WSG News Blog

University of Washington Student Selected for the 2020 NMFS-Sea Grant Fellowship

August 18, 2020

We are pleased to announce that Sam May, a doctoral student at the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (UW SAFS), is one of ten fellows selected for the 2020 National Marine Fisheries Service-Sea Grant Joint Fellowship Program.

Sam grew up in Pennsylvania and inherited a deep love for wild ecosystems from his family. In high school, this passion grew as he competed in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB). Sam’s continued interest in wild marine ecosystems brought him to the University of Miami, where he spent his free time SCUBA diving and working on independent research projects. In 2016, Sam graduated with dual degrees in marine science and biology, as well as three minors in marine affairs, anthropology, and chemistry.

Upon receipt of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Sam began his doctorate at UW SAFS. Advised by Kerry Naish, his research uses quantitative and population genomic techniques to investigate the fitness effects of eco-evolutionary processes such as assortative mating, dispersal, and inbreeding in wild populations of Alaskan sockeye salmon. His project aims to predict the long-term consequences of assortative mating and hatchery supplementation on population productivity and viability. Sam continues to participate in NOSB and is now a moderator for Washington Sea Grant’s Orca Bowl.

Since 1999, the Fisheries-Sea Grant Joint Fellowship program has supported students pursuing doctoral degrees in population and ecosystem dynamics as well as marine resource economics. These fellowships are aimed at training the next generation of specialized experts in fisheries management, addressing the critical need for future fisheries scientists who can properly manage U.S. living marine resources including fish, invertebrate, marine mammal, seabird and other protected species stocks.

Fellows are chosen through a competitive process that involves national review by an expert panel. During their fellowship, students are guided by at least two mentors, one from the fellow’s university and one from NOAA Fisheries, and they are required to participate in a yearly research symposium. Since the fellowship began, it has supported over 100 population and ecosystem dynamics and 35 marine resource economics doctoral fellows. A 2018 review of the program found that 92 percent of fellows remain in their field and about 30 percent work for NOAA as a fisheries scientist. Alumni of this fellowship typically hold future positions in NOAA Fisheries, other agencies, academics and fishery management councils.

Congratulations, Sam!

Learn more about the NMFS-Sea Grant Fellowship program, as well as this year’s fellows here.