Graduate School

Andrea Dell'Apa: From Knauss Fellow to NOAA

Andrea Dell'Apa 1

Hometown: Rome, Italy

Age: 34

Major when you attended ECU: Ecology

Academic Degrees: MS, Marine Biology and Oceanography, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche di Ancona (Italy), 2005; 

PhD, Coastal Resources Management, East Carolina University, 2013

After ECU: NOAA- Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

Currently: NOAA-Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, Office of Management and Budget at National Marine Fisheries Service


When it comes to fisheries management, Dr. Andrea Dell’Apa moves like a shark. The natural outdoorsman and shark enthusiast is applying his Ph.D. in Coastal Resources Management as a NOAA-Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship at the National Marine Fisheries Service. Working as a Healthy Oceans Goal Analyst allows Dell’Apa to integrate different aspects of fishery management and study a broader scope of industry-related issues. It’s a perfect fit for this Pirate.
Andrea Dell'Apa 2

How did you choose your area of graduate study?

I have always been interested in shark biology and conservation since I was really young. My first job after graduating was in a small national NGO dealing with conservation issues on sharks, marine mammals and sea turtles in Italian coastal waters. For this job, I was able to interact with commercial fishermen and I found myself interested in fishery management issues associated to shark fisheries. Hence, I decided to choose a Ph.D. program that could be as multi-disciplinary and integrated as possible. The Coastal Resources Management program at ECU sounded perfect to accomplish this objective.

What did you find most challenging/rewarding about your graduate school experience?

As I am a foreign student, the biggest challenge for me was the language. However, it did not represent a serious barrier, and after a month or two I felt myself perfectly integrated. The most rewarding aspect was to publish papers while I was still a student. It makes me feel particularly useful to think that a researcher reading one of my papers on the other side of the world can get knowledge that he/she can use to advance science and conservation issues on fishery management in another country or context.

How do you think your ECU graduate education has helped you, either professionally or personally?

During my time at ECU I developed personal skills that will be useful for my professional career. Most of all, I learned to integrate multi-level aspects of information from different biological, ecological, social science, economic and political aspects that are vital to enhancing effective and sustainable conservation of natural resources such as fish.

Tell us about your current job with NOAA and what is cool about it/why you find it rewarding?

I am currently the Healthy Oceans Goal Analyst at the Office of Management and Budget at NOAA-NMFS. I am supporting the team working on projects focusing on Ecosystem-Based Management and Healthy Habitats. I really like my job because it allows me to see different aspects of the management process that I was not able to experience as graduate student, mainly political ones. This job is a great opportunity to learn more about integrating different aspects of the fishery management.

Tell us a bit about your review of the Magnuson-Stevens Act:

As part of my dissertation study I analyzed aspects of the MSA in relation to the management of the spiny dogfish and compared this fishery management regulation with its European counterpart: the Common Fisheries Policy. My conclusions are that the MSA, contrary to the CFP, is a valuable and effective regulatory instrument to provide sustainable fisheries, as the case for the rebuilding of the Northwest Atlantic spiny dogfish stock testifies. However, some aspects of the MSA should be improved. For example, a more equal apportionment of voting membership within Regional Fisheries Management Councils would be beneficial to the management process as it will enhance transparency and allow all stakeholders to participate in the management-decision process. This is an important aspect of the fishery management within an EBM approach.

What recognition are you most proud of and why?

Definitely to have been selected for the Knauss Fellowship. This is a highly selective Fellowship for graduate students at national level, and I am proud of representing ECU at NOAA and NMFS.

What would you say to someone considering ECU as a potential graduate school?

That ECU is the perfect place to pursue your dream and goals. The graduate school and all its members' staff are fully supportive to students and you will always feel as part of a big family. You will meet highly qualified teachers and find exciting opportunities to expand your professional expertise and skills — all knowledge that will be useful for your future professional career.

Hobbies: I enjoy playing guitar, listening to music and practicing lots of sports, such as soccer, swimming, and surfing. Spending time outdoors is always awesome.

7:00am-8:00am Get ready for the day/eat breakfast
8:00am-8:30am Check emails and news from the world outside of fisheries, and then look at the schedule of things to do for the day
8:30am-5:00pm Work, meetings, networking and occasional coffee
6:00pm-8:30pm Gym/swim/soccer
8:30pm-9:30pm Dinner and relax on the couch
9:30pm-11:00pm Watching a movie or going out
11:00pm Time for bed
Andrea Dell'Apa 3

College & Dept.: Dept. of Biology, Institute of Coastal Science & Policy

Class: 2010

Favorite class: Coastal Ecological Processes

Professor who influenced you the most: David Kimmel

Dream job: NOAA Fishery Science Center or FAO, always dealing with shark fishery issues

Your words to live by: "We need more social scientists."

Significant life lesson you learned while at ECU: Stay focused and always think out of the box.