, whether that will be as a scientist, educator or policymaker.”

Anna Manyak also earned her M.S. in marine biology, and she will serve at the NOAA National Ocean Service Office of Response and Restoration. Manyak’s work will focus on research and public outreach on the mitigation of effects of marine debris associated with the 2011 tsunami in Japan. “I’m very excited about this opportunity, and I’m certain I’ll gain a great deal of hands-on experience that can be applied to my future career,” Manyak said. “Following the fellowship, I hope to continue to work in Washington, D.C. on marine conservation issues. My skills in science communication and general knowledge of the marine environment gained throughout my time at the College of Charleston will be particularly useful in achieving these goals.”

“The graduate program in marine biology has had several excellent students receive this prestigious award in recent years, and Anna and Jenn continue that tradition,” said Craig Plante, the College of Charleston’s director of the Graduate Program in Marine Biology and professor. “Both were fine students and researchers and are well deserving of this opportunity.  We’re quite proud of them and wish them the best.”

Recent Knauss fellows from South Carolina have helped implement the Magnuson-Stevens Act for the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service and have assisted with the development of U.S. foreign policy on marine conservation for the U.S. Department of State. On the Legislative side, various members of the U.S. Congress provided opportunities for fellows to work on subcommittees, including the Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, State, Justice and the Judiciary, which provides NOAA with Congressional guidance.

The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, a university-based state agency, seeks to enhance the practical use and conservation of South Carolina’s coastal and marine resources to foster a sustainable economy and environment. The Consortium is a member of the nationwide network of 32 Sea Grant Programs that are sanctioned through the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program, U.S. Department of Commerce. For more information, visit

The College of Charleston is a public liberal arts and sciences university located in the heart of historic Charleston, South Carolina. Founded in 1770, the College is among the nation’s top universities for quality education, student life and affordability. With more than 11,000 students, the College of Charleston offers the distinctive combination of a beautiful and historic campus, modern facilities and cutting-edge programs. For more information, visit