Master’s research scholarship

Graduate student wins nationally competitive funds



Cheyne Springbett, biology master’s student, received first place in the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) student scholarship research award. He received the funding to support his research on the burrowing behavior of octopuses, specifically Muusoctopus leioderma. 

In April, AAUS is hosting an annual symposium in Florida where Springbett will now present his research with the help of the awarded funds. Springbett plans to use the money to cover the cost of both conducting and presenting his research, including traveling expenses. 

“There’s a certain amount of accomplishment from winning a big national scholarship like that which can help open others doors for me and spread my research around,” Springbett said. Though Springbett didn’t expect to win the scholarship, he is pleased with the new opportunities it has opened up for him to show others what he has learned about octopuses. 

Walla Walla University is a member of AAUS through the scientific diving program which played a large role in Springbett’s research. The scholarship application process involved summarizing his research interests, his plan to use the money, and his research’s alignment with AAUS values. 

Kirt Onthank, biology professor and Springbett’s advisor, said, “[Springbett] is interested in science communication which has led him to be a good writer, especially to people outside of his area of expertise or to non-experts. That probably aided him quite a bit in writing a really good proposal that struck readers on why this research is important.” 

Springbett will be attending the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) conference in January to share his research findings. He is excited because he is “studying pretty novel behavior about a charismatic species and there’s just a lot of interesting things to learn about them.” 

To learn more about WWU’s graduate biology program, visit

Posted on October 19, 2022. 

Portrait of Cheyne Springbett
Cheyne Springbett is on his second year of graduate school at WWU.
Photo of scuba diver
Scientific scuba diving was key to Springbett's research at Rosario.
Photo of octopus
The species Springbett is studying is Muusoctopus leioderma.