Fellows to Follow: Theresa Davenport – NOAA Research, Office of Policy Planning and Evaluation

Where are you from, and what do you do (the quintessential DC introduction)?

I joined OAR’s Office of Policy Planning and Evaluation as a Knauss Fellow in 2013, through which I staff the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program, Ecological Forecasting Roadmap, and NOAA Research Council, and support the writing and communications teams for NOAA’s 5-Year Research and Development Plan.  My hometown is Sellersville, PA, in beautiful Bucks County, which borders the Delaware River.


What were you doing before the fellowship?

Immediately prior to the fellowship, I finished my Master’s in Marine Science at Virginia Institute of Marine Science / College of William and Mary.  My master’s work examines the effects of shoreline development on estuarine systems, specifically on benthic (sea floor) infaunal (sediment-dwelling) communities. As a grad student i was fortunate to participate in several communication and outreach activities, including the NSF GK-12 program at VIMS, through which I found myself as a scientist-in-residence in a high school biology classroom.  For more detail in both topics, come to or listen in to my Brown Bag seminar on Friday!

What inspired you to get into your field?

To this day, a sincere love of discovery through the scientific process and ocean stewardship are my primary drivers.

What do you wish you had known before the fellowship?

I wish I had an appreciation for the value of the fellowship prior to starting it.  I encourage interested candidates to apply whatever your background.  There is clearly no single background that determines the success of Knauss Fellow; if you fit the eligibility criteria, just add drive and creativity!

What is your favorite DC hangout?

The National Zoo, specifically the invertebrate or red panda exhibits.

national-zooNational Zoo

What is your favorite DC restaurant?

I will answer this for Silver Spring- so far I would say Woodside Diner in Silver Spring tops the list.  I’m a huge fan of brunch.

What has your favorite experience been so far this year?

I’ve really enjoyed working on the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program website, and continue to upkeep it and post announcements.  I led the process of site design and content development with an incredible team on a very tight deadline, despite having no prior experience with web design or content management systems.

A second highlight unrelated to work has been hiking the Billy Goat Trail at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park near Great Falls in Montgomery County, Maryland.  With the pace of life and work here it is easy to disconnect from that which led you to this field; the unique micro-ecosystems on int he gorge carved by the river along the fall line are a great reminder.

Where do you see yourself going after the fellowship?

I’m leaving this avenue as open as possible.  I’ve considered continuing to work the “treetop level” in policy for a few more years, but will most likely return to the benthos soon enough, with a renewed appreciation for the work of both scientists and policy makers.

If you could be any ocean creature, what would you be and why?

I would be an octopus; wouldn’t you love to know what they are up to?

NOAA Ocean Explorer: Submarine Ring of Fire 2002: Explorer RidgeNOAA Explorer


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