WSG News Blog

Four Recent Graduates Announced as Finalists for John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

Updated February 3, 2023

We are pleased to announce that three recent graduate students — Mitchell G. Hebner, Caroline Potter, Kelsey Rudes and Jacquelyn Shaff — were selected as finalists for the 2023 class of the prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program.

Since 1979, the National Sea Grant College Program has provided one-year fellowships working within federal government offices in Washington, D.C. to over 1,400 early-career professionals. Legislative fellows typically spend their time learning about marine-related policy issues in Congress and often get the chance to further key pieces of legislation. Executive fellows work for such agencies as NOAA, Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, State Department, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Department of Energy, often assisting in the implementation of management and conservation laws.

Knauss finalists are chosen through a competitive process that includes comprehensive review at both the state Sea Grant program and national levels. This fall, the finalists will participate in a virtual placement week to get to know each other and interview with potential host offices. Following placement, they will begin their fellowships in February 2023.

About Mitchell G. Hebner:

Mitchell has been passionate about marine science since a young age, despite growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Earning his degree in marine biology from the University of Oregon introduced him to the realms of intertidal ecology and deep sea biology. He has been on two research cruises to study deep sea ecology in the Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast of the United States. During one of these cruises, Mitchell participated in an Alvin dive with his current advisor and began his graduate career path studying deep sea larval biology at Western Washington University. Because of this firsthand experience of the marvel and splendor of the deep-sea, Mitchell says he understand the need for preservation and conservation of these wild ecosystems. He aims to communicate his experiences in marine science for the benefit of the Knauss Fellowship to ensure a legacy of conservation for our nation’s coastal, marine and deep sea resources.

About Caroline Potter:

Caroline is passionate about fisheries policy. While obtaining her master’s at the UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, she worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. She evaluated how well area-based fisheries management measures meet other effective area-based conservation measures that contribute to global biodiversity targets. Caroline received her undergraduate degree in human ecology from the College of the Atlantic, where she specialized in environmental law and policy. During that time, she worked with the Wisconsin Bureau of Fisheries Management reviewing policy and guidance documents to meet the requirements of a new state act. She also worked at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary drafting their 2019 condition report. Additionally, she served at two environmental nonprofits: Friends of Taunton Bay and Frenchmen Bay Conservancy.

About Kelsey Rudes:

Kelsey has always been interested in the intersection of people and the environment, leading her first to a bachelor’s degree in organismal biology with minors in leadership and sociology. This interest was further inspired through her work at a wildlife refuge in Florida, as well as her travels to Hawaii and the Philippines. Kelsey recognized that policy was central to many of the human-environment interactions she saw taking place, which led her to UW’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. While there, she also undertook a concurrent graduate program in international studies with a focus on states, markets and societies. For her master’s thesis, Kelsey partnered with Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, a local NGO based in Cebu, Philippines. Her research looked at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods and resource use in the case of whale shark tourism in Oslob, Philippines. Kelsey hopes to bridge international and environmental issues throughout her time as a Knauss Fellow, and she is excited to continue learning about relevant issues at the national level.

About Jacquelyn Shaff:

Jacquelyn is a recent master’s graduate of the UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs who is interested in community involvement in marine resource management. Her thesis focused on historical ecology and the role of local ecological knowledge of fishers to understand trends in marine top predator abundance and distribution over time. Jacquelyn received her undergraduate degree in wildlife and fish biology and anthropology from UC Davis, specializing in marine ecology. She currently works with Cascadia Research Collective, where she studies odontocete movement ecology and interactions with fisheries. She is excited to apply her background in the natural sciences with a WSG Hershman Fellowship role that connects what is happening at a local level to national policy and management actions that consider both human and ecological needs.

Congratulations, fellows! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish.


Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

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