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.”