CMSI-COAST Scholars Program

Ocean and Coastal Management

The Sustainable Oceans: from Policy to Science to Decisions program* at UC Davis trains the next generation of quantitative marine scientists under a new paradigm that begins with the decisions facing policy makers to generate use-inspired research questions around ocean and coastal management and ecosystem-based management. The UC Davis Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute (CMSI) has partnered with the California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science, and Technology (COAST) to create the new CMSI-COAST Scholars program that includes CSU master’s students engaged in ocean and coastal  management issues in the Sustainable Oceans training program. Participation is not limited to life science based students, and students from diverse fields are encouraged to apply (e.g., applied math and data science, biogeochemistry, geography, geology, oceanography, political science, public health, resource economics, etc.).

As CMSI-COAST Scholars, CSU master’s students will learn how to put the policy focus on the front end of the research and training enterprise as a means of building more effective links between the science and decisions on sustainable use of living marine resources. They will receive training to help them develop use-inspired research questions and build their communication and professional skills by engaging in conversations with vested stakeholders on the policy and politics of natural resource management. The Scholars will participate in Sustainable Oceans field trips, basecamps, and research symposia that will provide opportunities to network with UC Davis faculty and help Scholars develop their theses.

  • A field trip will introduce CMSI-COAST Scholars to the technical, cultural, biological, economic, and institutional forces woven into the fabric of resource-dependent communities in California and beyond and will include meetings with a wide spectrum of marine resource stakeholders. The field trip will occur in June at the end of the first year of their CSU graduate program.  
  • The basecamp will focus on a marine resource management issue with decision-makers, including colleagues from private-sector interests, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies, and community-leaders. Each basecamp will bring together a diverse set of stakeholders to discuss the trade-offs involved with a management goal. The basecamp will be held in the spring and will help CMSI-COAST scholars develop use-inspired research projects and broaden their network with ocean and coastal policy leaders that could help improve the broader impact of their research.
  • At the end of the second year of their CSU graduate program, Scholars will present their thesis research at the Sustainable Oceans research symposium which will also involve UC Davis faculty members and graduate students.

Three Scholars will be selected annually. Students will apply during the first year of their master’s program and participate in the activities above during their second year. Scholars will receive a $1,000 stipend plus travel expenses. The timeline for Scholars beginning in 2020 is as follows:

  • June 14-19 2020: Week-long field trip
  • May 2021: One day research symposium plus multi-day basecamp

Scholars will be expected to remain in good standing with their home institution and maintain a GPA of 3.00 or higher.

Application instructions

  1. Complete the application form Here
  2. Submit transcript (unofficial ok) from Fall 2019  and CV via the application form.
  3. Request a letter of recommendation from your primary advisor. Advisors should submit your letter directly to this form by the application deadline of 5:00 p.m. PST Monday, January 13. It is your responsibility to make sure that the letter is submitted on time.

All application materials must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. PST on Monday, January 13. Late applications will not be accepted. Applicants will be evaluated based on the quality of their writing, the strength of their letter of recommendation, and their potential ability to bring diverse viewpoints and approaches to ocean and coastal management issues.

For questions or additional information please contact Kimberly Jassowski ( at COAST, or Pernille Sporon Boving (, Sustainable Oceans NSF NRT Academic Coordinator.

*The Sustainable Oceans: from Policy to Science to Decisions program is funded by the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) Program.