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National Fellowships and Scholar Programs

  • Sharks swimming in the ocean.

Capstone scholar awarded NOAA Hollings Scholarship to research sharks

Rising junior Capstone scholar Liam McKenna is one of only 145 students nationwide to be selected as a 2024 NOAA Hollings scholar. He joins USC’s legacy of over 80 NOAA Hollings scholars that have earned this distinction since the award was established in 2005. As a marine science major, McKenna is passionate about exploring the ways in which different species of sharks interact with one another.

What it offers

Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the award provides $19,000 in scholarship funding to rising juniors who align with NOAA’s mission of science, service and stewardship. Another hallmark of the award is a 10-week paid summer internship at a NOAA facility. During this internship, scholars can work with experts in their fields and develop as researchers.

Why it matters

Liam McKenna smiling

McKenna will participate in a hands-on research experience through his summer internship, allowing him to pursue his passion for studying sharks. He will also connect with NOAA scientists and fellow scholars at the annual Science & Education Symposium. Over the next two years, he will gain invaluable insight into future career and research opportunities. He hopes to investigate how certain genetic mutations cause different morphological features to develop across various species of sharks.

McKenna encourages future Hollings applicants to trust their instincts and self-knowledge: “Don’t overthink the questions. You’re the only person who knows the answer.”

In addition to receiving support from the national fellowships team, this year’s NOAA Hollings Scholarship applicants were supported by two faculty advisors: Dr. Jay Pinkney and Dr. Erin Meyer-Gutbrod.

Students interested in learning more about applying for the NOAA Hollings Scholarship should contact USC’s national fellowships team.    

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