NOAA 2002-R438
Contact: Glenda Tyson
NOAA News Releases 2002
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University of Maryland student Deborah L. Howard has been selected as one of four national winners of the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship for outstanding graduate-level scholars in the field of marine biology given by the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Ms. Howard, a Baltimore resident, is currently pursuing her doctorate in marine biology at the University of Maryland. She also holds a bachelor’s and master’s in marine science. Ms. Howard decided to pursue her doctorate in marine science because of her passion for working with the marine environment and to impress upon her children the importance of setting goals.

Upon graduation, Ms. Howard is interested in pursuing the concept of lateral gene transfer within marine microbiological communities, with an emphasis on toxic species.

"Dr. Nancy Foster was a visionary, dedicating her life’s work to conserving our coastal and marine environments. Deborah Howard and this year’s three other recipients exemplify that same enthusiasm and commitment to preserving these precious resources,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This program continues Dr. Foster’s devotion for providing equal opportunities and help toward achieving professional goals.”

Soon after the death of NOAA's Dr. Foster, in June of 2000, Congress created the scholarship as a means of honoring her life's work and contribution to the nation. The funding is drawn from the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, which is administered by NOAA's National Ocean Service. The current funding enables NOAA to award four scholarships. Each scholarship recipient will receive an annual stipend of $20,000 and up to $12,000 annually for tuition. Doctoral students are eligible to continue the scholarship program for four years and master’s-level students for two years.

The three other 2002 Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship recipients are:

Lisa Michele Wall, Satellite Beach, Fla. - Ms. Wall is enrolled in a dual masters of science program in science education and biology, with a focus on marine biology, at the University of Central Florida. She has completed her master’s in science education and is currently pursuing her doctorate in curriculum and instruction focusing on science education in Florida. Upon completion of her master’s in biology, Ms. Wall plans to pursue her doctorate in conservation biology, focusing on marine ecology in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida. Ms. Wall’s fascination with the marine environment began as a young girl living near the Indian River Lagoon system. Ms. Wall is a full-time high school science teacher and tries to relate her passion for the marine environment to her biology, chemistry, physics, and fundamentals of scientific research classes.

Jennifer E. Magnussen, Weston, Fla. - Ms. Magnussen is currently pursuing her doctorate in marine biology from Nova Southeastern University. Ms. Magnussen has always had a strong interest in marine biology, particularly the deteriorating state of our ocean’s biological resources. It is this concern that has compelled Ms. Magnussen to dedicate her efforts toward objectives to overcoming obstacles that reduce the effectiveness of fisheries management. Ms. Magnussen is interested in publishing research on the development and use of genetic markers and novel methods for forensic identification of shark species, and apply these tools to survey the extent of the Asian shark fin-trade for better conservation and management planning.

Amy Noel Van Buren, Seattle, Wash. - Ms. Van Buren is currently pursuing her doctorate in marine biology from the University of Washington. Ms. Van Buren has conducted research of Megellanic penguins in Argentina and the Falkland Islands. It is this research that has influenced her academic and professional objectives. Ms. Van Buren is interested in reducing the conflicts between human activities and marine ecosystem integrity. Upon graduation, she would like to expand her research to encompass other seabird species and marine systems.

This is the second year of the program and NOAA received 135 applications, representing all the coastal regions of the United States, including several from Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The applications were ranked by a panel of NOAA scientists, and finalists were selected based on their ranked scores. Students were evaluated based on financial need, academic excellence, recommendations and a statement of intent, which also indicated the student's research and career goals. A separate panel selected the four award winners for the 2002-2003 school year from the finalists.

A call for applications for the 2003-2004 school year is expected to be released early spring 2003.

NOAA National Ocean Service is a federal agency devoted to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans. NOS promotes safe navigation, supports coastal communities, sustains coastal habitats and mitigates coastal hazards. NOS balances environmental protection with economic prosperity and leads the effort to ensure that our nation's coastal areas remain safe, healthy and productive. NOAA's Ocean Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For more information, visit the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program Web site at