The Zeigler Student Achievement Award honors Dr. John Zeigler, VIMS’ first Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, and Mrs. Marilyn Zeigler. The award recognizes students who excel in scholarship, leadership, research initiative, outstanding publications, and exceptional thesis or dissertation work.
The winner of this year's award is Fei Da.
Fei graduated from the prestigious Nanjing University in China with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Oceanographic Science. He arrived at VIMS in 2015 to work in the lab of Dr. Marjy Friedrichs, and then began his Ph.D. research in 2018. Fei has been an extraordinary student and colleague since his arrival at VIMS. He earned more than a dozen awards during his academic career, including the best MS Student Paper Award at VIMS, and a 3-year NOAA/Sea Grant Graduate Student Fellowship. He was also honored with an “Excellent Reviewing” award from the American Geophysical Union. In fall 2022 he was selected to participate in the highly competitive “Dissertation Symposium in Chemical Oceanography,” funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA. Fei already has 10 manuscripts published, under review, or in prep; 4 as first author. He has presented his work to a variety of audiences, including scientific conferences, the general public, and local and regional stakeholders.
Fei’s interdisciplinary research uses ecosystem models to study coastal acidification, hypoxia, and nutrient pollution. He is driven by an interest in bridging the science-to-management gap and ensuring that his research will be relevant and useful to stakeholders. For example, his ocean acidification work in the Chesapeake Bay region can be used by the shellfish aquaculture industry and restoration managers.
Fei is also an accomplished educator and a great colleague. He taught a popular W&M undergraduate course called “Ocean & Coastal Acidification,” that received stellar reviews and has been well known at VIMS for his strong quantitative skills. He served as the VIMS student representative on the W&M International Student Advisory Board for 3 years, and helped organize events and workshops to assist international students as they navigate the challenges of studying in a new country.
Fei defended his dissertation in 2023 and recently began a prestigious post-doctoral position with NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab at Princeton.