PRINCESS ANNE, MD – Laura Almodóvar-Acevedo won’t have to worry about her tuition and fees this academic year. The 27-year-old Ph.D. candidate in UMES’ Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences graduate program landed a $45,000 Graduate Research and Training Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“The scholarship will be of great help in the completion of this project and my Ph.D.,” Almodóvar-Acevedo said. “I will be learning not only about my subject, but also on how to effectively collaborate with others, how to communicate my research and the intricacies of working in an agency.” She is specializing in ecology and is a student in UMES’ Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center.
She also will receive $10,000 to cover travel and presentation expenses for her research on the importance of the Chesapeake Bay for black sea bass population dynamics.
As part of the scholarship, Almodóvar-Acevedo will work in a fisheries or ecosystem services lab and interact with scientists and expert ecological modelers who can offer guidance and help her develop her work into a “robust and effective study.”
The scholarship program is “intended to help establish a pipeline of well-trained and educated individuals who attend Minority Serving Institutions and earn degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines that support NOAA’s mission.”
The research’s relevance to NOAA’s mission, Almodóvar-Acevedo said, is that “the black sea bass is a federally managed species that is data poor and focuses on the fish’s nursery habitat preferences in the Chesapeake Bay.”
Almodóvar-Acevedo would like to do post-doctoral studies after graduation and eventually join an agency such as NOAA, or work as a research professor at an institution of higher education. She aspires to “continue working as a researcher to help answer questions related to marine ecosystems, resilience of species and fisheries impact.”
“Ideally, I would like to apply all that I’m learning about marine sciences and management to the Caribbean,” said Almodóvar-Acevedo, who calls San Juan, Puerto Rico her hometown. “There is a lot of research to be done that affects millions of people and a delicate ecosystem.”
Another recipient of the scholarship, Nivette M. Pérez-Pérez, is a master’s student in the Department of Natural Resources at Delaware State University in Dover, who is working with Dr. Bradley Stevens and others on Atlantic deep-sea red crab research.