Heather Kelley has been named a recipient of the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship for outstanding graduate students in the fields of marine biology and coastal resource management.

Heather KelleyThe scholarships are presented annually by the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Kelley will enter the Coastal and Watershed Science and Policy master’s program at CSUMB in the fall.

"I came to CSUMB for graduate school because I wanted to work on applied marine conservation issues at the intersection of technology and marine biology," Kelley said.

Since January, she has worked with the university’s Institute for Applied Marine Ecology (IfAME), under the direction of Dr. James Lindholm.

Her work on IfAME’s North Central Coast Marine Protected Areas monitoring project helped her secure the scholarship.

“Heather’s proposal to NOAA leveraged her involvement in that project because several of our sample sites occur in the Monterey Bay and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries,” Dr. Lindholm said.

Another reason for coming to CSUMB after earning her undergraduate degree at UCLA was the emphasis on science communication. 

"I believe there is a gap between the scientific research being conducted and what the public can easily access and understand. Training from CSUMB with a focus on science communications and technology will allow me to better interpret the research of scientists and engage public audiences in ocean conservation," she said.

The scholarship will cover the cost of tuition and provide two years of salary to support her work on the project as she focuses on applying the data derived from remotely operated vehicles to the management of National Marine Sanctuaries. And it will cover the cost of at least one trip to New England to work with colleagues at the Stellwagen Bank NMS.

“Heather is currently on a 36-day research cruise along the North Central Coast, where she has quickly established herself as a key member of our team,” Dr. Lindholm said.
“The scholarship is a great opportunity for Heather and we can all expect great things from her in the coming years.”

The Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program recognizes outstanding scholarship and encourages independent graduate level research in marine sciences — particularly by female and minority students.

Congress authorized the program soon after Dr. Foster’s death in June 2000, as a means of honoring her life’s work as a marine scientist and contribution to the nation. The program is administered through NOAA’s Office of Education.

To learn more about the master's program in Coastal and Watershed Science and Policy, click here.

To learn more about the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology, click here.