Scholar Features

divers with a manta ray

Grace, size, and mystery: Foster Scholar Joshua Stewart’s work in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary supports manta conservation

This is how Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar Joshua Stewart describes his first time seeing the subject of his dissertation work, a manta ray. Diving near a shipwreck in the Dominican Republic, he was caught off guard when a manta ray shot up towards the surface. Stewart turned his video camera to the creature, and it mocked him with a belly flash and swam off. Stewart checked his camera. It wasn’t recording, and no one believed his story. But that experience kicked off his interest in this playful gentle giant, and inspired his research in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

scientists deploying a glider

From watching whales to searching for dolphins: Foster Scholar Tammy Silva's scientific career revolves around Stellwagen Bank

It was the first time anyone had tried listening for dolphins in Massachusetts Bay. Tammy Silva scrolled through sound recordings and spectrograms for months, seeing nothing. Then, she found it. The right kind of squiggly lines and corresponding whistles. She heard dolphins.

two great shearwaters flying above the water

What's in your vomit? Foster Scholar Anna Robuck explores contaminants in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Bird vomit is important for Anna Robuck. After a lot of practice as a wildlife rehabilitator, Robuck is now able to deftly flush the stomach contents from a bird. The bird beats a hasty retreat away unscathed, and Robuck is left with a treasure trove of diet information.

samara haver in a survival suit

Call of the wild: Foster Scholar Samara Haver studies sound across sanctuaries

The sounds of the ocean are an odd combination of haunting and soothing. From the crash of waves on the beach to the echo of whale songs, it's tempting to believe putting a shell up to your ear will allow you to access the underwater soundscape whenever you need an escape. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. But Samara Haver has the next best thing: underwater sound recordings of national marine sanctuaries and national parks.

kreidler with a mask and snorkel on

Community through science: Foster Scholar Nissa Kreidler sheds light on deep-sea habitats

Dive under the waves, and you’ll find vast communities of marine organisms. From busy kelp forests to vibrant coral reefs, marine communities rely on each other for food and shelter. Communities and support networks are equally important for graduate students, albeit more difficult to establish at first. The Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program provides just that: a tight-knit community of peers and mentors. It's this sense of togetherness that brought Nissa Kreidler to the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program.

jessica hale observing otters through a telescope

Paws up for science: Foster Scholar Jessica Hale tracks sea otter habits in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

The northern sea otter is the furry ambassador of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. With their knack for naps and holding hands as they float, their cute faces are pervasive both along the coast and on social media. But it wasn't always so this way.

photo of a scholars jumping in front of a white van

The Biology Bus: A Q & A with Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar Alumna Dr. Nyssa Silbiger

Here's a conundrum: you have one summer to study intertidal organisms in 12 sites up and down the West Coast. How do you do it?

photo of a diver collecting species under water

Foster Scholar Lindsay Marks Takes on Invasive Species

The kelp forests of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary provide shelter and food for hundreds of species of animals and plants, from abalone to sea lions. So how does an invasive seaweed impact this important ecosystem?