UAB sophomore awarded prestigious government scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship provides sophomore students with hands-on, practical experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management and education activities.

Stream Samantha Jerry 11Samantha Jerry
Photography: Steve Wood
A University of Alabama at Birmingham sophomore, Samantha Jerry, has been awarded a scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship is named after former United States Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings. Created in 2005 after Hollings’ retirement, the student scholarship was established in his honor. Hollings was a devoted advocator for ocean policy and conservation.

Totaling around $25,000 for two academic years and a summer internship, the program seeks to provide students with opportunities to increase their knowledge in oceanic science, research and technology while offering hands-on experience in NOAA-related multidisciplinary fields and trainings.

Jerry, majoring in biology with a concentration in marine science and minoring in chemistry and computer science, says she was thrilled to win such a prestigious and competitive scholarship.

“It is a very rewarding feeling,” Jerry said. “This is the first major external scholarship I have competed for and received, so it feels great to know that I am on a successful track with my education.” 

A member of the UAB Honors College on a personalized path, the Spanish Fort, Alabama, native is a research assistant in the lab of Dustin Kemp, Ph.D., where she has been able to not only work on coral research but develop a network of support and family among the UAB community.

“Working in Dr. Kemp’s research lab has been one of the most beneficial and educational experiences of my college experience thus far,” Jerry said.

Jerry credits the biology department with being a big motivation and pillar in her success.

“The people at UAB are the reason I was successful in applying for this scholarship,” Jerry said. “One of the graduate students I work with in the Kemp lab told me about the scholarship and encouraged me to apply. Dr. Kemp wrote one of my recommendation letters, and the graduate students mentored me throughout the submission and selection process. Overall, I know the department wants to see me succeed in any and everything I do.”

Kemp attests to Jerry’s enthusiastic work ethic and aptitude for success.

“Sam is an organized and quick learner with an inquisitive nature that drives her to take on new assignments and projects,” Kemp said. “She is committed to pursuing every opportunity toward a career in marine biology, and I am excited to see where her career takes her.”

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In the summer of 2024, Jerry will travel to a NOAA research facility of her choice to stay for 10 weeks. Under the advisement of a mentor, Jerry will conduct independent research that is aligned with ongoing projects of the research being done on location. In Week 10, Jerry will present her research as a formal project at the annual Science and Education Symposium.

With aspirations of pursuing a career in the marine science industry or possibly the government sector, Jerry says this scholarship is one she intends to use to explore her possibilities for the future.

“I’m so excited to understand more about my career path from a hands-on perspective,” Jerry said. “I have experienced the academia; but this opportunity will allow me to network and interact with people currently working in the field and in government, which will expose me to so many possible career options.”

NOAA is an agency under the U.S. Department of Commerce whose mission is to protect the natural world and its resources through technology, research, partnership, and the advocation of climate and weather policy.