Grants-in-Aid of Research Program

For Student and Postdoctoral Members of the Phycological Society of America

In 1987, the Phycological Society of America (PSA) established the Grants-in-Aid of Research Program (GIAR). This program is designed to aid graduate students conducting research in phycology by making grants to defray research expenses. In 2016, support for postdoctoral researchers was added to the GIAR program. Funds to support these grants come from interest generated by the Education Fund of the PSA Endowment.

Eligibility: Applicants must be a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher with an active research programs in any area of phycology. The applicant must be a member of PSA. Deadline is November 1st.

Awards: Grants are made in the amount of up to $2,000 to graduate students and up to $5,000 to postdoctoral researchers. Awards are intended to enable the awardee to accomplish work otherwise not possible. Awards are made directly to the student or postdoctoral researcher. No part of the award may be used to pay indirect costs to the applicant's institution. All funds must be expended to support the proposed investigation. Supplies and equipment purchased shall become the property of the institution.

Evaluation and Selection: Selection of recipients will be based primarily on the applicant's research proposal and two supporting letters. Additional criteria will include evidence of past research achievements and the perceived future of the applicant as a researcher. In the course of a student's graduate education or post-doctoral positions, no more than two grants in aid of research will be awarded. Stipends are not funded. Travel to scientific meetings should be requested from other PSA programs. Tuition and expenses for taking critical techniques courses not available at the home institution will be considered. If an earlier notification is required for acceptance into a summer course or workshop, the applicant should note this on her/his application.

Application Procedure: Application Procedure: To be eligible for consideration, send one (1) electronic copy (Adobe Acrobat format preferably) of all application materials on or before November 1st. The applicant must submit the completed application and her/his current curriculum vitae. The curriculum vitae must include papers presented at meetings, publications, and grants and fellowships received. In addition, the applicant must request two letters of recommendation: one should be from their major professor/research mentor and the other should be from someone who can comment on the applicants research and experience (for example, another member of the thesis committee). These letters should be submitted directly from the letter writers to ensure confidentiality. Applications and questions should be directed to Curt Pueschel (email -

Successfully Funded Students and postdoctoral researchers: Awardees will be required to submit 4 separate items1) A final report (1 page) that indicates the activity and how it benefited the awardee. 2) The awardee will be required to provide financial accounting (with receipts). 3) The awardeewill be asked to provide a photograph of themself doing something professional and meaningful (e.g., in the Himalayas sampling snow algae, at the lab bench conducting research, etc.). 4) A short paragraph of what the awardee did with the PSA funding suitable for posting on the PSA Website. All of these items should be submitted to Curt Pueschel (email - as soon as possible.

Application for Grant-In-Aid of Research in Phycology


NOTE: Your application must include all items below, and you must insure that the complete application, including the letters of recommendation are received by the application deadline. Incomplete applications, in part or whole, received after the deadline will NOT be reviewed.

  1. Name

  2. Address (include mailing address, phone number, and email)

  3. Name, address, and phone number(s) of major professor or advisor submitting letter of recommendation.

  4. Name, address, and phone number(s) of second individual submitting letter of recommendation.

  5. Title of proposed research project.

  6. Description of your proposed research. Maximum 1 page, Times New Roman 12 pt font. This page limit must include any figures, but need not include literature references.

  7. Location(s) where research will be conducted

  8. Proposed itemized budget (MAXIMUM TOTAL=$2,000). Include a brief justification for each item.

  9. Other support, including that from your institution, received for this project (List Award Name, Amount, and Date)

  10. List all previous PSA support. If any previous support was received describe how the current application differs from that previous award.

Previous Awardees

Awardees 2015

Keith Bouma-Gregson  
Department of Integrative Biology,
University of California, Berkeley, Berkley, CA
Algal induced flip from nitrogen to phosphorus limitation in a Mediterranean River 

Jason Duff
Department of Biology
Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
The influence of antibiotic and nutrient mixtures on phytoplankton abundance and community composition

Ishuo Huang
Department of Life Sciences,
Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX
Anabaenopeptins and other cyanotoxins: A survey of toxin co-occurrence in cultured marine and freshwater cyanobacterial species

Radka Mühlsteinová 
Department of Botany, Faculty of Science;
University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
Where to find the true Oscillatoria? Understanding the diversity and distribution of wider morphotypes in the genus Oscillatoria

Hannah Reich
Department of Biology
Clark University, Worcester, MA
Assessing developmental changes in Symbiodinium populations in juvenile Porites astreoides corals on shallow and mesophotic Bermudian reefs

Casey Rose Remmer
Department of Biology
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
Use of periphytic algae on artificial substrate samplers to quantify the relation between cellulose and lake-water oxygen isotope composition for paleohydrological studies

Robin Sleith
The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics Studies
The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY
Dispersal and population structure of native and invasive Characeae species in Northeastern U.S.A. 

Sam Starko
Department of Botany & Biodiversity Research Centre
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Evolutionary Ecology of Kelp Form and Function

Sarah Traiger
School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
Supply versus survival: What limits Nereocystis luetkeana abundance in glacially influenced estuaries? 

Jeremy Thomas Walls
Department of Biology
Ball State University, Muncie, IN
Effects of temperature on toxin release by cyanobacteria in a eutrophic lake

Awardees 2014

Olga collecting drift  Sargassum  in the Gulf of Mexico, June 2014.

Olga collecting drift Sargassum in the Gulf of Mexico, June 2014.

Olga Camacho

Advisor: Suzanne Fredericq – University of Louisiana at Lafayette, LA, USA

With the GIAR award I was able to purchase supplies for my PhD research leading to the DNA sequencing of different molecular markers from species in the brown macroalgal genera Lobophora and Sargassum acquired from areas previously unexplored in the western Atlantic (e.g. Gulf of Mexico, North Carolina) and eastern Pacific (e.g. Easter Island, Cocos Island). I was also able to amplify important old herbarium material of these two genera deposited at different herbaria. The outcome of this molecular-based research in Sargassum and Lobophora, along with rigorous morphological and phylogenetic analyses, is helping us to clarify species boundaries, species diversity, evolutionary relationships, and global biogeographic patterns in these two important and beautiful marine algal genera.

Dawn conducting a plankton tow in a peatland pool.

Dawn conducting a plankton tow in a peatland pool.

Dawn DeColibus

Advisors: Dr. Kevin Wyatt and Dr. Allison Rober – Ball State University, IN, USA

I used the funding from the PSA Grants-in-Aid of Research to help with my master’s project. My project was conducted in a peatland outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. I sampled algae over the 2013 and 2014 summers in a long term research site called the Alaska Peatland Experiment (APEX). There are three water-table treatment plots established to simulate changes in hydrology expected with climate change in boreal regions. I examined the differences in algal community composition among the water-table treatment plots, over each growing season, and between the two summers. The PSA GIAR paid for my airfare to and from Alaska, along with supplies necessary for algal and water sampling.

Katie with  Nereocystis  in the field. Photo credit: J. Robert Waaland.

Katie with Nereocystis in the field. Photo credit: J. Robert Waaland.

Katie Dobkowski

Advisor: Jennifer Ruesink – University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

My dissertation work in the biology PhD program at the University of Washington and Friday Harbor Labs focuses on biotic and abiotic factors that affect macroalgal distribution and abundance. Increased temperatures as well as associated changes in species interactions could impact both microscopic and macroscopic life stages of canopy-forming kelps like Nereocystis luetkeana (“bull kelp”). Funding from the PSA Grant-in-Aid of Research (GIAR) allowed me to pay boating and diving expenses in support of my bull kelp growth and mortality monitoring in the field. Kelp tagging and monitoring activities so far indicate that natural mortality of juvenile kelp is high, with <10% surviving more than two months; small kelp sporophytes seems to be most vulnerable to damage and catastrophic herbivory, suggesting a size refuge may play a role in bull kelp survival and reproduction. The funding I received also allowed me to buy LED lights and power sources to ensure that lighting conditions would be as similar as possible in all of the incubators that I am using in temperature-controlled growth experiments in the lab. Preliminary results indicate that zoospore settlement and gametophyte initiation occur successfully in the laboratory at temperatures between 7°C and 16°C but not at 23°C.

Kyra collecting corallines in Western Australia via snorkel.

Kyra collecting corallines in Western Australia via snorkel.

Kyra Janot

Advisor: Patrick Martone - University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Jointed, erect corallines have evolved from prostrate ancestors at least three separate times, leading to three subfamilies; Corallinoideae, Amphiroideae, and Metagoniolithoideae. The repeated evolution of uncalcified joints or “genicula,” along with the rarity of upright coralline species without this structure, suggests that they play a key role in the success of erect corallines. Specifically, genicula allow otherwise rigid corallines to retain sufficient flexibility to “go with the flow,” bending over in wave-swept environments in order to mitigate drag forces that might otherwise dislodge them. My research involves comparing the mechanical, chemical and morphological properties of genicula in the three groups, to quantify the precision of the parallel development of this feature. While Corallinoids and Amphiroids have a cosmopolitan distribution, Metagonilithoids are only found in Australia. The GIAR Award allowed me to travel to Perth, WA to collect specimens of multiple species of Metagonilolithon, and perform mechanical tests on fresh material directly after collection. Healthy, fresh plants are a necessity for these tests, which included stretching the algae to failure to measure strength as well as bending them with increasing weight and recording deflections to measure flexibility. Dry specimens were also brought back to the lab in Vancouver for chemical and morphological analysis. This trip was made possible by the GIAR funding, and it allowed me to obtain data that was invaluable to my thesis. It also allowed me to experience the environment of my study species’ first hand, further increasing my appreciation for the hydrodynamic stresses they contend with!

Thomas holding herbarium sheets of the western Atlantic endemics  C. ashmeadii  and  C. floridana.

Thomas holding herbarium sheets of the western Atlantic endemics C. ashmeadii and C. floridana.

Thomas Sauvage

Advisor: Dr. Suzanne Fredericq – University of Louisiana at Lafayette, LA, USA

The PSA-GIAR award supported the de novo (next generation) genome sequencing of Caulerpa ashmeadii and C. prolifera for the establishment of genomic resources in the Caulerpaceae. The project sought to document the gene order/content of these species’ organelles (chloroplast and mitochondrion) to allow the testing of novel DNA markers in phylogenetic analyses of the genus Caulerpa. Through the study of Atlantic species, I hope to resolve the timing of diversification of endemic Caulerpa in this basin (molecular clock analysis), especially of C. ashmeadii and its sister C. floridana. More broadly, this project aims to gain insights into the intricacies of past local/global events that may have led to the outstanding algal diversity present in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Target species and a SCUBA diver collecting both coralline algae and fleshy macroalgae in Antarctica.

Target species and a SCUBA diver collecting both coralline algae and fleshy macroalgae in Antarctica.

Kate Schoenrock

Advisor: Charles Amsler – University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA

The near shore environment of the subtidal western Antarctic Peninsula is composed of many diverse benthic communities, typically dominated by macroalgae in the shallow habitats and in deeper waters by dense invertebrate assemblages. Crustose coralline algae (CCA) and green algal endophytes are important contributors to reef structure and community dynamics in shallow community assemblages along the western Antarctic Peninsula. This research project targets the identity of the CCA and endophyte morphologies both morphologically and molecularly. This work should be completed soon with the aid of the Phycological Society of America’s Grant in Aid of Research. All work was done at UAB, UNCW, and Palmer Station, Antarctica. The money provided deferred the costs for sequencing, lab supplies, and travel for this research.

Holly collecting biofilms from panels deployed at a Florida Port.

Holly collecting biofilms from panels deployed at a Florida Port.

 L. Holly Sweat

Advisor: Kevin B. Johnson – Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL, USA 

Invasive species are one of the largest threats to marine ecosystems worldwide, and thousands of organisms navigate the globe on the hulls of ships at any given time. Even freshwater passages such as the Panama Canal are not barriers to the transport of encrusting marine species between oceans. However, with such a focus on large culprits like barnacles and tubeworms, little attention has been paid to how well microscopic marine organisms like diatoms are transported through freshwater. These overlooked algae form slimy biofilms that may either become invasive themselves, or attract larger exotic species looking to hitch a ride to new areas. The PSA GIAR award enabled me to use Florida’s Okeechobee Waterway as a case study for the transport of marine biofilms through a freshwater passageway. The award funded fuel costs for a specially designed vessel to transplant biofilms between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico through 160 miles of freshwater. Work is underway to determine which diatoms successfully made the journey, and how these resilient algae affect fouling community succession at their destination.