Tuesday, January 5, 2021

From Finalist to Fellow: The beginning of my Knauss journey by So-Jung Youn

My name is So-Jung Youn and, starting February 2021, I will be part of the newest cohort of John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellows. I’m currently a PhD candidate at the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University. My advisor is Dr. William W. Taylor and my dissertation research is focused on the ecosystem services that the lake whitefish commercial fishery provides to Great Lakes coastal communities in Michigan.

Whether in the field or at outreach events, fisheries biologists like So-Jung often spend plenty of time outdoors. Photo: Julia Whyte

Ever since I heard about the Knauss Fellowship from previous Fellows in my graduate lab, back in 2013 when I first started graduate school, I was interested in working with Sea Grant locally (Michigan Sea Grant) and nationally, hoping one day to become a Knauss Fellow myself. The first step toward that goal was getting selected as a 2021 Knauss Finalist. While Placement Week sounds like it’s always an intense experience, this year’s shift to an all-virtual setting presented some unique moments. After navigating the challenges of technology glitches, random interruptions in internet connectivity, and the fatigue of staring at a screen for hours, I was placed with the Office of Policy and Constituent Affairs in NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS). I’ll be working with Glenn Boledovich as an Ocean and Coastal Policy Analyst.

I’m very excited to be a Knauss Fellow and hope the experience will further my interest in how science is translated into policy creation and implementation in order to enhance and conserve our natural resources. While I’ve had some exposure to this process during my graduate school experiences, the Knauss Fellowship will give me the opportunity to observe, and engage with, the process at the federal level. For my career goals, my host office seems like the perfect fit.

I’m excited to start this position and learn more about policy at both the executive and legislative levels of the federal government. And of course, I’m excited to hopefully meet my host office, as well as my Knauss cohort, in person later this upcoming year. 

Lake whitefish, which So-Jung studies, are an important native species in the Great Lakes. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant


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