July 23, 2015

Vernon Smith, 301-713-7248

Students selected for 2015 NOAA scholarship honoring Dr. Nancy Foster

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has selected four graduate students as recipients of the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship, representing graduate-level areas of study such as marine biology, oceanography and maritime archaeology.

“This highly competitive scholarship program allows the next generation of NOAA scientists to grow intellectually and expand their knowledge while promoting the work and mission of the National Marine Sanctuary System,” said John Armor, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries acting director. “It presents an unmatched opportunity to provide these young scholars with guidance in the very beginning of their careers.”

Subject to appropriations, each scholarship recipient will receive an annual stipend of $30,000 and up to $12,000 annually as an education allowance. Additionally, recipients could see up to $10,000 to support a four-to-six week research collaboration at a NOAA facility. Masters students may be supported for up to two years, and doctoral students for up to four years.

The four scholarship recipients for 2015 are:

photo of alex avila

Alexandra Avila, Oregon State University. Her master’s studies will examine the effects of oceanographic processes on the dispersal of larval rockfish and the effectiveness of marine reserves along the Oregon and Washington coast, including Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Avila hopes that her work will help conserve fisheries while maintaining ocean ecosystems and educating future generations on ways to help.

photo of Richard Coleman

Richard Coleman, Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. His dissertation research is investigating the connectivity of fish species whose distributions occur between the Main Hawaiian Islands and the protected waters of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Through his research, he intends to inform an ecosystem-based management approach that will maximize protection policies for multiple species and identify an appropriate scale to manage harvests.

photo of Sarah Kienle

Sarah Kienle, University of California, Santa Cruz. Her thesis project will examine the foraging ecology and habitat use of male northern elephant seals from multiple breeding colonies along the species range. Male northern elephant seals forage more coastally than female seals and overlap with several national marine sanctuaries, including Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Greater Farallones, Olympic Coast and Cordell Bank. She hopes this research will provide insights into how individuals, particularly males, will be differentially affected by climate change across the species range.

photo of joshua stewart

Joshua Stewart, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His dissertation research focuses on the spatial ecology and population connectivity of oceanic manta rays, a species threatened globally by targeted fisheries, bycatch and accidental entanglement in discarded fishing gear. Stewart looks forward to working with national marine sanctuaries to study the movements and connectivity of manta rays and other threatened, large marine vertebrates.

The scholarships were established in memory of Nancy Foster, Ph.D., a leader in marine resource conservation, a former assistant NOAA administrator for oceanic services and coastal zone management, and past director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. Congress created the scholarship in 2000 as a way to honor her life’s work, 23 years of service to NOAA, and her contribution to the nation.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the scholarship program. NOAA’s Office of the National Marine Sanctuaries received more than 200 applications for this scholarship. A panel of scientists from across NOAA reviewed and scored the applications based on their rankings, financial need, academic excellence, recommendations, research and career goals.

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as trustee for a system of 14 marine protected areas, encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes waters. Through active research, management, and public engagement, national marine sanctuaries sustain healthy environments that are the foundation for thriving communities and stable economies.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook,link leaves government site Twitterlink leaves government site, Instagramlink leaves government site and our other social media channels.