Ninth Ryan Saba Memorial Student Fellowship Awarded

March 27, 2023
Bruna Sobrinho (right) on deck of R/V Weatherbird ll with Sophia Ahn, fellow PhD student and former Saba Fellow. The team is offloading samples to measure the harmful algae Karenia brevis during the Gulf of Mexico cruise to study red tide.

The Horn Point Laboratory awarded the ninth annual Ryan Saba Memorial Student Fellowship to Bruna Sobrinho, a fifth-year Ph.D. student.  The $3,000 award is presented annually to support a  graduate student in the pursuit of their professional goals and dreams in the field of environmental science. The fellowship was created by Ryan Saba’s family and friends to honor and remember Ryan, who was a research assistant at the Horn Point Laboratory beginning in the fall of 2013.

Sobrinho grew up in a small town in Brazil and fell in love with the ocean as a little girl. She realized this passion early on in her undergraduate studies in Brazil. She studies phytoplankton, microscopic plant-like organisms, which are key components to ocean and freshwater ecosystems.  Since her first contact with phytoplankton, she has been enchanted by their beauty and their importance for the health of the planet. She is pursuing her Ph.D. studying with Professor Pat Glibert and has spent extensive time studying red tide in the Gulf of Mexico.

The award will allow Sobrinho to attend the 20th International Conference on Harmful Algae (ICHA) in Hiroshima, Japan, in November 2023. 

“This conference will be extremely important not only for my professional career, as it brings together the world's leading experts on harmful algae, but also for my personal life, as it will allow me to meet people from different cultures and visit another country," said Sobrinho. "It is a privilege to receive the Ryan Saba Fellowship this year and honor a person so dear to his family and community at the Horn Point Laboratory.”

Bruna Sobrinho accepting the ninth annual Ryan Saba Memorial Student Fellowship award. Right to left: 2022 recipient Catherine Fitzgerald, Ryan’s parents Ellen Musante and Kevin Saba, Ryan’s half-brother Reed.

The annual fellowship honors Ryan’s boundless curiosity about nature and life and his zest for making each day better than yesterday. Ryan died tragically in an automobile accident near the campus on July 13, 2014. He was well-regarded by the Horn Point community as a friend and colleague. His family and friends have funded this scholarship to carry forward Ryan’s optimistic world view by supporting a Horn Point student to fulfill his or her career goals and dreams for an environmentally healthy planet. 

At this year’s award presentation, Ryan’s parents and family members joined the Horn Point community on campus and others joined virtually from across the country. Past fellows shared updates on what they are doing professionally in their careers and how their Saba Fellowship continues to inspire them.