NSF Guam EPSCOR students prep for SACNAS Conference

The SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference was held in Puerto Rico in 2022. This year's conference will be held in Portland, Oregon with 13 Guam NSF EPSCoR students attending.

Guam NSF EPSCoR students will be presenting research and representing the University of Guam at the largest diversity in STEM conference in the world later this month. 

The SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference will be held in Portland, Oregon during the last week of October.

SACNAS, the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, is the largest multicultural STEM diversity program in the United States.  

During the conference, the students will attend workshops, present research presentations, and connect with officials from schools nationwide for research experience opportunities.  

According to Guam NSF EPSCoR Education Workforce and Development Program Associate Emily Wendte, a total of thirteen students will be representing the University of Guam at the conference.  

The group is made up of four students from the graduate research assistantship, five from the summer research experience, and three from the summer math research programs.

Nearly half of the delegation has also been selected to present their research to the over 6000 expected attendees.

The students attending the conference must attend preparation workshops facilitated by the Capacity Building Team from Guam NSF EPSCoR and the NSF INCLUDES SEAS Island Alliance Guam Hub. 

Cheryl Sangueza Ph.D, who oversees the student experience with Guam NSF EPSCoR says that the process starts long before the students step foot on the conference floor and is geared to give all students everything they need to represent well.

“Preparation for SACNAS is rooted in ensuring confidence, competence, and excitement to represent our grants, our labs, our university, and our island,” said Sangueza.  “In our first SACNAS briefing, we did a meet and greet with the then 25 students to start that comradery and UOG Delegation mindset.”

According to Sangueza, an orientation was also held with family, friends and support-systems of the students to insure ample preparation for students on all fronts.

“We held SACNAS Orientation and family members and support systems were invited and the turnout was great!  This was designed to continue generating the excitement, and to share this great experience with families.  We showed what SACNAS has to offer, we introduced the delegation and announced who are presenting, and we spoke more about travel expectations,” continued Sangueza.

Along with the student presenters, the University of Guam SACNAS Chapter will also be celebrated at the conference.

“Another cool thing is that the UOG SACNAS Chapter is getting an esteemed SACNAS Chapter of the Year Award,” added Sangueza. “Dr. Austin Shelton and I are co-advisors for the student organization and our EPSCoR and INCLUDES students are both members and a few have served as officers.”

Students are traveling to the conference through support provided by the Guam NSF EPSCoR and NSF INCLUDES SEAS grants and travel scholarships from SACNAS, Chapter Officer Leadership October Retreat (COLOR), and the Research Corporation of the University of Guam.

UOG grad student teaches marine ecology course in Yap

Headshot Pablo
Headshot Pablo scaled
Pablo De la Vega, a graduate biology student from the University of Guam and Guam NSF EPSCoR graduate research assistant, was one of the instructors for an educational program called Marine Island Ecology at the Yap Catholic High School from June 14 to July 7, 2023.

Pablo De la Vega, a graduate biology student from the University of Guam and Guam NSF EPSCoR graduate research assistant, was one of the instructors for an educational program called Marine Island Ecology at the Yap Catholic High School from June 14 to July 7, 2023.  

Organized by the Micronesian Conservation Coalition (MCC), the summer program allows participating high school seniors to gain fieldwork experience and learn about the marine life in Yap. MCC is a nonprofit organization that aims to conserve island habitats and species throughout Micronesia.  

The program was split into different segments that focused on several areas of Yap’s island ecology. Students would discuss theory and lab protocols and then spend the next day in the field putting what they learned in the classroom to practice.  

During his time in the program, De la Vega covered classes related to microbiology.  

“They were all familiar with fermentation and familiar with different kinds of bacteria. In their culture, they consume tuba, which is made through fermentation and different kinds of yeasts and bacteria interacting with each other,” said De la Vega. 

De la Vega said that the experience has deepened his appreciation for the environmental knowledge of indigenous cultures.  

“Learning from everyone who participated in the course made me realize that the only way to promote change and protection of the environment is by learning from the cultures that have preserved it for millennia and empowering the next generation to lead the changes we need from a global perspective if we want to continue having an inhabitable planet,” said De la Vega. 

De la Vega said that he is grateful to MCC for giving him an opportunity to explore Yap and connect with its people.  

“I really want to thank Ms. Julie Hartup from MCC,” said De la Vega. “The programs that MCC have put together are a good example on how you can combine science with social impact.”  

UOG graduate student earns NSF Graduate Research Fellowship  

Carlos Tramonte Photo 1 1
Carlos Tramonte Photo 1 1
Guam NSF EPSCoR Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) Carlos Tramonte will pursue doctoral work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with the support of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Guam NSF EPSCoR Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) Carlos Tramonte will pursue doctoral work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with the support of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program from the National Science Foundation (NSF).  

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program supports the most promising graduate students in STEM by providing fellows with a three-year annual stipend of $37,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees as well as access to opportunities for international research and professional development.  

The fellowship program is highly competitive with annual acceptance rates of about 16 percent among more than 12,000 applicants.  

“I’ve been told that the program can be really hard to get into,” said Tramonte. “When I got my acceptance letter, I had to reread it a few times before I went downstairs and told Bastian that I got it.”  

Tramonte, who is under the mentorship of UOG Associate Professor of Bioinformatics Bastian Bentlage, Ph.D., originally wasn’t planning to pursue a doctorate degree. 
However, he is excited that his acceptance to the fellowship program has given him an opportunity to seek higher education. At the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Tramonte will be working on mesophotic reef systems in American Samoa and will be looking into coral physiology and environmental DNA (eDNA).  

With support from his mentor along with other members of the UOG Marine Laboratory community, Tramonte is fast-tracking his term as a GRA to complete it within two years instead of three so that he can start his time in the NSF fellowship program this summer. 

His master’s thesis focuses on highlighting potential mechanisms behind observed species replacements on Guam’s reef flats.   

“I’ve been thinking about how in just a few months, I’ll be out of here,” said Tramonte. “I’ve really fallen in love with this island – the people, the culture. It’s such a beautiful treasure of a place. Guam has a hold on my heart that I didn’t think would happen when I moved out here. I love this place so much and the university and the Marine Laboratory and the flexibility EPSCoR has given me to pursue whatever I want has been amazing.” 

JOIN US: Colin J Anthony to defend his Master of Science: Biology thesis!


Join us on Friday, April 28th, 2023 at 10:00 AM ChST as we cheer on our student researcher Colin J Anthony as he defends his Master of Science: Biology thesis!

Thesis Title: Acclimation of Endosymbiotic Symbiodiniaceae: Improved Insights through Flow Cytometric Phenotypic Profiling

Chairperson: Dr. Bastian Bentlage (Committee: Dr. Brett Taylor & Dr. Cheryl Ames (Tohoku University)

Location: Marine Laboratory Classroom Room 205

Zoom link: http://ow.ly/6XxQ50NQ4zP

Visiting scholar talks nurseryfish, megamouth shark research at UOG Marine Laboratory

Tim M. Berra Photo 2 1
Tim M. Berra Photo 2 1
During his time on Guam, Berra gave three presentations to UOG Marine Laboratory students and faculty regarding his work studying nurseryfish in Australia, the challenges associated with preserving a rare 15-foot megamouth shark, and the descendants of Charles Darwin.

For the month of February, Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomed Tim M. Berra, Ph.D., a professor emeritus and academy professor at the Ohio State University as a visiting NSF EPSCoR scholar. 

Berra is a three-time recipient of Fulbright Fellowships to Australia and has authored over 85 scientific papers and 9 books including Freshwater Fish Distribution and A Natural History of Australia.  

In 2001, Berra began a long-term field project studying the life history of nurseryfish (Kurtus gulliveri).  

Nurseryfish live in the fresh and brackish waters of Papua New Guinea as well as parts of northern Australia. Males of this species carry the egg cluster on a hook that protrudes over their forehead.  

This trip was Berra’s first-time exploring Micronesia and his experiences on Guam will help contribute to a book he is writing about the Pacific.  

“One of my primary interests in being here is that I’m working on a book about the peopling of the Pacific,” said Berra. “I’ve been throughout Polynesia, Melanesia, and now Micronesia. I wanted to find some answers. Where did these people come from? How long ago was it? How did they get here and what did they bring with them?”  

For his research, Berra connected with several local experts such as Michael Carson, Ph.D., a University of Guam Associate Professor of Archaeology.  

During his time on Guam, Berra gave three presentations to UOG Marine Laboratory students and faculty regarding his work studying nurseryfish in Australia, the challenges associated with preserving a rare 15-foot megamouth shark, and the descendants of Charles Darwin.  
Regarding his time spent at the UOG Marine Laboratory, Berra expressed his excitement about the research being conducted at the facility.  

“I’ve met so many people who are dealing with so many important topics like coral bleaching and restoration as well as how climate change affects marine ecosystems,” said Berra. “This is a lively place and students have such a great opportunity when it comes to the Marine Laboratory and EPSCoR to start their careers and make a contribution to science and society.”   

NSF Guam EPSCoR graduate research assistantship now accepting applicants

Epscor GRA 1
Epscor GRA 1

Are you a prospective graduate student interested in ensuring the sustainability of coral reefs and the marine environment? If you’re self-motivated, well-organized, and have a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Environmental Science, or related field, NSF Guam EPSCOR has a valuable graduate student research experience for you — and it’s paid!

The Graduate Research Assistantship is a three-year long program designed to train graduates in scientific research. Selected students will benefit from a tuition waiver of up to 3 years or 36 credits for the pursuit of a master’s degree, research training, faculty mentorship, potential travel opportunities, a Guam Green Growth Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub membership and an $18,000 annual stipend ($1,500 per month).

Selected applicants will participate in Marine ecology, genomics, and oceanography in the field and lab. Depending on chosen specialization, students may learn about DNA extraction and sequencing and/or how to read and analyze data to characterize marine environments. The program may involve hands-on fieldwork to investigate coral reefs or to deploy and retrieve oceanographic instruments while working at the UOG Marine Laboratory or biorepository. Graduate students will also receive support for their individual thesis defenses.

The program seeks to increase the number and diversity of students who choose careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). All qualified students are encouraged to apply, in particular Pacific islanders, LGBTQIA+, women, minorities, and students with disabilities.

The deadline to apply is 12 a.m. CHST on February 10, 2023. Late applications may be considered until the UOG Masters Application Deadline, pending availability of positions. For more information and to apply, visit https://guamepscor.uog.edu/gra/


The NSF Guam EPSCoR program at the University of Guam is funded by a five-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Established Program for the Stimulation of Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The program aims to broaden the participation of underrepresented students in STEM fields through developing a research program that helps ensure the sustainability of coral reef ecosystems in the face of environmental change. NSF Guam EPSCoR aims to situate Guam as a premier research and STEM education hub bolstering sustainability, economic development, and informed decision-making by engaging communities in 21st-century science.

Groundbreaking delegation of UOG students set to present at largest diversity in science conference in the country

Alyssa Calalo 1

Over 30 Tritons will represent the University of Guam at the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the country next week as the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) presents the National Diversity in STEM conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Student researchers funded under the National Science Foundation Guam Established Programs to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science Supporting Emerging and Aquatic Sciences (INCLUDES SEAS) programs will take the stage to present the findings of their recent research projects.

“UOG is taking big steps to make STEM careers more accessible to our local students,” explained principal investigator Austin Shelton, Ph.D. “Supported by grants, our students will present their research at the national level and get exposure to hundreds of new career and scholarship opportunities.”

A total of five students from EPSCoR and four students from INCLUDES SEAS were selected from student submissions from all over the country to present their research, which is the largest number of student researchers ever accepted from UOG.

Through the grant-funded trip, students like Antoni Badowski, an undergraduate biology major at UOG and a Guam NSF EPSCoR student researcher, will have the opportunity to meet with students, mentors and teachers from around the world.

“I am very excited to go to SACNAS and present my research,” said Badowski. “This will be my first off-island conference and I look forward to gaining experience and networking with others in my field of interest.”

Badowski will present his research regarding the genetic barcoding of amphidromous shrimp species native to Guam. Amphidromous shrimps migrate between freshwater and saltwater. Once the barcoding is complete, photo documentation along with preserved specimens, tissue biopsies, and genomic DNA extracts will be entered into the UOG Biorepository. This study will allow more extensive genetic analyses to be conducted in the future and serve as a guide for effective conservation efforts. He is under the mentorship of Daniel Lindstrom, Ph.D.

Along with grant-provided funding and local scholarships from the Research Corporation of the University of Guam, about half of the student researchers were awarded travel scholarships by the SACNAS organization.

The SACNAS conference will be held from October 27 through October 29 and will be held in-person for the first time since 2019. The conference was held virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic restrictions.

G3CC conducts underwater cleanup in Hagatña


Members of the Guam Green Growth Conservation Corps (G3CC) got an up close and personal look at the ongoing problem of marine debris and trash during a week-long module with Master Navigator Larry Raigetal in Hagatna.  

The group assisted in repairing the thatch roofing at the boat house in Paseo, learned about traditional navigation and then proceeded to conduct an underwater cleanup alongside volunteers.  

Conservation Corps member Jacob Concepcion believed that the cleanup and beautification of our island and ocean are not only a matter of keeping things looking good, but also a cultural responsibility.  

“This is our way of giving back. In our culture, we have beliefs about everything,” said Concepcion. “I guess just paying respect to our water and the surroundings, and our culture, it really pays tribute to that.” 

The group worked together to tackle the underwater litter, hoisting bulky items such as tires and furniture from the ocean floor where it can harm the coastal ecosystem. 

According to the group, the goal is to remove the litter, donating what they can for local school programs, and to explore options to incorporate some into the circular economy.  

In total, the group removed over fourteen discarded tires, several trash bags full of garbage and dozens of aluminum cans, diverting them from the landfill.  

Guam NSF EPSCoR is the catalyst for Guam Green Growth and the Conservation Corps. Aligned with the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, the Guam Green Growth Initiative, or G3, cultivates an ecosystem for transformative action to achieve a sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future for Guam. 

Photo Gallery: Guam NSF EPSCoR supports at the 44th Annual Islandwide Science Fair

Skip to content