Ph.D. candidate receives 2020 NSF GRFP award

Robert Tomasetti, a Ph.D. candidate in the Crustacean Genomics and Systematics (CRUSTOMICS) Lab in the FIU Institute of Environment, is this year’s recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program this year.

The competitive program with a funding rate of about 15 percent, honors exemplary graduate students in NSF-supported disciplines who are pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees and doing critical research at US institutions.

Each awardee benefits from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees.

Learn more about the recipient:

Robert Tomasetti

Robert Tomasetti

Lead PI: Heather Bracken-Grissom

Tomasetti will study how algae biodiversity is distributed across oceans in an effort to provide some insights into other marine organisms.

“As his mentor, I am very proud and honored that Robert received this prestigious award,” Bracken-Grissom said. “Some of the success can be attributed to a grant writing workshop provided by Lori Schweikert, my postdoc last summer.”

Gaining insights into the evolution of marine invertebrates gives scientists an overall understanding of the world’s oceans. The biodiversity of certain organisms, like algae, can indicate specific information about other organisms that rely on algal systems for growth and survival.

Tomasetti’s previous research focused on the global biodiversity of marine benthic algae, where he highlighted how unique the tropical Atlantic Ocean (specifically the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico) is compared to other parts of the globe. 

“I believe that FIU is geographically poised to assist me in studying this region,” Tomasetti said. “I’ve also been fortunate to be paired with an excellent research laboratory at FIU, the CRUSTOMICS Lab.”

Support from the award allows Tomasetti to dedicate 100 percent of his time to his research goals.

Ph.D. students, Adrian Figueroa and Obtin Alkhamis, both received an honorable mention for their work. Figueroa’s work focuses on life sciences (ecology) and Alkhamis’ research focuses on chemical sciences (chemical measurement and imaging). 

Visit the NSF GRFP awardees webpage to view all of the recipients for this year’s award.