Link Foundation Fellowships Newsletter

Inside this Issue


Meet this Year's Fellowship Recipients

We Proudly Introduce The Link Foundation/Smithsonian Graduate Research Fellowship Awardees For 2015-2016


Chelsea Metzgar, University of North Florida
Project: Chemical and Molecular Investigations of Secondary Metabolite Production in a Seagrass-Labyrinthulid Pathosystem
Research Advisor: Dr. Valerie Paul

SMS/Link Fellow Chelsea Metzger is pursuing a Masters degree in Biology at the University in North Florida. While at the Smithsonian Marine Station, she is isolating a chemical compound produced by turtle grass, Thalassia testudinum, and testing its ability to inhibit a pathogenic protist that causes seagrass wasting disease.



Rachel Smith, University of Georgia, Odum School of Ecology
Project: Structuring Life on the Edge: Exploring Community and Ecosystem Effects of Expanding Ecosystem Engineers
Research Advisor: Dr. Ilka Feller

Rachel Smith is a PhD student in the Odum School of Ecology at University of Georgia, where she is studying the physical, abiotic, and biotic factors that shape ecological communities.  As an SMS/Link Fellow she is looking at the impacts of mangrove range expansion on the saltmarsh plants that live in the transitional zones.



Kimani Kitson-Walters, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus
Project: Analyzing Fine-Scale Population Structure of the Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) in the Florida Keys and Jamaica
Research Advisor: Dr. Stephen Box

Kimani Kitson-Walters is pursuing his PhD in Biotechnology from The University of the West Indies, Mona. As an SMS/Link Fellow he will be using molecular techniques to compare and contrast the fine-scale genetic structure of conch populations in the Florida Keys and Jamaica.


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 12-week Graduate Student 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 resources 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 1998-2015 have totaled $264,000, and have supported 59 graduate students. 

The Link Foundation/Smithsonian Institution graduate student 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 staff 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 research 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 2016 cycle is February 15, 2016.