Two Mississippi students named marine policy fellows

By: Melissa Schneider / Published: Jul 12,  2012

Clifford P. Hutt from Mississippi State University (MSU) and Courtney Smith from The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) have been selected to participate in the highly competitive John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. They were nominated for the program through the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC). 
The Knauss Fellowship is sponsored by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program and is located in Washington, D.C. The program focuses on the federal enforcement, creation and implementation of policies that govern coastal, oceanic, and Great Lakes resources.
Hutt and Smith, along with 51 other fellows, will spend a year as Knauss fellows in either a legislative or executive office learning how marine issues are handled at the federal level. Both Hutt and Smith will be formally assigned to an executive office during a weeklong placement event in December and will begin the fellowship in February 2013.
“There are several world-renown universities around the country that have marine policy programs,” said LaDon Swann, director of MASGC. “To have two Knauss fellows selected from our program signals the quality of the graduate programs we have within our nine-member consortium.”

Clifford P. Hutt lives in Starkville, Miss. With a bachelor’s degree in forestry and wildlife science, a master’s degree in biology and Ph.D. in forest resources, Hutt’s education spans nearly 15 years with nine peer-reviewed publications. He believes the fellowship will provide insight into the inner workings of fisheries management and policy, which can give him a competitive advantage for future career opportunities. Hutt will defend his dissertation this summer and is preparing to publish two other manuscripts from projects accomplished at MSU.
“Mr. Hutt brings with him a wealth of research, teaching and extension experience,” Swann said. “The marine policy experience he will gain will show him how science is translated into policy.”
Courtney Smith lives in Hattiesburg, Miss. She received her bachelor’s degree in marine science at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., and is working toward her master’s degree in experimental psychology at USM with a focus on an analysis of the acoustic range of the largest of the three Southern Resident killer whale pods. Also, she has completed graduate coursework in marine bioacoustics at Pennsylvania State University, has been involved with several different research facilities and is active with on-campus clubs and programs.
“Ms. Smith has unique experiences with marine mammals and multiple experiences as a fisheries observer on fishing vessels on the West Coast and Gulf of Alaska,” said Swann. “These experiences are clearly strengths for her.”
Because of the remarkable references from professors and colleagues, Swann feels that Smith and Hutt are very qualified for the Knauss fellowship.

“It is wonderful to see their hard work being rewarded with the Knauss Fellowship,” he said.

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium supports applied, interdisciplinary marine science research, education and outreach to foster the sustainable development and management of ecosystems. Its members include Auburn University, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, The University of Mississippi, The University of Southern Mississippi and University of South Alabama.

Find out more about the Knauss Fellowship at

*Mindy Phillips is a student at The University of Southern Mississippi and an MASGC writer intern.*


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