Back to News & Events

NC Scholars Start Marine Policy Fellowship


E-Ching Lee, 919/515-9098,
Sara Mirabilio, 252/475-5488,

Posted Thursday, April 18, 2013

Noah Chesnin and Wendy Piniak are North Carolina's 2013 Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellows. This one-year post-graduate fellowship provides experience in shaping national policy issues affecting ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources.

                           Noah Chesnin

Chesnin received his master's in environmental management from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. He researched the role of aquariums in building public support for marine conservation. This Seattle native received his bachelor's degree in humanities from Yale University.

He is working for U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (CA-20). Chesnin's responsibilities include overseeing appropriations that fund critical ocean programs such as the Marine Debris Program, Regional Ocean Partnerships, Fisheries Habitat Restoration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Education and the National Marine Sanctuaries Program. He also promotes the full implementation of the National Ocean Policy and is working to advance important ocean legislation related to marine debris, fisheries and ocean acidification.

"I am honored to represent North Carolina as a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow and the Monterey Bay area as a member of Congressman Farr's staff. It is an unprecedented opportunity to see firsthand how ocean science is translated into policy and legislation in DC," Chesnin says.

                           Wendy Piniak

Piniak, who hails from Islesboro, Maine, holds a doctoral degree in marine science and conservation, as well as a master's in environmental management, from Duke. She also has a bachelor's degree in biology and environmental studies from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

She is the special assistant to the Deputy Director and Director of the Office of Protected Resources, or OPR, in NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service. Her duties include tracking and reporting on OPR regulatory actions nationwide, and acting as a liaison between OPR and NOAA Fisheries. She also will focus on other protected species program topics, such as sea turtle conservation and marine acoustics.

"I've learned a great deal in my first two months and I'm looking forward to continuing to expand my knowledge of protected species conservation and management, marine policy, and the regulatory process," she says, adding that she's thrilled to be working with a group of talented fellows.

The fellowship program honors John A. Knauss, a Sea Grant founder, NOAA administrator and former dean of the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography. Learn more about the fellowship at


North Carolina Sea Grant: Your link to research and resources for a healthier coast