Susan L. Williams Memorial Research Award

Dr Susan Lynne Williams, a founding Investigator of the Moorea Coral Reef LTER site, died tragically in an automobile accident in 2018. Susan began her undergraduate career as an engineering major at the University of Michigan, but field research experience at the Great Lakes Research Institute and at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute led her to a Masters degree in biological oceanography at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks studying nutrient cycling in near shore environments and to a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland studying nutrient cycling in tropical sea grass meadows.  Following her Ph.D. degree, Susan was hired as a professor at the Friday Harbor Labs in Washington but was lured away by San Diego State University where she became the Director of the SDSU Coastal and Marine Institute and was named Outstanding Biology Faculty Member by the graduate students. In 2000, Susan moved to UC Davis’s Bodega Marine Laboratory where she eventually served as Director for 10 years. Susan’s research interests culminated in conservation of marine habitats both in the US and internationally. Mentoring of students was always a high priority for her at all of the institutions where she served.  She headed a NSF REU site at BML and embarked on teaching/conservation projects in eastern Indonesia. Many of her students were young women for whom Susan was a perfect role model. Many have continued in research and have positions in government, the private sector, and academia where they carry forward with Susan’s legacy of excellence in research and its application to marine conservation.

The Susan L. Williams Memorial Research Award is awarded every other year in odd numbered years to a MCR affiliated graduate student working on an independent research project that focuses on the biology/ecology/physical oceanography of corals and/or the corals reefs surrounding the island of Moorea under the formal guidance of a Moorea Coral Reef LTER Principal Investigator or Associate Investigator. In 2021, MCR plans to make two awards; one award to support research by a student enrolled in a Ph.D. program and one award to support research by a student enrolled in a Master's program.  Each award has a maximum value of $2000 USD and will be provided to the award recipients in the form of reimbursable travel, supply and analysis costs related to the students' MCR-related field or laboratory research activities.  The awards may be used to cover such expenses as field and laboratory equipment, consumable supplies, computer time, Gump Station lab usage fees, and research associated travel costs directly related to core research of the MCR LTER program. Funds cannot be used for stipend or salary support. The successful applicants are expected to: 1) acknowledge the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Long-term Ecological Research program, the Moorea Coral Reef Long-term Ecological Research site and the Moorea Coral Reef Susan L. Williams Memorial Research Award in any publications and presentations arising from the supported research and (2) present the findings of the supported research at an annual MCR All Investigators Meeting (AIM).

Eligibility: Eligible students must be currently enrolled as a full-time student in an MCR affiliated graduate program. Students must be under the primary supervision of one or more of the four Principal Investigators or 18 Investigators named on the most recent National Science Foundation award to the Moorea Coral Reef Long-term Ecological Research site (for a list of eligible advisors, please refer to Eligible students must be completing a substantial portion of their graduate thesis or dissertation research on Moorea or make extensive use of data or research materials collected from Moorea by other MCR affiliated researchers. An applicant’s primary research should focus on the biology/ecology/physical oceanography of corals and coral reefs. Previous award recipients are ineligible.

Application Details:  Students must submit the following application items contained in a single PDF document via e-mail to Andrew Brooks (  Please include the text “MCR Susan Williams Research Award” in the subject line of your e-mail.  Please use the following format to entitle the document:


1.  Cover Page (maximum 1 page, single spaced, margins at least 0.75”, font size 11 pt or greater) containing the following information:

a)  Applicant name
b)  E-mail address
c)  Mailing address,
d)  Phone number
e)  Institutional affiliation
f)   Degree goal
g)  Date of entry into your degree program
h)  MCR LTER advisor's name
i)   MCR LTER advisor's e-mail address*
j)   MCR LTER advisor's telephone number*
k)  A listing of no more than five keywords describing the proposed research.

*(Please note that your primary MCR LTER advisor may be contacted)

2.  Research Proposal (maximum 2 pages, not including figures, tables and references, single spaced, margins at least 0.75”, font size 11 pt or greater). The proposal must explicitly address somewhere in the text:

a)  The goal of the research project and hypotheses to be tested
b)  Importance of the project, with an emphasis on how the proposed work addresses the main research themes of the MCR LTER program (Reef Resilience, Reefs of the Future, Modeling or the MCR Time Series Program. See       for more information on MCR Research themes.)
c)  A brief description of methods
d)  The timeline for the completion of the specific research elements to be supported by this award and a timeline for the entire project
e)  The scholarly and creative impacts and products to result from the research
f)   References (if any – not required, not included in two page limit))
g)  Tables (if any – not required, not included in two page limit)
h)  Figures (if any – not required, not included in two page limit)

3.  Other Supporting Materials: Applicants also should submit the following items of information not included in the two page limit:

a)  A line-item budget and brief budget justification that outlines how the award will be used.
b)  1-2 page CV of the applicant’s academic background.
c)  A description of progress toward the degree to date (required units completed, qualifying exams and orals completed, expected graduation date etc.)
d)  A list of all current and pending support for the applicant and their research.

Deadline: All application materials must be received by midnight (PST) on Monday, November 22nd, 2021.  Late applications will not be considered.