2018 – 2019 MASNA Student Scholarship Recipients Announced

27 Aug, 2018

2018-2019 MASNA Student Scholarship recipients Gabrielle Baillargeon and Michael Connelly

2018-2019 MASNA Student Scholarship recipients Gabrielle Baillargeon and Michael Connelly


Las Vegas, NV – August 26, 2018

At MACNA 2018, MASNA will be awarding its annual MASNA Student Scholarships at the MACNA Banquet on Saturday, September 8th, 2018. Two $4,000 scholarships will be granted, one to an undergraduate student and one to a graduate student.

Over the past 10 years, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA) has provided $60,000 in funding for undergraduate and graduate college students to help them continue their degrees in the marine science discipline. In the past 10 years, The MASNA Scholarship Program has grown to over 250 applicants from North America and abroad. It has become a very competitive and esteemed award.

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 President Dr. Kevin Erickson. The committee further consisted of Tom Lisciandra, MASNA Secretary General; Christine Rowe, MASNA Treasurer; Dr. Adeljean Ho, MASNA Director of Industry and Conservation; and the following past MASNA Scholarship recipients: Kristin Privitera-Johnson (2010-2011, Undergraduate), Ross DeAngelis (2014-2015, Graduate), Tim Lyons (2015-2016 Undergraduate), Liz Groover (2016-2017, Graduate), and Kory Enneking (2016-2017, Undergraduate).

This year, with sponsorships from LiveAquaria, Ecotech Marine, and Two Little Fishies, MASNA is again able to award both a $4,000 undergraduate student scholarship and a $4,000 graduate student scholarship, and provide all-expense-paid trips for both winners to MACNA 2018 in Las Vegas.

It is with great pleasure that MASNA can announce this year’s MASNA Student Scholarship recipients.

Gabrielle Baillargeon is the 2018-2019 MASNA Undergraduate Student Scholarship winner.

Gabrielle Baillargeon is the 2018-2019 MASNA Undergraduate Student Scholarship winner.

The 2018-2019 MASNA Undergraduate Student Scholarship recipient is Gabrielle (Gabbie) Baillargeon. Gabbie is a full-time junior at Roger Williams University (RWU) and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology with a minor in Mathematics.

Gabrielle Baillargeon (right) working in the lab.

Gabrielle Baillargeon (right) working in the lab.

In Gabbie’s freshman year, she volunteered in the RWU aquaculture lab, specifically in the copepod and algae department, as an introduction to aquaculture at a research institution. Currently, Gabbie is working on an independent research project with Dr. Andrew Rhyne, that aims to rank the sustainability of marine ornamental fish species in the aquarium trade which will culminate in the publication of this information in a user-friendly smartphone app. This will allow hobbyists to easily access species-specific sustainability information when choosing the next addition to their tank. In the future, Gabbie hopes to continue to focus her research on population dynamics in an effort to inform management policy.

This will be Gabbie’s first time attending MACNA. When asked about MACNA 2018, Gabbie says, “I am very excited to immerse myself in the entire experience and come away with new knowledge on a variety of topics. I am looking forward to seeing innovative technologies on display and hearing from many speakers about cutting-edge research in the marine aquarium field. In particular, I am especially excited to listen to the renowned keynote speaker, Dr. Charlie Veron, as I have always had an interest in coral reef biology and restoration.”

Michael Connelly is the 2018-2019 MASNA Graduate Student Scholarship winner.

Michael Connelly is the 2018-2019 MASNA Graduate Student Scholarship winner.

The 2018-2019 MASNA Graduate Student Scholarship recipient is Michael (Mike) Connelly, who is attending the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami for his Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Ecology. Mike also attended the University of Miami for his undergraduate studies and obtained his B.S. degree in Marine Science and Biology in 2016. As an undergraduate student, Mike served as president of the University of Miami Aquarium Club (UMAC) for two years, where he increased club membership to over 60 members while organizing club field trips to the Mote Marine Laboratory, Georgia Aquarium, New England Aquarium, and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. He also orchestrated the installation of a new 150-gallon display aquarium in UMAC’s main meeting room.

Michael Connelly working in the lab.

Michael Connelly working in the lab.

Mike continued into the RSMAS Ph.D. program to work with his advisor Dr. Nikki Traylor-Knowles on research projects examining the molecular and cellular mechanisms of cnidarian innate immunity using the cauliflower coral (Pocillopora damicornis) as a model species. He built an 800-gallon recirculating aquarium system in their laboratory in Miami that is now used for culturing coral fragments and conducting experiments that investigate interactions between corals’ innate immune systems and bacterial microbiomes. His Ph.D. research uses antibiotic treatments and heat stress to disrupt coral bacterial communities and examine the effects of bacterial community composition on coral immune gene expression patterns and stress response pathways. To further this project, Mike traveled to southern Taiwan to complete research at the National Museum of Marine Biology Aquarium (NMMBA) during the National Science Foundation’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) program last summer.

At MACNA 2018, Mike is looking forward to meeting the MASNA scholarship sponsors and thanking them for their support of his research. He is also excited to meet the keynote speaker, Dr. Charlie Veron, as well as all of the expert aquarists in attendance to learn how to improve the laboratory’s coral husbandry and experimental aquarium systems. Mike will be using the scholarship funds to purchase equipment for coral flow respirometry measurements during antibiotic and heat stress experiments and also to present his research at the 3rd Global Invertebrate Genomics Alliance (GIGA III) meeting in Curaçao this October.

MASNA, the MASNA Student Scholarship Committee, LiveAquaria, EcoTech Marine, and Two Little Fishies would like to congratulate Gabbie and Michael on their awards. We are proud to name Gabrielle Baillargeon and Michael Connelly the 2018-2019 MASNA Student Scholarship recipients, and we wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

MASNA would like to thank LiveAquaria, Ecotech Marine, and Two Little Fishies. Without them, the two $4,000 MASNA Student Scholarships would not be possible.

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



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Reef To Rainforest

Reef to Rainforest Media, LLC is the publisher of award-winning magazines and books in the fields of aquarium keeping, aquatics, and marine science. It is the English-language publisher of CORAL Magazine and is based in Shelburne, Vermont, USA.

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