Three URI students earn prestigious Hollings Scholarship from NOAA

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Awards provide $16,000 toward tuition plus paid internship

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 11, 2013 – Three sophomores at the University of Rhode Island have been awarded the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one of the most prestigious scholarships for those studying the marine sciences. Since 2009, URI students have been awarded a total of 16 Hollings Scholarships, the most of any institution in New England and most among public universities in the United States.

This year’s recipients are marine biology majors Emily Bishop of Groton, Mass., Katharine Egan of Milford, Penn., and Nicole Marone of Howell, N.J., who also majors in ocean engineering.

The award provides the students with a total of $16,000 toward tuition in their junior and seniors years at URI plus a paid summer internship at a NOAA lab anywhere in the country during the summer after their junior year. The scholarship program is designed to increase interest in oceanic and atmospheric science, increase support for environmental stewardship, and recruit students to public service careers at NOAA and other governmental science agencies.

“We are so proud of the achievements of all of our students. The Hollings Scholarship will provide them with unique research opportunities and will open so many doors for the future,” said Jacqueline Webb, professor of biological sciences and coordinator of the URI Marine Biology Program. “The NOAA internships are quite extraordinary. In the past few years our Hollings recipients have gone to the NOAA labs in Santa Cruz, Seattle, Hawaii, Beaufort, Puerto Rico, and Narragansett.”

Bishop has had a lifelong passion for marine life and environmental advocacy, but her first two years at URI also sparked an interest in algae and marine plants. She has received two grants to conduct research on these topics, and she looks forward to continuing her research next fall while spending the semester aboard a sailing ship as part of the SEA Semester program.

“I have really enjoyed the scientific community that is present at URI,” said Bishop. “I love learning about the research other people are conducting here, and everyone is always willing to help me with my research questions.”

Bishop hopes that her NOAA internship will be located somewhere in the Pacific Northwest where she can study kelp forests. After graduating from URI and later earning a graduate degree, she would like to eventually work for NOAA.

Egan became interested in marine science because of what she calls “the mystery of not knowing what covers 70 percent of our whole planet.” During her first two years at URI, she conducted research on greenhouse gas emissions from salt marshes in Rhode Island and Massachusetts while also studying algae blooms in Narragansett Bay.

“I find it thrilling to try to answer one of my own research questions, and the feeling when you think you have supported your hypothesis is just something that can’t be described,” she said.

She, too, hopes for a West Coast internship opportunity – or perhaps somewhere in the tropics — after studying abroad in Bermuda next fall.

Marone attended a marine science high school, which strengthened her desire to study and protect the marine environment. At URI she has conducted research on the stressors affecting sharks and rays as well as the hypoxia tolerance of marine animals living in “dead zones.”

She hopes to intern at the NOAA Ocean and Coastal Resource Management lab in Hawaii to study ocean thermal energy conversion, and she plans to go to graduate school in Hawaii after earning her bachelor’s degree at URI.

“With an ocean engineering degree, I can hopefully design effective renewable ocean energy systems and use my knowledge of the marine environment to minimize any interferences such a system could have on the surrounding environment,” Marone said.

The students will learn which internship lab they are assigned to next winter.

This award is among eight coveted national scholarships won by URI students this year. They were awarded two Fulbright Scholarships, three NOAA/Hollings Scholarships, a Whitaker Scholarship, a Truman Scholarship, and a Boren Scholarship.

The photos were submitted by the students