Seven Eckerd College sophomores won the 2021 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship, which brought the school’s total number of recipients to 102—a national record.
Since 2005 the government agency has selected students from around the nation to receive up to $9,500 per year for two years of full-time study and a 10-week, full-time, paid summer internship at a NOAA facility one year after receiving the award.
This year’s recipients from Eckerd include: Sophia Bickerton, a marine science student from Austin, Texas; Elizabeth Callahan, a marine science student from New Jersey; Lily de Laforcade, a marine science and Spanish student from Virginia Beach, Virginia; Hudson Filas, a marine science student from Toledo, Ohio; Karsen Henwood, a marine science and environmental studies student from Olathe, Colorado; Cameron Larmer, a marine science student from Sarasota, Florida; and Isabel Moyer, a marine science and animal studies student from Jupiter, Florida. Each will be placed in a NOAA summer internship for 2022.
“My dream internship placement would be at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, with the Department of Ecosystem Sciences,” said Isabel, whose aspirations to be a marine biologist brought her to Eckerd. “They’re doing some really fascinating work on coral reef ecosystem monitoring, and I’d love to be a part of it.”
Students were informed of their win via email during the first week of April. “I was in my room taking a break between classes,” recalled Hudson—whose marine science interests include macrofaunal ecology, especially predator-prey interactions, shifting community structures, and population dynamics. “In the couple of seconds it took to load the email, my brain registered that I had also seen the words ‘Hollings’ and ‘congratulations!’ I jumped out of my bed, shaking but trying to keep quiet so as not to disturb my roommates who were working.”
As the good news spread, students texted one another to learn of each other’s fate. Successful applicants like Sophia, an aspiring marine wildlife veterinarian, credit their Eckerd research experiences with helping them stand out. “I was awarded the First-Year Research Associateship, so I was able to start working for a microplastics research project as soon as I started college here at Eckerd,” Sophia said. “This gave me a lot of experience in the lab, and I even got the chance to participate in research cruises to collect data. I also joined the Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team, which has taught me boat skills as well as given me leadership opportunities that apply well to working in teams of all kinds.”
Fellowship and Scholarship Advisor Kat Robinson, Ph.D., annually invites first-year students to learn more about the Hollings Scholarship and outlines the intensive application process for those interested. “[Dr. Robinson] advised me throughout my application process, and the overall accessibility of professors at Eckerd helped tremendously in getting guidance and preparing for the Hollings,” said Lily, who plans to study cephalopods in the future.