A passion for aquatic biology, the motivation to pursue research opportunities, and outstanding academic merit are characteristics that the four recipients of the inaugural Bentson Scholarship have in common. These students were chosen to receive awards from UCSB’s Bentson Scholarship Program, recently established by the Bentson Foundation for undergraduates with an interest in aquatic biology.
“We are thrilled by the Bentson Foundation’s generous gift to establish the Bentson Scholars Program at UC Santa Barbara,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “This merit-based program for undergraduates will be a tremendous boost to our Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, for those studying aquatic biology. We are especially grateful to our alumni Laurie Bentson Kauth and William Kauth for their pivotal role in making this possible, and for investing in the futures of aquatic biology and of our students.”
The College of Creative Studies is especially grateful as well. Of the four exemplary students nominated for the award, two are CCS students Jessica Bullington and Henry Morse. Jessica, a sophomore CCS biology major, said, “I am honored to be a Bentson Scholar. Research in marine science is what drives me. It’s what gets me up in the morning.”
According to Jessica, her interests in the field span from exploring ecological interactions to tracking biogeochemical processes. She is currently working with faculty member Debora Iglesias-Rodriguez studying phytoplankton. Jessica also plans to study abroad in Australia next fall. “The Bentson funding will allow me to further pursue my interests without as much financial concern,” she said. Jessica expressed gratitude to the College for the opportunities it has afforded her. “It would have taken me a lot longer to get where I am without the support of the College of Creative Studies (CCS). CCS Biology has allowed me to engage with research on a deeper intellectual and personal level. CCS facilitates students to dive head first into research opportunities by eliciting the necessary skills to analyze and conduct research. These tools will guide me in the future as I earn a PhD and become a professor in marine science.”
Henry, a third-year CCS biology major, also has a wide range of interests within the field. “I was drawn to the aquatic sciences because of their multidisciplinary nature. Like most undergrads, it was challenging for me to find a subject that I could throw myself into, because I am interested in many different fields. Fortunately, the aquatic sciences allow me to explore applied chemistry, physics and biology in a setting that I am at home in.”
Henry hopes to pursue a career in aquatic biology, ideally “at the intersection of research and public policy.” “I enjoy being in the lab as much as I enjoy giving presentations and I would love for my work to make it to the masses,” he said. Currently he is working in Professor Craig Carlson’s Biogeochemistry lab. Henry hopes to fund his next research undertaking with the support he received from the Bentson Scholars Program.
“I am overwhelmingly grateful for the generosity of Laurie and Bill, the benefactors of this scholarship,” said Henry. “I would not have had the time last year to start in Craig’s lab last year if it were not for the layout of the CCS biology major, so who knows if I would even be getting this award if it were not for CCS!”
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