GSO student named NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar

June 6, 2023

URI Graduate School of Oceanography Ph.D. student Philip Yang has been named a 2023 Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

The award is named for Dr. Nancy Foster, a marine biologist known for her science-based conservation of coastal aquatic life who served as head of NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS) in the late nineties. The scholarship program provides support for master’s and doctoral degrees in oceanography, marine biology and maritime archaeology. 

Yang works with the Marine Ecology and Technology Lab with his major professor, Andrew Davies. His research supported by the fellowship will focus on generating a spatial and temporal understanding of how the marine environment drives mesophotic coral and coralline macroalgae distribution in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. 

“I’m grateful to be named a Dr. Nancy Foster Fellow, which will provide four years of funding to understand why marine animals and plants–like corals and macroalgae–live where they do in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Yang. “Specifically, I’ll work to develop a deeper understanding of how abiotic factors influence benthic mesophotic systems, which is a fundamental component to species ecology, biology, function and response to climate change.”

Philip, from Plattsburgh, N.Y., graduated from Villanova University in 2021 with a B.S. in biology after spending three years in the Changley Lab working on the NSF-funded WETFEET project. He worked in Rapid City, South Dakota as a biological science technician for the U.S. Forest Service and in the Philippines studying fisheries sustainability on a U.S. Fulbright Research Grant with USAID Fish Right before joining GSO in 2022. 

Dr. Nancy Foster Scholars can expect support from NOAA throughout their scholarship experience, and the program helps create a pathway to a future career. NOAA staff will mentor and foster collaborative experiences for each scholar in hands-on research, policy and education. 

“This fellowship is career altering because it allows me to transfer from the masters program to the Ph.D. program with a clear project. The funding opens up some amazing opportunities to work with NOAA and continue my research at the Graduate School of Oceanography,” said Yang. 

More on the Class of 2023 Nancy Foster Scholar’s from NOAA.