Auburn fisheries grad student awarded marine policy fellowship

Matt Womble, a master’s student in Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, has been named a 2016 Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow and will spend next year in Washington, D.C., learning how science is translated into federal policy.

The National Sea Grant College Program established the Knauss fellowship in 1979 to provide exceptional educational experiences to highly qualified graduate students who have an interest in ocean or coastal resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The program places the students with host offices, departments or agencies in the legislative and executive branches of government for the one-year, $56,500 fellowship.

At Auburn, Womble is conducting his master’s research on parasite taxonomy and aquatic animal health under the direction of associate professor Ash Bullard. His work focuses on parasites that infect both recreationally valued fishes, such as bass and sunfish, and snails of high conservation concern in Alabama streams and rivers. He will complete his degree in December.

A native of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Womble received his bachelor’s degree in wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture science from Mississippi State University in 2012. He was selected a Knauss fellow by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and is the first Auburn student to be awarded the fellowship since 2000.

He will be assigned his host during the class of 2016 placement week in the nation’s capital in November.

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