Congratulations to our 2023 Matt Beard Scholarship Recipients - Rachael Best and Adin Nahoa Domen!
This award is given in memory of Matthew Beard, an FSU student who intended to make the conservation of corals his life's work. The award is given by the FSUCML, with advice from the FSU Diving Control Board, to the student who best embodies all that Matt exemplified as a student of marine science and as a member of the FSU scientific diving community.
Rachael Best has established herself as a senior graduate science diver. Over her six years in graduate school, she has transitioned from a fairly naive science diver to a highly competent subtidal field worker. She has established an independent research program in the Gulf of Mexico investigating phenotypic plasticity in Gorgonian corals found inshore and several miles offshore. Working offshore in the Gulf has substantial challenges, especially doing so independent of her advisor's research program.
In addition to her dissertation research, she has been Don Levitan's colleague and dive buddy for three summer seasons in the Virgin Islands and he comments that he "has seen the continued growth in her abilities and professionalism." During her time in the Virgin Islands, in addition to assisting in Levitan's work, she conceived of another project that has blossomed into a new chapter of her dissertation. Throughout her time at FSU, she has been extremely generous with her time assisting other students in their research programs. She has also mentored several undergraduates, one of whom is a co-author on a Gulf Mexico project on cryptic shrimp that will be submitted for publication this fall. She is a strong role model for our graduate students and aspiring undergrads.
Adin Nahoa Domen began his diving career at the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory in 2021 when he was awarded the FSUCML Diving Scholarship. Adin’s scholarship enabled him to complete open water training and to enroll in the scientific diver training course, where he quickly emerged at the top of the class, demonstrating unique ability and comfort in underwater task-loading exercises. Through stressful black-water navigation, rescue scenarios, and other exercises designed to induce stress, Adin was reliable and calm, consistent and smart.
Adin’s commitment to teamwork was evident throughout the course, earning him the respect of his instructors and classmates. His will to succeed was consistent, his communication was superb, and his work ethic was unparalleled, as he routinely showed up early and stayed late to ensure all tasks were completed.
In completing his scientific diver training, Adin became one of just nine undergraduates at FSU in 2022 to be eligible to contribute to underwater research at FSU as a Scientific Diver. Since then, he has leveraged his unique qualifications to contribute to the University. He became a reliable volunteer for FSUCML’s acoustic array and joined a month-long international research expedition to Bonaire to enable graduate research on coral reef ecosystems. When he returned, he was hired as a technician to work as a lead diver for the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative where he has continued to excel and accepted a second position as a technician in our diving locker. This fall he began grad school, studying under Dr. Sandra Brooke, and has continued to offer his time and skills to the benefit of FSU's scientific diving community.