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As part of two distinct awards, the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation (NSTSTF) is building FIU’s capacity to support research related to the conservation of sea turtles. The two awards include:

  • NSTSTF Undergraduate Scholarship
  • NSTSTF Sea Turtle Rehabilitation and Outreach Award.

These awards are only available for current undergraduate students.


Award Information

The NSTSTF Undergraduate Scholarship Award will provide $8,000 to two undergraduate students who are performing research relevant to the conservation of sea turtles. These funds can be applied toward research-related travel, conference travel, materials and supplies, and student tuition and fees.

The application package for the NSTSTF Undergraduate Scholarship Award includes the following:

  • A 500-word abstract of the planned research project
  • A 1,000-word summary of the proposed research project
  • A 500-word personal statement that includes students’ career goals, aspirations, and research interests
  • A detailed budget and justification that clearly describes how students plan to use the funds
  • CV or resume
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • A copy of the student’s unofficial transcript

Application packages must be formatted into one PDF and emailed to Catherine Guinovart, Coordinator of Administrative Services for the Coastlines and Oceans Division in the Institute of Environment at before Jan. 10, 2022.

If a student is applying for the NSTSTF Undergraduate Scholarship Award the subject line of the email should be “NSTSTF Scholarship Student’s Last Name”. The letters of recommendation for the scholarship should be emailed to with the subject line “LOR NSTSTF Scholarship Student’s Last Name".

Past Awardees

  • Maria Clara Figueredo and Jose Bisbe Ochoa

    Maria Clara Figueredo and Jose Bisbe-Ochoa studied whether polystyrene boxes, collected as recycling, can serve as effective incubators in hatcheries.

    This work is critical as a major concern for sea turtle hatchlings is the increasing temperatures of beaches and sand. The temperature of developing eggs determines whether offspring will be male or female, and that means higher temperatures could result in a disproportionate number of females — a major problem for the sea turtle conservation.

    Overseen by Dr. Elizabeth Whitman, Figueredo’s and Bisbe-Ochoa’s research will help conservationists better protect sea turtle eggs and hatchlings from threats like poachers and storms.

  • Samantha Olszack

    Samantha Olszack studied how sargassum decomposition causes trace metals, such as arsenic, to leech into the sediment, which may be harmful to the turtles and their young.

    Anomalies in El Niño events, increasing ocean temperatures, changes in nutrient abundance, and other threats related to climate change have led to increasingly large amounts of­ sargassum on South Florida and Caribbean beaches. While sargassum is a critical ecosystem for young sea turtles in the open ocean, accumulations on shore can gather as high as 3 to 6 feet creating obstacles for both female sea turtles searching for suitable nesting areas and hatchlings exiting their nests, which is why understanding the effects of these sargassum landings is critical for sea turtle conservation.

    This research is overseen by Dr. Ligia Collado-Vides, a marine botanist in FIU’s Institute of Environment, and could help scientists find ways to manage incoming sargassum and determine possible uses for it, including compost.

  • Liberty Boyd

    Liberty Boyd is a fourth-year Ph.D. student studying green sea turtle populations and how they use seagrass ecosystems.

    Sea turtles rely heavily on the abundance and health of seagrass ecosystems, which serve as their primary food source.

    This research is overseen by CASE Executive Dean, Mike Heithaus, a marine biologist specializing in the ecological importance of large marine species. Liberty’s research helps scientists understand the relationship between sea turtle’s seagrass consumption and external threats affecting both sea turtle populations and seagrass ecosystems.