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 2017-2018

Victoria Bogantes

Victoria Bogantes, Auburn University
Project: Investigating the evolution and development of Spionidae (Annelida)
Research advisor: Dr. Michael Boyle

Victoria Bogantes is a Ph.D. candidate at Auburn University who works with marine worms also known as polychaetes or bristle worms, one of the most abundant organisms in marine sediments. As a Link Fellow, Victoria has been following the development of a marine worm in order to investigate how different features like muscles and the nervous system develop through different life stages. She is also studying the evolutionary relationships (phylogeny) within a particular family of marine worms, Spionidae.


Diana Chin

Diana Chin, Stony Brook University
Project: Bivalve-seagrass symbioses and the resilience of seagrass ecosystems
Research advisor: Dr. Valerie Paul

Diana Chin is a Ph.D. candidate at Stony Brook University. She studies the interactions among sediment, seagrasses, and solemyid and lucinid clams, which host symbiotic bacteria inside their gills that consume sulfur from sediment. As a Link Fellow, Diana is investigating whether lucinid clams living among the roots of tropical seagrasses can increase the resilience of those seagrasses to multiple environmental stressors.


LundenLunden Simpson, Clemson University
Early development and infection pathway for a new Carcinonemertes sp. (Nemertea), a parasite of the Caribbean spiny lobster
Research Advisor: Dr. Michael Boyle and Dr. Jon Norenburg

Link Fellow Lunden Simpson is a Master’s student in Clemson University's College of Science, where she is investigating the relationship between a parasitic marine worm, Carcinonemertes conanobrieni, and its host, the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panularis argus. By describing these parasite/host interactions Lunden will help broaden our current understanding of the health of the lobster fishery in Florida’s waters. While at the Smithsonian Marine Station she is working to describe the worm’s development as well as its impact on lobster reproduction and behavior



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 modeling, 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 1998-2017 have totaled $303,000, and have supported 65 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 2018 cycle is February 15, 2018.