Congratulations to master’s student Zoraida P. Pérez Delgado, who has been awarded a place in the prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program.
As an UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL) master's student studying under Dr. Hali Kilbourne, Zoraida has been using coral records from the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Ocean to understand how volcanic events have historically impacted precipitation and temperature over the last 400 years. By understanding how our climate has changed in the past, scientists like Zoraida hope to improve models used to predict future changes that have been accelerated by the burning of fossil fuels.
Zoraida has participated in the annual CBL Open House and has volunteered her time in the CBL Visitor Center, allowing her to engage members of the community in learning about her research. “My time at CBL has enabled me to develop my scientific communication skills further,” says Zoraida, “I have also gained a new perspective on government leadership and cultural interactions, having moved here from Puerto Rico, and I feel a responsibility to increase awareness regarding the underrepresentation of minorities and people from a diverse background within STEM.”
Hoping to build on the skills she’s developed at CBL, Zoraida decided to apply for a Knauss Fellowship while writing her thesis. “What motivated me to apply to the Knauss Fellowship program is that I believe it will help me understand how science and policy interact, giving me the skills necessary to translate my scientific knowledge and research experience into effective policy for the betterment of our world,” explains Zoraida, “Being a fellow right after receiving my Master of Science degree will not only help me understand all the different career opportunities that exist outside of academia, but will give me the skill set necessary to make more informed choices about the training I pursue during my Ph.D.”
The fellowship program will help Zoraida do just that. Through the Knauss Fellowship program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Sea Grant awards early-career professionals with one-year fellowships working in federal government offices in Washington, D.C. The program allows graduate students to pursue their interests in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources by engaging them in work related to the national policy decisions affecting those resources.
Zoraida, who will be joining the 2019 cohort of Knauss Fellows, will start in the program this coming February working as the Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, at NOAA’s front office. Ultimately, she aims to earn her Doctorate and pursue a career at a governmental agency.