Student Scholarship Program

MASNA Student Scholarships

 The 2019 – 2020 MASNA Student Scholarship Program is made possible by our generous sponsors LiveAquaria, Ecotech Marine, and Two Little Fishies.


MASNA is proud to announce the 2019 – 2020 MASNA Student Scholarship Recipients.

The 2019 – 2020 MASNA Undergraduate Student Scholarship recipient is Lauren Block. Lauren is a full-time Junior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UHM).

Lauren got involved in the aquarium hobby working at a local fish store in her hometown. Her freshman year at UHM, Lauren began working in the Lenz-Hartline Lab culturing copepods (Parvocalanus crassirostris and Bestiolina similis) and phytoplankton. Since then, she has had the opportunity to assist in various other ongoing research in the lab including behavioral studies of copepods, feeding experiments of a sub-arctic copepod (Neocalanus flemingeri) in Alaska, RNA extractions, and the investigation of diseased copepods in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. She has enjoyed learning a variety of scientific techniques through her involvement in various projects, and loves the problem-solving that comes with culturing copepods. She is currently developing an independent project with Dr. Petra Lenz to create a co-culture that allows for larval clownfish (A. ocellaris) and copepods (P. crassirostris) to be timed and raised together in such a way that the age distribution of the copepods in the tank mirrors that of the feeding needs of the clownfish to maximize their growth and health.

Lauren’s passion for fish, culturing, and the aquarium trade has led her to pursue a career in marine ornamental aquaculture. In the future, she hopes to develop new and feasible methods for marine captive breeding with the goal of providing a sustainable source of fish and invertebrates for the aquarium industry.

The 2019 – 2020 MASNA Graduate Student Scholarship recipient is J. Alexander (Alex) Bonanno, a second year masters student studying Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts.

Alex received his B.S. in Marine Biology from Roger Williams University where he gained several years of experience researching and caring for aquatic organisms by working in the Roger Williams University’s CEED Marine Laboratory and at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s Nature Center and Aquarium. Alex’s undergraduate research was focused on marine ornamental aquaculture mainly by developing techniques to rear fish and invertebrates popular in the marine aquarium trade in captivity to reduce strain on wild populations and saving them from exploitation. Alex was also able to study abroad during his time at Roger Williams University in Townsville, Australia where he had the opportunity to assist in research on a local food fish called barramundi.

Alex’s current graduate research is conducted at the Intercampus Marine Science Graduate Program under his advisor Dr. Michael Tlusty of UMass Boston. Alex has dedicated his graduate work to preserving coral reefs by preventing a destructive fishing practice called cyanide fishing. He has teamed up with Dr. Andrew Rhyne and Dr. Nancy Breen from Roger Williams University along with researchers from Mystic Aquarium to develop an efficient and reliable test to detect whether or not a fish has been captured using cyanide. This test would allow for the screening of captured fish, giving law enforcement a way to crack down on the illegal practice. To achieve this goal, he has combined chemistry, toxicology, and genetics to study the toxicokinetics of cyanide exposure and traces of exposure up to several weeks post-capture. The development of a cyanide detection test will not only help preserve valuable coral reef ecosystems, but will also significantly reduce the mortality rate of fish in the marine aquarium trade supply chain. Alex will continue to help answer questions critical in developing a verified detection method to combat cyanide fishing. While conducting this research, Alex will share his work through publications and presentations. After completing his M.S. degree, Alex is dedicated to advancing his efforts to protect and conserve the oceans whether that be through pursuing his Ph.D. or working in the industry.

Over the past 11 years, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA) has provided $68,000 in funding for undergraduate and graduate college students to help continue their degrees in the marine science discipline. The MASNA Scholarship Program has grown significantly to include applicants from North America and abroad. It has become a very competitive and esteemed award.

This year, with sponsorships from LiveAquaria, Ecotech Marine, and Two Little Fishies, MASNA is able to again award both a $4,000 undergraduate student scholarship and a $4,000 graduate student scholarship, and provide all expense paid trips for both recipients to MACNA 2019 in Orlando, FL.

MASNA would like to thank, Ecotech Marine, and Two Little Fishies. Without them, the two $4,000 MASNA Student Scholarships would not be possible.


Application Details & Eligibility Requirements

We are proud to announce the 2019 – 2020 MASNA Student Scholarships. This year there are two scholarships available; one $4,000 scholarship for a college undergraduate student and one $4,000 scholarship for a college graduate student

To be eligible for a $4,000 MASNA Student Scholarship:

    • An applicant must be a current/entering undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited college or university.
  • The student must have declared a major/focus or have intent to declare a major/focus in one of the marine science disciplines.

Selection will be based upon the student’s academic history and the student’s contributions and demonstrated commitment to the marine aquarium hobby.

Successful MASNA Student Scholarship recipients must be able to travel to MACNA 2019 in order to receive the scholarship. Funding is available to assist each of the chosen applicants in attending MACNA.

North American students, no matter where they are studying in the world, as well as students from abroad, who are studying in North America, are eligible, as long as they attend/plan to attend an accredited college or university. MASNA recognizes these locations as being in North America.

The MASNA Student Scholarships are in U.S. Dollars.

Our ideal scholarship candidate:

1: Is seeking a degree in a marine science field.

2: Is active in the marine aquarium hobby.

3: Will be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student in 2019 – 2020.

4: Has a GPA above 2.5 / 4.0.

The 2019 – 2020 MASNA Student Scholarships will be publicly awarded to the recipients at the 31st annual Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA) in Orlando, Florida, from August 30 – September 1st.

More information about MACNA can be found at

Funding is available to assist each of the chosen applicants in attending MACNA.

If you have questions, please read the FAQ below. If your questions are not answered, please email

Please have the applicant send the correspondence, not a representative or relative.

The deadline for submission is June 14, 2019.

About MASNA:

MASNA is a non-profit organization composed of marine aquarium societies and individual hobbyists from North America and abroad, totaling several thousand individuals.

MASNA’s goals are to:

  • Educate our members with online and published material, the MACNA conference, and other sanctioned events
  • Assist in forming and promoting the growth of clubs within the hobby while ensuring a sustainable future for the marine environment
  • Support the efforts to eliminate abuses in collecting and transporting marine organisms through education, assistance and encouragement
  • Encourage the ethical growth of the marine aquarium hobby and support captive breeding/propagation efforts

MASNA operates from a central Board of Directors elected each year by the delegates from the member societies at the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America, (MACNA).

Press Coverage of the MASNA Student Scholarships

Frequently Asked Questions

Previous MASNA Student Scholarship Recipient Bios:

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Click HERE to view the application

Photos from MACNA 2018

Photos from MACNA 2017

Photos from MACNA 2016

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