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UMES Educational Partnership Program Student Receives Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Juan Alvarez-Rosario

Educational Partnership Program Student & National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow

Juan Alvarez-Rosario, a NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC) student, is the recipient of a 2014 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Juan is currently enrolled in the Marine Estuarine and Environmental Science (MEES) master's degree program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) and is the first UMES student to receive this prestigious award.

As an M.S. degree student at UMES, Juan is conducting research on the trophic role of ctenophores in Maryland coastal lagoons. Ctenophores, commonly known as comb jellies, are invertebrate predators that feed on fish eggs and larvae, as well as on the same microscopic organisms that fish use as a food source. When population densities are high, ctenophores can significantly impact the marine food web. The results of this research will enhance the scientific community's understanding of the ecological impacts of comb jellies on Maryland coastal lagoons, which serve as nursery grounds for many commercially and ecologically important fish and shellfish species.

Juan matriculated at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in fall 2013, after completing his B.S. (Cum laude) degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Marine Science, at the Universidad Metropolitana, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In summer 2012, he served as Assistant Coordinator for the Puerto Rican Research Experience for Undergraduates, established in collaboration with the Maryland Sea Grant Program, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences and his home institution. Prior to that, he was a Biology Educator at the Wildlife Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Juan has made several presentations at major scientific meetings in the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, and Puerto Rico, and is the author of an article published in the Global Aquaculture Advocate Journal entitled "Tilapia fry perform similarly under varied photoperiods".

Dr. Paulinus Chigbu, the Director of NOAA's Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center, serves as Juan's major advisor. He stated, "We are proud of Juan's accomplishments. The NSF Graduate Fellowship award is a testament to the fact that the LMRCSC is attracting the best students into its graduate programs in marine and fisheries science as a result of the institutional capacity built with NOAA Educational Partnership Program and NSF funding".