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Marine sciences student wins fellowship to White House program (Released: 2/4/97)

by Renu Sehgal, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- A University of Connecticut graduate student in marine sciences has been selected as a prestigious Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow and will spend a year in Washington, D.C. working in a White House science program.

Christos Michalopoulos, 33, of Montville, was among 24 applicants selected nationwide to participate in the policy fellowship, which is part of the National Sea Grant College Federal Fellows program. The fellows spend a year in Washington working on marine policy issues with a member of Congress or with an executive agency.

"It was totally unexpected," said Michalopoulos, who is studying reproductive ecology of skates at the Avery Point campus in Groton. "It's highly competitive and an outstanding opportunity."

Michalopoulos began his term Feb. 1 with the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program (GLOBE), an innovative international partnership between elementary and high school students and scientists.

GLOBE, initiated by Vice President Al Gore and based at the White House, links 3,000 schools in 44 countries via computer technology to increase students' understanding of the Earth. The program develops students' math and science skills while also collecting data for the scientists in the program.

Teachers are trained to use satellite imagery and Global Positioning Systems so they can train their students to collect climate data and enter it into the GLOBE database using the World Wide Web. The data is archived on the Internet and available to other students and research scientists for analysis. Michalopoulos will assist in developing new scientific protocols to measure estuarine and coastal conditions and will help train participating teachers.

"I'm extremely interested in environmental education programs -- that's where I would like to see myself in five years," he said. "The GLOBE project is very exciting. It is meshing different aspects of science through technology. The data produced are available to the entire scientific community. GLOBE also brings together kids from all different countries and helps them to understand and to appreciate our global environment. I think this program is incredible."

Michalopoulos, a native of Greece, completed his bachelor's degree in biology at the University of Patras, Greece, in 1985 and earned a master's in biology in 1990 at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

The fellowship is named after John A. Knauss, former dean of the School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. As undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, Knauss served as the administrator of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the parent agency of the National Sea Grant College Program.