Two UMCES students awarded Margaret A. Davidson Fellowship

September 22, 2020

Two University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science students were awarded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Margaret A. Davidson Fellowship, a new two-year fellowship which includes a generous stipend, tuition, travel, and research (supply/analysis) funding, as well as extensive professional development. Graduate Research Assistants Daniella Hanacek and Taylor Armstrong began their fellowship in September.

The fellowship is named for Margaret A. Davidson, an environmental leader known for bringing people together in order to improve our understanding and management of coastal ecosystems. The fellowship seeks to enhance coastal research in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) by providing support for a graduate research fellow at each of the 29 coastal sites, and by providing those fellows with networking opportunities within and beyond the reserve system.

Through a research project, fellows will address a key coastal management question to help scientists and communities understand coastal challenges that may influence future policy and management strategies.

"I am excited to work on a collaborative science project at Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve that will hopefully bring valuable information about changing phytoplankton communities," says Armstrong.

Taylor Armstrong

Taylor Armstrong is a prior National Sea Grant Knauss Fellow (2017) and a current UMCES Presidential Fellowship and University of Maryland Computer, Mathematical & Natural Science’s Dean Fellowship awardee. Armstrong, whose project for the fellowship involves the Impact of pH and dissolved organic carbon on phytoplankton community composition and Harmful Algal Blooms, studies in the lab of Allen Place at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology. Her fellowship is based at Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve in New Jersey.

Daniella Hanacek, a member of the lab of Lorie Staver and Jeff Cornwell at the Horn Point Laboratory will be doing most of her field work with the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve at the Monie Bay reserve, focusing her research on the drivers of methane emissions in tidal marshes.

“I am thrilled to participate in this fellowship and work towards helping scientists and communities understand coastal challenges right here in the Chesapeake Bay,” says Hanacek. “Ultimately, I hope this work will enhance coastal resilience by informing marsh restoration and conservation.”

Specific fellowship benefits for students include the ability to develop meaningful cross-discipline research projects in conjunction with scientists, community leaders, and other organizations; networking opportunities with the annual fellowship class of 29, plus the other professionals across the reserve system, NOAA, and community partners; professional guidance and mentoring in a variety of disciplines, including facilitation and communication; and, the development of research partnerships between universities and reserves.

Daniella Hanacek (photo taken on Poplar Island, 2019)

“With her background in coastal research and resource management, and strong interest in community engagement, Daniella is uniquely suited to the goals of the fellowship,” says Staver. “Like Margaret Davidson, Daniella is bright, hard-working, focused, and motivated to improve our understanding and management of coastal ecosystems. We are honored that she has been recognized with this inaugural NOAA fellowship and will be given the many opportunities it will afford.”

According to Staver, Hanacek will have the opportunity to forge relationships within the coastal science community through inclusion in regional and national meetings while conducting her research on methane fluxes in tidal marshes at the Monie Bay reserve, part of the Chesapeake Bay NERRS. 

“She will work with the local community to communicate her science, and the fellowship will strengthen ties between NERRS research staff and UMCES,” adds Staver.

This is the very first Margaret A. Davidson Fellowship class, with students having applied for the fellowship during winter 2019. The fellowship honors Davidson’s legacy as a true visionary in the coastal management world; someone who saw the future with clarity and knew how to push for innovation and, frankly—shake things up. She defined excellence in many categories, always raising the bar with the goal of helping coastal communities thrive.