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Minnesota graduate selected for prestigious Knauss Fellowship

Minnesota Sea Grant announced today that University of Minnesota Duluth Water Resources Science graduate Daniel C. Takaki is a finalist for the prestigious John A. Knauss Policy Fellowship from the National Sea Grant College Program. Takaki will spend 2019 working on Great Lakes, ocean and coastal policy issues in Washington, D.C.

“The Minnesota Sea Grant College Program is proud to send one of Minnesota’s most promising young scientists to help the congressional and executive branches of our federal government understand and integrate the complexities of sound water science into policy,” said Minnesota Sea Grant Director John A. Downing.

The Knauss Fellowship matches nationally selected finalists with host offices of the federal government for a one-year non-renewable, paid fellowship. Legislative fellows are selected to work in the United States House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in either personal or committee offices. Executive fellows are placed in federal agencies with Great Lakes and marine-relevant policy missions. The 2019 finalists will be the 40th class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program since the program’s inception in 1979.

“Two areas I am most passionate about are water and public service,” said Takaki. “Through the Knauss Fellowship I hope to work toward preserving the quality and integrity of the Great Lakes and the surrounding communities.”

For his thesis work, Takaki and his UMD advisor Chan Lan Chun developed an innovative and inexpensive bioreactor system to treat sulfate contamination in wastewater. The project is timely and important in Minnesota given ongoing discussions about the effects of sulfate on the state’s official grain, wild rice or manoomin, as it is called in the Ojibwe language.

“Certain bacteria ‘breath in’ sulfate and they ‘breath out’ hydrogen sulfide ions, a process called biological sulfate reduction,” said Takaki. “The goal of our system was to find an inexpensive and ecologically feasible way to increase the rate of sulfate reduction thereby converting problematic sulfate into a safer, manageable and easily removable solid iron sulfide mineral.”

Takaki plans to continue working on the project at UMD until the start of the fellowship.

“As an undergraduate I worked in Panama with the Villanova Chapter of Engineers Without Borders to help develop a drinking water treatment system,” said Takaki. “We worked with local community members, local workers and officials and I gained a deep appreciation for how extremely important it is to be able to articulate both the broad scope of a project and specific details about how people will be affected by what you’re doing.”

“Takaki’s undergraduate and graduate work speaks to his passions and keenly demonstrates how his work supports Sea Grant’s mission to identify information needs, foster research and communicate results about Lake Superior and Minnesota’s inland waters,” said Downing.

Takaki is one of 69 finalists from 140 applicants considered by the National Sea Grant office from 31 Sea Grant programs across the nation. Finalists will learn about placement opportunities over the summer, interview with several legislative or executive offices in the fall and begin their fellowship in February 2019.

“The Knauss Fellowship offers me an extraordinary opportunity to deepen my understanding of water policy and management,” said Takaki. “I strongly believe that science needs to be used as an asset to help inform policy decisions regarding our aquatic ecosystems.”

The National Sea Grant College Program, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is a network of 33 Sea Grant science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Puerto Rico, Lake Champlain and Guam. Placement of the 2019 finalists is contingent on adequate funding in fiscal year 2019.


More Information

National Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship and Where Are They Now - Minnesota Sea Grant's former Knauss Fellows: www.seagrant.umn.edu/projects/knauss

Posted on July 11, 2018

This page last modified on July 11, 2018     © 1996 – 2019 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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