VBRN News & Highlights

VGN Student Awarded NSF Fellowship

Former VGN undergraduate research scholar, Shavonna Bent, has been named an awardee of the prestigious 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP). Bent is the second VGN alumna from Northern Vermont University (NVU)-Johnson in recent years to receive this honor. Shayna Bennett, now a doctoral student in applied mathematics at the University of California Merced, was an awardee in 2018.

The GRFP is a hallmark of the NSF’s overall strategy to develop a globally engaged workforce and supports graduate students with high potential to become leaders in science and engineering research. The program selects 2,000 fellows from over ~12,000 applicants, and provides three years of financial support in the form of an annual stipend and cost-of-education allowance.

Bent, who received funding from VGN to work in Dr. Elizabeth Dolci’s laboratory from 2015-2016, graduated from NVU-Johnson in May 2018 with a degree in biology. With this Fellowship, Bent is continuing her dream of becoming a biological oceanographer by pursuing her PhD in Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry through a joint program at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she is currently enrolled.

Bent previously conducted summer research at WHOI on the production of the Reactive Oxygen Species superoxide in the Northern Star Coral (Astrangia poculata). She initially set her sights on becoming a researcher at the renowned institution when she spotted one of the WHOI research vessels while vacationing with her family in Cape Cod.