Doctoral Student Selected for Prestigious Marine Policy Fellowship

Christine Bassett
Christine Bassett

From the September 2019 Desktop News | Geosciences Ph.D. candidate, Christine Bassett, was recently selected as a member of the 2020 class for the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s highly-competitive Sea Grant fellowship links science with public policy, and pairs fellows with agencies and elected officials to conduct scientific research, develop policy, and guide decision-making in the nation’s capital.

After an extensive application process and two attempts at applying, Basset was selected as one of two fellows from the state of Alabama this year.

“When I started my graduate work at UA, I was initially interested in pursuing my M.S. to better understand Earth’s climate system both currently and throughout Earth’s history so that I could better understand how we might expect that system to change in the future,” Basset said. “I solicited feedback from my first unsuccessful Knauss program application and used that to shape many of the decisions I made going into my PhD.”

The Knauss Fellows are placed into either a legislative branch cohort or an executive branch cohort, and have the opportunity to conduct research with nationally regarded organizations, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Navy. With a background in anthropology and geology, Bassett is looking forward to conducting marine research in the executive cohort during her fellowship.

“I explicitly requested to be placed in the executive branch because I’m less interested in writing policy and more interested in conducting the research efforts that inform policy decisions,” Bassett said. “Knowledge from marine research is a vital part of ensuring that many of the resources we depend on continue to thrive, and that we utilize them in sustainable ways.”

Bassett and the other 2020 Knauss Fellows will travel to Washington, D.C., next month to interview, network, and attend presentations of potential host organizations, before being officially assigned to an office at the end of the week. In the meantime, Bassett will continue her work as a Ph.D. student before beginning the fellowship in February.

“It’s an incredible opportunity that helps graduate students understand the ways in which national research priorities are determined, while also encouraging them to conduct research with a sharper eye towards societal impacts,” Bassett said.