Scholar Spotlight: Michael Martinez-Colon

Michael Martinez-Colon
Assistant Professor, Florida A&M University

Sloan Scholar PhD in Marine Science from University of South Florida







Congratulations to Michael Martinez-Colon, who was recently awarded the Gulf Research Program’s Early Career Research Fellowship! The fellowship awards pre-tenure faculty with a $75,000 unrestricted two-year grant toward research-related costs.


  1. You recently received notice that you have been awarded the Early Career Research Fellowship from the Gulf Research Program. Can you tell us about the research this fellowship is supporting?

The funds provided by the fellowship will be used to answer questions related to microplastics as new emergent pollutant in coastal waters. The research will not only help determine the presence of microplastics but will also help in identifying potential trophic transfer of such contaminants in estuaries. The funds from this fellowship will be used to acquire necessary and cost-effective field and laboratory instrumentation (push cores, microscopes, culture chamber, freezer, oxygen sensors for culture work, voltimeters, ion-selective electrodes, etc.). Funds will be used for materials, consumables, and sample analysis for two graduate (PhD and MSc) students. Financial support for two undergraduate students will also be provided.


  1. How will this award shape your future research plans?

This fellowship is designed to help new faculty establish their laboratory while providing flexibility in terms of how to use the funds. This is excellent because you can generate results much faster that can be used toward bigger grants.


  1. Many of our Sloan Scholars apply for federal funding. Now that you have prepared a successful application, do you have any tips to share?

They must read the RFP [request for proposal] forwards and backwards, and they should reach out to the program officers with any type of question. Also, it is helpful to have your faculty advisor, or in my case a faculty mentor, read the proposal and provide feedback. One trick that I use is to have someone (not an academic) read my proposal, because if this person understands what I want to do then the reviewers should too.


  1. What impact has the Sloan Foundation graduate funding had on your life as a researcher?

The Sloan Foundation support helped greatly in establishing networks not only with fellow students but with other academics.


  1. How did you become interested in your area of research?

When I was an undergraduate in geology, professors took me and other students on numerous field trips. Those field trips involved looking at fossils, and while other students were curious about big fossils (corals, bivalves, etc.), I was curious about the microscopic ones, and I got interested in micropaleontology. During my master’s, I read a book about environmental microplaeontology and how to use microfossils to study pollution issues.


Click here to learn more about Martinez-Colon’s work and the other 2017 Fellows.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.




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