The Safina Center

Common Dolphins swimming near the surface.Common Dolphins swimming near the surface.Photo taken by: Carl Safina

The Kalpana Chawla “Spirit of Columbia” Scholarship

The Safina Center (formerly Blue Ocean Institute) offers the Kalpana Chawla “Spirit of Columbia” Scholarship to one or more deserving graduate students whose area of research broadens our understanding of on an important ocean issue.

Scholarship History

This scholarship is named in honor of the dynamic, nature-loving astronaut who perished aboard the Columbia Space Shuttle in 2003.  She chose Carl Safina’s Song for the Blue Ocean as one of the few personal belongings to accompany her in space.

While on that mission, in a personal email, she asserted that upon her return, she would meet Safina and devote herself to conservation. The remains of Kalpana’s copy of the book, recovered by NASA from the debris field, are enshrined in The Safina Center’s headquarters at Stony Brook University — a reminder that the power of passionate words can quite literally encircle the Earth.

A year after her death, her family and friends established the Kalpana Chawla Spirit of Columbia Fund at The Safina Center.  Proceeds from the fund allow us to offer scholarships annually to graduate students who are passionate about the ocean and dedicated to studying a pressing marine issue.

The Safina Center is honored to commemorate Ms. Chawla’s adventurous, courageous spirit by directly encouraging young marine scientists in their studies.

Dive deep down
An aim awaits
Pearls peep – for your hands to reach
Just yours
For years, decades and ages
A door lies locked
A pearl in the shell
A secret in the brain
Open it
Break it
Reveal it
Fly High.

—Kalpana Chawla, in a birthday card to her sister