The Science of Conservation Scholarship Program is a unique partnership among industry, conservation groups, and marine science centers designed to invest in the next generation of marine scientists and prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow.
What is the Science of Conservation Program?
Organizations committed to conservation have partnered to fund scholarships for dedicated students committed to advancing their education in marine fisheries science.
Our mission is to ensure healthy sport fisheries by providing resources to the next generation’s brightest marine science students.
Our Scientist Scholars
We are proud of our Science of Conservation Scholarship Program. Learn more about them below.
Dr. Kesley Banks
Dr. Kesley Banks studied at the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Her research focus involved migratory patterns and artificial reef habitat use of fisheries species in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, including red snapper, king mackerel, cobia, and multiple shark species. She is a Divemaster with supplemental certifications including nitrox, rescue, full face, boat, deep, night, and drysuit diving.
Lily Walker is a Ph.D. student in the Coastal and Marine System Science program and works in the Coastal Ecosystem Processes lab of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. The goal of her dissertation research is to increase understanding of estuarine water quality and oxygen dynamics in South Texas, specifically focusing on physical and chemical drivers of dissolved oxygen. With continued education and research along the parallel lines of marine ecology and geochemistry, she hopes to apply skills such as ecological modeling, geospatial tools, and remote sensing to help guide specific management interventions to mitigate anthropogenic impacts on climate change.
In 2020, CCA and bp proudly announced that Shane Stephens, a Master’s student at Texas A&M University at Galveston Fisheries Ecology Lab, was selected for an SOC scholarship funded by bp to continue his academic work on small- and large-scale connectivity of marine fishes. His research uses acoustic telemetry and satellite tags in order to observe migrations of tarpon along the Texas coast to better understand timing and migration pathways.
The CCA Music City Chapter funded its first SOC scholarship in support of Lexie Neffinger, a Master’s student in the Coastal and Marine System Science program and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. In her work at the Coastal Conservation & Restoration Lab at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, her research assesses the biotic integrity of the fish and benthic communities in tidal streams along the lower Texas coast. The output of her research will be a bioassessment tool that will help management organizations in Texas provide a standardized way to evaluate the biological communities in tidal streams, identify streams most in need of management attention, and monitor the success of management action.
CCA and Shimano awarded Rachael Klose, a Master’s student in the Fisheries and Mariculture Program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and SOC scholarship in support of her work on oyster aquaculture. At the Harte Research Institute, Rachael is researching biofouling on suspended midwater oyster cages, its effect on oyster growth, and the economic and managerial implications. She received her B.S. in Marine Science with an Aquaculture concentration and a Fisheries minor from the University of Maine in 2019.
Isabelle Cummings is a master’s student in the Marine Biology program at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. She works as a member of the Sportfish Center for Science and Conservation and as a research assistant at the Harte Research Institute’s Fisheries and Ocean Health Department. During her undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Isabelle worked in the Harte Research Institute as a research assistant in the Coastal Ecosystem and Processes Department studying water quality and phytoplankton ecology. From there, her interest in ecology led her to remain at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to pursue her master’s degree in marine biology with an interest in fisheries. Her thesis research focuses on the Texas flounder gig fishery and its harvest and effort, as well as southern flounder migration timing and how it relates to current fishing regulations.
Kelley Savage is a first-year PhD student in the Coastal Conservation and Restoration Ecology Lab at Harte Research Institute. She is conducting her dissertation research on the potential of oyster reefs to store carbon. Prior to starting her PhD, she worked at the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) as a marine environmental monitoring specialist. Before that, she was a graduate student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where she majored in Marine Biology and conducted thesis research on dermo disease in oyster reefs.