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GCOOS 2024 Fellows

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Posted: February 16, 2024
Category: Featured News , News of Note

GCOOS Awards Two Fellowships Through the Howard Scholarship Fund

The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) has awarded two fellowships through the Howard Scholarship Fund, a fund dedicated to supporting and engaging data scientists interested in exploring oceanography, or oceanographers interested in exploring ocean observations and data management.

The GCOOS Fellowship supports travel expenses for Fellows to attend the 2024 Ocean Sciences meeting in New Orleans (Feb. 18-23, 2024) and over the next six months, they will also have opportunities to participate in meetings and discussion panels as they work with the GCOOS Board of Directors, staff and partners to learn about ocean science career opportunities and the management of big ocean data. The GCOOS Fellows are:

  • Matthew Barrs, an undergraduate studying mechanical engineering in the Burnett Honors College at the University of Central Florida. He is also the newest member of the GCOOS Outreach and Education Council; and
  • Cassandra Stanish, an undergraduate studying mechanical engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Both students gained early experience in marine science and ocean observing as high school students in the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, which participated in the GCOOS HABscope volunteer program. HABscope volunteers support the Red Tide Respiratory Forecast, which allows residents, tourists and businesses along beaches to know whether respiratory impacts from red tide are expected to occur in their location and what the level of impact is expected to be. The Forecast system is activated when red tide is present along beaches and is provided in three-hour increments. Volunteers collect water samples and use the GCOOS-developed microscopy system called HABscope 2.0tm to detect the presence of Karenia brevis — the organism that causes red tides in the Gulf of Mexico. Under the tutelage of Charlene Mauro, Co-Chair of the GCOOS Outreach and Education Council, the two students were also part of a team that conducted a usability assessment of the GCOOS website.

“We initially intended to award only one Fellowship, but both of these students showed such promise in their abilities to blend their interest in healthy oceans and habitats and their growing engineering expertise that we decided to award two Fellowships this year,” said Dr. Chris Simoniello, Manager of Outreach and Education at GCOOS. “Ocean observing systems are heavily reliant on developing new and better technologies to support data collection and GCOOS is pleased to support these next-generation leaders.”

About the Howard Scholarship Fund

Dr. Matt Howard was a founding member of GCOOS and an oceanographer at Texas A&M University who developed a unique expertise in oceanography and ocean data management systems, information architecture and marine spatial data infrastructure. Following his untimely death in 2018, his many friends and colleagues sought to memorialize his professional gifts and talents for oceanographic research and data system solutions, as well as his personal intellect, generosity, enthusiasm and sense of humor. The Howard Scholarship Fund is designed to support and engage data scientists who might be interested in oceanography, or oceanographers who might have a strong interest in marine spatial data infrastructure.

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