Graduate Research Fellowships

NERRS Graduate Research Fellowship Program

The NERRS Graduate Research Fellowship Program is one of the largest graduate programs supported by NOAA. Fellows conduct their research within a National Estuarine Research Reserve and gain hands-on experience by engaging with reserve staff and participating in their host reserve's research, education, stewardship and training programs.  Fellows use reserves as living laboratories to address NERRS natural and social science priority issues based on the reserves' local coastal management needs.

The fellowship provides graduate students with funding for 1-3 years to conduct their research.  Currently the award is $20,000/annum that may be used for salary, to defray the costs of living expenses, tuition, fees and/or research supplies.  Funds are available on a competitive basis and no more than two fellowships per designated reserve are allowed at any one time. The application deadline is November 1st each year and fellowships typically start on June 1 of each year.    Students admitted to or enrolled in a full-time Masters or Doctoral program at U.S. accredited colleges and universities are eligible to apply.  Students should have completed a majority of their course work at the beginning of their fellowship, and have an approved thesis research program. 

Current Fellows

Sarah Schillawski examines sediment along the York River with her brother as field assistant- Sarah Schillawski, Ph.D. Candidate: Sources of Watershed Dissolved Organic Carbon and its Potential Impacts on Wetland and Estuarine Waters of the York River Estuary, Virginia

This  dissertation research involves a study of the hydrology, soil mineralogy, dissolved organic matter (DOM) geochemistry, and vegetation in the Taskinas Creek watershed in Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  The study will examine:  a) the amounts and sources of watershed terrigenous DOM (including C, N and P components) delivered to the Creek and subsequently to the York River Estuary, b) the transformation of this DOM by both biotic (e.g.,microbial) and abiotic (e.g., photochemical) processes, and c) the fate of terrestrially derived organic materials in river, wetland, and estuarine ecosystems, including its role in supporting microbial and higher foodwebs. This research will be useful to watershed, wetland and estuarine resource managers as it evaluates the role of watershed-wetland-estuarine procesess, including the impacts of changing land use and climate, which regulates the structure and function of wetland and estuarine food webs and biogeochemical cycles.


- Graduate student research theses and dissertations 


For additional information, please contact Dr. Ken Moore, (804) 684-7384 (for additional information