Auburn graduate student named Knauss Fellowship finalist

By: Melissa Schneider / Published: Jul 12,  2017

Sarah Lessard, a graduate student at Auburn University, has been named a finalist for the competitive 2018 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. She will become a fellow after spending a week in Washington D.C. this November interviewing for fellowship positions with potential host agencies and offices in the legislative and executive branches of government.


The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium recommended Lessard for the fellowship, which provides a unique educational and professional experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.

Lessard is a graduate research assistant at Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, where she recently defended her thesis “The human dimensions of whooping crane conservation in Alabama.” She has developed and administered surveys to Alabama residents about the human dimensions of whooping crane conservation and poaching, analyzed the survey results and facilitated focus groups to understand public perception of whooping cranes.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in natural resource ecology and management from Louisiana State University. She helped restore habitat for the native blue penguins on Phillip Island, Australia, as part of the International Student Volunteers organization. Lessard also worked as a data technician for the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program in Baton Rouge and as a graduate teaching assistant at Auburn University.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant Knauss fellowship, named after one of Sea Grant's founders, former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss, matches highly qualified graduate students with governmental host offices in the Washington, D.C., area for a one-year paid fellowship.

A panel of 20 members in Silver Spring, Maryland, evaluated 128 application packets from 31 Sea Grant programs and recommended 61 applicants as finalists.

The 2018 Knauss Fellowship will begin Feb. 1.


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