Current Award Recipients (FY2022)
2022-2023 Ken & Sonia Smith Memorial Marine Conservation Scholarship
Congratulations to Ph.D. student, Annais Bonilla-Johnson, on receiving the 2022-2023 Ken & Sonia Smith Memorial Marine Conservation Scholarship! Annais will quantify embryonic maternal investment at key gestational stages in the Atlantic stingray (Hypanus sabina). Further respirometry trials will assess possible differences in the physical performance of pregnant and non-pregnant stingrays with the potential to analyze changes in physical performance as gestation progresses.
2022 Awards Round-Up
Several of our graduate students have received outstanding awards and grants in the past few months. Annais Bonilla-Johnson (Ph.D. student, Dr. Grubbs) was recently awarded the Mart P. Hill Endowment for Student Excellence in Biology Award. Randi Bowman (Ph.D. Candidate, Dr. Brooke) received the Horace Loftin Endowment from the FSU Biology Department and the Matt Beard award. Ashley Dawdy (Ph.D. student, Dr. Grubbs) was a recipient of a travel grant from the Ermine M. Owenby, Jr., Fund to Promote Excellence Award, the Martin Family Graduate Fellowship in Biological Sciences, and the Mote Marine Fellowship Research Assistantship for summer 2023. Finally, Aaron Ridall (Ph.D. Candidate, Dr. Ingels) was also awarded the Mote Marine Fellowship Research Assistantship for summer 2023. Congratulations to all!!
2022 FWRI Forage Fish Research Program (FFRP) Fellowship
Ph.D. student, Barry Walton, was awarded a fellowship with Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s Forage Fish Research Program (FFRP). FFRP is a public-private partnership between FWRI, leading academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations designed to provide Florida with much-needed analysis of existing data and foster the development of the next generation of marine scientists. The fellowship is for one year and provides $15,000 for research expenses.
2022 American Museum of Natural History's Lerner-Gray Memorial Fund
We are thrilled to announce that Ph.D. students Ashley Dawdy and Aaron Ridall have received the American Museum of Natural History’s Lerner-Gray Memorial Fund. Ashley will use this award to continue to study the habitat use of Atlantic cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) in Apalachicola Bay, FL. This work contributes to the delineation of essential fish habitat and informs the building of successful species conservation plans. Aaron will use this fund to cover his upcoming work on how microplastics pollution affects nematode feeding behaviors. While scientists understand that microplastics are toxic to organisms that eat them, they don’t have a great understanding as to why organisms feed on these particles. In his work, he will be introducing current and future estimated levels of microplastics to nematodes to see how they respond to these particles in their environment. Congratulations, Aaron!
2022 NOAA Margaret Davidson Fellowship
2022 Charles M. McAllister Biological Studies Student Fund Scholarship
FSU undergraduate researcher Sarah Smith was awarded the Charles M. McAllister Biological Studies Student Support Fund Scholarship!
The McAllister Scholarship is awarded each year to outstanding upper-division undergraduate students majoring in biological science at FSU. The scholarship is intended to aid students in conducting Directed Individual Study or Honors in the Major research. Funding from the scholarship will help support Sarah's research on growth, potential dispersion, and interspecies interactions of Palythoa caribaeorum, a zoanthid common in the Florida Keys, which appears to be increasing in abundance on reefs experiencing human degradation.About receiving the award, Sarah says, “I am honored to have been selected to receive the Charles M. McAllister Biological Studies Student Support Fund which will allow me to conduct research that I am passionate about.”
2022 Guy Harvey Scholarship Award
Congratulations to Ashley Dawdy and Blake Hamilton, 2022 Guy Harvey Scholarship Award winners! The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (@guyharveyocean) offers scholarships to university students studying marine science and working to become the future leaders of ocean conservation. Ashley’s scholarship award will support her research on Atlantic cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus). She is acoustically tracking the rays in Apalachicola Bay, FL to investigate movement behavior and habitat use across life stages. Blake’s scholarship award will contribute to his research on the movement ecology of blacknose sharks. He is using passive acoustic telemetry to describe their movement patterns, with the hope of identifying potential parturition areas and seasonal migrations in this understudied shark.
2022 Southern Association of Marine Laboratories Award
Congratulations to FSUCML Ph.D. students Randi Bowman, Sean McCollum, and Aaron Ridall! Randi, Sean, and Aaron recently were awarded the Southern Association of Marine Laboratories Award. Randi will use this award to continue her research in determining which aspects of functional diversity are key to maintaining high-level ecosystem functioning in the face of regularly occurring disturbances. Her goal is to use this research to inform coral reef restoration and management strategies. This award will help fund Sean’s research on seagrass meadows as “blue carbon ecosystems.” Sean’s research focuses on how seagrass meadows help mitigate climate change by burying organic carbon in their sediments and how anthropogenic pressures impact their ability to provide this important ecosystem service. Currently, Sean is investigating how nutrient enrichment in coastal waters will influence the decomposition of buried organic matter within seagrass meadows. Aaron's research will assess how free-living nematodes respond to variable levels of microplastics pollution in their environment and how the presence of bacteria on microplastics alters nematode feeding behavior. While research has shown that meiofauna, like nematodes, consume microplastics, it is still not understood why they would mistake synthetic materials as food items. Aaron's research seeks to test the hypothesis that nematodes are attempting to feed on the bacteria that colonize microplastics and consume the entire particle in the process.
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Grant-in-Aid-of-Research
Congratulations to FSUCML Ph.D. student Sean McCollum! Sean recently was awarded a Grant-in-Aid-of-Research from The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. This award will help fund Sean’s research on seagrass meadows as “blue carbon ecosystems.” Sean’s research focuses on how seagrass meadows help mitigate climate change by burying organic carbon in their sediments and how anthropogenic pressures impact their ability to provide this important ecosystem service. Currently, Sean is investigating how nutrient enrichment in coastal waters will influence the decomposition of buried organic matter within seagrass meadows. About the awards, Sean says, “I’m extremely grateful to both the Southern Association of Marine Laboratories and the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology for enabling me to research these amazing and incredibly important ecosystems.”
2022 Women Divers Hall of Fame Award
Congratulations to Ashley Dawdy, recent winner of the Women Divers Hall of Fame Scholarship! Ashley is a PhD student in Dr. Dean Grubbs’ lab studying elasmobranch movement ecology, particularly for species of conservation concern. Ashley is acoustically tracking adult and young-of-year cownose rays in Apalachicola Bay to look at differences in movement and space use across life stage. She will also be using this data to quantify interaction potential between rays and native oysters, as cownose rays have been falsely implicated in the collapse of several commercial bivalve fisheries on the East Coast. This project will fill crucial knowledge gaps regarding species movement ecology that has inhibited a proper species stock assessment.