The Billfish Foundation’s Russell S. Nelson, PhD Graduate Science Scholarship Guidelines

Russell S. Nelson Billfish Graduate Science Scholarship - The Billfish Foundation

The Russell S. Nelson Billfish Graduate Science Scholarship honors one who invested most of his life to improving fish science and policy.  Nelson worked for The Billfish Foundation (TBF) for 12 years following 13 years as Director of Florida’s Marine Fisheries Commission.  He was a unique fisheries scientist as he understood how to synthesize science into policy and could clearly explain the science to non-science thinkers. Nelson foresaw with proposed management alternatives what actions and responses would follow from changes in the resources and from fishery participants. Nelson represented TBF in many national and international arenas. This $5,000 scholarship provides an additional method for TBF to advance billfish science into the future while honoring one, who invested his life to improving fish science and policy.

Eligibility – Active PhD student, whose education and identified research includes marlin, sailfish, spearfish or swordfish.

Some desired areas of PhD studies include the following, but not limited to these fields:

  • Ichthyology
  • Quantitative Fish Dynamics
  • Population Structure & Behavioral Dynamics
  • Fisheries Biology
  • Theoretical Models & Statistical Tools for Populations & Communities
  • Biomathematics
  • Zoology and Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Fisheries Management
  • Or other fields of study that require critical thinking, quantitative analyses and the ability to analyze issues

The scholarship award is based on a multi-faceted process. Areas that are reviewed include, but are not limited to the following: Academic Accomplishments, Community Service, References, Essay and Financial Need.  TBF pays scholarship funds directly to the recipient. Scholarships are awarded annually. The scholarship is awarded without regard to race, color, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

Application Process
  1. Applicants must submit a document, not to exceed 1,500 words, that includes educational background before the Ph.D. level and a detailed description of PhD graduate program of study, including applicability to resolving current threats to fish, or to improve knowledge base of life history characteristics or improving stock assessment science for marlin, sailfish, spearfish or swordfish.
  2. In addition, a letter(s) of support from lead professor explaining his or her assessment of your research project and its applicability to current issues or filling knowledge voids needed to improve management and conservation of the species.
  3. Completed application form.
  4. Official proof of academic standing – transcript
  5. Proof of acceptance at an academic school for post-secondary studies.
  6. A completed letter of reference from an employer or another professor
Scholarship Use

If chosen, the scholarship recipient must:

  • Recognize The Billfish Foundation in their work
  • Present a short article that TBF can publish in its Billfish Magazine and a presentation (if possible) of the work to the foundation

The recipient may only use the award for the following:

  • Purchasing necessary lab equipment to conduct research
  • Travel for research/outreach
  • Tuition


  • What will your area of focus be and why?
  • Please list community organizations such as service, volunteer and religious organizations in which you are now active or have previously been active. Note leadership roles and dates.
  • Please list important awards and recognitions received. Note organizations presenting honor and date.
  • What are the short and long-term goals for your life?
  • Please explain your need for the Russell S. Nelson, Ph.D. Graduate Science Scholarship
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