2021 – 2022 MASNA Student Scholarships to be Awarded virtually at MACNA 2021


As we do each year, it’s time to share the MASNA Scholarship award recipients. Two students were awarded Scholarships for the 2021-2022 MACNA virtual conference. The undergraduate student selected by MASNA is Phoebe Churney and the graduate student is Sarah Hutchins. Congratulations to both students and for each receiving $7000.00 in scholarships made possible by support from Ecotech Marine, CoralVue, MASNA and Two Little Fishies.

2021 – 2022 MASNA Student Scholarships to be Awarded virtually at MACNA 2021

August 31, 2021,MASNA will be awarding its annual MASNA Student Scholarships virtually at MACNA 2021 on Friday, September 3rd, 2021. This year two $7,000.00 scholarships will be granted, one to an undergraduate student and one to a graduate student. This significant increase, up from $4,000 per award in previous years, is in response to increased financial hardship for students resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 – 2022 MASNA Undergraduate Student Scholarship recipient is Phoebe Churney.

Phoebe is a full-time student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in            Marine Biology and Small Vessel Operations at the Maine   Maritime Academy (MMA) in Castine, Maine. During her undergraduate career at MMA, Phoebe has worked as a science instructor at Boothbay Sea and Science Center where she was responsible for educational touch tanks, and also worked as the Lead Aquarist at Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory in 2021, where she was responsible for overseeing the husbandry of two species of octopods in ongoing behavioral studies.

In addition to Phoebe’s degree, she will graduate from MMA with a 200 Ton License from the United States Coast Guard. She plans to combine the sea time required for her operating license with research activities to expand her knowledge in the marine and aquarium sciences. Post-graduation, she plans to continue to be involved in the aquaria industry by working with science-based coral farming reef restoration practices at various public aquaria and NGO’s throughout the world.

The 2021 – 2022 MASNA Graduate Student

The 2021 – 2022 MASNA Graduate Student Scholarship recipient is Sarah Hutchins.Sarah is a biological scientist specializing in algae and copepod production for aquaculture and a Master’s student at the University of Florida’s Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, Florida. Her passion for the aquarium hobby took off her freshman year of college when she set up her first reef tank. While completing a bachelor’s degree at Roger Williams University, she worked at the CEED Wet Laboratory and interned at the Giant Ocean Tank exhibit at the New England Aquarium. After graduating, she moved to Louisiana and became the senior phycologist at the Michael C. Voisin Oyster Hatchery.

Sarah is currently obtaining her Master of Science degree through the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program under the advisement of Dr. Matthew DiMaggio at the University of Florida’s Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, Florida. Sarah’s research aims to improve the efficiency and economic feasibility of producing copepods for marine ornamental and food fish. This research addresses the major challenge of first feeding for raising larval fish.

Sarah’s recent projects have improved culture methods and protocols for two species of copepods, Parvocalanus crassirostris and Oithona colcarva. She is currently using environmental stressors to reduce copepod escape responses and capture these responses using a high-speed video camera. Future experiments will determine if feeding slower responding copepods to larval fish will improve the larvae’s survival and growth rates. Sarah hopes her research will advance live feed and larviculture practices and help scientists and hobbyists culture new species and work towards a more sustainable future.

Over the past 13 years, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA) has provided $91,000 in funding for undergraduate and graduate college students to help continue their degrees in marine and aquarium sciences. Since its inception, the MASNA Scholarship Program has grown to be one of the most competitive and esteemed scholarships available to marine and aquarium science students, and routinely includes applicants throughout North America and abroad.

Applications for the awards are judged based on the applicant’s enrollment in a marine science undergraduate or graduate degree program, a G.P.A. of 2.5/4.0 or greater, and their proven contributions and demonstrated commitment to the marine aquarium hobby.

This year’s scholarship selection committee was chaired by MASNA Director of Conservation, Tim Lyons, and MASNA President, Dr. Kevin Erickson. The selection committee further consisted of Christine Rowe (MASNA Treasurer), Bryce Risley (MASNA Secretary), Paula Carlson (Director of Husbandry, Dallas World Aquarium), Alan Luken (Brand Manager, Segrest Farms), Dr. Liz Marchio (2015 – 2016, Graduate scholarship recipient), Liz Groover (2016 – 2017, Graduate), Zachary Ostroff (2012 – 2013, Graduate).

This year’s scholarship is made possible by the generous support of  our MASNA Student Scholarship sponsors, CoralVue, Ecotech Marine, and Two Little Fishies, and will include an all-expenses paid trip for both recipients to MACNA 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Without our sponsors, the two $7,000 MASNA Student Scholarships would not be possible and MASNA is deeply grateful for their continued support.

More information on the MASNA Student Scholarship program can be found at https://masna.org/masna-programs/scholarship-program/

About Author

Scott Groseclose is the owner of AquaNerd, Aquarium Specialty, Aqua Specialty Wholesale, BioTek Marine, & The Carolina Reef Experience. He has a degree in Biology from St. Andrews University and he has been a passionate reef keeper since 1988.