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2011-12 Smithsonian Fellows shown above with Marilyn Link,
Special Advisor to the Link Foundation Board

The Smithsonian Marine Station (SMS) has a long history of supporting the academic pursuits of students at all levels of education. One of the most successful programs is the Graduate Fellowship program, supported by a grant from the Link Foundation.

The association between the Smithsonian and the Link Foundation extends back to 1953, soon after the Foundation was established by Edwin A. and Marion C. Link. Mr. Link was a skilled aviator and is recognized as a mechanical genius. He is best known for his invention of the first Flight Simulator in 1929, and he later shifted his interest to ocean engineering and marine science and developed the Johnson-Sea-Link submersibles. 

The Link Foundation aims to support individuals and nonprofit institutions with research goals and interests that align with those of the founders, namely advanced simulation and training, ocean engineering and instrumentation, and energy conservation and development.

The SMS at Fort Pierce, FL, received its first award from the Link Foundation in 1998 in support of graduate student fellowships in the marine sciences.    Annual awards from 1998-2011 have totaled $193,500, and have supported 47 graduate students. 

The Link Foundation/Smithsonian Institution graduate fellowships are offered on a competitive basis through the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Fellowships, and supports the research efforts of three to four graduate-level students each year.  During the 12-week program, Fellows work in association with members of the Smithsonian professional research staffs who are either Marine Station investigators, or marine scientists from other Smithsonian entities who carry out a part of their research at the Station.  Students are provided with work space at the station, full access to all the Station’s resources, as well as the guidance and expertise of their appointed advisor during their fellowship.   

Several Link Fellows have gone on to complete doctoral degrees and have returned to SMS as postdoctoral fellows. Others maintain a relationship by continuing to collaborate with SMS researchers or by bringing students of their own.

The staff of SMS looks forward to continuing to provide research opportunities to students through on-going support from the Link Foundation. Graduate students interested in the program should visit  for information on application requirements. The deadline for the 2012 cycle is February 15, 2012.




Maria Herranz Matesanz, University Complutense of Madrid, Spain
Project: Biology. Life Cycle and Phylogeny of Kinorhyncha
Advisor: J. Norenburg

Maria Herranz is a student at Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, where she is working towards her Ph.D. in Biology. While visiting the Smithsonian Marine Station as a Link Fellow, Maria used different microscopy techniques to study the development and morphology of tiny organisms in the Phylum Kinorhyncha.


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Katherine Papacostas, Temple University
Project: Predator Diversity Dampens Invasive-Induced Tropic Cascades in the Subtropical Indian River Lagoon 
Advisor: R. Osman

Katherine Papacostas is a Ph.D. student at Temple University in Philadelphia, working towards her degree in Biology. As a Link Fellow at the Smithsonian Marine Station, Katherine is examining the trophic interactions that influence the establishment of invasive species in the Indian River Lagoon.



Benjamin Sollins, Florida Atlantic University
Project: Chemical Defense in Rhizophora mangle against Coccotrypes rhyzophorae
Advisor: V. Paul

Benjamin Sollins is working on his Masters of Science in Environmental Science at Florida Atlantic University. His research as a Link Fellow at the Smithsonian Marine Station is on the chemical responses in red mangroves to infestations of a parasitic beetle and the resulting effects on seedlings.