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CCU graduate Sydney Madden earns Fulbright program award

July 10, 2023
CCU alumna Sydney Madden was recently named a 2023-24 Fulbright U.S. Program Student.Madden will conduct research with the Discovery Bay Marine Lab team at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.

Coastal Carolina University alumna Sydney Madden was recently named a 2023-24 Fulbright U.S. Program Student. For 10 months, beginning in March 2024, Madden will conduct research with the Discovery Bay Marine Lab (DBML) team at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. Her project focuses on monitoring, fragmentation, and restoration of the EcoReef, Discovery Bay’s artificial reef.

A native of Glen Burnie, Md., Madden graduated magna cum laude in August 2022 from the HTC Honors College and the Gupta College of Science with a Bachelor of Science dual degree in marine science and biology, a minor in environmental studies, and a certificate in sustainability. She won one of two Fulbright research grants to Jamaica.

“We are incredibly proud of Sydney,” said Chad L. Leverette, Ph.D., dean of the Gupta College of Science and professor of chemistry. “She has been a star at CCU by excelling in the classroom as a double major in two very difficult STEM disciplines and by fully engaging in undergraduate research, which is a strength in our college. She has studied abroad twice, participated in research funded by federal research grants, and earned many individual honors along the way. The recent Fulbright U.S. Student award is an incredible and distinctive honor for Sydney, the Gupta College of Science, and all of CCU.”

Leadership potential, academic and/or professional achievement, and record of service are considered in the selection of recipients of Fulbright awards.

During her first two years at CCU, Madden conducted research in the CCU crab lab under the supervision of Eric Rosch, Ph.D., senior lecturer in marine science. As a sophomore, she became CCU’s first and only winner of the prestigious National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship. That summer, she worked as an education intern at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Md.

The next summer, she completed a 10-week virtual internship with NOAA’s Pacific Islands Regional Office and National Marine Fisheries Service. She learned about structure-from-motion photogrammetry and preferred coral larval settlement shapes. She further developed this knowledge and these skills through research with Paul Gayes, Ph.D., executive director of CCU’s Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies. Madden worked on the “Smart Reef” initiative, leading a student team that focused on the artificial reef systems off the coast of South Carolina through a partnership with the South Carolina Department of National Resources. Her scuba background was an asset to this project.

Madden studied in two CCU marine-based Maymester programs: Field Methods in Oceanographic Data Analysis at the Scottish Marine Institute in Oban, Scotland, led by Louis Keiner, Ph.D., interim dean of the HTC Honors College and professor of physics and physical oceanography; and Coral Reef Ecology at the University of the West Indies DBML in Jamaica, led by Erin Burge, Ph.D., professor of marine science. During this trip, Madden met her Fulbright affiliate Camilo Trench, Ph.D., a lecturer and academic coordinator of UWI DBML.

“During our study abroad program, Madden’s oft-repeated phrase was ‘The more you know!’ every time she learned something new,” said Keiner. “She conducted and presented research in several areas, continuing even during the pandemic. Her excitement for learning and her cheerful manner made her a joy to work with. We are incredibly proud of her accomplishments, and her Fulbright award is well-deserved.”

Upon graduating, Madden gained further experience with coral husbandry and coral reef restoration during a six-month internship with the Florida Aquarium. She then moved to Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, where she is now working on coral reef restoration as a research associate with Johnston Applied Marine Sciences.

“I had tremendous support applying for the Fulbright, and I am honored to have the chance to represent Coastal Carolina as a Fulbright Student,” said Madden. “The experience has been surreal, and I could not have done it without my professors, mentors, and peers at CCU. From helping me learn a work/life balance, to career advice, and late-night study partners, I couldn’t stand where I am today without the many people I have encountered at CCU.”

Madden’s career will be enriched by joining a network of thousands of accomplished Fulbright alumni, many of whom are leaders in their fields. Notable Fulbright alumni include 62 Nobel Prize laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize recipients, 78 MacArthur Fellows and 41 who have served as a heads of state or government. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 400,000 participants from over 160 countries the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Madden is CCU’s second Fulbright Student. Peter Seifarth, who earned a B.F.A in theatre arts in 2017, won a 2017-18 Fulbright research grant to conduct research in Nepal.

CCU’s campus deadline for the 2024-25 Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant is Sept. 11, 2023. For more information, contact Judith Zang, CCU’s director of the Office of National Scholarships or click here.