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Three from NC Begin Federal Marine Policy Fellowship


Sara Mirabilio, 252/475-3663 ext. 29,

Posted Monday, January 31, 2011

On Feb. 1, three North Carolinians begin their year as Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellows in Washington, D.C. An initiative of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program, the highly competitive fellowship places students in legislative and executive branch offices to help solve marine policy issues of national consequence.

North Carolina Sea Grant, which provides funding for coastal research and resources for a healthier North Carolina coast, nominated the following three fellows:



Joshua Stoll
(see larger image)

Joshua Stoll from "Down East" Maine studied coastal development and resulting changes in another "Down East" — an area in North Carolina's Carteret County that includes Harkers Island, Cedar Island and Cape Lookout — as part of his master's degree from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. His work was funded in part by North Carolina Sea Grant. Stoll is an executive fellow with the NOAA Fisheries Office of Policy, which advises the Directorate of NOAA Fisheries in development and execution of integrated strategies for long-range planning, policy development, coordination and implementation related to marine fishery management.



Matthew Lettrich
(see larger image)

Matthew Lettrich from Tolland, Conn., quickly gained local familiarity while earning his master's degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. There he examined hydraulic exchange and nutrient reactivity in the New River estuary as part of the U.S. Department of Defense's environmental evaluation of military installations in southeastern North Carolina. Lettrich's executive fellowship is with the NOAA Ocean Service Estuarine Reserve Division, where he will work with the National Estuarine Research Reserve System — a network of 28 estuarine protected areas established for long-term research, education and resource stewardship — to develop ecosystem-based management approaches. North Carolina has several sites in the national system.


Jennifer Cudney-Burch
(see larger image)

Jennifer Cudney-Burch, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, currently is working on her doctorate in coastal resources management at East Carolina University. She is studying the movements of spiny dogfish and their responses to environmental factors. Her goal is to help reduce incidental catch known as bycatch in fishing operations. Her research has been funded in part by the N.C. Fishery Resource Grant program that is administered by North Carolina Sea Grant. Also an executive fellow, Cudney-Burch will build on her doctoral research as part of the NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species Management Division, which is responsible for the domestic management of Atlantic tuna, swordfish, billfish, and shark fisheries, including implementation of international agreements.

"I'm humbled to be a Knauss Fellow this year. It's an honor to be part of such an amazing group," says Stoll, who is getting his first experience in the federal arena.

The fellows are excited to observe the D.C. policy process first-hand. They hope to learn how to become "brokers of information," says Cudney-Burch by helping researchers, politicians and the public connect with one another.

Earning the Knauss opportunity is especially elating for Lettrich, who has spent nearly his entire last few years trekking through the North Carolina coastal plain. "I'm really excited to start working with the Estuarine Reserves Division and help manage and form policy for some of the sites that gave me such great memories while living in North Carolina," says Lettrich.

North Carolina Sea Grant recommends finalists from a state applicant pool for the national selection process. "We are proud of our three incoming fellows, and we hope the experience will provide additional perspectives and allow for great professional growth," says Sara Mirabilio, a fisheries specialist at North Carolina Sea Grant and the program contact for North Carolina applicants. Mirabilio, herself, was a fellow in 2002.

"This is a tremendous and prestigious opportunity for North Carolina students to gain experience at the federal level," adds Michael Voiland, executive director of North Carolina Sea Grant. "Hopefully, they can bring lessons learned back to our state and help our coastal communities and natural resources."

Only about 50 students are selected nationally each year for the one-year paid internship, which is named after Sea Grant's co-founder, former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss. 

(Download a group photo of the incoming fellows. Pictured from left to right:  Stoll, Cudney-Burch, Lettrich.)

Applications are currently open for the 2012 Knauss Fellowship and are due Feb. 18. North Carolina Sea Grant will nominate students from graduate or professional programs in marine and aquatic science or policy, regardless of citizenship. Students must be enrolled in a North Carolina academic institution at the time of application deadline.

For more details, visit, or contact Sara Mirabilo at or 252/475-3663, ext. 29.


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