FAMU Student, Alum among Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Finalists

August 01, 2022
Lyons & Robinson
FAMU Student, Alum among Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Finalists

Willis Lyons (left) and De’Marcus Robinson

A Florida A&M University graduate student and an alumnus are among the 2023 finalists for the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program.

If selected, Ph.D. student Willis Lyons and alumnus De’Marcus Robinson will become members of the 44th class of one of the most prestigious marine policy fellowships in the U.S. The 86 finalists represent 29 of the 34 Sea Grant programs and 62 universities. 

Lyons is a Ph.D. student in the FAMU Center for Coastal Marine Ecosystems (CCME), which is headed by principal investigator President Larry Robinson, Ph.D.

Lyons’ research will use concepts of environmental science and health communication to emphasize the need for more diverse, inclusive policies and stewardship in coastal areas.

“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to represent FAMU and my community at a national level,” said Lyons, of Philadelphia, Mississippi. “It has been my lifelong goal to educate, inform, and heal others through scientific discovery and humanitarian values.” 

A former FAMU School of the Environment and CCME scholar, Robinson is a Ph.D. student in atmospheric and oceanic sciences in the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. As a FAMU undergraduate, he studied environmental science with a concentration in toxicology and human health. While at FAMU, he researched chemicals that could be used to make a fiber that absorb oil, a solution for cleaning up oil spills in the ocean. Doing literature reviews of past oil absorption research projects allowed him to hypothesize new approaches to use nanofibers to absorb crude oil through a process called electrospinning, a technique that transformed chemical solutions into a nanofiber fabric mesh. The mesh nanofibers were shown to be effective at oil absorption while being environmentally friendly and Robinson presented this research at NOAA conference winning third place in a poster competition

Knauss finalists are chosen through a competitive process that includes comprehensive review at both the state Sea Grant program and national levels. The finalists are enrolled in or have recently completed master’s, Juris Doctor (J.D.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs with a focus and/or interest in marine and coastal science, policy or management. 

Since 1979, Sea Grant has provided one-year Knauss fellowships to more than 1,550 early career professionals to work in federal government offices in Washington, D.C. Knauss fellows bring their diverse perspectives to positions in the executive and legislative branches of government.