ACE Program graduate Mark Leone is 1 of the 110 recipients in the United States, selected from 733 applications, for the NOAA Hollings Scholarship Program for his research on the ecology of harmful algal blooms. The Hollings Scholarship Program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance (up to $9,500 per year) for two years of full-time study and a 10-week, full-time paid ($700 per week) internship at a NOAA facility during the summer.
How did your mentor encourage and foster your research and academic trajectory?
When I contacted Dr. Mike Parsons 4 years ago, I never could’ve imagined that he would become such a strong influence in my life. From day one in the lab, he has taken me under his wing and shown me what it means to be a scientist. I’ve been volunteering and working as his lab assistant ever since. In the labs at Vester Field Station and on campus, I’ve been able to work on projects studying the ecology of harmful algal blooms ranging from Florida red tide to ciguatera fish poisoning. The research experience and support from the Parsons Lab has enabled me to receive a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates and present at the US Harmful Algal Bloom Symposium as well as the Ocean Sciences Meeting. Dr. Rob Erdman’s guidance and support have also been tantamount to shaping my career goals. I met Dr. Erdman during my first semester at FGCU when I took his Biology 2 course, and for the last 3 semesters, I have been his Supplemental Instruction Leader. As an aspiring professor, the mentorship from Dr. Erdman has bolstered my scientific communication skills and reinforced my passion for teaching.
What does the OCF mean to you?
The Office of Competitive Fellowships has made me aware of so many opportunities that I didn’t even know existed. The wealth of expertise and encouragement from Dr. Terumi has been invaluable to me. He radiates positivity not just within OCF, but all around campus. Despite his often packed schedule, he will go out of his way to make time to support students' activities, attend on-campus events and make sure no questions go unanswered. OCF has quickly made itself known as an important asset to FGCU students.
What is the NOAA Hollings Scholarship Program?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings (Hollings) scholarship program is designed to: increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology, and education and foster multidisciplinary training opportunities; increase public understanding and support for stewardship of the ocean and atmosphere and improve environmental literacy; recruit and prepare students for public service careers with NOAA and other natural resource and science agencies at the federal, state and local levels of government; and recruit and prepare students for careers as teachers and educators in oceanic and atmospheric science and to improve scientific and environmental education in the United States.
This year, 110 recipients selected from 733 applications submitted for the Hollings scholarship, along with the Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI) Undergraduate Scholarship. The selected applicants of both NOAA undergraduate scholarship programs come from a total of 81 different campuses in 35 U.S. states, as well as Puerto Rico. The Hollings Scholarship Program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance (up to $9,500 per year) for two years of full-time study and a 10-week, full-time paid ($700 per week) internship at a NOAA facility during the summer.