DURHAM, N.C. – Four recent Master of Environmental Management (MEM) graduates of the Nicholas School have been tapped to take part in the Sea Grant John A. Knauss Policy Fellowship program.

Claudia Deeg, Nicholas “Nico” Fairbairn, Sydney Mantell and Stephanie Murphy—all of whom earned their MEMs this May—were among 84 young environmental leaders selected for the national program this year.

This fall, they will interview for yearlong fellowships with federal government agencies in both the executive and legislative branches. Following placement with one of the agencies, they will begin work as Knauss Fellows in February 2024.

The Knauss Fellowship program is an initiative of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program. Now in its 45th year, it places recent university graduates in federal agencies and offices to work with policymakers and staffers on coastal policy issues of national consequence.

Deeg, Fairbairn, Mantell and Murphy and the other 2023 fellowship recipients will have the opportunity to interview for fellowships at NOAA, the Department of the Interior, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Navy, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the House Committee on Natural Resources, among other agencies and offices.

Deeg earned her MEM in coastal environmental management. Her Master’s Project focused on the vulnerability of small-scale fishers, especially women, to climate change. This included collaborating on an international research project evaluating the contribution of small-scale fisheries to sustainable development.

Fairbairn earned their MEM in coastal environmental management. They are interested in applying an environmental justice lens to pressing marine issues. Using spatial and narrative analyses, their Master’s Project explored how income, institutions, and vulnerability to sea-level rise shape deployment of living shorelines in North Carolina.

Mantell earned her MEM in coastal environmental management.  She is interested in promoting equity within environmental education, marine resource use and climate change mitigation. For her Master’s Project, she created a zine that brought together artwork, essays and reflections by her and other members of the Nicholas School community to broaden the definition of “entanglement” and demonstrate how we can generate knowledge by collectively creating art.

Murphy earned her MEM in environmental economics and policy. Her Master’s Project focused on the drivers of fisheries conflict in the Barents Sea—a complex body of territorial and international waters. She focused specifically on the challenges to fisheries management as sea ice diminishes, waters warm and geopolitical relationships evolve.