Link Foundation Fellowships Newsletter

Inside this Issue


Meet this Year's Fellowship Recipients


Dr. Gabrielle Barbarite, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute/Florida Atlantic University 2008 Summer Intern, is currently leading Mission:  Ocean Discovery (M:OD) at FAU Harbor Branch

Gabrielle Barbarite Pictured from left to right:  Ms. Marilyn C. Link, Special Advisor of the Link Foundation; Dr. Gabrielle Barbarite; and, Dr. Andrew M. Clark, Trustee of the Link Foundation

Dr. Gabrielle (Gabby) Barbarite, who was a 2008 Summer Intern at FAU Harbor Branch and was supported by the Link Foundation, recently graduated with a PhD from FAU Harbor Branch’s College of Science (integrated Biology).   She has recently taken on a new role at FAU Harbor Branch as the coordinator for Mission:  Ocean Discovery (M:OD) where she will serve as an ambassador for Harbor Branch’s public outreach initiative and assist with the execution of M:OD public programs.  Gabby will oversee the daily operations of the Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Visitors Center, and will provide assistance with the development of exhibits and interpretive content.

Gabby recently stated, “I have had the privilege to work with so many talented scientists at Harbor Branch and discover the amazing research they conduct. These experiences have inspired me to reach out to the public so that they may better understand this research as well as its impacts on our lives, communities and environment.  This path began with the HBOI/Link Foundation Summer Internship, which allowed me to make the connections necessary to pursue these interests and successfully achieve my career goals.”


Dr. Donna Selch, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute/Florida Atlantic University 2005 Summer Intern, is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at SUNY Stony Brook

Donna Selch Pictured above: Dr. Donna Selch

Dr. Selch graduated from FAU Harbor Branch in August 2016 with a PhD degree in Geoscience.  As a 2005 Summer Intern at FAU Harbor Branch, supported by the Link Foundation, Donna worked alongside Research Professor John Reed.  As Donna’s summer project, she compiled Professor Reed’s 1970 and 2002 Johnson-Sea-Link submersible videotape and photograph archives and produced a documentary about his discoveries and his conservation efforts to save the deepwater Oculina reefs from destructive shrimp trawling.  The final project was an educational DVD which Professor Reed has used to make numerous presentations at numerous schools, to the public, and to fishery management councils.  Professor Reed continues to use the DVD to this day.

Donna recently stated, “The 2005 Summer Intern opportunity allowed me to explore an ecosystem that is the specialty of Harbor Branch scientist John Reed.  I was privileged with the opportunity to examine the history of the deep water Oculina reefs using photographic and video transects, creating a new documentary for sharing the story of the reefs to the public.  This experience showed me how vital communication of scientific discovery is to the research process and encouraged me to use creative measures to showcase such investigations.  Thanks to the experience gained from the HBOI/Link Foundation Internship, I continue to explore alternative technologies and methods to showcase my research.”  

Donna has continued to work with other scientists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution including Drs. Lauren Cherubin, Fraser Dalgleish, and Caiyun Zhang on innovative technologies to analyze marine and coastal communities.  With her background in biological science and advanced degrees specializing in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) her research joins these disciplines for a variety of environmental, archaeological, and marine applications. 

Her current research has focused on wetland restoration and its impact on the environment, including water and vegetation stressors.  Previous research also includes the hyperspectral analysis on sand in terms of composition and grain size, subsidence in Venice, Italy using remote sensing, data fusion with object-based image analysis, and the geospatial distribution of sea turtle nesting habitats.  Donna has recently joined Sustainability Studies in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University - SUNY.



Dr. Lee R. Lynd, Special Advisor to the Link Foundation Board, Link Foundation Energy Fellowship Program Administrator, 1984 Link Foundation Energy Fellow, and he currently serves as the Paul and Joan Queneau Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Biology at Dartmouth College, Director and Chief Scientific Officer of Mascoma Corporation, Focus Area Leader for Biomass Deconstruction and Conversion at the Department of Energy Bioenergy Science Center, Initiator and Executive Committee Coordinator of the Global Sustainable Bioenergy Project, and Professor Extraordinary of Microbiology at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Dr. Lynd was a Link Foundation Energy Fellow during the first year that Energy Fellowships were offered in 1984.  "The Fellowship came at a time when I did not have support for my graduate work," stated Dr. Lynd.  "Thus for me, the Link Fellowship was an important factor in letting me pursue my vision for a thesis involving cellulosic biofuels."

Dr. Lynd has followed this vision for his entire professional life.  Today he is the Paul and Joan Queneau Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Biology at Dartmouth College, Director and Chief Scientific Officer of Mascoma Corporation, Focus Area Leader for Biomass Deconstruction and Conversion at the Department of Energy Bioenergy Science Center, Initiator and Executive Committee Coordinator of the Global Sustainable Bioenergy Project, and Professor Extraordinary of Microbiology at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. 

Dr. Lynd is a leading expert on utilization of plant biomass for production of energy, with distinctively broad contributions spanning the science, technology, and policy domains, including leading research on fundamental and biotechnological aspects of microbial cellulose utilization.  A frequently invited presenter on technical and strategic aspects of biomass energy, Dr. Lynd has three times testified before the United States Senate, and has been featured in prominent fora such as Wired, Forbes, Nova, and the Nobel Conference.

The Link Foundation was among the first to recognize Dr. Lynd, but hardly the last.  Dr. Lynd  is the 2011 recipient of the Mines Medal of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology for contributions to engineering or science, and prestigious contributions toward resolution or understanding of the technological challenges that impact society, the inaugural recipient of the Lemelson-MIT Sustainability Prize, recipient of the Charles D. Scott Award for distinguished contributions to the field of biotechnology for fuels and chemicals, and two-time recipient of the Charles A. Lindbergh Award in recognition of efforts to promote a balance between environmental preservation and technological advancement.

Commenting on his involvement with the Link Foundation, Dr. Lynd observes, "As Administrator of the Link Foundation’s Energy Fellowship program, I am delighted and honored to be able to play a part in supporting graduate students in the critically important energy field.  I take particular pleasure in knowing that receipt of a Link Fellowship may enable young researchers to pursue their dream as it did for me.  I only wish we could give more fellowships.  These days, we are getting about 100 of the strongest applicants in North America and we only award 3 fellowships, although many more are deserving.  I would be delighted to find ways to bring more funds to this outstanding program."

Dr. Donna F. Wilt, Special Advisor to the Link Foundation Board of Trustees, Link Foundation Modeling, Simulation and Training Fellowship Program Administrator, 1995 Link Fellow in Advanced Simulation and Training, and she currently serves as Professor in the College of Aeronautics at Florida Institute of Technology

Dr. Wilt has a lifelong passion for aviation and engineering.  She was first able to pursue this passion when she worked with aircraft simulators at NASA Langley Research Center while completing a BS in electrical engineering at the University of Florida.  She worked on programs to apply the technology from military and airline simulations to the smaller aircraft used in general aviation operations.  Here she developed a lifelong goal of making flying safer overall, while taking advantage of the safe and less expensive environment of a device that simulates the relevant aspects of the aircraft and environment.

As her career progressed, Dr. Wilt found herself drawn more to the training aspects of aviation as opposed to engineering design.  She eventually become an Air Transport Pilot, Master Certified Flight Instructor, and Gold Seal Flight Instructor focusing on the beginning, or ab-initio, pilot training.  The advent of the personal computer opened new opportunities for creating flight training devices (FTD) that were substantially more capable but less expensive than in the past thereby making it available to a segment of aviation where simulators had previously not been cost effective.

At the time she was ready to pursue a doctorate, there were no PhD programs in the US in aeronautics or flight training so she pursued a PhD in Science Education at Florida Institute of Technology.  Dr. Wilt’s PhD research was on the forefront of how to teach higher-order cognitive skills, such as situation awareness and decision making, to beginning pilots using low-cost FTDs.

Dr. Wilt explained, “the Science Education Department was doing research in computer-based training, but had not done research in the area of flight training.  The Link Foundation’s Advanced Simulation and Training Fellowship gave me the freedom and ability to pursue an area of research that aligned with my passion for aviation and my goal of making aviation safer.”

Dr. Wilt holds a BS degree from the University of Florida, a MS degree in Electrical Engineering and a PhD degree in Science Education from Florida Institute of Technology.

Today, Dr. Wilt is Professor in the College of Aeronautics at Florida Institute of Technology where they offer bachelor, masters, and will soon offer doctorate aviation programs that integrate simulators and advanced flight training devices into the flight training programs and the applied aviation research.  Dr. Wilt also serves as chair of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) Board of Directors, a position which she was elected to in July 2014.

She served on the Link Foundation’s Advanced Simulation and Training Fellowship Selection Committee prior to becoming the Fellowship Program Administrator in 2012.  She is proud to participate in selecting the newest Modeling, Simulation and Training Fellows.

The Link Foundation is pleased to have made a difference in the lives and careers of many including Dr. Barbarite, Dr. Selch, Dr. Lynd, Dr. Wilt and many others who have received Link Foundation Fellowships/Internships/Scholarships over the last sixty-three years.  We count it a privilege to continue our association with them today.

We are proud of all of our Link Fellows/Interns/Scholars and of the vital contributions that they have made, and continue to make, in the advancement of modeling, simulation and training, ocean engineering and instrumentation, and energy resources development and conservation, throughout their careers.  These discoveries are increasingly valuable to the world in which we live and significantly impact the advancement and security of our nation in important ways. 

If you are or were a Link Fellow/Intern/Scholar, we would love to hear from you!  Please write to us!  We would be honored to tell your story on our page!