DURHAM, N.C. – Leslie Acton, a doctoral student in marine science and conservation at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, has been awarded a $7,500 grant from the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy to study ocean governance in Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea.

She is one of only 20 doctoral candidates worldwide to receive a Horowitz Foundation grant this year. The highly competitive grants are awarded to less than 5 percent of all students who apply.  Winning applicants are selected based on the academic rigor and real-world policy relevance of their proposed research.

Acton’s analysis of ocean governance in Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea will be part of her dissertation research on how actors negotiate relations and employ discourses to leverage particular outcomes for the management of social-ecological systems.  Her faculty advisors for her dissertation are Lisa Campbell, Rachel Carson Associate Professor of Marine Affairs and Policy, and Xavier Basurto, assistant professor of sustainability science.

Acton earned her Master of Environmental Management degree from the Nicholas School in 2012. For her Masters Project, she conducted a qualitative analysis of how faith and religion impact fishers’ perceptions concerning the management of local common-pool fisheries in Kino Bay and Punta Chueca, Mexico.

To learn more about the Horowitz Foundation grant program, including how to apply for next year’s grants, go to www.horowitz-foundation.org. The foundation’s grants are open to doctoral students studying policy-relevant issues in all social science disciplines.