Teen Wins Prestigious Scholarship

Teen Wins Prestigious Scholarship
Marvin Li

SALISBURY – A Wicomico County student has been named a Davidson Fellows Scholarship recipient and will be honored at a reception in Washington, D.C., next month.

This summer, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development announced the 2018 Davidson Fellows. Among the honorees was Marvin Li, a rising sophomore at James M. Bennett High School.

Each year, the Davidson Fellows Scholarship program awards $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 college scholarships to students 18 and younger who have completed significant projects that have the potential to benefit society in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature and music. Li was one of 20 students from across the nation to be named a 2018 scholarship winner.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be named a Davidson Fellow,” he said.

Li won a $10,000 scholarship for his research project, which uses a newly developed algorithm for satellite remote sensing of coastal waters.

“Sound management of the coastal zone requires comprehensive and constant monitoring of water quality and ecosystem productivity in coastal waters,” he explained. “Satellite remote sensing delivers a synoptic view of the ocean surface at daily intervals and may provide a cost-effective way to monitor coastal waters.”

Li said the algorithm he developed for satellite remote sensing can accurately ascertain water optical properties, such as suspended sediment and chlorophyll.

“Algorithms that have been developed for the open ocean perform poorly in optically complex coastal oceans and estuaries,” he said. “Using the Chesapeake Bay as a study site, I have used advanced machine learning tools to develop a new algorithm for satellite remote sensing of coastal waters.”

Li said he was inspired to address water quality problems after attending a seventh-grade field trip to the Chesapeake Bay.

“As I waded through knee-deep salt-marsh and encountered wildlife in their natural habitat, I noticed that water in the Chesapeake Bay was startlingly murky and brown,” he said. “Our tour guide told us that suspended sediments gave the water the brownish look and could smother oysters and suffocate sea grasses.”

Li said he spent nearly a year completing his research project and applied for the Davidson Fellows program in January.

“This fellowship encourages me to continue to pursue the challenging problems we’re facing in environmental science,” he said.

Davidson Fellows Scholarship has provided more than $7.5 million in scholarship funds to more than 300 students since its inception in 2001, and has since been named one of the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships by U.S. News & World Report.

“Every year I am amazed by the depth of the Fellows’ accomplishments,” s said Bob Davidson, founder of the Davidson Institute. “Through encouragement and recognition, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development anticipates that gifted students like these will be among the pioneers who will solve the world’s most vexing problems.”

While he has no specific plans in mind for college, Li said he hopes to major in computer science and minor in environmental science. In addition to receiving a Davidson Fellows Scholarship, Li was also named a fourth-place winner in the category of environmental science at the International Science and Engineering Fair.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.