Diving In: Underwater research helps FSU student earn Hollings Scholarship

Charlie Azzarito's archeological research aims to reveal data useful in tracking climate change.
Charlie Azzarito's archeological research aims to reveal data useful in tracking climate change.

A Florida State University anthropology student who conducts much of his research underwater is the winner of a Hollings Scholarship, bestowed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Charlie Azzarito is a dual major in anthropology and sociology from Orlando whose underwater work includes examining artifacts and compiling soil profiles from rivers and lakes. 

The information Azzarito gathers can reveal data that is used in the study of climate change. 

“The top layer of the soil looks very different from the soil two meters down,” he said. “But you can determine what the landscape looked like when that was topsoil and what the climate was like back then. You can look at how humans had to adapt to events like the ice age and how we’ll need to adapt in the future.”  

The Hollings Scholarship Program provides awards that include up to $9,500 a year in financial assistance for two years of full-time study and a 10-week, full-time paid internship at a NOAA facility during the summer.  

The internship between the first and second years of the award provides scholars hands-on, practical experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management and education activities. 

Azzarito said his research and interests overlap with the mission of NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program, which aims to preserve and protect historical, cultural, and archaeological resources within coastal and marine environments.    

While he’s not sure where his internship will be —the Pacific Northwest, Florida Keys and Hawaii are possibilities— Azzarito said he’s hoping to build from his research-heavy background.  

“Most of what I am doing right now is very research focused; I really want to see what it’s like to work for a federal agency doing archeology and what that would entail,” he said. “I am also hoping to get experience on more of the technology used for large underwater sites and mapping data.”

Azzarito added: “It was a bit of a long shot when I applied for this because I’m not in a science, technology, engineering or math field. I wasn’t sure if I qualified. But now reality has set in, and I’m really excited.” 

For more information about scholarships and fellowships, visit FSU’s Office of National Fellowships.