Two COAS graduate students win NASA fellowships


CORVALLIS- Two graduate students in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS) at Oregon State University have been awarded NASA Earth System Science Fellowships.

Angel White, a Ph.D. candidate in biological oceanography, and Wiley Evans, graduate student in biological oceanography, will each receive a one-year $24,000 stipend, renewable for two more years. Only 65 awards were given to 233 applicants from 103 universities and 40 states; most were for atmospheric and terrestrial research. Evans and White received two of only eight awarded to oceanography.

The purpose of NASA's Earth System Science Fellowship Program is "to train a pool of highly qualified scientists in support of NASA's central mission to understand and protect our home planet."

White's research focuses on understanding how winds, temperature, light and nutrients regulate summertime increases of nitrogen-fixing phytoplankton in the subtropical North Pacific Ocean. These phytoplankton (microscopic plants that are the foundation of the marine food chain) have a strong impact on the cycling of carbon and nitrogen in the area.

Evans's project involves the study of tropical instability waves in the equatorial ocean. These waves, which are like vortices, are caused by the shear that develops between opposing east and west currents on the equator. He is investigating how these waves affect primary production in the region by altering the ecology and chemistry of the upper ocean. Early results will comprise his master's thesis, and further work will be developed into his Ph.D.