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Melissa Errend (M.S. in Marine Resource Management in 2015) is a catalyst in the ongoing reaction between science and policy. The self-described problem-solver is tasked with integrating fisheries and ocean science into the value-laden world of Congressional politics to support her boss, Sen. Maria Cantwell, and the people of Washington State.
Errend is one of four Knauss Fellows from Oregon Sea Grant's 2016–17 cohort. Run by the National Sea Grant office, the prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship places graduate students focused on ocean and Great Lakes issues in legislative or executive offices in Washington, D.C., for a year. About 1,100 graduate students have participated in the program since its inception in 1979. This year, Errend is one of only 12 students serving in a legislative office, where she is a resident scientific expert informing political decisions, crafting questions for hearings, and assisting with writing novel policy to solve national problems.
As a native of Portland, Ore., and an Oregon State University alumna, Errend is living outside the Pacific Northwest for the first time. She spent her undergraduate career in community ecology, conducting genetics work in a lab, but transitioned from alleles to economics for her master's program, in search of ways to make science relevant in decision-making.
"At my core, I am very much a problem-solver," Errend said. "I am looking for the best and most efficient ways to make a difference and connect scientific information where it's needed and to effect change."
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