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 2014-2015


Cheryl Doughty, Villanova University
Project:Multi-Scale Drivers and Effects of Biotic Change in the Global Mangrove-Saltmarsh Ecotone
Research Advisor:I. Feller and J. Parker

Cheryl Doughty is a graduate student at Villanova University pursuing a master’s degree in Biology.  Her research focuses on the climate change-induced range expansion of mangroves along the Atlantic Coast of Florida. She has examined carbon storage dynamics that accompany mangrove expansion into salt marshes by integrating field-based assessments and a large-scale geographic approach. During her SMS Link Fellowship she is investigating the historical limits of mangroves in Florida to determine how mangrove extent has fluctuated throughout time with a changing climate.


John Paul Kennedy, Florida Atlantic University
Project:A Comparison of Genetic Diversity within and among Populations of the Foundation Species, Rhizophora mangle L., along the East and West Coasts of Florida
Research Advisor: I. Feller

John Paul Kennedy graduated this summer from Florida Atlantic University with a Master of Science in Biological Sciences. His thesis research characterized patterns of connectivity among red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) populations in the Caribbean, West Africa, and Florida. As a SMS Link Fellow, he expanded on this research by comparing the extent of population connectivity along both coasts of the Florida peninsula as the range of red mangroves moves northward into areas previously dominated by salt marshes.


Holly Brown, University of Connecticut
Project: Behavioral Mechanisms for Successful Hunting through the Air-Water Interface in Spite of Glare and Refraction
Research Advisor: S. McKeon

Holly Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in her fourth year at the University of Connecticut, where she is studying the behavioral and visual ecology of foraging herons (Ardea spp.) in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. As an SMS Link Fellow, she is working to understand how these long-legged, wading birds may be behaviorally compensating for visual challenges associated with hunting from air to water.


Smithsonian Fellows
Shown from L to R above:  John Paul Kennedy, Ms. Marilyn C. Link, and Cheryl Doughty


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 1998-2014 have totaled $244,500, and have supported 56 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 2015 cycle is February 15, 2015.