CCMI Launches Second Cohort of Women in Ocean Science Award

October 21, 2021

In 2019, CCMI launched the Women in Ocean Science Award (WIOSA), with a view to facilitate the progression of female ocean scientists, with a focus on coral reef resiliency. Unfortunately, women in science are still under-represented in senior positions across the industry, and this is even more prevalent within ocean science. This award seeks to create a network of cutting-edge women scientists, providing funding for research that is contributing so one of the most pressing issues of our time: how to protect coral reefs for the future.

Whilst Covid-19 delayed the field work for the inaugural WIOSA scholar, the programme has been launched with great success and the team at CCMI are already seeing the benefits of the programme:

Our first WIOSA scholar is Dr. Sarah Gignoux-Wolfsohn, who works with pathogens and related microbial communities in the coral reef ecosystems, at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre. Selecting Sarah as our WIOSA scholar aligned with the unfortunate arrival of the deadly Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) to the Cayman Islands, which has a 90% mortality rate and impacts the important reef building ‘stony’ corals.  Sarah has been discussing how to combat SCTLD with Dr Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley and the team have developed a research project for Little Cayman.

“We selected Sarah as the first WIOSA scholar, due to her incredible experience and the importance of her topic of study. To be able to develop a research project with Sarah, and other partners such as Bill Precht, in response to the catastrophic coral disease SCTLD has really cemented the importance and validity of the WIOSA programme. We have developed a project to develop the “Pro-Active Assessment of Disease Biomarkers to Hinder the Spread of SCTLD in Little Cayman”, which develops a project that incorporates the specialisms of our partners, with our local, empirically-based knowledge. Whilst it has been frustrating that we had to delay Sarah’s planned research in 2020, accompanied by WIOSA intern Federica Manca, it means she has had an opportunity adapt her work to incorporate one of the biggest issues facing coral reefs here: SCTLD. The funding from the Brian Melito and the Jessica Colker Trust, which supports WIOSA, has also enabled us to apply for matching funding, further supporting projects of great importance”.

The WIOSA programme is supported by an advisory, that includes Dr Sylvia Earle, Dr Christine Ferrier-Pages, Dr Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, Dr Carrie Manfrino and Dr Hollie Putnam, who are now looking for the 2022 WIOSA cohort, which includes a post-doctoral level scholar and two interns, with the application opening on 1st November 2021 and 1st January 2022, respectively.

WIOSA Scholar 2022 

This will be a a post-doctoral level researcher, looking to progress their career in the field of ocean sciences, preferably with a focus on coral resiliency. The scholar has the opportunity to promote a project via their own organisation and/or may work in conjunction with an already running project at CCMI. This award is for 2 years (2022-2024) and the WIOSA Scholar will have full resources to establish a new field research experiment on the topic of coral reef/ocean resiliency over a two-year period, based at the Little Cayman Research Centre.  A $10,000 USD financial fellowship award will be granted to the scholar, per annum. A further $10,000 USD per annum will be awarded to support a full month of field research activity (diving, boat, transportation, room and board, equipment) at the Little Cayman Research Station as well as participation in a relevant international scientific conference. The scholar will have the ability to select one intern (see below), via a fair and transparent process. International applications are welcome. 

Application: please apply, including a cover letter, application form and CV to 

Deadlines: Application round opens 1st November 2021, closes 15th January 2022.  

WIOSA scholar will be announced 1st March 2022, with a view to begin fieldwork in June 2022. 

The WIOSA 2022 Internships 

We have two intern positions available for 2022. The applicant will be a graduate studying for their Masters or PhD, who wants hands on experience with a cutting-edge researcher. The topic of study will be coral reef resiliency. Interns will need to be experienced scuba divers and be looking for a career in the field, within the theme of protecting coral reef ecosystems from climate change and protecting biodiversity. Each internship will be 3 months, including time spent at the Little Cayman Research Centre. The intern receives a $500 USD per month stipend, plus full room and board. The scholar will oversee the fieldwork and project deliverables. International applications are welcome. 

Deadlines: Application round opens 1st January 2022, closes 1st March  2022.  

WIOSA intern will be announced 1st April 2022, with a view to begin fieldwork in June 2022.  

Full application details can be found HERE.