Research and Awards

The GEC manages several research awards, each generously supported by people outside of CBL.

From 2011- present, CBL were generously supported by the Cove Point Natural Heritage Trust, either through the prestigious "Ruth Mathes" Scholarship or from funds provided by the CPNH on an ad hoc basis. The "Ruth Mathes" Scholarship is an annual award of $2,500 to support graduate student research at CBL. The money is generously donated by the Cove Point Natural Heritage Trust (CPNHT). The Ruth Mathes Scholarship is open to all CBL graduate students, including GEC fellows, regardless of degree program or discipline and is meant to support new research, for a period of 2 years. Research that directly benefits Southern Maryland, particularly Calvert County, is preferred, but not mandatory. The GEC typically makes a single award of $2,500, so requests for the maximum amount are strongly encouraged.

From 2007 - 2015, CBL students were generously supported through the Drach–Mellody Navigator Award which was an annual award of $5,000 to support graduate student research at CBL. The money is generously donated by Mr. Joe Drach, a member of the UMCES Board of Visitors, and Mr. James Mellody. The Navigator Award was open to all CBL graduate students, including GEC fellows, regardless of degree program or discipline


Requests for proposals are typically made in October for the Ruth Mathes Scholarship and in April for the Navigator Award. Announcements are sent out by the GEC chair via e-mail to all CBL students and faculty. Students applying for either award must submit the following:

  1. A research proposal of 3–5 pages, single-spaced.

  2. A detailed research budget (not to exceed the maximum amount of the award!) plus justification. Funds may be requested for travel to field sites, small equipment and consumable laboratory supplies, and CBL vehicle and vessel fees. Funds may not be used for salary, benefits, or tuition, nor for travel to scientific meetings (the latter is supported through GEC travel awards, see below).

  3. A reasonable project timeline (preferably as a table or figure), covering the full period of the award.

  4. A short, NSF-style (2-page) CV.

The research proposal should contain the following sections:

  • Introduction. This section should provide some background and a clear rationale for the proposed study.

  • Statement of the Problem. This section should describe the hypotheses and goals of the proposed study in as much detail as possible, including how it is connected to the student's graduate research. If the proposed study is an expansion of the latter, astrong justification must be provided for the scientific merit of the expansion. For example, the expansion cannot simply be analysis of additional samples for an ongoing project; it must instead address a new question or involve a substantive enhancement ofthe student's graduate research.

  • Research Approach. This sections should contain details of the methods and experimental design, sample collection and analytical techniques, statistics and error analysis etc.

  • Anticipated Benefits. This section should provide a brief outline of the anticipated outcomes, including how they will benefit the student's own graduate research as well as that of other scientists in the same discipline.

These documents should be e-mailed to the GEC Chair as a single PDF document titled "YourName_year.pdf", with the name of the award in the subject line. Current or past recipients of either award may apply for the other award only if the proposed study is distinctly different than that for which the prior award was received.

Awards are made by the GEC based on a majority vote. For the Ruth Mathes Scholarship, an additional vote is cast by a representative of the CPNHT. The GEC may request revisions if a proposal is competitive, but lacking in some aspect. The GEC chair will send each applicant, whether successful or not, a summary of the GEC reviews so that s/he may use these to improve his/her proposal writing skills.

Both awards are managed by Ms. Lisa Lee as a grant from the University of Maryland Foundation in order to eliminate any tax consequences for the award recipient. Requests for reimbursement and orders for laboratory supply must be made directly to Gail. All award recipients will be expected to submit a final report. Recipients of the Navigator Award will also be expected to receive their award, or to report on their progress, at the annual meeting of the UMCES Board of Visitors.

Past and Current Award Projects

Drach-Mellody Navigator Award

2007 – George Waldbusser (Marinelli group)

Drach Mellody Navigator Achievement Award

2008 – Jason Edwards (Miller group)

Drach Mellody Navigator Achievement Award

2008 – Jon Bearr (Mitchelmore group)

Risk of brominated phthalate flame retardants on reproduction and carcinogenity in fish species (no title submitted)

2009 – Allison Chandler (Houde group)

Trophic ecology of striped bass (no title submitted)

2009 – Katherine Davis-Ziombra (Harris group)

“Bioavailability and impact of effluent organic nitrogen to phytoplankton in the Potomac River, a tributary of Chesapeake Bay”

2010 – Jake Hosen (Palmer group)

“Dissolved organic matter bioavailability in temporary and perennial streams of the Parker’s Creek watershed”

2010 – Adam Peer (Miller group)

“Linking feeding history to female energetic condition, reproductive potential and recruitment in Chesapeake Bay striped bass”

2011 – Jennifer Bryan (Harris group)

“Evaluating the potential impact of sea level rise and changed inundation on wild rice, Zizinia aquatica, in the Chesapeake Bay"

2011 – Rosemary Fanelli (Palmer group)

“Novel constructed ecosystems to enhance stormwater infiltration and pollutant retention in urban headwater streams”

2013 – Danielle Zaveta (Miller Group)

“Developing a physiological index for juvenile blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) to assess nursery habitat quality in the Patuxent River”

2014 – Hillary Lane (Miller group)

"The interactive effects of temperature and pH on the molting and growth of juvenile blue crab (Callinectes sapidus)"

2015 – Suzan Shahrestani (Bi group)

"Settlement of Atlantic sea-nettle polyps on natural and man-made substrate; an in-situ experiment in Chesapeake Bay"

Ruth Mathes Scholarship

2011 – Hannah Pie-Fink (Mitchelmore group)

“Determining the acute toxicity of current and alternative oil spill chemical dispersants to early life-stage blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus)”

2012 – Caroline Coulter (Schijf group)

“Monitoring a baseline of Maryland stream water quality to assess the potential impacts of future hydraulic fracturing and shale gas export”

2013 – Jenna Luek (Gonsior group)

“Development of chemical tracers for understanding the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing"

2015 – Gray Redding (Secor group)

"Understanding Northwest Atlantic mackerel stock structure through otolith stable isotope analysis"