The Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowship Program offers merit-based awards for graduate students enrolled in a Ph.D. program to conduct research related to the International Ocean Discovery Program. The Fellowship year begins in either June or August (summer or fall semester) and runs one year. During the following summer, at the conclusion of the fellowship, Schlanger Fellows may attend a meeting of the U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling (USAC) to present the initial results of their research and take part in U.S. Science Support Program-related activities.

Award Information


Fellowship awards are $30,000 for a 12-month period and are made to the fellow’s home institution. The entire amount is intended to be applied to the research project, student stipend, tuition, benefits, and, if necessary, related travel. No part of the award is to be used to cover institutional overhead, administrative costs, or permanent equipment. Award start dates can be negotiated on an individual basis—but in general are based on the academic year and following summer.


Applicants are discouraged from proposing projects reliant on data from IODP expeditions that are scheduled but have not yet taken place. USSSP cannot fund projects based on prospective datasets.


The fellowship is open to all graduate students currently enrolled at U.S. institutions in full-time Ph.D. programs. Approval of the research project by the student’s faculty advisor is necessary to begin the application process. Qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, creed, sex, age, or national origin.


The Schlanger Fellowship winners for the 2021-2022 academic year are:

Peter Davidson, Oregon State University

Re-examining the temporal history of the Ontong Java Nui Large Igneous Province and its causal relations to OAE1a



The Ontong Java Nui Plateau (equatorial western Pacific Ocean) is the largest volcanic feature (>1% surface area) on earth, yet fundamental questions remain about the timing of its formation. Published age determinations span 30+ m.y. and are of variable quality and precision. A recent pilot study of high-resolution 40Ar/39Ar dating experiments revealed major flaws in previous age determinations, with consequences for geodynamic processes, plate tectonic history of the Pacific basin, and the proposed link to Ocean Anoxic Event 1a. I propose to comprehensively re-date DSDP-ODP drill sites on the plateau to better characterize the emplacement age and eruptive tempo for this volcanic feature. Novel sample preparation techniques combined with the increased sensitivity of modern instruments will resolve detail previously obscured in samples dated just ten years ago. I will create a robust geochronology data set to inform oceanic plateau formation processes, plate tectonic reconstructions, and to test the proposed causal link of LIP emplacement to OAE1a.



My interest in geology started at a young age during road trips with my family to California from my hometown of Northfield, MN. My father, a geology professor at Carleton College, would always point out features along the many roadcuts in the American West. This influence led me to an undergraduate degree in geology at the University of Puget Sound that I completed in 2016. Now at Oregon State University, working in the Argon Lab with Anthony Koppers, my research interests involve the timescales of oceanic plateau emplacement and trying to connect their formation to broader, global scale tectonic processes. I am currently working on projects related to Ontong Java Nui in the Western Pacific and the Rio Grande Rise in the South Atlantic, and will be participating in IODP Expedition 392 to the Agulhas Plateau off the coast of South Africa in early 2022. My Schlanger Fellowship will be used to update a critically important geochronology data set for the Ontong Java Plateau that has far reaching implications for global oceanic processes and is overdue for the broader community.

Mohammed Hashim, Western Michigan University

Parsing the Diagenetic Pathways of Carbonate Metastable Sediments on the Slope of the Great Bahama Bank



Shallow-marine carbonate sediments are dominated by aragonite and high-Mg calcite. Since these minerals are metastable, they undergo substantial diagenetic (post-depositional) alterations including dissolution, recrystallization, and stabilization to more stable minerals. Each of these processes have different potential to impact the global carbon and alkalinity cycles, and reset the geochemical signatures routinely used for paleoclimate reconstructions. Despite their importance, the geochemical and sedimentological conditions that promote each of these processes are largely unknown. This study aims to investigate early diagenesis of carbonate sediments on the slope of the Great Bahama Bank using samples from Ocean Drilling Program expedition 166. The objectives are to identify the exact diagenetic processes and document the conditions responsible for their occurrence and prevalence.



Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, I have always been naturally drawn to science, and particularly the interaction between life and the environment. My fascination with science was solidified when I first learned about the theory of evolution by natural selection in high school. At this point, I began my commitment to natural science. As an undergraduate, I studied geology at the University of Baghdad. After graduating, I worked as a geologist for Schlumberger. This position allowed me to travel the world and work on a wide variety of projects, but my passion for science and scientific research kept tugging me back to academia. I eventually decided to leave industry, and I started my Ph.D. program at Western Michigan University in 2017, where I currently study carbonate diagenesis and geochemistry with Dr. Stephen Kaczmarek. My project has allowed me to investigate all aspects of marine carbonates, from the evolution of calcifying organisms to biomineralization to the dynamic role that carbonates play in global biogeochemical cycles. My diverse interests in carbonate geochemistry, geobiology, and ocean sciences led me to the IODP. With the Schlanger Fellowship, I look forward to studying the early diagenetic processes in carbonate sediments on the slope of the Great Bahama Bank, and quantifying the impact of these processes on the global carbon and alkalinity cycles. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, biking, table tennis, learning guitar, and working with people in my community.

Basia Marcks, University of Rhode Island

Did iron fertilization increase biogenic sediment accumulation in the Subantarctic across the Mid-Pleistocene Transition?



The Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT) is an enigmatic interval in Earth’s history, when internal feedbacks acted in concert to extend the length of glacial-interglacial cycles and store atmospheric CO2 in the deep ocean. Sediments from the Subantarctic Zone (SAZ) of the Southern Ocean show enhanced biogenic sediment accumulation during the MPT, however, multiple hypotheses exist to explain the cause. One hypothesis calls for a relative increase in nutrient consumption with a more efficient biological pump due to the relief of iron limitation, the other invokes northward migration of Southern Ocean frontal systems increasing nutrient supply. The balance between nutrient supply and consumption within the Southern Ocean should be reflected in nitrogen (N) isotopes, but no records currently exist from the SAZ during the MPT. If funded, I will measure foraminifera bound N isotopes across the MPT from ODP Site 1090, within the SAZ, to fill this data gap and assess the validity of two competing hypotheses.



I have been fortunate enough to spend my life near the ocean. I grew up in San Diego, frequenting the Scripps Aquarium and watching coastal bluffs collapse into the waves. However, it was not until my undergraduate education that I became enamored with geology and paleoceanography. Now, at the University of Rhode Island working with Rebecca Robinson, I get to further develop my passions, researching the interactions between biology, geology, and chemistry in past periods of climate change. Our planet stabilizes itself through a series of interconnected biogeochemical feedbacks but many of these feedbacks are poorly understood—or even unknown. My research aims to resolve which feedbacks operated in past climate transitions with the goal of better understanding what may happen in the future. To do this, I look for plankton in deep-sea sediments and measure the chemistry of their shells to reconstruct past climate, nutrient cycles, and even ocean currents. I spend a lot of time in front of a microscope identifying and picking plankton with a tiny paintbrush. Once I have isolated my plankton by species, I clean, grind, and dissolve them before measuring the nitrogen isotopic composition of their shells.

Ronnakrit Rattanasriampaipong, Texas A&M University

Long-term continuous sea surface temperature record of Tropical Atlantic across the Cenozoic era



The lack of long-term continuous multiproxy records of the sea surface temperature (SST) for critical time intervals obstructs development of a detailed understanding of Cenozoic climate evolution, which is crucial for a precise projection of our warming world. Here I propose to fill in gaps in Cenozoic SST records using TEX86 paleothermometry in the tropics and the southern hemisphere (SH) mid-to-high latitudes where continuous Cenozoic depositions are present. Preliminary results of regional TEX86 stacks reveal three main temporal gaps: (1) the Paleocene epoch (ca. 66-56 Ma) for both tropical and SH mid-to-high latitude records, (2) the middle Oligocene to the middle Miocene (ca. 30-14 Ma) for tropical records, and (3) the early Miocene to recent (ca. 20- 0 Ma) for SH mid-to-high latitudes. Three ocean drilling sites – ODP 807, 929, and IODP 1172 – include sedimentary records from which new TEX86 data could potentially fill those temporal gaps. I hypothesize that the continuous regional TEX86 records will uncover a more dramatic thermal history at the ocean surface, a signal that might be muted from the global benthic δ18O stack. This work will provide new regional Cenozoic SST stacks derived from a single proxy type and provide insights into the past climate dynamics that have implications for multi-proxy calibration, climate model validation, and beyond.



Born and raised in a concrete jungle like Bangkok, Thailand, the wo ways that I could learn about our Planet Earth and the world around me were either: 1) watch nature documentaries narrated by my beloved Sir David Attenborough’ or 2) become an Earth investigator (geologist) myself. I choose both! I got a B.Sc. in Geology and an M.Sc. in Petroleum geosciences from Chulalongkorn University. I first developed my passion for sediments when I was a volunteer field assistant with Dr. Kruawan Jankaew, my undergrad research advisor, on a remote island studying the 2004 tsunami and its predecessors’ deposits. As a recipient of the Fulbright Thai Graduate Scholarship, I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Oceanography at Texas A&M University. I am working with Dr. Yige Zhang on an investigation of Cenozoic sea surface temperature history using archaeal lipid biomarkers (GDGTs and alkenones) from IODP deep-sea sediments. Besides research, I am an amateur ultra-distance runner. So, there might be a chance that I will run past you if you visit College Station, TX.

Anna Schartman, University of California, Santa Cruz

The Origins of an Ecosystem: Rooting the African Savanna in the Middle Miocene



The modern African Savanna, composed of C3 trees and C4 grasses, is at risk of woody encroachment in the near future due to increasing pCO2. Atmospheric CO2 last exceeded 400 ppm during the Middle Miocene, but the composition of northwest African vegetation during this period is unknown. Under the different pCO2, fire and hydrologic regime of the warm Middle Miocene, tropical C3 grass savannas may have been a stable ecosystem state. Here, we propose to investigate the origins and antecedents of the Miocene African Savanna using novel biomarkers for grass abundance, fire regime, and precipitation, recovered from ODP site 659.



I discovered my interest in the geosciences through a circuitous route, which includes an undergraduate degree in linguistics and five years of teaching experience abroad, before returning for a second degree in geology at the University of Cincinnati. At UC I had the great good fortune to work with professors Aaron Diefendorf and Thomas Lowell, who introduced me to the world of organic geochemistry and paleoclimatology. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Ocean Sciences Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, under the advisement of Pratigya Polissar. We will be working on constraining African vegetation-climate interactions in the Miocene, and investigating the potential for fire to act as a feedback and maintenance mechanism in ancient woodland and savanna ecosystems. The wonderful and encouraging research community I have had the opportunity to participate in, both at UC and UCSC, has greatly strengthened my interest in paleoecology and biogeochemistry, and I am very excited to devote myself to this research project with the support of the Schlanger Fellowship.

Rebecca Cleveland Stout, University of Washington

Fingerprinting low-frequency Holocene climate variability across spatial scales



Constraining natural and forced climate variability impacts interpretations of past climate variations and predictions of future warming. However, comparing Global Climate Models (GCMs) and Holocene hydroclimate proxies reveals significant mismatches between simulated and reconstructed low-frequency variability. Reconciling models and data requires the use of long cores that extend beyond multi-centennial timescales. We seek to constrain slow modes of climate adjustment using a novel framework for fingerprinting forced and unforced variability in Mg/Ca and Uk37 hydroclimate proxies at ODP sites 1084B, 658C, and 1019C. We will identify spatiotemporal statistics of forced and unforced variability using GCMs, and use proxy-system models to assess how variability would appear in the proxy record depending on location. Simple physical models will provide additional insight into the physical mechanisms driving variability. This project will improve understanding of how variability is filtered by Mg/Ca and Uk37, and recover signals of low-frequency forced and unforced variability over the Holocene.



I developed an interest in climate while growing up in rural Oregon, which inspired me to pursue a career in geosciences. I was first introduced to paleoclimate research while an undergraduate at Harvard University, where I worked on constraining sea level during the Last Interglacial with Professors Tamara Pico, Peter Huybers, and Jerry Mitrovica. My work on paleo sea level sparked an interest in glaciology and ice-sheet response to changing temperatures, and I worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to study seasonal ice dynamics in Greenland under Dr. Denis Felikson. After graduating, I explored methods to constrain the past extent of the North American ice sheets as a research assistant at California Institute of Technology advised by Tamara Pico. After conducting research on both modern climate and paleoclimate, I realized that my interests lie at the intersection between the two: studying paleoclimate offers a method for contextualizing present-day large-scale changes in the climate system, unprecedented in the instrumental period. This realization led me to a Ph.D. at the University of Washington, where I am advised by Gerard Roe. My research seeks to understand low-frequency climate variability, using paleoclimate records to provide insight into present-day climate dynamics. I look forward to using the Schlanger Fellowship to understand how variability is recorded by proxies to constrain low frequency forced and unforced climate variability over the Holocene.

Hannah Tandy, University of California - Los Angeles

Novel constraints on pole-to-equator temperature gradients over the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum



The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (~55.8 Ma) was a hyperthermal originating from a major perturbation to the carbon cycle and has been identified as the closest geologic analogue for anthropogenic carbon emissions and warming. However, proxy reconstructions of sea surface temperatures and climate models disagree over the nature of pole-to-equator temperature gradients. In order to evaluate preservation and develop a quantitative correction for recrystallization, I will use electron back-scatter diffraction (EBSD) and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) analysis. These data will be combined with carbonate clumped isotope analyses (47) and published datasets in order to add to and reevaluate tropical and high-latitude sea-surface temperature estimates and constrain pole-to- equator temperature gradients.



Growing in San Diego, California, I have always been interested in environmental science. However, it wasn’t until my undergraduate experience at Princeton University that I found my passion for paleoclimate research. While at Princeton I examined early Cenozoic climate through microscopy work with foraminifera and later, working with NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, through climate modeling studies. Currently I am part of the Tripati Lab at UCLA pursuing my PhD in Geochemistry. I now use the geochemical “clumped” isotope paleothermometer to reconstruct past climates of the Cenozoic. My research centers on better constraining climate uncertainties in relation to different time intervals, such as the early Eocene “equable climate problem” where model reconstructions and proxy reconstructions disagree on pole-to-equator temperature gradients. Ultimately this research broadens our understanding of Earth’s climate system, which we can then use to better inform our future climate predictions. In addition to research, I strive to make the geoscience community inclusive and am on the board of the Society of Women Geoscientists at UCLA, as well as a fellow of the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science. I am proud to be part of DEI work and public outreach to expand the reach and impact of our scientific community and findings.



USSSP convenes a multi-disciplinary panel of scientists to evaluate research proposals and award fellowships. However, keep in mind that the panel may not consist of researchers with specific expertise in your field; thus, proposals should be written for non-specialists. The selection process is based heavily on an evaluation of research potential and quality; applicants are therefore encouraged to propose innovative and imaginative research that can be accomplished in one year. The number of fellowships awarded depends upon the availability of funds, but three to five awards are typically made each academic year. Applicants are permitted to resubmit a rejected proposal in a subsequent year. Financial need is not considered during the evaluation process.





Fellows must implement their research plans over the one-year period of the award and abide by the conditions of the award; major program changes must be approved by both USSSP and the fellow’s faculty advisor. During the award period, fellows are considered guest investigators and not employees of USSSP, IODP, or associated organizations.



New: Mentoring for Applicants


The U.S. Science Support Program facilitates individual mentoring to interested students from non-R1 research institutions, or from R1 institutions without strong current IODP involvement, as they prepare their fellowship applications. Experienced mentors are available to discuss your research ideas and offer their perspective and insight as you develop your proposal. If you would like to speak with a mentor, please contact USSSP Director Carl Brenner.


Application Materials


The following materials are required for a Schlanger Fellowship application:


1. Application Form: This form includes contact information for the applicant, plus the proposed project title, relevant DSDP, ODP or IODP expedition(s), geographic region, and scientific problem(s) of interest.

2. Recommendation Letters: Two letters of recommendation are required, one from the applicant’s faculty advisor and one from a second reference.

3. Research Proposal: Each research proposal must include a short title, an abstract (about 100 words), and a description of the proposed research (statement of the problem and hypothesis, background and relevance to previous work, discussion of methodology and procedure to be followed, explanation of new or unusual techniques, and discussion of expected results, significance, and application). Research proposals must not exceed four (4) pages of text, not including references or figures. Figures should be included separately at the end of the proposal and should be limited to two (2) pages.

4. Proposal Implementation Form: Applicants are asked to respond to specific questions about other funding sources, their research facilities, and the timeline of their proposed research.

5. Curriculum Vitae: CV should include relevant educational history (degrees and dates awarded); fellowships, scholarships, and awards received; academic honors received; society membership(s); employment experience (including any internships); and any authored or co-authored journal articles, abstracts, or other publications related to your proposed research.

6. Demographic Information Form: This information may be shared with reviewers. If you do not wish to disclose any of the information (excluding your name), please check the appropriate box.

Previous Schlanger Fellows


For a list of previous Schlanger Fellowship winners, please click here.





Contact usssp@ldeo.columbia.edu for more information.