Research Traineeship Program

Georgia Sea Grant strives to identify qualified undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines displaying evidence of high-levels of motivation and the capability to pursue marine, coastal and ocean science research.

Important Dates

Prospective Applicant Webinar
Date: Feb. 7, 2022
Time: 10 a.m.
Register here

Application Deadline 
March 14, 2022

Under the supervision of faculty and professional mentors, Sea Grant Research Trainees will undertake research projects that advance the goals and objectives outlined in Georgia Sea Grant’s Strategic Plan. A Sea Grant Research Trainee is a full-time registered undergraduate or graduate student who is working towards a degree related to marine, ocean or coastal sciences. Through sustained interactions with faculty and professional mentors, Sea Grant Trainees will conduct high-quality research, understand the relevance and impact of their research on the real world and gain critical professional skills.

The purpose of this request for applications is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific workforce by supporting original and innovative student research projects that address one or more priorities identified in our 2018-2021 Strategic Plan. 

Each academic year, Georgia Sea Grant will invest nearly $120,000 in its Research Traineeship Program. Graduate Traineeship applicants can request up to $25,000 in assistantship, materials, and/or travel. Undergraduate Traineeship applicants can request up to $4,000 in stipend to cover expenses associated with a research project.


  • Prospective Sea Grant Trainees must either be enrolled or prepared to enroll in a university, college, or non-profit academic institution of higher education accredited in, and having a campus located in Georgia, no later than fall of the year the award is accepted.
  • Students may apply before enrolling in a degree-granting program, but all prospective Sea Grant Trainees must be affiliated with an institution of higher education in Georgia, at the time of acceptance through completion or termination of the Traineeship.
  • All applicants must identify a faculty mentor under whose supervision the Sea Grant Trainee will conduct research. The mentor is usually a faculty advisor at any institution of higher education in Georgia.
  • In addition to faculty mentors, potential applicants must identify a professional mentor who will be an individual representing an outreach group or education group or an end-user community or stakeholder group.

We strongly encourage applications from Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in Georgia.

Guidelines for Submitting Applications

Georgia Sea Grant uses a web-based system called eSeaGrant (eSG) that allows preparation, submission, and management of applications online. Mandatory registration is required before the pre-proposal submission process. Applications that are not submitted via eSG will not be considered.

Prior to submitting an application, the prospective applicant must complete a one-time registration process in the eSG. It can take as long as two weeks to complete the registration process so it is critical to begin as soon as possible before the pre-proposal due date.

Instructions on how to register to use the system and how to upload your proposal to the eSG system can be viewed here. 


2021-2022 Trainee Projects

How does sediment disturbance affect resuspension and persistence of antibiotic resistance in the water column?
Samantha Alvey, Georgia Southern University

  • Bacteria are able to develop resistance to antibiotics and enter streams and rivers through wastewater discharge and runoff. These bacteria accumulate on river sediments where recreational activities, like fishing and boating, re-release the bacteria into the water where they can cause disease. Alvey will collect water and measure how the amount of antibiotic resistance bacteria changes when sediment is disturbed by human recreation. She will also examine the potential for the resistant bacteria to spread from rivers to the coast, which will be useful to inform water policy aimed at reducing ecological and public health risks.

Impacts of Current and Future Septic System Failure in Glynn County, Georgia
Courtney Balling, University of Georgia

  • Coastal areas are especially at risk of septic system failure in the coming decades due to sea level rise and changes in rainfall patterns. Balling will look at how environmental conditions, like tidal fluctuation and precipitation, impact bacterial concentrations in groundwater near residential septic systems. This research will be shared with officials working in public health, wastewater, and planning to help create sustainable wastewater solutions for the future.

Two-year Microbial Evaluation of Foodborne Pathogen Sources in a Commercial Decoupled Aquaponics System
Jennifer Dorick, University of Georgia

  • This project will focus on food safety hazards in aquaponics, a sustainable agricultural practice that integrates aquaculture and hydroponic farming. Dorick will study a commercial aquaponics system, looking at what pathogens, like E.coli and salmonella enterica, are present and where they are most prevalent within the system. This research will provide more insight into foodborne pathogen risks in the aquaponics industry and will provide valuable information to other commercial aquaponics farms that could prevent the introduction of these pathogens in their systems.

Analysis of benthic foraminiferal communities in the Savannah River Estuary in relation to harbor deepening
Monét Murphy, Savannah State University

  • This project will involve studying benthic foraminifera in the Savannah River Estuary. Benthic foraminifera are tiny, single-celled organisms that can serve as bioindicators of environmental conditions in marine environments, including natural variability and human impacts. They are generally well preserved in the fossil record. As part of her project, Murphy will study foraminifera distribution and abundance in samples collected before, during and after the deepening of the Savannah River harbor. This research will determine if the upstream extension of saline waters due to Savannah harbor deepening has impacted foraminifera distribution and if these changes have the potential to be impacted in the sediment record.

Studying the hydrodynamics and coastal impacts of the wake generated by container ships
Alexandra Muscalas, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • This project focuses on hydrodynamics and coastal impacts of the wake generated by container ships, which pose public safety hazards and have been linked to rapid shoreline erosion along shipping channels. Muscalus will study sites in the Savannah River to measure the wave characteristics and energy of ship wake in the main shipping channel as well as nearby secondary channels. Her research will be beneficial in providing new information for coastal managers when it comes to mitigating impacts of low-frequency wakes on shorelines.

Using Predator Chemical Cues to Increase Oyster Mariculture and Restoration Efficiency
Sarah Roney, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • This project is looking at how different types of organic compounds identified from predator waste products can improve how oysters defend themselves against predation. Working with researchers at the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Shellfish Research Lab, Roney will introduce two organic compounds in a hatchery system that have been shown to induce defensive responses in oysters. The goal is to produce a stronger, well-defended oyster that can increase the success of restored reefs and living shorelines as well as the productivity of farmed oysters, enhancing oyster restoration practices as well as oyster mariculture efforts.

Integrating infectious disease dynamics with fisheries models to quantify effects of Hyalophysalynni on Georgia white shrimp population and harvest
Megan Tomamichel, University of Georgia

  • This project involves developing a stock assessment model of shrimp populations that incorporates black gill transmission and harvesting strategies under ongoing oceanic warming. The model will account for the impacts of black gill on shrimp, and it can be used to inform management strategies for shrimp harvest under changing environmental conditions.
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