Graduate Student Research 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 semesters. 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. Peter Marko, Department of Biology ( 

Please note: these are research grants, mostly for Zoology graduate students.

The Charles H. and Margaret B. Edmondson Research Fund- Grants in Aid of Research and Publication for Graduate Students in the area of Hawai`i marine invertebrate zoology.

The trust established in the will of long time University of Hawai`i Professor of Zoology and Bishop Museum Marine Zoologist Charles H. Edmondson and his wife Margaret B. Edmondson provides several awards for research and publication. 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 research project must involve marine invertebrate animals and focus on Hawai`i.

2018 Recipients: 

  • Austin Greene
    • Project title: Can predation on coral recruits among species and across depth gradients drive differences in community structure between shallow and mesophotic corals
  • Ariana Huffmyer
    • Project title: Strength in numbers: The influence of tissue fusion on juvenile coral thermal tolerance
  • Elizabeth Lenz
    • Project title: Reproductive plasticity and parental effects in the Hawaiian reef-building coral Montipora capitata under ocean warming
  • Sitara Palecanda
    • Project title: Larval Behavior in Response to Ultraviolet Light
  • Shreya Yadav
    • Project title: The afterlife of coral: how the degradation of dead coral colonies impacts reef complexity and reef fish assemblages

2017 Recipients: 

  • Laura Damiani
    • Project title: Investigating protein biomarker expression in Pocillopora damicornis after exposure to atrazine
  • Tom Iwanicki
    • Project title: Metatranscriptomics of opsin and luciferase expression in ocean zooplankton
  • Marisa McDonald
    • Project title: Photoreceptor structures in four species of larval stomatopod crustaceans
  • Patrick Nichols
    • Project title: Assessing biodiversity and community composition of corals using environmental DNA
  • Emily Sesno
    • Project title: Persistence/resistance of the sea urchin (Tripneustes gratilla) to a changing ocean climate

Jessie D. Kay Memorial Research Grants in Hawai`ian Natural History, Zoology and Marine Malacology

The Jessie D. Kay Memorial Fund provides two research grants in the amount of $10,000 every year. 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 that “.… 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 Hawai`ian Islands.”

2018 Recipients: 

  • Luke Campillo
    • Evolutionary diversification and adaptive radiation of endemic Hawaiian Honeycreepers

No recipients in 2017.

Elizabeth Alison Kay Endowed Awards for students in Biology/Zoology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa

This 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 Hawai`i at Mānoa.  Specifically, E. A. Kay Research Awards are meant “ … to encourage and reward outstanding students who have an interest in the natural history of the Hawai`ian Islands [with] preference to students whose focus is whole organism natural history.”

2018 Recipients: 

  • Austin Greene
    • Project title: Can predation on coral recruits among species and across depth gradients drive differences in community structure between shallow and mesophotic corals?

2017 Recipients: 

  • Robyn Screen
    • Project title: What makes a successful invader? Examining the stress response of the invasive brown anole (Anolis sagrei) in Hawaii
  • Erik Brush
    • Project title: Behavioral interactions between reef fishes inhabiting the coral Pocillopora eydouxi and transient piscivores 

Dr. Charles and Sandra Guest-Van Riper Endowed Student Travel Award for Graduate Students

The purpose of this Fund is to provide travel and attendance support to professional meetings for graduate students majoring in Biology, with preference to students studying Ornithology at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa College of Natural Sciences.

2018 Recipients: 

  • Maria Constantini 
    • ​Travel funds to present at the American Ornithological Society Conference in Anchorage, Alaska.
    • Project title: Captivity and the Gut Microbiota of ‘Akikiki and ‘Akeke’e: Implications for Conservation of Two Critically Endangered Hawai’ian Honeycreepers

2017 Recipients: 

  • Helen Sung
    • Travel funds to participate in the 2018 ​IUCN-Species​ ​Survival​ ​Commision​ ​Crocodile​ ​Specialist​ ​Group, Santa Fe, Argentina
  • Lindsay Veazey
    • Travel funds to participate in the 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, Oregon