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Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship

by Wells Reserve Contributor
Margaret A. Davidson profile photo.
Margaret A. Davidson was a visionary in the coastal management world, someone who saw the future with clarity and knew how to push for innovation.

Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowships offer graduate students a chance to work with a selected National Estuarine Research Reserve for 2 years. A single fellowship is available at each of the reserve sites.

Each fellow addresses a key question to help scientists and communities understand coastal challenges relating to future policy and management issues.

Students will receive an annual stipend for research and travel, while each reserve will receive an annual equipment and supply budget to support their fellow.

2024-2026 Cohort

See the Notice of Funding Opportunity. Please note these key dates&

  • July 19, 2023: Webinar on the fellowship experience and benefits
  • September 28, 2023: Webinar on application process, Q&A
  • December 2, 2023: Deadline for applications

Wells Reserve Needs

The following subjects have been identified by the Wells Reserve as priorities for its Davidson fellow in the 2024-2026 cohort. These priorities may be modified for subsequent cohorts. Application periods begin in the summer prior to each fellowship period.

Non-Native Species Interactions

Anthropogenic and climate-mediated processes are driving shifts in the distribution of invasive and range-expanding species (e.g., green crab, blue crab) and estuarine systems are especially vulnerable to high rates of invasions. However, interactions between native and non-native species in our estuaries and coastal waters remain poorly understood. Therefore, we seek to leverage novel technologies (e.g., eDNA, telemetry) to advance ongoing and future biomonitoring programs that expand our understanding of invasive species and their impacts on native population dynamics and ecosystem services.

Contact: Dr. Jason Goldstein

Healthy and Sustainable Fisheries in the Gulf of Maine

Ocean climate change is already having adverse impacts on economically and ecologically relevant marine species in the Gulf of Maine, and we expect stressful environmental conditions (e.g., thermal stress, coastal acidification, disease) to persist or intensify over time. Therefore, we seek to expand empirical studies and predictive modeling to inform coastal resource stakeholders of how such stressors affect finfish and shellfish species, especially for early life history stages that are considered data-poor (e.g., larvae, post-larvae).

Contact: Dr. Jason Goldstein

Coastal Resiliency

Shorelines are increasingly vulnerable to storms, sea level rise, and erosion. In response, vulnerable coastal communities are making complex management and policy decisions, but one issue remains difficult to discuss. Relocation raises hard questions about financing, property rights, and emotional attachments to place. Therefore, research is needed to better understand the challenges of developing relocation strategies and methods for engaging communities in dialogues that build resilience.

Contact: Dr. Christine Feurt

SWMP Data Science & Synthesis

The System-wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) measures long-term changes and short-term variability in water quality, weather, and sea level to inform coastal zone management, and we seek to better synthesize these data, but we lack the analytical tools to comprehensively analyze such large datasets. Therefore, the development of novel tools and robust analyses are needed to efficiently summarize trends from these data and to facilitate the incorporation of other parameters in the future, particularly aspects of carbonate chemistry.

Contact: Dr. Jason Goldstein

Ecosystem Services and Sentinel Site Data Science

Current NERRS research and sentinel site programs document tidal marsh condition and responses to environmental change but the methods and findings documenting marsh health and change are not always useful to decision makers because they are not connected to the ecosystem services provided by the marsh. Therefore, research is needed to identify and, where possible, quantify the ecosystem services (and disservices) provided by tidal marsh state to support decision making about tradeoffs for conservation, nature-based solutions, restoration, and planned relocation of human and natural infrastructure.

Contacts: Dr. Jason Goldstein and Dr. Christine Feurt

About Margaret Davidson

Margaret A. Davidson served in many leadership roles at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). She was the founding director of the Coastal Services Center, acting director of the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, and acting assistant administrator for the National Ocean Service. She focused her professional work on environmentally sustainable coastal development practices, the reduction of risk associated with extreme events, and climate adaptation. NOAA is building upon her boundary-stretching legacy by training future coastal leaders through this fellowship program.

Learn More

Wells Reserve Fellows

2022-2024: Helen Cheng

2020-2022: Jessica Brunacini

Adapted from Watermark 36(1): Summer 2019 and later expanded and updated.

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