Student Grant Program

From our Students



“Since completing research in the Student Grant Program in 2013 and 2014, I have matured from a student within the program, to serving as, and willing to serve as, a research mentor as well as member of the grant committee. The Student Grant Program gave me the opportunity to learn, grow, and challenge myself, ultimately inspiring me to get my MS and then pursue my PhD. I would not be where I am today without it!“-Bianca Reo Charbonneau



“My experience with the Student Grant Program enabled me to join a plant evolutionary ecology lab my freshman year at Fordham, and I continued to conduct research at IBSP the next summer. I am so thankful for the mentorship of Bianca and the grant committee. Conducting research with Save Barnegat Bay is a unique and wonderful opportunity.”-Colleen Cochran


“The Student Grant Program was an early jump-start to my career as a wildlife biologist. This is thanks to the invaluable experiences of working with real-world problems, honing of research skills, inspiring mentorship and networking opportunities that I was able to receive through this program.”-Lauren Cruz


“As a young, prospective scientist, this program gave me real, hands on experience. I learned how to do research from beginning to end: working in a group, collecting samples, gathering data, and presenting the findings to real scientists. The Student Grant Program gave me the experience to have confidence in myself as a scientist!”-Alissa Pazienza


Student Grant Application

Grant Committee

The Student Grant Committee is a group of representative partners charged with nominating proposals for funding, assisting students as mentors, and providing scientific and presentation feedback to all student candidates.

  • Angela Andersen, Long Beach Township, Sustainability Coordinator
  • Bianca Reo Charbonneau, PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania
  • Chris Claus, Ocean County Park Chief Naturalist
  • Chris Huch, Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, Community Resiliency Specialist
  • Jason Kelsey, MATES, Science Teacher
  • John Wnek, MATES/Project Terrapin (Student Grant Committee co-coordinator)
  • Karen Byrne, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Aquatic Education Programs Coordinator
  • Kelly Scott, Island Beach State Park, Resource Interpretive Specialist
  • Kevin Knutsen, Board member, Save Barnegat Bay
  • Martha Maxwell-Doyle, Barnegat Bay Partnership, Project Coordinator
  • Rob Tunstead, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Consrvation Service, Major Land Resource Area Soil Office Leader
  • Roger Locandro, Rutgers University, Professor Emeritus

Origin of the Student Grant Program

Stemming from his vision and passion for the conservation of Barnegat Bay, it was the late Paul “Pete” McLain who initialized this program in 2007. As someone committed to academic research, as well as a wildlife biologist and conservationist, he hoped students would dedicate their careers to better understand the bay and its ecosystem.

pete1     pete2


    pete3     Pete4

Save Barnegat Bay, in collaboration with its partners, aims to continue Pete’s vision by assisting students with their independent research each year. To support this goal, Save Barnegat Bay offers $1,000 to each accepted Team Project student and $1,500 to each accepted Independent Project student.

This program provides a hands-on learning opportunity for undergraduate students at accredited colleges and universities to conduct field research, report and present their findings, and contribute to the conservation of Barnegat Bay. Graduate students who are eligible can enhance their research experience with this field-work funding opportunity.

Over the last decade, Save Barnegat Bay and our partners have engaged 48 students in research opportunities, as well as provided $67,000 in funding for individual projects. Students have continued with their research at the graduate and PhD level, as well as furthered their careers in wildlife biology and ecological conservation. Students who have received funding through the program have also received senior thesis or independent project credit towards their degrees.

“There is a pressing need for more science-based management of Barnegat Bay before it is completely unfishable, unswimmable, and uninhabitable to marine life.” – (c)March 2007, Paul “Pete” McLain, Founder

Project Updates

Current Student Grant Participants


Lauren Bunn

Student Grant Awardee 2019

Bella Yedman

Student Grant Awardee 2019

Abigail Wilbert

Student Grant Awardee 2019

Riley Nevil

Student Grant Awardee 2019

Claudia Schreier

Student Grant Awardee 2019

Kate Doherty

Student Grant Awardee 2019

Lydia Kowalski

Student Grant Awardee 2019

Past Student Grant Participants


Alaina Perdon

Student Grant Awardee 2018

Caylee Lovinfoss

Student Grant Awardee 2018

Jess Harkness

Student Grant Awardee 2018

Sophia Piper

Student Grant Awardee 2018

Rory Hogan

Student Grant Awardee 2018

Sam Testa

Student Grant Awardee 2018

Bianca Reo Charbonneau

Student Grant Awardee 2013

Colleen Cochran

Student Grant Awardee 2017

Ryan Sullivan

Student Grant Awardee 2012

Lauren Cruz

Student Grant Awardee 2010

Alissa Pazienza

Student Grant Awardee 2014

Kevin Dillon

Student Grant Awardee 2011

Kevin Knutsen

Board Member