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Brian Keller Memorial Fellowship in Coral Reef Ecosystem Research

Nova Southeastern University Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography (NSU HCNSO) has established the Brian Keller Memorial Fellowship in Coral Reef Ecosystem Research to provide assistance for graduate student thesis or dissertation expenses to Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography graduate students

PhD or MS graduate students involved in approved thesis or dissertation work only may apply for an award.

Preference will be given to graduate students whose proposals for funding address one or more of the following research areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary:

  • Coral restoration
  • Long-term coral reef monitoring programs
  • Effectiveness of management zones, especially no-take reserves
  • Principles associated with connectivity to inform science-based management
  • Management of coral reefs across multiple spatial scales.

One or more awards of up to $15,000 are anticipated to be made in 2015 to a NSU Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography graduate student in good academic standing.

Students may receive the Brian Keller Memorial Fellowship once during their graduate studies at the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography.

Upon receipt of the award, the amount requested by the awardee(s) will be transferred to their advising faculty member’s restricted account, and all related thesis expenses included in the proposal will be paid/reimbursed in accordance with NSU policies.

If there are any remaining funds at the end of the award period, these will be transferred back into the Brian Keller Memorial Fellowship account.

Application For A Brian Keller Memorial Fellowship Award

Application for an award should be made in writing by the graduate student (and submitted in PDF format) to the Associate Dean of Academic Programs of the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography at The project design should be of the quality to yield a scientific publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Applications are due no later than December 1, 2014. Applications will be reviewed by a committee chaired by the Associate Dean and including the Dean and additional faculty and researchers as may be needed. Award announcements will be made by January 15, 2015.

Applications should contain the following elements:

  • Submission Date:
  • Student Name:     
  • Student Signature:
  • Advisor Name:     
  • Advisor Signature:
  • Project Title for which the Award will be used:
  • Proposal Text:
    A proposal, limited to three pages, (not including References, Experience and Qualifications, and the Budget), using 12-point font, in English, is required from prospective fellowship candidates. The proposal should include the following sections:
    • Introduction: Place the proposed research in context. Include clearly stated rationale, research objectives, the question that is driving the research, and the relevance of the study within the context of the literature and the fellowship.
    • Methods: Include hypotheses, methods, and experimental design, including details on field or laboratory techniques, and how data will be analyzed.
    • Results: Briefly outline expected outcomes and how the work is relevant to the priorities of the fellowship and how it relates to the approved thesis or dissertation. Implications of the work related to science-based management needs should be identified. Local and regional management needs are considered a priority, but application to global needs should also be noted, if appropriate.
    • References: Include references cited in the proposal.
    • Experience and Qualifications: A one-page CV should include research experience and other qualifications that demonstrate abilities and competency to successfully complete the research.
    • Resources Needed (budget): A detailed budget should describe and justify the amount requested (up to $15,000). The budget can be spent over one or two years.

Students who receive awards must acknowledge in publications, presentations, and reports, that support was received from the Brian Keller Memorial Fellowship at Nova Southeastern University Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. Students who receive awards must also provide the Associate Dean with a report of their research progress every six months after receipt of the award, until completion of the project. The report must include a summary of work completed and funds spent.

Download Application (.doc)

Brian Keller - A Tribute to a Friend and Colleague

Brian Keller Brian D. Keller, a sage scientist, patient mentor and committed conservationist, friend to many, and beloved husband to Fiona Wilmot, passed away on March 10, 2010. Brian touched countless lives with his science and his humanity over the course of an outstanding 40-year career in the Caribbean and Florida Keys.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 26, 1948, Brian received a B.S. in Biochemistry from Michigan State University in 1970 and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Johns Hopkins University in 1973 and 1976, respectively. In 1985, he met Fiona while living and working in Jamaica, and the two married soon after.

Brian was trained as an evolutionary ecologist at John Hopkins University under the direction of Jeremy Jackson, where he researched the ecology and coexistence of sea urchins in Jamaican seagrass meadows in the 1970s. He did postdoctoral research on coral and alpheid shrimp with Nancy Knowlton in the early 1980s in Jamaica, Venezuela, and Panama. Brian was a Director and Research Fellow at Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory, Jamaica, from 1984-1986, and the Manager of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institutes Oil Spill Project from 1987-1994 in Panama.

The monumental Panamanian oil spill study, published in Science in 1989, was a major factor in the closure of the Florida coast to oil exploration or extraction. Very few studies exist detailing the impact of oil spills on tropical marine environments. This work was influential in its day, and will continue to be influential as we look to the Gulf of Mexico.

As the first Executive Director of the Ecological Society of America in Washington, DC, Brian was indeed first and foremost an ecologist with a deep understanding of basic theory that guided his thinking throughout his career. His wisdom as a conservationist and manager, and the respect and high regard of his peers, stemmed directly from that ecological sophistication as well as his exceptional maturity of judgment.

Brian joined the Nature Conservancy in the Florida Keys from 1997-2000 before accepting a position with NOAA in 2000 as Science Coordinator of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. During his time with the sanctuary program, he helped lay the foundation for management zones in the Florida Keys and led efforts to measure their effectiveness. He was the architect of the sanctuary’s research and monitoring plans and found support to fund many projects that otherwise would not have been conducted.

His wisdom impacted management decisions locally, regionally, and worldwide. His influence can be seen in courses that are taught on MPA management and science, and the implementation of science-based programs especially in the Caribbean. He remained focused on the ecosystem and, in particular, what constituted a healthy ecosystem. He was wholly committed to developing strategies to restore those that were degraded both from natural and man-made causes. Brian introduced many to the principles of “connectivity” long before it was a common concept.

The ocean science community lost a giant in the study, management and conservation of the marine ecosystems of the Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. In his role as science coordinator with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Brian dedicated himself to finding innovative ways to understand marine ecology and to create new tools for conserving the ocean world he loved. Brian used these tools every day to promote science for management, and used his experience and knowledge to mentor others.

There was no greater advocate for sound science-based management than Brian. His knowledge of the relevant literature was unsurpassed and he knew what constituted good science and what did not. Most importantly, he knew how sound science could be applied to make the wisest and best-informed decisions for the conservation of the resources he so treasured.

Brian and his wife Fiona were committed to being as low-impact as possible and this was reflected in the house they designed, the car they drove, and the issues they supported. There was no greater role model for sustainable living than he.

Brian was a rare combination of warmth and intelligence. We will miss his accessibility, his intellectual generosity and his unflappable, calm demeanor. These traits, combined with his ability to listen (and hear), and his FM classical station-announcer voice, made him a powerful communicator. Accomplished scientist, ocean advocate, close friend to many, Brian’s memory will live on in the hearts and scientific work of his friends and colleagues in the Florida Keys and beyond.

October 19-22, 2010. Linking Science to Management: A conference and workshop on the Florida Keys Marine Ecosystem. Dedicated to Brian Keller.

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