The Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program is dedicated to ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of every action and every decision. We know that having varied perspectives helps generate better ideas to solve the complex problems of a changing world. To be effective stewards we must ensure our programs reflect the communities in which we live, work, and play. The longevity and success of our system depends on creating a culture that is welcoming and inclusive of all.

The application period for the 2023 Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program has opened. Complete applications are due December 22, 2022 at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. View the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).

An informational webinar about the FY 2023 NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program funding announcement was held on November 16, 2022. View a recording of the webinar.

The Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program provides support for master’s and doctoral degrees in oceanography, marine biology, maritime archaeology—these may include but are not limited to ocean and/or coastal: engineering, social science, marine education, marine stewardship, cultural anthropology, and resource management disciplines—and particularly encourages women and members of minority groups to apply.

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.

  1. Your research proposal aligns closely with NOAA's mission, with particular emphasis on meeting the science priorities of the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. This is worth up to 30 points of your application score.
  2. Your financial need statement documents a strong financial need due to challenges, hardships, or other information through a compelling personal narrative. This is worth up to 25 points of your application score.
  3. You have exceptional letters of recommendation. This is worth up to 10 points of your application score.
  4. Historically, proposals that do not support the science or education priorities of NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary System do not rank as high.
  5. If you are in the last year of your Masters or Ph.D. program, it is not advised to apply for this scholarship.

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

Class of 2022

Aspen Ellis

Aspen Ellis

Her Ph.D. studies will address the impacts of offshore wind energy development on seabirds in the West Coast Region national marine sanctuaries.

Ella Bea Kim

Ella Bea Kim

Her Ph.D. research will focus on investigating fish chorus and the impact of marine heat waves across Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, and Olympic Coast national marine sanctuaries.

Fabiola Rivera-Irizarry

Fabiola Rivera-Irizarry

Her Ph.D. research is focused on how anthropogenic factors affect coral physiology and population dynamics with the aim of developing effective management strategies.

Jaida N. Elcock

Jaida N. Elcock

Her Ph.D. research will focus on the energetic cost of migration and climate-induced resource disruption, using a case study of basking sharks in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Keiko Wilkins

Keiko Wilkins

Her Ph.D. dissertation research will explore the physical and chemical effects of microplastics on coral reef health, survival, and reproduction.

Natalie Nicole Dornan

Natalie Nicole Dornan

Her Ph.D. research seeks to better understand how the cycling of nutrients (particularly nitrogen) in coastal areas interacts with anthropogenic and environmental drivers to influence the bottom-up ecology of kelp forest ecosystems.

Taylor Williams

Taylor Williams

Her Ph.D. research will focus on a cryptogenic alga that is acting invasively within the boundaries of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Meet the Scholars

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.