UMaine’s Pianka earns fellowship to work on marine policy issues

Karen Pianka, a graduate student in the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine, has been awarded a Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship that begins in February 2016.

Named after John A. Knauss, a founder of Sea Grant, a program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the fellowship matches graduate students with positions in the legislative and executive branches of government in the Washington, D.C. area for one year.

“It is a great honor to be selected for this fellowship and I am very excited to have the opportunity to focus on national policy issues,” says Pianka, a candidate in the dual degree master’s program in marine biology and marine policy.

“The Knauss fellowship is an excellent milestone on the way to reach my goal of working full time on marine policy issues. I look forward to connecting with others with similar interests in Washington.”

Pianka’s advisers are Teresa Johnson, associate professor of marine policy, and Paul Rawson, associate professor of marine science.

“I am extremely excited about Karen’s selection as a Knauss fellow,” says Johnson. “With her considerable experience communicating and engaging with stakeholders and keen understanding of both science and policy, she is a perfect fit for this fellowship.”

“Karen’s research has centered on Maine’s aquaculture industry; she has worked closely with members of Maine’s shellfish culture,” says Rawson. “Through her interaction with industry members she has gained a strong appreciation for how science and policy impact their businesses.”

Pianka grew up in Austin, Texas. She holds bachelor’s degrees in music and biology from the University of Texas at Austin and Oberlin College, respectively. She has considerable experience with stakeholders and decision-makers through her work at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

In addition to Sea Grant, the Maine Agriculture and Forest Experiment Station and the School of Marine Sciences have financially supported Pianka. Additional funding for her research has been provided by the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center.

Pianka joins Noah Oppenheim, a graduate student at the UMaine Darling Marine Center in Walpole, as well as 74 other graduates from around the nation in the Knauss Class of 2016.

Maine Sea Grant will begin accepting applications for 2017 Knauss Fellowships in December.