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 2022-2023 academic year are:

Emily Cunningham, University of Utah

The Northeast Atlantic break up: Why so much magma?



The Mid-Norwegian Margin is the most intensively studied volcanic rifted margin in the world, yet the dynamics that produced excess magmatism in the region are not well constrained. One of the primary goals of recent IODP Expedition 396 is to test three end-member processes that could explain excess magmatism during continental breakup: presence of a mantle plume (#1), edge-driven convection (# 2), or a fertile and enriched source (#3). I propose to complement bulk data (major and trace elements), currently being acquired on basalts by the Expedition 396 scientific party, with in situ analyses on phenocrysts and perform geochemical modeling to bring constrains to the respective contributions of the three processes.



Growing up in the Appalachian foothills of East Tennessee, I was innately curious about the ancient geology surrounding me. Unfortunately, I lost much of my curiosity as I went through the public school system in an extremely rural part of Tennessee, which at the time did not have the necessary resources to maintain an Earth science curriculum. It wasn’t until the summer after my second year at Middle Tennessee State University that I found my way back to geology, primarily through my love of outdoor recreation. I started doing fieldwork and conducting research after my first semester as a geology major, focusing on petrologic processes at small Quaternary volcanic centers in the Cascade Range of northern Oregon. Upon graduation, I became the first in my immediate family to have earned a college degree. After completing my bachelor’s, I pursued a master’s degree at the University of Missouri, where my research focused on determining how high volatile contents affect lava rheology and crystallization dynamics. I am now a second-year Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where I am advised by Dr. Sarah Lambart, who was an onboard participant during IODP Expedition 396. My work at UofU broadly focuses on upper mantle petrologic processes, a specialty that I will use to interrogate the hypotheses proposed by lead scientists of Expedition 396 to explain excess magmatism in the Mid-Norwegian Margin.

Isabel Dove, University of Rhode Island

Tracking oceanographic changes and climate implications in Holocene Antarctic coastal zones



A possible explanation for the rise in atmospheric CO2 over the past 10,000 years is increased supply of deep water-sourced nutrients to the surface ocean coupled to lower relative nutrient utilization in the open ocean, allowing outgassing of deeply stored carbon. Coastal Antarctic zones are highly productive regions that sequester a significant proportion of carbon fixed in the Southern Ocean surface, yet changes in nutrient utilization throughout the Holocene, and consequent impact on atmospheric CO2, remain unconstrained. A circum-Antarctic Neoglacial transition occurred ~4.5 ka, leading to reduced primary productivity in coastal zones due to increased sea ice extent. In my project, I will generate a high-resolution Holocene record of diatom-bound nitrogen isotopes at IODP Site 1357 in the Adélie Basin, East Antarctica to characterize nutrient utilization under an open ocean versus sea ice-dominated coastal regime.



I grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, but it was family trips around the country that motivated my interest in Earth science. While we attempted to visit all 50 states, I was fascinated by changing landscapes and weather patterns. As a geology major at Colgate University, I was introduced to paleoclimate research under the mentorship of Dr. Amy Leventer. I used diatom assemblages in marine sediments to reconstruct environmental changes in Antarctica over the last 10,000 years. Now, as I pursue my Ph.D. at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, working with Dr. Rebecca Robinson, I use the nitrogen isotopic composition of diatoms’ shells to investigate oceanographic changes between glacial and interglacial cycles. I am fortunate to work with both live diatoms in culture as well as diatom fossils in Antarctic marine sediments as I study how past climate change informs projections of future change. In addition to my research, I enjoy knitting, and sometimes combine my passions by knitting patterns based on paleoceanographic datasets.

Anya Hess, Rutgers University

Evolution of the Arabian Sea Oxygen Deficient Zone following the Middle Miocene Climate Optimum: Global and Regional Drivers



In the Arabian Sea, the South Asian Monsoon (SAM) causes intense upwelling, maintaining one of the world’s strongest oxygen deficient zones (ODZs). It is thought that SAM and associated upwelling initiated during the Miocene, but its timing and the timing of the strengthening of the associated ODZ remain controversial. My recent research on the eastern equatorial Pacific ODZ reveals that, contrary to expectations based on modern trends and our understanding of Miocene ocean circulation, the EEP ODZ was relatively weak during the Middle Miocene Climatic Optimum and strengthened during cooling at ~15 Ma. I invoke a strengthened biological pump in the Southern Ocean, which would have driven down oxygen concentrations in global deep waters. The proposed project expands this work to the Arabian Sea ODZ, addressing the question of whether the Miocene ODZs were driven by global changes or local changes such as SAM intensification in the Arabian Sea. To test this, I use the latest proxies for oxygenation (I/Ca) and denitrification (foraminifera-bound δ15N) to constrain the expansion of the Arabian Sea ODZ, and for upwelling (Mg/Ca in surface- and thermocline-dwelling foraminifera) to understand its relationship to SAM. By combining these proxies at sites proximal and distal to the ODZ, we can constrain the timing and rate of ODZ expansion and by comparing it to my EEP ODZ work we can understand it in a global context.



I have been passionate about the environment since childhood. In high school, I had the good fortune to take an Earth science class where I discovered how it uses all of the other sciences to understand the world around us. As an undergraduate at Bucknell University, I studied sedimentology and it was during my undergraduate thesis describing a section of organic-rich shale that I first became interested in low-oxygen environments, inhospitable and chemically unique. After completing a Master’s degree studying carbonate sedimentology at the University of Kansas, I went on to work as a geologist in the petroleum industry for five years. Ultimately, I decided to reorient my career and pursue a Ph.D. in paleoceanographic research, building on my background in marine sedimentology, with direct applications to understanding climate change. Now, as a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University working with Drs. Yair Rosenthal and Ken Miller, I study how oxygen deficient zones responded to past warm periods as a way to understand how they might respond to future climate change. I am fortunate to have had the support of several excellent mentors and have tried to continue that tradition by mentoring undergraduates, founding mentorship programs, and through the Association for Women Geoscientists serving on and chairing scholarship committees that support underrepresented groups in the geosciences.

Kayla Hollister, University of Notre Dame

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



There are large gaps in our understanding of eastern African hydroclimate during the Mid- Pleistocene Transition (MPT), and what is potentially driving this climate variability, due to a lack of long, continuous records. The MPT is a particularly interesting time in Earth’s history, showing a change in glacial-interglacial variability from mostly symmetrical cycles, with a period of 41,000 years, to asymmetric cycles of 100,000 years. Hominins in eastern Africa are thought to have been influenced by local climate variability, against a backdrop of this interesting global transition, but existing records show conflicting trends in aridity and support different regional climate drivers. I propose to analyze leaf wax hydrogen isotopes and sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from alkenones from IODP Site U1476 from coastal southeastern Africa to test the hypotheses that SSTs are similar to those further south in the Mozambique Channel and not those off northeastern Africa, and that these SSTs, particularly the gradient in SSTs across the Indian Ocean, drove MPT hydroclimate in this region more than high latitude forcing.



My interest in paleoclimate research began during an undergraduate course on climate change at the University at Buffalo (UB), where I received my B.S. and M.S. in Geological Sciences. This interest led me to a position in the UB Organic and Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Lab, where I became fascinated by Arctic climate change. My senior thesis involved reconstructing Holocene precipitation seasonality on western Greenland using leaf wax hydrogen isotopes. During my Masters, I immersed myself in understanding leaf wax preservation in lake sediments on southern Baffin Island. Now, as a Ph.D. student at the University of Notre Dame, I am shifting my focus towards paleoclimate reconstructions in deep time. I am excited to use the Schlanger Fellowship to observe the interaction between sea surface temperatures in the Mozambique Channel and east African hydroclimate, particularly during the Mid-Pleistocene Transition.

Shu Ying Wee, Texas A&M University

Metagenomic Comparison of Subsurface Basement Sites



The oceanic crust represents one of Earth’s last biological frontiers as it is difficult to access. Here, I will analyze metagenomes from two distinct low biomass (<104 cells/cm3) basement sites from IODP Expedition 360 (Atlantis Bank) and Expedition 370 (Nankai Trough). Atlantis Bank represents gabbroic lower oceanic crust, and Nankai Trough represents basaltic upper oceanic crust with significantly higher temperatures. Metagenomics can inform us of the microbial functional potential and community composition present. I will compare genes present in these two systems and this information can address hypotheses about microbial survival mechanisms employed in high temperature settings, and if hydrogen acts a major source of energy in these environments.



Eight thousand miles away from Texas lies my hometown in Malaysia, a city called Kuantan, and it was in high school was where my fascination with biology first began. Attracted by the research opportunities present, I traveled to Montana State University in pursuance of a degree in biological engineering. Here, I was first introduced to the microbiology of extreme environments, where I worked on samples from Antarctica with Drs. Heidi Smith, Christine Foreman, and Connie Chang. During my undergraduate studies, I also enrolled in classes where I learned about deep-sea microbiology. I was intrigued by how these microbes survive and adapt to extreme environments. This curiosity led me to apply for a graduate program in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University, where I now work with Dr. Jason Sylvan. My master’s thesis focused on the microbial communities present in enrichment incubation experiments using basement samples obtained from Atlantis Bank, Southwest Indian Ridge on IODP Expedition 360. The primary motivation for my Ph.D. dissertation is to characterize the microbiology of basement and seafloor basalt samples from mid-ocean ridges. I am working with samples from the East Pacific Rise 9°N, and participated in IODP Expedition 393 to the Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge to retrieve basement samples for microbiological analysis. With the Schlanger Fellowship, I will compare the metagenomes of in situ basement samples obtained from two distinct sites: Atlantis Bank (Expedition 360), and Nankai Trough (Expedition 370). This data set will provide insight on the survival mechanisms utilized by the microorganisms, and if the strategies employed by the microbial community present is influenced by the different lithologies and in situ temperatures.



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.