Coastal Sciences Graduate Fellowship in Support of Diversity

The Department of Coastal Sciences of the University of Southern Mississippi School of Ocean Science and Engineering is pleased to announce the availability of graduate fellowships in support of diversity to prospective students seeking a M.S. or Ph.D. degree. These fellowships are awarded competitively and are intended to support the recruitment of graduate students from historically underrepresented groups in coastal and marine science who demonstrate scholarly promise. Additional information on the Department of Coastal Sciences and the Coastal Sciences graduate program are available at https://www.usm.edu/graduate-programs/coastal-sciences.php. Candidates must contact potential faculty advisors in the Department of Coastal Sciences to discuss their research and educational interests and must identify a faculty sponsor prior to submitting a fellowship application. The graduate school application fee for students applying to the Coastal Sciences Graduate Fellowship in Support of Diversity will be waived. Mississippi residents who fall under historically underrepresented groups in coastal and marine science are particularly encouraged to apply.

Application Deadline

June 30, 2021

(Spring 2022 admission to the graduate program)

Additional Information

Location: The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, MS

Salary: $1,900/month (M.S.) or $1,950/month (Ph.D). Salary increases $50/month when the student advances to candidacy. Additional benefits include a tuition waiver and health insurance.

Contact: penny.isgar@usm.edu, 228.818.8887

usm.edu/ocean

How to Apply

To be considered for a fellowship, applicants will be required to submit the following by the application deadline:

1. A CV

2. Official transcripts

3. A statement of purpose

4. Three letters of recommendation. (It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure recommendation letters are submitted by the deadline.)

5. An essay that speaks to the candidate’s inclusion in one or more historically underrepresented groups in higher education. This essay is separate and in addition to the statement of purpose but should be submitted with the statement of purpose as a single PDF.

For all admission applications (undergraduate, graduate, or international) visit usm.edu/admissions.

The Essay

Applicants should use the essay to articulate how their experiences and background have influenced their career to this point (including how those experiences influenced their decision to apply for graduate school). Within this statement, applicants should provide insight about how they could contribute to a scholarly environment that values inclusivity and diversity. Applicants should also consider their potential in contributing to the inclusivity of COA, USM, and their broader field of study, as applicable. The essay should be a maximum of two pages. Applicants should use this essay to address how one or more of the following identities or experiences, and their intersections,
apply to them.
• Member of an ethnic or racial group underrepresented or marginalized in graduate education and coastal and marine science, including but not limited to Black, Indigenous (American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or other Native Pacific Islander) and/or Latinx
• First-generation college student
• McNair or Mellon Mays Undergraduate Scholar
• Other identities and experiences including, but not limited to:
− Being of a gender and/or sexual orientation identity historically underrepresented
− Those who identify as a military veteran
− Those that manage a disability
− Those who have experienced housing or food insecurity
− Single parents

The candidates will be initially evaluated based on the completeness of their application, their academic records (as evidenced through their CV and transcripts), their potential to flourish in the COA program (as evidenced through their statement of purpose and letters of recommendation), and potential to contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Division of Coastal Sciences (as evidenced in their essay). The three top candidates will then be asked for an on-campus or virtual interview with faculty and students from the Division of Coastal Sciences. Preference for Mississippi residents from historically underrepresented groups in coastal and marine science may be shown if all other marks between applicants are equal.

New Publication Alert! Study revealing deep-sea shipwrecks represent island-like ecosystems for marine microbiomes published in The ISME Journal

In April, we published a research article in The ISME Journal titled “Deep-sea shipwrecks represent island-like ecosystems for marine microbiomes”. The paper, by Dr. Leila Hamdan and colleagues, investigated the influence a deep-sea shipwreck, Anona, exerts on sediment microbiomes in the deep sea.

Biogeography of macro- and micro-organisms in the deep sea is, in part, shaped by naturally occurring heterogeneous habitat features of geological and biological origin such as seeps, vents, seamounts, whale and wood-falls. Artificial features including shipwrecks and energy infrastructure shape the biogeographic patterns of macro-organisms; how they influence microorganisms is unclear. Shipwrecks may function as islands of biodiversity for microbiomes, creating a patchwork of habitats with influence radiating out into the seabed. Here we show microbiome richness and diversity increase as a function of proximity to the historic deep-sea shipwreck, Anona, in the Gulf of Mexico. Diversity and richness extinction plots provide evidence of an island effect on microbiomes. A halo of core taxa on the seabed was observed up to 200 m away from the wreck indicative of the transition zone from shipwreck habitat to the surrounding environment. Transition zones around natural habitat features are often small in area compared to what was observed at Anona, indicating shipwrecks may exert a large sphere of influence on seabed microbiomes. Historic shipwrecks are abundant, isolated habitats with global distribution, providing a means to explore contemporary processes shaping biogeography on the seafloor. This work is a case study for how built environments impact microbial biodiversity and provides new information on how arrival of material to the seafloor shapes benthic microbiomes.

Check out the full paper online! Also, check out Dr. Hamdan’s “Behind the Paper” here: https://naturemicrobiologycommunity.nature.com/posts/the-shipwreck-anona-a-microbial-island-under-sea

-RDM

A Thesis & A Thank You

I recently defended my Master’s Thesis “How Historic Shipwrecks Influence Dispersal of Deep-sea Microbiomes”. My thesis investigated how historic (> 50 years old) wooden shipwrecks influence dispersal of deep-sea microbiomes by placing introduced wood on the seafloor in near proximity (0-200 m) to wooden-hulled historic shipwrecks in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM). Biofilms formed on experiments were analyzed for microbiome richness, diversity, and phylogenetic composition. Richness and diversity decreased with decreasing proximity to both shipwrecks revealing historic shipwrecks may function as island-like habitats. The phylogenetic composition analysis shows strong selection by wood type for bacteria, and highlights differences in bacteria, archaea, and fungi dispersal patterns. The results of my thesis show that built structures, like shipwrecks, impact microbial biogeography in the deep sea. I will be working through the summer to publish this research.

Conducting this research was challenging, but extremely exciting. I am grateful to all the people who assisted me and helped make this thesis and my defense a success. I could not have done it without my advisor and lab mates standing with me (even through 8-foot seas on the recovery cruise for my experiments). I could not have done it without our collaborators and those who helped on the research cruises aboard USM’s R/V Point Sur. I could also not have done it without the support of my family. Thank you all. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a graduate student in the Hamdan Lab and at USM. #SMTTDeep

-Rachel D Moseley

A historic wooden shipwreck, Site 15470, that was discovered during the course of this thesis work.