Link Foundation Fellowships Newsletter

Inside this Issue


Meet this Year's Fellowship Recipients

We Proudly Introduce The Link Foundation/Smithsonian Graduate Research Fellowship Awardees For 2012-2013


Larissa Akiko, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil
Project: Evaluation of the Chemical Defense Potential in Zoobotryon Verticillatum’s Natural Products through a Geographic Range
Research Advisor: V. Paul

Larissa is visiting SMS from Brazil, where she is working on a Master’s degree in Ocean and Earth Dynamics at the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro. She is studying chemical defense in the bryozoan Zoobotryon verticillatum along the coast of Brazil and in Florida's Indian River Lagoon.



Cora Ann Johnston, University of Maryland
Project: Using Inhabitant Distribution Patterns to Understand Marine Community Responses to Shifting Wetland Landscapes
Research Advisor: I. Feller

Cora is a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, where she is part of a larger collaboration between University and Smithsonian researchers investigating how climate change is shaping coastal wetland ecosystems. Her research explores how habitat features affect species interactions and the formation of ecological communities, especially where habitats occur beyond their historical ranges.



Thomas Sauvage, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Project: A Molecular-Assisted Clarification of the Genus Caulerpa in the Indian River and Vicinity, with a Focus on Atlantic Endemics and Invasive Species
Research Advisor: V. Paul

Thomas is a PhD student in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he studies the molecular diversity of siphonous green algae. While at SMS he is collecting specimens of the taxonomically difficult genus Caulerpa from around Florida for DNA sequencing, especially unclear taxa such as the invasive species C. brachypus and the enigmatic endemic C. floridana.


The Smithsonian Marine Station (SMS) has a long history of supporting the academic pursuits of students at all levels of education. One of the most successful programs is the 12-week Graduate Student Fellowship program, supported by a grant from the Link Foundation.

The association between the Smithsonian and the Link Foundation extends back to 1953, soon after the Foundation was established by Edwin A. and Marion C. Link. Mr. Link was a skilled aviator and is recognized as a mechanical genius. He is best known for his invention of the first Flight Simulator in 1929, and he later shifted his interest to ocean engineering and marine science and developed the Johnson-Sea-Link submersibles. 

The Link Foundation aims to support individuals and nonprofit institutions with research goals and interests that align with those of the founders, namely advanced simulation and training, ocean engineering and instrumentation, and energy resources conservation and development.

The SMS at Fort Pierce, FL, received its first award from the Link Foundation in 1998 in support of graduate student fellowships in the marine sciences.  Annual awards from 1998-2013 have totaled $225,000, and have supported 53 graduate students. 

The Link Foundation/Smithsonian Institution graduate student fellowships are offered on a competitive basis through the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Fellowships, and supports the research efforts of three to four graduate-level students each year.  During the 12-week program, Fellows work in association with members of the Smithsonian professional research staff who are either Marine Station investigators, or marine scientists from other Smithsonian entities who carry out a part of their research at the Station.  Students are provided with work space at the station, full access to all the Station’s resources, as well as the guidance and expertise of their appointed research advisor during their fellowship.   

Several Link Fellows have gone on to complete doctoral degrees and have returned to SMS as postdoctoral fellows. Others maintain a relationship by continuing to collaborate with SMS researchers or by bringing students of their own.

The staff of SMS looks forward to continuing to provide research opportunities to students through on-going support from the Link Foundation. Graduate students interested in the program should visit  for information on application requirements. The deadline for the 2014 cycle is February 15, 2014.