Grants / Scholarships / Awards


The Department of Biology offers several research and travel awards for graduate students made possible through donations and endowments from alumni and former faculty. Requests for proposals are circulated in early fall semester. Awards are made once a year by a selection committee appointed by the chair. Inquiries should be directed to the Associate Chair for Research and Graduate Education: Dr. H. Gert de Couet, Department of Biology (


The Scientific Advisory Committee for the Edmondson Trust announces the availability of Grants-in-Aid for Research and Publication from funds generated by the trust established in the will of long time University of Hawaii Professor of Zoology and Bishop Museum Marine Zoologist Charles H. Edmondson and his wife Margaret B. Edmondson.

Total funds available for Grants-in-Aid for Research or Publication are limited in 2014 to approximately $10,000.  Maximum awards given will be $2,000.  The Scientific Advisory Committee may reduce the amount awarded to individual recipients below the amount requested.

Edmondson Grants-in-Aid are meant to enhance a research project by providing funds to enable a particular aspect of the effort that might otherwise be impossible.  This may include, but is not restricted to, purchase of special supplies or small equipment, research travel, access to special training or facilities (e.g., electron microscopes), or assistance with publication.  The basis for a competitive award will be the perceived excellence of the proposed research and demonstration that a Grant-in-Aid will enhance the likelihood or quality of achievable results.  Edmondson grants are not awarded for participation in professional meetings. Only graduate student applicants affiliated with the University of Hawaii are eligible. Please note that research projects must involve marine invertebrate animals and focus on Hawaii.

Applications:  Applicants must submit a proposal including the following:

  1. A title page that shows the project title, funds requested, expected duration of the project and project location. 
  2. A 200-word abstract of the research plan. 
  3. A full research proposal, not to exceed three pages, that includes: (i) the research question(s) to be addressed; (ii) the methods to be employed; (iii) the specific objective(s) for which funds are requested; (iv) a statement of the significance of the research; (v) a budget for the requested funds with a brief justification of the costs; and (vi) a brief timeline of the proposed activities within the overall duration of the project.
  4. Copies or certifications that all necessary permits for diving, collecting or transporting research organisms are in hand or pending review at an appropriate agency.
  5. A statement that tells how many previous Edmondson grants the applicant has received and a list of other agencies to which the current application has been sent for funding.
  6. A resumé, not to exceed two pages.

Each applicant must assure that a letter from her/his advisor is submitted to the Edmondson Scientific Advisory Committee (electronically, in PDF format, see below). The letter must evaluate the research proposed for Edmondson funding and the applicant’s capacity to successfully complete it.

Deadline: applications and supporting letters must be submitted electronically in PDF format to Dr. H. Gert de Couet at (, Department of Biology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, by 4:30 P.M. on Friday November 14, 2014.  Awards will be announced in January, 2015.

Edmondson Scientific Advisory Committee: Dr. Richard Pyle, Bishop Museum;  Dr. Celia M. Smith, Dept. of Botany, UHM; and Dr. H. G. de Couet, Dept. of Biology, UHM.

Recipients in 2014:

Áki Jarl Láruson
Project title: Identifying pockets of genomic divergence in a globally distributed metapopulation

Elaine Y. Luo
Project title: Understanding climate change impacts: What drives thermal resiliency in Hawaii’s coral reefs?

Victoria Sindorf
Project title: Invasive algae as a source of acute and chronic stress on reef-building corals in Hawaii.

Rachel M. Wade
Project title: Exploring the interaction between Plakobranchus ocellatus (Opisthobranchia, Sacoglossa) and its algal kleptoplast sources in the Hawaiian Islands

Christopher B. Wall
Project title: Environmental and physiological factors affecting post-bleaching recovery in Hawaiian reef corals following a regional bleaching event.

Recipients in 2013:

Keisha D. Bahr
Project title: Some like it hot: Relative sensitivity of Hawaiian corals to climate change stressors

Raphael Ritson-Williams
Project title:  Patterns of genotypic diversity of the coral Pocillopora damicornis at multiple reefs on O’ahu.

Blake Ushijima, Department of Microbiology
Project title: The effect of the antibiotic produced by the coral pathogen Vibrio coralliilyticus strain OCN008 on the bacterial microflora of the coral Montipora capitata.

Christopher B. Wall
Project title: Assessing the functional role of Symbiodinium clades in the autotrophic nutrition and energetics of two reef corals exposed to elevated temperature and pCO2


The Jessie D. Kay Memorial Fund, established in 2000, will provide two research grants this year, each in the amount of $10,000.  The trust document stipulates that awards are “…to support the study of natural history with an emphasis on zoology and marine malacology, the study of marine mollusks.”  The trust document additionally stipulates, “.… the Fund may support graduate students in zoology, with the preference to those attending the University of Hawai`i, particularly with the interest in the natural history of the Hawaiʻian Islands.”

Applications must include the following:

  1. A brief resumé that includes the applicant’s name, e-mail, contact address, and permanent address if different from the local address.
  2. A statement of the applicant’s status at the University of Hawai’i, including the department of study, the number of years in a graduate program at U.H., and the name of the applicant’s faculty advisor.
  3. A concise statement of the applicant’s research subject, hypotheses being tested, methods, expected results and significance.
  4. A time table for meeting landmark goals in the research and completion of the advanced degree.
  5. A one-year budget for expenditure of the research-grant funds.  It is acceptable to use the funds for personal support for one semester or longer, as long as the recipient does not concurrently accept a full-time teaching or graduate-research assistantship.  A Jessie D. Kay Fellowship may, however, be combined with a partial teaching or research assistantship.  Additional uses for the fellowship funds may include: supplies; essential equipment; travel for research (not to professional meetings!); or other research-related costs.
  6. A record of academic progress and achievements, including: transcripts at U.H. and – if they are available in the Biology office – those from colleges/universities attended previously; official progress stage at U.H. (e.g., committee formed; dissertation proposal approved; doctoral orals taken); other scholarships/fellowships received, their time span and amounts.
  7. A letter of support from the applicant’s faculty advisor.

Submission deadline: November 14, 2014. Notification of awards will be made by January 2014.

Application procedure:

Please submit applications electronically as a single PDF file to the chair of the selection committee: Dr. H. G. de Couet (, Biology Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Please advise authors of supporting letters to also submit these electronically, indicating the name of the applicant in the document name.

The selection committee, including three faculty members from the Department of Biology who do not have a student from their laboratories among this year’s applicants will evaluate the applications and select the two awardees. Criteria for selection will include the following:

  • Relevance to the objectives of the trust
  • Overall quality of the proposal and level of grantsmanship:
    -  Significance and originality of the project
    -  Scientific hypotheses formulated and experimentally addressed?
    -  Feasibility of the project:  preliminary data and existing tools; how likely is the success of this project?
    -  Experimental approach: sufficiently detailed and established?
  • Academic record and excellence of applicant
  • Intellectual independence of applicant
  • Budget: adequate and appropriate?

The selection committee reserves the right to defer making awards in the absence of competitive and professionally prepared proposals. Applicants are strongly advised to seek support and grant writing advice from peers and mentors.

Recipients in 2014:

Raphael Ritson-Williams
Project Title: Acclimatization of Coral Populations to Local and Global Stressors: Can Corals Adapt to Future Threats?

Caitlin M.U. Shishido
Project Title: Measuring thermal heterogeneity in the Hawai‘ian intertidal zone and utilization of microhabitats by the gastropod Nerita picea

Recipients in 2013:

Jessica Maxfield
Project title: Uncovering The Secret Of Sex Change: Mapping the Sex Change Pathway In a Hawaiian Reef Fish.

Nyssa Silbiger
Project title: Bioerosion rates and climate change in the Hawaiian Archipelago.


A fund was established in honor of Prof. E. Alison Kay at the time of her retirement from the Department of Zoology in 2001.  Dr. Kay designated that income from the fund provide research awards to students in Zoology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  Specifically, E. A. Kay Research Awards are meant “ … to encourage and reward outstanding students who have an interest in the natural history of the Hawaiian Islands [with] preference to students whose focus is whole organism natural history.”

To be eligible, recipients must:

  1. be enrolled full time in the Department of Biology, UHM, as either an undergraduate or graduate student.
  2. demonstrate academic merit with a minimum GPA of 3.5.
  3. demonstrate some degree of financial need, although not necessarily as defined by federal guidelines.

The Elizabeth Alison Kay Awards Committee expects to award up to six scholarships for a maximum of $1,000 each in the current academic year.

Applications must include:

  1. A written statement of the student’s planned use of the E.A. Kay Award funds, which includes information concerning financial need. 
    -   Specify how requested items relate to completion of your research, and if you will have access to other funds to pay for the requested items if an E. A. Kay award is not received.
    -   ​Stress aspects of your research that make it eligible in the context of a focus on whole organism natural history of Hawaiian animals.
  2. A budget describing the items for which funds are requested.  This may include: expendable research materials or other needed supplies; small equipment; services (e.g., DNA sequencing); or research travel. 
    -   Funds will not be provided to attend meetings of professional societies.
  3. Official transcripts from colleges attended to support the GPA requirement.  For graduate students, we will accept copies from official transcripts that are in Biology files.
  4.  A letter of support from your faculty advisor.

Submit complete applications and supporting documents electronically to: E. A. Kay Awards Committee, c/o Dr. H. Gert de Couet, Department of Biology, (

Deadline for applicationsNovember 14, 2014; Awardees will be notified by January 2015.                  

Recipients in 2013:

Jonatha Giddens
Project title: Experimental removal of the introduced grouper roi (Cephalopholis argus) in west Hawaii; a community-based approach to coral reef system restoration.

Aki Jarl Larusen
Project title: Speciation across the Sea: Elucidating the Sea Urchin Genus Tripneustes.


The purpose of this Fund is to provide travel & attendance support to professional meetings for graduate students in Biology (or Zoology as long as it is in existence), with preference to students studying Ornithology at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa College of Natural Sciences. Funds shall be used for costs associated with professional meeting attendance (e.g. registration, travel, and lodging).

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

  1. Recipients must be full-time graduate students majoring in Biology (or Zoology) at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa College of Natural Sciences who are attending a professional meeting.
  2. Recipients must be presenting a paper or poster at a professional meeting.
  3. First preference shall be given to those studying ornithology.
  4. Second preference shall be given to those studying general natural resources conservation and management.

The following items must be included in the application:

  1. A statement about the proposed value of the meeting, e.g. whether it is organized by a professional society, whether it is regional or national
  2. The abstract of the paper or poster to be presented.
  3. A receipt from the organizers of the meeting accepting the abstract. If this statement is not available at the time of the application, it may be handed in after the fact. It is understood that release of funds will be contingent upon acceptance of the abstract.
  4. A travel itinerary and itemized budget for the request
  5. A letter of support from the applicant’s advisor evaluating the importance of the proposed conference/meeting, its significance in the progression of the applicant towards a degree, and a commitment for supplemental support, if applicable.
  6. A curriculum vitae that includes previous support received from intramural and extramural sources.

The recipient will be selected by a committee appointed by the Chair of the Department of Biology based on the standing and progress of the applicant towards a degree, the significance of the meeting, and the commitment of the mentor.

Applications and supporting letters must be submitted electronically to Dr. H. Gert de Couet, Department of Biology, University of Hawaii at Manoa ( The selection committee will meet in late November to review applications received by November 14, 2014. Applications submitted after that date may be considered on a continuing basis if not enough competitive applications are received by the deadline. Applicants are encouraged to inquire before submitting a late proposal.  

The amount of the award will be determined by the selection committee based on the availability of funds. The award will be announced in early January 2015 and funds will be made available shortly thereafter.

Recipients in 2014:

Adrienne Copeland
7th International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Symposium on Marine Ecosystem Acoustics held in Nantes, France

Elizabeth Henry
Annual Meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Nyssa Silbiger
Association for the Sciences of Limnology & Oceanography Society (ASLO) meeting in Granada, Spain

Recipients in 2013:

Jean Fantle-Lepczyk
The Society for Conservation Biology’s (SCB) North America Congress for Conservation Biology (NACCB)