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Five Students Chosen for Prestigious Fellowships

Jul 24, 2016 | News

Five graduate and post-graduate students have been selected for national and state fellowships in 2016 through applications submitted by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Sean Bath and Rebecca Derex were selected for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program’s Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship; Sumi Selvaraj and Alex Braud for the NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship; and Emily Asp for the Kathryn D. Sullivan Earth and Marine Science Fellowship supported by the S.C. Space Grant Consortium and the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Sean Bath is a Ph.D. student in the University of South Carolina School of Geography with dual Master’s degrees from the College of Charleston in environmental studies and public administration.

He says he developed his interest in climate science and coastal uses as a graduate student intern with the Consortium.

During his one-year Knauss fellowship, Bath is serving as an interagency policy liaison in the Office of the Oceanographer of the U.S. Navy. He has represented the Navy at meetings of national and international committees, and he supports the task force adapting naval operations and infrastructure to changing environmental conditions.

Rebecca Derex earned her M.S. in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston and was the Brain Bank coordinator at the Medical University of South Carolina when she was selected as a Knauss fellow.

She says she first grew interested in the intersection of coastal policy and marine science while working on a Marine Mammal Stranding Network project as an undergraduate at the College of Charleston.

During her fellowship, she is serving in the policy office at the NOAA National Ocean Service headquarters. Her portfolio includes arctic policy and national ocean policy, and she assists with Congressional outreach and communication.

Sumi Selvaraj has a M.S. in Geography from the University of South Carolina and served as a graduate research assistant with Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA).

For her two-year Coastal Management fellowship, she was matched with the California Coastal Commission. Selvaraj will help analyze and prioritize the commission’s climate preparedness and adaptation planning efforts using maps and other tools.

She says she grew interested in coastal issues while serving in AmeriCorps in Cape Cod, Mass., and she began to focus on sea-level rise issues while working at CISA.

Alex Braud will complete his Master’s in environmental studies and public administration at the College of Charleston before beginning his Coastal Management fellowship.

He also will be based in California for his fellowship, tasked with guiding the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s regional sediment management program beyond its pilot stage.

Braud was a graduate student intern for the Consortium, and he says that helped him learn how to apply lessons from his academic work to community projects.

Emily Asp recently completed her first year in the Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies Master’s program at Coastal Carolina University.

She also has volunteered for the Waties Island Sea Turtle Patrol, which fits well with her future Sullivan fellowship work studying the effect of artificial light pollution on the orientation of loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings.

She said one of the highlights of her graduate work at Coastal Carolina was a trip to Costa Rica, where she got hands-on experience working with leatherback turtles as a teaching assistant in a biology class.