KINGSTON, R.I. – April 22, 2015 – Two 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 18 Hollings Scholarships, the most of any institution in New England and the second most among public universities in the United States.
This year’s recipients are marine biology major Jessica Freedman of Falmouth, Mass., and ocean engineering major Jamie Schicho of Sterling, Mass.
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 both of these students. The Hollings Scholarship will provide them with unique research opportunities and will open so many doors for them,” 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 done NOAA internships in Santa Cruz, Seattle, Port Townsend, Hawaii, Beaufort, Puerto Rico, Maine, New Jersey, and Narragansett.”
Freedman has had a lifelong interest in animals and science, and she developed a particular interest in walruses and the Arctic when she was 10. As a high school junior she participated in SEA Semester, a three-week marine science program on Cape Cod, and she recently returned from the collegiate SEA Semester, a 10-week program that included coursework on Cape Cod and a sailing expedition along the coast of New Zealand, during which she conducted oceanographic research and studied the culture of New Zealand.
She will spend the summer of 2015 as an intern at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass., helping to assess the population of scallops in New England waters. She hopes her Hollings Scholarship internship next year will enable her to conduct research in the Arctic.
“I am hoping to eventually go to grad school in Alaska to study the changing environment and its impact on walruses and their habitat,” Freedman said.
Schicho, who also received honorable mention in the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship competition, is interested in offshore energy production, especially a technology she calls “flapping foils,” which are biologically-inspired, fin-like devices that use the movement of waves to produce and store energy.
“Biology has had millions of years to perfect systems that work best, so I figure that we should model our energy systems after them,” said Schicho, who teaches a two-credit sailing class at the University.
The recipient of two URI engineering scholarships, she hopes her Hollings internship will take place somewhere on the West Coast or Hawaii to continue her research on offshore energy.
The students will learn which internship lab they are assigned to next winter.