Keeley Coastal Scholars Award

Fred Keeley
Fred Keeley

The Keeley Coastal Scholars Award provides underrepresented students at UC Santa Cruz the financial support they need to engage in summer research and policy work related to coastal sustainability. Students can be doing work in any area of terrestrial, aquatic, or marine systems along the coast.

This award is open to students in both the Social Sciences and Physical & Biological Sciences. Scholarships range from $1000 to $4000 per student with an associated $1000 in support of the sponsoring faculty member. These funds can be used by students for any expenses incurred during the summer months. The purpose of this financial support is, to the extent possible, to replace the need for the awardee to seek temporary employment over the summer months by providing financial support so the student is able to allocate time and focus on research and policy work connected to Coastal Sustainability instead.

How to Apply:

A call letter for applications for the Keeley Coastal Scholarship is sent each year to Divisional department chairs and undergraduate advisors in late fall or early winter.

Candidates must be in good academic standing and have established financial need.

Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to apply by submitting an online application, a project budget, a letter of support from a faculty mentor, and an unofficial copy of their transcripts. The sponsoring faculty member's letter must detail the student’s abilities and specific project responsibilities.  

Research related to coastal topics in any department in Social Sciences and Physical & Biological Sciences will be considered. For examples and ideas, read about past award winners' projects.

About Fred Keeley:

Fred Keeley is currently serving as Mayor of Santa Cruz, CA, and also recently served as the Santa Cruz County Treasurer/Tax Collector. He represented the Monterey Bay area in the California State Assembly from 1996 through 2002, and earlier served as a Santa Cruz County supervisor. During his tenure in the state legislature he authored the Marine Life Management Act, which the Associated Press called the “most significant advancement in ocean policy in 50 years.” Keeley also authored the two largest park and environmental protection bonds in the state (and nation)’s history. He is a board member of Ocean Champions and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

Meet the 2024 Keeley Award Recipients! 

Jenna ContuchioJenna is a 1st year doctoral student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. In the future, she plans to work for NOAA, where she can continue to focus on adaptive management strategies to increase protection for sea turtles through local community member engagement in STEM.

Kiran Jagait, Kiran is in her 3rd year of receiving her BS. After receiving her degree from UC Santa Cruz, she plans to pursue higher education in an animal cognitive related field. With a cognitive science major that relates technology with behavioral sciences, she is very interested in connecting this to animal behavior. In a growing world of technology, incorporating this into animal research is something that excites her.

Leah Van Dyke, Leah is in her 1st year of her PhD program in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. After the completion of her PhD, she will continue with a career in research that uses microbial life to combat environmental crises. She is especially interested in pursuing a postdoctoral opportunity abroad and taking a look at the microbial diversity in coastal wetlands closer to the equator.




If you have any questions about the award, please contact Gina Hernan at 831-459-2919 or



See Also