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2020 Discovery Fellowship in Marine Science

This highly selective doctoral studies fellowship is open to recent graduates with a bachelor or master of science degree who are interested in applying to the Department of Marine Science graduate program. The fellowship will support an exceptional student with full tuition, competitive stipend, fringe benefits, and subsidized residential housing for five years. The successful candidate will engage in a selective course of study at the University of Texas at Austin in the first program year and thereafter engage in the intellectual life of the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas. The candidate will have the freedom to pursue studies of their choosing with any UTMSI faculty member.  Areas of study include but are not limited to fish ecology and physiology, environmental toxicology, biogeochemistry, chemical oceanography, microbial ecology and metagenomics, phytoplankton ecology and metagenomics, zooplankton ecology, and marine ecology.  The successful candidate will select a UTMSI faculty advisor and a four-member advisory committee to guide their studies. As a part of training, the candidate will be encouraged to develop and compete for extramural grant support for years four and five of the fellowship program. Students interested in applying should contact UTMSI faculty members to explore potential mentors and fields of study. 

The institute offers close proximity to estuarine, inshore and offshore habitats of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as excellent shoreside facilities for experimental work. Our infrastructure includes state-of-the-art research laboratories, full-service core analytical facilities, offices and meeting spaces, residential housing, the Estuarine Research Center and 185,708-acre NOAA Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. New and renovated facilities completed or underway include marina, research pier, public Marine Science Education Center and the new Center for Coastal Ocean Science for marine environmental science. The marine science faculty engages in world-class research spanning the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. The Institute also supports outstanding public education and outreach programs promoting scientific literacy and dissemination of research.

The University of Texas Marine Science Institute is interested in applicants who will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in higher education.  We encourage applications from students that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM disciplines.  

To apply, you must first apply to the marine science graduate program through the graduate school by December 1, 2019. Then submit a letter of interest (no longer than 1 page and should detail career goals and research interests), curriculum vitae, GRE/TOEFL scores and three letters of recommendation (one of the reference letters must be from a prospective advisor at the Marine Science Institute) through Interfolio for the Discovery Fellowship. Review of Discovery Fellowship applications will begin January 15, 2020.

Teaching and Research Assistantships

Teaching and research assistantships are a primary source of financial aid to graduate students. If you wish to be considered for a teaching assistantship in the Department of Marine Science, please complete the financial aid supplemental information for the graduate program in the Application for Admission to Graduate Study. The application for admission, transcripts, GRE scores, statement of objectives, and three letters of reference must be received by the Department's Graduate Advisor no later than December 1. Applications received after that date will be considered for an alternate list only.

Graduate Research Assistants are hired directly by individual faculty members at the Marine Science Institute. The Graduate Adviser will help you identify potential supervisors.

Non-resident students who are employed half-time by the University as teaching and research assistants are eligible to receive a waiver of the non-resident tuition and fees and will pay the same charges as a Texas state resident. They are also eligible to apply for medical and dental insurance coverage.

No graduate student shall be eligible for reappointment as a teaching assistant after having served in that capacity for fourteen long-session academic semesters. The total combined service as a teaching assistant, graduate research assistant, academic assistant, assistant (graduate), and assistant instructor shall not exceed fourteen long-session academic semesters.

Nine hours of tuition will be paid by the University when you hold a teaching assistantship.


E.J. Lund Research Scholarship Awards in Marine Science

E.J. Lund and Julian C. Barton Scholarships are available in Marine Science. Income from these endowment funds are for awards for graduate students of exceptional merit. Four to six students are selected through an annual competition and supported for up to twelve months. Only applicants who have never previously received support qualify. Awards are limited to students who will be in resident at the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas at the time they use the Fellowship.

University Fellowships

The Office of Graduate Studies administers a small number of highly competitive fellowships. The recipients are selected on the basis of merit and academic excellence. These University Fellows receive tuition and fees in addition to their stipend. Awards are offered as soon as an eligible candidate is identified until all the funding has been committed. Obviously, it is urgent that the application file be completed at the earliest possible date.

Fulbright U.S. Student Awards

Deadline: Opens annually 31 March
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Resources for MSI Graduate Students

Accommodations for CNS Grad Student Parents:


CNS offers 4 types of accommodations for graduate students who start or expand their families during their time in our graduate programs: a)Academic Accommodation; b)Teaching Assistant Accommodation; c) Graduate Research Assistant Accommodation; and d)Parental Leave with the possibility of receiving Parental Assistance Funds. Students can utilize one accommodation or multiple accommodations - whatever is best to meet their individual and family needs. These accommodations are described on our policy webpage, but students are encouraged to talk with their Departmental Contact, Faculty Supervisor and Graduate Adviser to work out a plan that is appropriate for their individual circumstances. Professor Deana Erdner has agreed to serve as the Departmental Contact for MSI students. Anne Tibbetts is also available to work with both the student and the Departmental Contact to outline options for each student.

Professional Development and Career Support:


CNS sponsors monthly Professional Development seminars (which are video conferenced to MSI from NHB 1.720). The latest 2016-17 schedule can be found here: https://cns.utexas.edu/images/CNS/graduate_students/PD_Introduction_2016-17.pdf

Some of these sessions may be useful to MSI graduate students, since they are designed to meet the diverse interests of grad students across CNS. 

Individual Consultations with Career Development Specialist, Dr. Po-Tsan Ku:


The demand for Po-Tsan’s individual consultations has steadily grown since he took this position in spring of 2014. He has met with almost 400 CNS grad students and postdocs (~800 hours of consultation time). It is important for graduate students to think about future careers early in graduate school, while there is time to gain specific skills/preparation and to build networks for desired career paths. Po-Tsan will speak with students and postdocs at any point in their careers at UT and is willing to conduct consultations via Skype for students outside of Austin. You can email Po-Tsan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or make an appointment with him by calling the CNS Career Services front desk at: 512-471-6700.

Concentration in Teaching and Mentoring:


CNS graduate students and postdocs can earn the “Concentration in Teaching and Mentoring” by completing three seminar courses (developed and offered through the Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science). This professional development opportunity is specifically designed for PhDs who are interested in teaching-focused careers. CNS is currently in the pilot stage for these courses - offering them for the first time in 2016-17. Interested MSI grad students and postdocs should contact the Graduate Advisor regarding access to these seminar courses.

University Writing Center - Graduate Student Services:


With the support of the Graduate School, the University Writing Center has recently expanded resources and opportunities for graduate students. This includes some online presentations and resource that might be useful to MSI grad students.

Recent Awards


Derek Bolser, Ph.D., Graduate School Continuing Fellowship - Fall 2019, Spring/Summer 2020

Yida Gao, Ph.D., Marine Science Fellowship - Spring 2020

Alexis Khursigara, Ph.D., Marine Science Fellowship - Fall 2019, Spring/Summer 2020

Brian Kim, MS., NSF GRFP Fellowship - Fall 2019, Spring/Summer 2020

Leighann Martin, MS., CCA tuition Fall 2019/partial - Spring 2020

Arley Muth, Ph.D., EPA STARR Fellowship - Fall 2019; Marine Science Fellowship - Spring/Summer 2020

Ben Negrete, Ph.D., NSF GRFP Fellowship - Fall 2019, Spring/Summer 2020

Ian Rambo, Ph.D., Discovery Fellowship - Fall 2019, Spring/Summer 2020

Ian Rambo, Ph.D., Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) - Fall 2019

Aquanette Sanders, Ph.D., Dean's Strategic Mentoring Fellow - Fall 2019, Spring/Summer 2020

Hengchen Wei, Ph.D., Marine Science Fellowship - Spring 2020

Xin Xu, Ph.D., Marine Science Fellowwship - Fall 2019/Spring 2020


Chris Biggs, Ph.D., CCA Tuition Award - Fall 2017/partial Spring 2018

Derek Bolser, Ph.D., Allen Jacoby Tuition Award - Spring 2018/partial Summer 2018

Christina Bonsell, Ph.D., Marine Science Fellowship - Fall 2017, Spring 2018

Aubrey Converse, Ph.D., Marine Science Fellowship - Fall 2017

Cody Dawson, MS., Prestigious Supplement Award - Summer 2018

Angelina Dichiera, Ph.D., CCA-Schwarzlose Tuition Award - Spring 2018/partial Summer 2018

Yida Gao, Ph.D., Marine Science Fellowship - Spring 2018

Kaijun Lu, Ph.D., Marine Science Fellowship - Partial Spring 2018 and Summer 2018

Kaijun Lu, Ph.D., Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship - Spring/Summer 2018

Ian Rambo, Ph.D., Discovery Fellowship - Fall 2017, Spring/Summer 2018

Kiley Seitz, Ph.D., Marine Science Fellowship - Fall 2017

Previous Awards

Christina Bonsell,  Ph.D., Phycological Society of America, Grant-in-aid of Research, 2016-2017

Arley Muth, Ph.D., EPA STAR Fellowship, 2017-2020

Craig Connolly, Ph.D., North Pacific Research Board Graduate Fellowship, 2016-2017

Christina Bonsell, Ph.D., Graduate School Continuing Fellowship, 2016-2017

Matt Dzaugis, M.S., Allen Jacoby Memorial Scholarship, 2015-2016

Joshua Lonthair, Ph.D., Coastal Conservation Association Scholarship, 2015-2016

Victoria Congdon, M.S., Marine Science Tuition Award, 2015-2016

Shuting Liu, Ph.D., Graduate School Dissertation Writing Fellowship, Spring 2016

Matt Seeley, M.S., travel award Southern Association of Marine Laboratories  for ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, 2016

Meredith Evans, M.S., James D. Watkins Student Award for Excellence in Research, 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, 2016

Chris Biggs, Ph.D., travel award, Science and Conservation of Fish Aggregations for 68th Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Conference in Panamá City, 2016

Meredith Evans, M.S., Marine Science Research Fellowship, Fall 2015- Spring 2016

Claire Griffin, Ph.D.,  Marine Science Research Fellowship, Fall 2015- Spring 2016

Xana Hermosillo, M.S., Marine Science Research Fellowship, Fall 2015

Gene Oh, M.S.,  Marine Science Research Fellowship, Fall 2015

Meredith Evans, M.S., Graduate School Professional Development Travel Award, 2015-2016

Matt Seeley, M.S., Graduate School Professional Development Travel Award, 2015-2016

Carrie Harris, M.S., Graduate School Professional Development Travel Award, 2015-2016

Claire Griffin, M.S., Graduate School Professional Development Travel Award, 2015-2016

Gene Oh, M.S., Graduate School Professional Development Travel Award, 2015-2016

Shuting Liu, Ph.D., Graduate School Professional Development Travel Award, 2015-2016

John Mohan, Graduate Dean's Prestigious Fellowship Supplement, July 2014

Kelly Darnell, Best Poster Award, Louisiana Chapter, American Fisheries Society, May 2014

Qiyan Liu, Outstanding Masters Thesis Award, UT Austin Graduate School, 2014

Erik Oberg, Best Student Presentation, Aquaculture America, U.S. Aquaculture Society, 2014

Shuting Liu, UT Graduate School Bruton Fellowship, 2014

Matthew Khosh, UT Graduate School Bruton Fellowship, 2014