August 1, 2018


National Academies' Gulf Research Program Announces 2018 Science Policy Fellowships

WASHINGTON – The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine today announced the recipients of its 2018 Science Policy Fellowships. These competitive awards are among a suite of program activities aimed at supporting the development of future generations of scientists, engineers, and health professionals who are prepared to work at the intersections of offshore energy system safety, human health and well-being, and environmental stewardship in the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. coastal regions.

“Now in the fourth year of the program, word has spread about the unique experiences and opportunities provided by the Gulf Research Program’s Science Policy Fellowships,” said Maggie Walser, director of education and capacity building. “This year we received a record number of applications, and it was challenging to choose the awardees given the many talented candidates eager to contribute their background and expertise to helping make science directly beneficial to the Gulf region.”

The Science Policy Fellowships focus on leadership development and capacity building at the science-policy interface by providing fellows with a one-year experience on the staff of a federal or state environmental, natural resources, oil and gas, or public health agency in the Gulf of Mexico region. The fellowships are awarded to recent graduate or professional students or those who have completed their studies and demonstrate a strong scientific or technical background, superior academic achievement, and leadership qualities. Fellows receive an annual stipend of $45,000 for current students or $55,000 for graduates. In addition, fellows are paired with a mentor at their host offices and have opportunities for professional development.

In alphabetical order, the 10 recipients of the 2018 Science Policy Fellowships are:

Marcy Cockrell
Ph.D. (Marine Resource Assessment), University of South Florida
Host Office: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Tallahassee

Michelle Culver
M.S. (Coastal and Marine System Science), Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi
Host Office: Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program, Gulfport, Miss.

Kathleen Ernst
Ph.D. (Environment and Climate Sciences), University of Tennessee
Host Office: NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program, Stennis, Miss.

Kathryn Keating
Ph.D. candidate (Sociology), Louisiana State University
Host Office: RESTORE Council, New Orleans, La.

Christianah Oyenuga
Ph.D. candidate (Environmental Science), Florida A&M University
Host Office: Harris County Public Health, Houston, Tex.

Elizabeth Robinson
Ph.D. (Oceanography and Coastal Sciences), Louisiana State University
Host Office: Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Baton Rouge

Selby Servais
Ph.D. (Biology), Florida International University
Host Office: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fairhope, Ala.

Kelcee Smith
Ph.D. candidate (Conservation Biology), Louisiana State University
Host Office: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin

Huy Vu
Ph.D. (Biology), University of Houston
Host Office: The Water Institute of the Gulf, Baton Rouge, La.

Benjamin Wilson
Ph.D. (Ecology), Florida International University
Host Office: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lafayette, La.

To learn more about the Gulf Research Program’s Science Policy Fellowships, visit Applications for 2019 Science Policy Fellowships will open in early December.

The National Academies' Gulf Research Program is an independent, science-based program founded in 2013 as part of legal settlements with the companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. It seeks to enhance offshore energy system safety and protect human health and the environment by catalyzing advances in science, practice, and capacity to generate long-term benefits for the Gulf of Mexico region and the nation. The program has $500 million for use over 30 years to fund grants, fellowships, and other activities in the areas of research and development, education and training, and monitoring and synthesis. Visit to learn more.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit

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