Applications for the 2021 Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program, administered by the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, will not be accepted this year due to continuing uncertainty over the COVID-19 national health crisis and its impact on field research operations.

Since the pandemic began, NOAA has restricted field research activities across the National Marine Sanctuary System out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our staff and their families, volunteers, and visitors.

NOAA plans to announce a decision about the 2022 Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program in Fall 2021.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program provides support for master’s and doctoral degrees in oceanography, marine biology, or maritime archaeology—this can include, but is not limited to, ocean and/or coastal: engineering, social science, marine education, marine stewardship, and resource management disciplines—and particularly encourages women and members of minority groups to apply. Scholarship selections are based on academic excellence, letters of recommendations, research and career goals and financial need.

In order to have a competitive application for the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program, it is recommended that you review the following bullets to assess whether or not you should apply for this scholarship.

  • Your research proposal aligns closely with NOAA's mission, with particular emphasis on meeting the science needs of the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. This is 20% of your application score.
  • Your financial need statement documents a strong financial need due to challenges, hardships, or other information through a compelling personal narrative. This is 25% of your application score.
  • You (likely) have exceptional letters of recommendation. This is 10% of your application score.
  • Historically, proposals that do not support the science needs of NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary System do not rank as high.
  • If you are in the last year of your Masters or Ph.D. program, it is not advised to apply for this scholarship.

Class of 2020

Brijonnay Madrigal

Brijonnay Madrigal

Her Ph.D. studies will focus on passive acoustic monitoring techniques, to quantify and characterize the acoustic behavior of Hawaiian resident toothed whale species.

Sarah Hutchinson

Sarah Hutchinson

Her Masters research will focus on using Wedge-tailed Shearwaters as indicators of ecologically important areas and processes in the waters within and surrounding Hawaiian Islands.

Tamara Russell

Tamara Russell

Her Ph.D. studies will focus on seabird habitat use within the California Current, specifically understanding how West Coast national marine sanctuaries capture areas that are important for seabird foraging.

Meet the Scholars

Dr. Nancy Foster

Dr. Nancy FosterDr. Foster was a marine biologist known for her science-based conservation of coastal aquatic life. Dr. D. James Baker, the former Administrator of NOAA, asked Dr. Foster to be the new head of National Ocean Service (NOS) in 1997. During her short stay at the National Ocean Service, she increased the agency's strength and stature, and positioned NOS to lead the nation in coastal stewardship. The reinvention and invigoration of NOS, completed in 1999, was conceptualized and developed under her guidance.

Dr. Nancy Foster's Legacy

NOAA Ship Nancy Foster

The NOAA Ship Nancy Foster (R 352) commissioned May 10, 2004.

Dr. Nancy Foster Scholars can expect support by NOAA throughout their scholarship experience, as well as help to create a pathway to a future career. NOAA staff will mentor and foster collaborative experiences for each scholar. Through hands-on research, policy and education, the National Marine Sanctuary System provides a classroom away from universities and colleges to allow for students to experience real world science in some of the United States most special underwater treasures and to become ambassadors for NOAA and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Julia Barrows

Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program applicants are encouraged to document how their research activities support NOAA's mission, particularly the mission of the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and the science priorities and specific needs assessment of the National Marine Sanctuary System.