CORVALLIS - Two students from the University of Oregon School of Law have been awarded Knauss Marine Policy Fellowships, allowing them to pursue their interest in ocean policy next year as interns at federal agencies in the nation's capital.
The Knauss Fellowships are administered by the National Sea Grant College Program and, in Oregon, through Oregon Sea Grant.
Kassandra Brown and Rachel Peitsch, natives of LaGrande and Astoria and both research assistants at UO's law school's Ocean and Coastal Law Center, will intern this year with executive branch agencies in Washington, D.C., involved in marine resources management. Brown will work with the office of the Oceanographer of the Navy; Peitsch will be at the Office of Marine Conservation in the Department of State.
The two Oregonians are among 37 nationwide to receive the fellowships.
Peitsch credited her family background in commercial fishing and her studies with landing her the honor.
"Five generations of my family have been fishermen," with roots going back to the fishing villages of Norway and Ireland, she said. She grew up in Astoria, Ore., where her parents have been commercial salmon fishers on the Columbia River.
Peitsch earned bachelor's degrees in Scandinavian area studies and political science at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., and served a Rotary Ambassador fellowship in Bergen, Norway, researching Norwegian. She will leave for Washington, D.C., later in January. Her work at the Department of State will concentrate on negotiations for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperative, and will involve a negotiating trip to Korea in April.
The work ties in neatly with her career goals, she said.
What I really want to work in is fishing treaties or fishing contracts," she said. "I'm really just hoping to continue in that field. I'm 26 years old and I have my dream job."
Brown, a native of La Grande, Ore., said her interest in marine matters was prompted by many family outings to the coast.
She earned her bachelor's degree in fishery resource management from the University of Idaho, and worked as a fisheries biologist in La Grande, first for the U.S. Forest Service and then the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, before entering law school. While a law student, she worked the first summer for the Center for Marine Conservation in Washington D.C., and during her second summer with the NOAA General Counsel for Ocean Services in Silver Spring, Md.
During her Knauss Fellowship she will work on ocean policy issues and international law of the sea.
"The placement is really ideal for me and is quite an honor," Brown said, adding, "I have always had a secondary interest in the military and law enforcement, and once had been accepted to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy but couldn't go because of an injury. I will now have the opportunity to explore new things that I once thought unattainable and continue to build on my law of the sea and coastal policy knowledge."
The Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship allows outstanding scholars - more typically scientific students than law -who have an interest in policy decisions affecting marine, ocean and Great Lakes resources to spend one year in Washington, D.C., learning and honing the skills needed for leadership and research.
The National Sea Grant program matches highly qualified graduate students with hosts in the legislative branch, the executive branch, or other institutions located in the Washington, D.C. area.
The fellowship, which was founded in 1979, is named in honor of one of Sea Grant's founders, former NOAA Administrator, John A. Knauss. The program is open to any student in a graduate or professional program in a marine or aquatic-related field at a United States accredited institution of higher education. Applications to National Sea Grant go through the 30 local Sea Grant programs across the country, of which Oregon Sea Grant is one.
The fellowship period will run from February 2002 through January 2003, and will involve marine policy work as well as some legal work.
The deadline for application for the next round of Knauss fellowships, which run in 2003, is April 1, 2002. Those interested can obtain applications and further information online.
For further information, call Oregon Sea Grant at Oregon State University, 541-737-2714.