Newsletter of the SEAS Islands Alliance 
December 2020

SEAS Islands Alliance

Welcome to the first quarterly newsletter of the SEAS Islands Alliance! Island regions are strongly connected to the oceans that surround them and are among the country’s most diverse communities. The Alliance works to collaborate with these communities to broaden participation of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce. Visit our website here to learn more about the Alliance.

You are receiving this newsletter because you have been identified as a current or previous participant, family member of a participant, or partner of the SEAS Islands Alliance. Each quarter this newsletter will share highlights about Alliance activities, participant accomplishments, and upcoming opportunities.

SEAS Spotlight:
Tiffany Del Valle González

Tiffany says, "I am originally from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. There, I became a member of the Centro TORTUGA project, which is now known as the Puerto Rican hub of the SEAS Islands Alliance. I completed my B.S. in biology at the Gurabo campus of Universidad Ana G. Méndez in Puerto Rico. Currently, I am completing a Master’s in marine and environmental science at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), where I am a SEAS Islands Alliance graduate fellow." Read more about Tiffany and other students in the Alliance here.

Alliance Happenings: National Diversity in STEM Conference Virtual Orientation

The Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) held their National Diversity in STEM Conference October 19-24. The Alliance originally planned to host an in-person orientation for all Alliance students attending the conference. The purpose of the orientation was to give students across the Alliance a chance to connect and to help prepare them for the upcoming conference. This year due to COVID, both the conference and orientation shifted from in-person to virtual, which required the Alliance to find creative ways to recreate the orientation events in a virtual space. 

In the weeks leading up to the conference, the Alliance held a series of orientation events for students. The first event featured a Culture Share activity where students from different islands had small group discussions about the places they are from. For the second event, a panel of Alliance members who have previously attended SACNAS conferences answered questions about how to get the most out of the experience and how to overcome issues like imposter syndrome. The final event was a virtual scavenger hunt, where students from the different islands teamed up to find answers to trivia questions about each island. The Alliance values the opportunity to bring students together to build a strong sense of community and belonging.

Alumni Spotlight:
Akacia Halliday-Isaac

Akacia was a 2017 Bridge Program participant, received her B.S. and Master's in Marine and Environmental Science from the University of the Virgin Islands, and is now working toward her PhD at the University of Mississippi. Her dissertation aims to characterize the symbiosis between octocorals and corallicolids (an apicomplexan found in the digestive tissue of corals) by determining the prevalence of corallicolids in Caribbean reefs and how their prevalence relates to the population dynamics of the reef. She is currently back on St. Thomas sampling octocorals for a pilot study. 

Making Waves

2019 Bridge Participant Naomi Huntly received a Distinguished Graduate Fellowship from Penn State which covers her stipend for 5 years.

UVI Graduate students, Alexys Long, Danielle Olive, Kelsey Vaughn, Tiffany Del Valle Gonzalez, and Jendahye Antoine received the 2020 NSF S-STEM scholarship, which will assist with tuition and expenses related to their theses for their second year in the program.

UOG GROW alumna Laura Gombar was recently hired with UOG Center for Island Sustainability as Research Assistant III.

Lauren Swaddell, the Guam hub's 2020 Workforce Fellow, served as a Virtual Islands Summit Ambassador.

The TORTUGA program's Angely Torres presented a poster on arthropods at the 2020 SACNAS conference.

Soely Luyando-Flusa and Ian Perez-Cruz will be Puerto Rico's new Workforce Fellows.

Featured Opportunities

Summer 2021 Monterey Bay Regional Ocean Science Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU): Students in this REU program can conduct research in Monterey Bay within the following themes: Marine Biology and Ecology, Ocean Engineering, Oceanography, and Marine Geology. They can also support student research in coastal meteorology and remote sensing of Polar regions. Students will be provided with a $6,000 stipend in addition to support for travel, room and board. REU students will also receive post REU support to attend conferences. The application will close on February 07, 2021 at 11:59 PM PST. The 10 week summer program will run from June 6th to August 14th, 2021. Additional program details can be found here: They especially encourage applications from student groups historically underrepresented in the Ocean Sciences and students from institutions where research opportunities are limited (Junior/Community Colleges, Tribal Colleges, HBCUs and HSIs). Preference is given to student applicants who are rising juniors or seniors. While they are currently planning for an in person program, they will move the program online if COVID-19 restrictions continue. Prospective students can contact them at with questions.

Summer 2021 Maryland Sea Grant Research Experience for Undergraduates in Estuarine Science: Maryland Sea Grant offers fifteen students the opportunity to conduct marine research on the Chesapeake Bay. During the 12-week program, each student works with a mentor on an individual research project. It’s a special opportunity to develop your research skills and interests by working with top science mentors studying America’s largest estuary. Each REU fellow will receive: $7,200 stipend, free housing at your research lab, round-trip travel expenses. Research areas include: Benthic environment, Climate change, Contaminants, Environmental chemistry, Estuarine processes, Fisheries, Modeling and analysis, Molecular biology and genetics, and Physical oceanography. Visit their website to find out more or email  

University of Maryland, Baltimore County ICARE Funded Master's Degree Program in Environmental Sciences: UMBC is proud to offer the NSF-funded ICARE NRT master’s degree program. Their two main goals are increasing diversity in the environmental workforce and community-engaged environmental research in and around Baltimore Harbor. Target application deadline is Jan. 1, though later applications will be considered. They are now accepting applications for their first cohort, Fall 2021, and they will recruit at least two more cohorts in future years, for Fall 2022 and Fall 2023. Student Benefits Include: $34,000 annual stipend, full tuition coverage & health insurance (6 students per year), up to $7,500 in research expenses, and mentoring and networking with potential employers across the environmental sector. The application can be found on their website and prospective students are encouraged to contact them by completing the ICARE Interest Form

Scientists in Parks Fellows Program: The Scientists in Parks (SIP) Fellows program is now accepting applications from current upper-level undergraduate and graduate students for summer 2021 opportunities with the National Park Service. The application deadline is January 24th, 2021. SIP fellows are provided with full-time work for 11-12 weeks at $500/wk, professional development through a workshop at the end of the summer, mentoring by a NPS supervisor and much more!

On The Horizon

December 22 - Bridge Applicants Notified

December 2020 - January 2021 - Recruitment for Puerto Rico's Undergraduate TORTUGA Program

January 2021 - Guam Undergraduate Fellows New Cohort Begins 

February 28 2021 - UVI's Emerging Caribbean Scientists Application Deadline

March 1 2021 - UVI's Masters in Marine & Environmental Science Program Application Deadline 

March 2021 - Alliance Virtual Summit  
The SEAS Islands Alliance is an NSF INCLUDES Alliance funded by the National Science Foundation Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES). 

Visit our website at for more information. Please reply to this email if you have any questions, if you are interested in getting more involved with the SEAS Islands Alliance, have information you'd like to share in an upcoming newsletter, or If you would like to be removed from the email list.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
SEAS Islands Alliance · 2 John Brewers Bay · St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands 00802-6004 · Virgin Islands (U.S.)

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp