Fellowship takes Eckerd alumna to Bermuda

June 13, 2016

Recent graduate Danielle Becker’s first coral reef experience was a theme park attraction on a family vacation to Florida.

“Once I was under the water, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life,” said Danielle, a Chicago native and 2016 Eckerd College marine science graduate. “When it was time to look up colleges, I started researching schools with Marine Science programs and decided on Eckerd.”

Danielle Becker poses with her pet bearded dragon at pet commencement 2016.

“Danielle Becker ’16 will be studying coral reproductivity in Bermuda this summer.”

This summer, she is researching coral reproductivity in Bermuda as the Eckerd College Galbraith–Wardman Fellow at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. The fellowship includes a 10-week internship, travel expenses to Bermuda and a $2,000 stipend—on top of the chance to expand her undergraduate research experience.

All Eckerd science students know that research starts as soon as they arrive on campus.

“[The College] just made the perfect place to study. With the labs, you get to go out onto a boat, and in the small classrooms you get your questions heard and answered,” Danielle said. “And the location with the beach and the water lab right within your reach, it’s just perfect.”

Danielle said Eckerd’s supportive professors and many opportunities to perform hands-on research as an undergrad helped prepare her for the application to be the Galbraith–Wardman Fellow.

“My mentor, [Marine Science Professor Dr. William] Szelistowski, brought the fellowship to my attention, and he was always sending out a lot of job and internship opportunities,” she explained.

During her time at Eckerd, Danielle also played for, and even served one year as captain of, the Women’s Rugby team while balancing her academic work and caring for her pet bearded dragon, Mushu.

After the fellowship, Danielle plans to move to Utah and work toward graduate school, where she can continue studying the coral reefs that filled her with wonder as a child.

“There’s a decline in these environments, and researching coral conservation is a passion of mine. These beautiful environments aren’t gone,” Danielle said. “This is a great start to what I want to do with the rest of my life.”