Fangdi Sun, valedictorian of the 2010 class at Grafton High School in Yorktown, has been selected as a National Ocean Scholar by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership as part of its National Ocean Sciences Bowl program.
Sun and four other high school seniors from across the nation beat out 33 applicants to be awarded the $1,500 scholarship for their first year of college.
Sun, who will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this fall to major in Biology, captained the Grafton High School team that took second place in this year's Blue Crab Bowl, the Virginia Regional competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. The Blue Crab Bowl is a cooperative effort between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), the Virginia Sea Grant program at VIMS, and Old Dominion University.
Judges from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership chose Sun and the other scholarship winners based on a written application, SAT/ACT scores, two letters of recommendation, and two written essays. One essay described the candidate's personal inspiration and interest in ocean science, the other described a threat to the oceans and discussed its solution or explained how a marine technology, sensor, tool, or model facilitates ocean exploration.
The other scholarship winners were Alexander Jensen of Granton, Wisconsin, Eric Liaw of Honolulu, Hawaii, Joy Chen of Fremont, California, and Katherine McElroy of Carlsbad, California.
At MIT, Sun hopes to conduct research on the molecular processes of marine life and specialize in the biochemistry of marine organisms. She credits her interest in the ocean sciences to her freshman Biology teacher Jane Dodge, who she says has "an honest enthusiasm for the subject."
COL describes Fangdi as "an exceptional young woman who was captain of her NOSB team, plays volleyball, and volunteers," and says "She has an amazing passion for science and research."
Carol Hopper-Brill, a Sea Grant Marine Education Specialist at VIMS and Blue Crab Bowl co-organizer, says Fangdi "Exemplifies the drive, focus, and scholarship of Blue Crab Bowl participants. We can look forward to her becoming one of our marine science colleagues in the years to come."
In addition to Sun, the Grafton High team that captured second place in the 2010 Blue Crab Bowl included Bobby Donze, Ryan Gestwick, Ian Van der Hoven, and Britt Sorensen. The team was coached by Jane Dodge and Brian Dunn. Ms. Dodge, a science teacher at Grafton, has a winning history at the Bowl, guiding teams to first place finishes in 2000 and 2002.
Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School of Virginia Beach, the first place team in this year's Blue Crab Bowl, advanced to the National Ocean Sciences Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida in April where they faced top teams from 24 other regions. The winner of the 2010 national bowl was Marshfield High School of Marshfield, Wisconsin.
The Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) is a Washington, D.C.-based partnership of the nation's leading ocean research and education institutions, aquaria, and marine industries.
VIMS, one of the largest marine centers in the U.S., provides research, education, and advisory service to help protect and restore Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters. The Institute offers Master's and Ph.D. degrees through its School of Marine Science, part of the College of William and Mary.